• Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Business

Microsoft profit dips as revenue rises

Microsoft profit dips as revenue rises

Microsoft on Monday reported that its quarterly profit dipped as revenue increased with help from sales of Surface tablets, Xbox One consoles and cloud services. Profit fell 10 percent from a year ago to $5.9 billion while revenue hit $26.5 billion in the quarter ended on December 31, and chief executive Satya Nadella said the company's transformation is on target. "We are taking bold steps forward across our business, and specifically with Windows 10, to deliver new experiences, new categories, and new opportunities to our customers," Nadella said. Microsoft...

Garment exports to US on the decline

Garment exports to US on the decline

Garment exports to the US, Bangladesh's single largest export destination, declined...

Data centre, purchase of ships get green light

China's state-owned ZTE Holdings Company and ZTE Corporation yesterday won a contract to set up the national data centre at Kaliakoir...

Bangladesh has one of worst lapse rates in insurance: regulator

Private insurers in Bangladesh have one of the worst lapse rates globally, due to policyholders' ignorance and companies' wrong strategies, according...

Stop terrorists from shipping goods, Muhith asks customs

Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday asked customs officials to work in a coordinated manner with other stakeholders so that terrorists are unable to ship goods through border control points. “Terrorism has become a major issue now -- we have to control borders in a coordinated way so that terrorists cannot enter with contraband goods,” Muhith said. Muhith's comments came at a programme organised by the National Board of Revenue to mark World Customs Day, which is observed in 179 countries. Various programmes...

Blockade batters business in Chittagong

Businesses in Chitta-gong are reeling from the effects of the indefinite countrywide blockade since January 6, just like businesses elsewhere.  Worst is the effect on port activities as the Chittagong port handles around 80 percent of the country's import and export. The blockade has disrupted the supply chain. The number of vehicles carrying goods in and out of the port has fallen to around 200 a day from the usual 1,000, amid fears of petrol bomb attacks and vandalism, said...

Stocks end flat as investors stay wary

Investors' reluctance to inject fresh funds into markets left stocks flat yesterday, as investors remained wary of the economic fallout from the drawn-out political deadlock.  Political unrest took a heavy toll on the Dhaka Stock Exchange as its prime index -- DSEX -- hit a four-month low on Sunday. The market gauge closed at 4,708.33 points, after shedding 8.43 points or 0.18 percent yesterday.  The shariah index of the Dhaka bourse, DSES, fell 3.32 points or 0.29 percent, to close at...

Motorola looks to take market share from China rivals

Motorola, the mobile handset maker bought by China's Lenovo Group Ltd from Google Inc for $2.9 billion, is optimistic about its prospects in the Chinese market, its president told Reuters. Lenovo's acquisition, completed three months ago, ended Google's move into the consumer mobile handset business. The deal has turned personal computer-maker Lenovo into a challenger in the higher-end smartphone market, competing with Samsung Electronics and Apple Inc. "The (Chinese) market itself is so big here and Motorola has no share today,...

Ebola to have 'marginal impact' on African economy: UN

Africa's economy is likely to suffer only a minor blow from the Ebola outbreak despite the "considerable" impact on Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, a UN official said Monday. "From the start, the ECA was confident that the alarmist projections were wrong," said Carlos Lopez, the executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa. "We could not visualise more than a marginal impact on the region's performance, given that the three most affected countries account for less than one percent...

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Kuwait projects $24b deficit despite spending cuts

Kuwait on Monday projected a $24-billion deficit in its new fiscal year budget despite a massive spending cut due to plunging oil prices. Revenues for 2015-2016 are projected at $41.1 billion, 43.6 percent down from estimates in the current year, Finance Minister Anas al-Saleh said. The budget cuts spending to $65.1 billion, 17.8 percent below estimates in the current budget, the minister said. Saleh said the budget for the new fiscal year, which starts April 1, was approved by the cabinet Monday...

New Saudi leaders to press economic diversification

Saudi Arabia's new leadership will push forward efforts to diversify the growing but oil-dependent economy, while easing procedures for investors, senior officials said on Monday. "The smooth transition of power to King Salman is a testament of the stability and the commitment that our leadership has," Abdullatif al-Othman, governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), told a conference. Salman acceded to the throne of the world's leading oil exporter last Friday after his half-brother King Abdullah died aged about...

Modi promises business-friendly India to US executives

Prime Minister Narendra Modi vowed to banish India's reputation as a tough place to do business Monday, promising a competitive tax regime and an end to excessive red tape in a pitch to US executives delivered alongside Barack Obama. As the US president said there were still "too many obstacles" for businesses wanting to break into the vast Indian market, Modi admitted that unpredictable tax rules had scared off investors in the past. The right-wing prime minister, who came to power...

India turns to corner shops, mobile phones for banking revolution

India turns to corner shops, mobile phones for banking revolution

India is betting that mobile phone vendors, fuel stations and corner stores can help it put basic banking within the grasp of hundreds of millions of its poor people living beyond the reach of traditional bank branches. The clock is ticking down to a Feb 2 deadline for applications to set up so-called payments...

Oil prices down in Asia

Oil fell in Asia Monday after the anti-austerity party Syriza swept to victory in Greece's general elections, dealing a further blow to the struggling euro, analysts said. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for March delivery plunged by as much as 2.7 percent to $44.35 a barrel in New York, and Brent crude for March tumbled by up to 1.9 percent in London. Both contracts regained some ground and by mid-morning trade in Asia, WTI was trading at $45.14, down 45...

MPs debate controversial French bid to 'unblock' economy

French MPs on Monday thrashed out a controversial package of reforms designed to "unlock" France's sclerotic economy, including a proposal to extend Sunday shopping that sparked angry demonstrations. The reforms, presented by France's youthful Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron, aim to shake up Europe's second-biggest economy as it battles with stubbornly high unemployment and near-zero growth. One of the most controversial planks of the plan extends the number of Sundays that shops can open annually from five to a maximum of 12. In...

Spain growth could hit 2.5pc in 2015

Spain's recovering economy could grow as much as 2.5 percent this year if oil prices and the euro stay low, the economy minister said in an interview published Monday. The government says its tough austerity measures have started to strengthen the economy, which officially emerged from recession in 2013 and grew an estimated 1.4 percent in 2014. For 2015, "we are conscious that our current forecast of two percent is lower than the market consensus," the newspaper Expansion quoted Economy Minister...

Bangladesh aims to be world's 'first solar nation'

Bangladesh aims to be world's 'first solar nation'

Residents of Islampur, a remote village in the northern Bangladeshi district of Naogaon, were stunned one night last summer when the darkness was suddenly illuminated by electric lights coming from a village home. Why the surprise? The community has no connection to the country's power grid. The owner of the house, Rafiqul Islam, is...

German business confidence up as outlook brightens

German businesses are confident about the outlook for Europe's biggest economy, a new poll showed Monday, as a weaker euro and falling oil prices are set to boost the country's exporters. Nevertheless, it was too early to predict the impact on German confidence of the elections in Greece, where the victory of a radical left anti-austerity party could reignite concerns of a euro break-up, analysts cautioned. The Ifo institute's closely watched business climate index rose to 106.7 in January month from...

Japan trade deficit swells to record in 2014

Japan trade deficit swells to record in 2014

Japan's trade deficit swelled to a record $109 billion in 2014, data showed Monday, mostly because of huge post-Fukushima energy bills, but analysts said a recent drop in oil prices would shrink the yawning gap. The shortfall of 12.78 trillion yen, Japan's fourth-consecutive annual deficit, was 11.4 percent wider than 2013 and was the...

End of the road for Nepal's Himalayan caravans

End of the road for Nepal's Himalayan caravans

For generations, traders and their colourful herds of mules and yaks were a lifeline for remote communities in the heart of Nepal's formidable and often dangerous Himalayas. The traders bravely plied an ancient trail, ferrying salt, grains and other goods between neighbouring China's vast Tibetan plateau and Nepal's middle hills, a profession that endured...

Pakistan fuel crisis weighing on credit worthiness: Moody's

Pakistan's ongoing fuel shortage that has led to worsening power blackouts is weighing on its credit worthiness and hindering its ability to meet key reform targets laid out by the IMF, ratings agency Moody's warned Monday. The country is currently in the grip of one of its worst power crises in years due to a shortfall in imported oil, with the situation exacerbated Sunday by an attack on a key powerline in restive Baluchistan province. Moody's said that increasing energy imports...

Published Date: January 26, 2015
NBR unveils plan to check duty dodging

NBR unveils plan to check duty dodging

The National Board of Revenue has strengthened its systems to curb duty evasion and money laundering through false declaration of imported goods. The revenue authority installed the Asycuda World software at all customs houses and 10 land customs stations early this month, enabling officials to verify the value of declared goods. Test runs are being conducted. “Now, our colleagues sitting at Benapole or Hilly port can see the products that are arriving in Chittagong and verify their declared value in real time,” Md Farid Uddin, member of NBR's customs policy, said yesterday. The move will help curb undervaluation of imported goods, which cause money laundering and revenue losses for the state, he...

Published Date: January 26, 2015
Trade fair gets 10-day extension

The government has extended the ongoing Dhaka International Trade Fair by 10 days to help the participants that have suffered a sharp fall in sales as fears of political violence kept visitors away. The 20th edition of the month-long exposition at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar in the capital was scheduled to end on January 31. Now it will end on February 10. The Export Promotion Bureau, the organiser, took the decision at a meeting with Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed yesterday, according to an...

Published Date: January 26, 2015
Small power producers oppose gas price hike

Small and captive power producers yesterday strongly opposed the distributors' proposal to hike gas price, warning any increase would put the industries in trouble. The cost of doing business will go up if the gas price is hiked, Mohammad Mohsin, president of Bangladesh Small and Captive Power Producers Association, said at a media briefing at Dhaka Reporters Unity,  The association organised the press event to voice their objection to the state-run companies' bid to hike the gas price for small and...

Published Date: January 26, 2015
Garment makers to form human chain Wednesday to demand security

The apparel and textile businesses will form a human chain in Dhaka on Wednesday demanding security as the ongoing political violence is disrupting smooth operation of their business. The decision was taken yesterday at an emergency meeting of the leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, Bangladesh Textile Mills Association, and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association at the BGMEA office in Dhaka. “Buyers are continuously making queries about the political situation in the country,” BGMEA President Atiqul Islam told...

Published Date: January 26, 2015
Textiles ministry, Privatisation Commission at loggerheads over state-owned enterprises

The textiles and jute ministry and the Privatisation Commission are at loggerheads over who would denationalise the state-owned enterprises under the ministry. Against the backdrop, the Privatisation Commission sought intervention of the cabinet committee on economic affairs, which is likely to give a decision on the matter today. In a proposal, the commission said the ministry has taken an initiative to denationalise some state-owned enterprises that fall under the jurisdiction of the commission. According to the Privatisation Act 2000, the ministry...

Published Date: January 26, 2015
Janata Bank improves bad debt recovery

Janata Bank improves bad debt recovery

Janata Bank's default loans decreased 0.77 percentage points due to better recovery. The bank's defaults were Tk 3,306 crore or 10.34 percent of its total loans in December 2014, compared to 11.11 percent in the same month of the previous year, according to statistics disclosed at the bank's Annual Conference yesterday. Md Abdus Salam,...

Published Date: January 26, 2015
Gartner recognises IFS as leader

IFS, a global enterprise applications company, has been recognised as a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Single-Instance ERP for Product-Centric Midmarket Companies, by Christian Hestermann et al, it said in a statement yesterday.  The recognitoion came for its product IFS Applications 8™, it said. IFS has been positioned as a leader for the second consecutive year in the report, and has improved its positioning on the 'completeness of vision' and 'ability to execute' axis, the company said. “We are...

Published Date: January 26, 2015
Wales Chamber sees huge business prospects in Bangladesh

Businesses of Wales in the UK think they can do business worth £200 million in Bangladesh in the next five to eight years. Mahbub Noor, secretary general of Wales Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce, said Bangladeshi people have sufficient money to invest in the country, but what they need now is skills and knowledge. “So we have brought knowledge-based businessmen in the country to provide value and consultancy to create innovative products,” Noor said at a press meet at Amari Hotel in...

Published Date: January 26, 2015
Regulator's committee opposes proposed power price hike

A committee of Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission yesterday opposed the retail level electricity tariff hike proposed by Dhaka Electric Supply Company. The technical committee of the energy regulator said retail power tariff for the consumers of DESCO would not be necessary as the state-run company is set to make a net profit of Tk 238.3 crore in the current fiscal year.  DESCO urged BERC to raise retail power tariff by 17.45 percent. The technical committee said the regulator may raise the...

Published Date: January 26, 2015
Not by bread alone: Russians urged to go without for Putin

Not by bread alone: Russians urged to go without for Putin

Eat less, use beetroot instead of lipstick, swap French lingerie for Russian-made cotton panties and remember that hardships are a test from God. These and other tips are being offered to Russians by lawmakers, top policy makers and the Russian Orthodox Church as the gravity of the economic crisis sinks in and prices soar. The...

Published Date: January 26, 2015
India to open coal to commercial mining firms soon

India expects to hold auctions for private firms to mine and sell coal in the near future, the country's coal and power minister Piyush Goyal said but first wants to deal with mines that are directly linked to plants that use the fuel. To boost output and cut imports, Prime Minister Narendra Modi passed an executive decree in December to open up India's nationalised coal industry. Bids have been invited from firms that use coal for their own power, steel...

Published Date: January 26, 2015
Workers in Europe's oil hub hope for the best

On the docks in Aberdeen, oil workers put a brave face on hundreds of job cuts linked to sinking crude prices while union leaders warn that the worst is yet to come. "It has happened before and it will happen again. There will probably be job losses but that's the way the industry works," said Tony Maguire, a rig worker. But for Jake Molloy, a regional organiser for the RMT union in Aberdeen, Europe's oil capital in northeast Scotland, workers who...

Published Date: January 25, 2015
Padma bridge creates scope for Tk 2,000cr business

Padma bridge creates scope for Tk 2,000cr business

The Padma bridge project will give a boost to local steel, cement, stone and sand industries as the biggest-ever infrastructure project of the country will source many of the construction materials locally. Bangladeshi companies will get business worth Tk 2,000 crore to Tk 3,000 crore from the Tk 23,000-crore project, said Shamim Z Bosunia,...

Published Date: January 25, 2015
Private banks' credit growth rebounds

Private banks' credit growth rebounds

Private banks saw a substantial increase in credit growth towards the end of last year, but the ongoing political turmoil might put a damper on that, bank officials said. Credit growth of private banks, whose share in the total credit comes to 69.90 percent, accelerated 16.53 percent year-on-year in November last year. The sector's overall credit stood at Tk 690,045 crore, up 12.43 percent year-on-year. Credit growth started to accelerate from the middle of last year as political tension abated following the parliamentary election on January 5, Muklesur Rahman, managing director of NRB Bank, said. People had been observing the situation till June to see whether the political environment returned to 2013-like level....

Published Date: January 25, 2015
Amu warns tanners over relocation delay

Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu yesterday asked tannery owners to speed up the relocation of hazardous factories from Dhaka's Hazaribagh to Savar. “Relocation by the deadline is a must,” Amu said without specifying any date. He spoke at a workshop on leather and leather goods, organised by the Board of Investment (BoI) in Dhaka. The minister also threatened to cancel plot allocations for tannery owners unless they relocate the factories in time.  “Tanners should complete relocation for the sake of personal and national...

Published Date: January 25, 2015
Garment buyers threaten to shift orders

Garment buyers threaten to shift orders

A group of US-based garment retailers has threatened to shift work orders from Bangladesh to other destinations if political deadlock does not end soon, BGMEA President Atiqul Islam said yesterday. "The retailers said they are thinking of an alternative to Bangladesh as the ongoing blockade is hampering timely shipment of garments," Islam said, quoting an email he received from some retailers yesterday. The buyers also said they will not travel to Bangladesh to check samples of goods due to political violence, especially arson attacks on vehicles, according to Islam. The buyers are now asking the garment makers to send the samples to the US, he said. The US is the single largest export...

Published Date: January 25, 2015
Unrest for another week and retailers will shutter shops

Retailers have threatened to shut all shops across the country if the political parties do not put a lid on the violence by next week. “What kind of movement it is that kills innocent people? We are on the verge of bankruptcy owing to the last 19 days of violent politics,” SA Kader Kiron, chairman of Bangladesh Dokan Malik Samity, a platform of shop owners, said yesterday at a press briefing in the capital. Hardly any customer comes although the shops...

Published Date: January 25, 2015
Croatia freezes Swiss franc's rate for a year

Croatian lawmakers Friday fixed the Swiss franc's rate for loans for one year at the level it was before the currency's shocking surge last week, in a bid to help 60,000 struggling borrowers in Croatia. According to amendments to the Consumer Loan Act the franc's rate for payments of loans was fixed at 6.39 kunas (0.83 euros, $0.93) for a year. The banks were to bear the costs estimated by the Croatian Central Bank (HNB) at some 52 million euros. The...

Published Date: January 25, 2015
UK should stay in EU: Goldman Sachs

The president of Goldman Sachs has said Britain should stay in the EU to ensure London remains a "great financial capital of the world". Gary Cohn said financial firms "want to stay in London" - and Britain staying in the EU was the "best thing for all of us." Some firms fear EU states could impose costs on UK-based banks to operate in the EU if Britain left the union. But some business figures have called for Britain to pull out. Cohn...

Published Date: January 25, 2015
Asean to declare single market but delays deeper integration: Malaysia

Asean will officially call itself a single market by year's end, but "big things" like seamless travel within the 10-nation bloc would only come in 2020, Malaysia's trade minister told AFP in an interview. "We're going to declare ourselves as an Asean Economic Community," said Mustapa Mohamed, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the Southeast Asian bloc this year. "We don't have complete integration or harmonisation yet, 2015 is laying the stage for bigger things to come," he said on...

Published Date: January 25, 2015
Alibaba founder Jack Ma shows global ambitions

Alibaba founder Jack Ma, China's richest person, on Friday expressed ambitions of making his company into a global e-commerce platform serving two billion customers. The company, which listed on the New York Stock Exchange last year, is estimated to hold over 90 percent of the Chinese market for consumer-to-consumer transactions through its Taobao platform. Taobao has more than 800 million product listings and around 500 million registered users, according to the company. "What I am thinking about: how we can make Alibaba...

Published Date: January 25, 2015
Amazon, e-commerce rivals fuel commercial property boom in India

Amazon, e-commerce rivals fuel commercial property boom in India

Internet retailer Amazon and its fast-growing local rivals are driving a boom in commercial property leasing in India as their storage needs rise, with shoppers in the country going online to buy everything from televisions to groceries. Demand from e-commerce firms, a tiny fraction of India's retail industry, accounted for as much as 40...

Published Date: January 25, 2015
Spain to list world's largest airport operator

The Spanish government said Friday it would float a section of the world's largest airport operator AENA as part of a much-delayed privatisation of the firm, Europe's first major stock market listing of the year. The government will list 28 percent of the operator on the stock market and has agreed to sell another 21 percent to three private-sector anchor investors, Transport Minister Ana Pastor told a news conference. It will retain a narrow majority of 51 percent in AENA, which...

Published Date: January 25, 2015
Sony seeks to delay earnings over cyberattack

Sony said Friday it was asking Japanese regulators for permission to delay its earnings release next month after a cyberattack at its Hollywood film unit compromised "a large amount of data". The Japanese firm said its US-based Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) subsidiary will not have time to put together its financial statements after the attack, linked to its controversial North Korea satire "The Interview," which has been widely blamed on Pyongyang. The Tokyo-based firm, which was due to publish its earnings...

Published Date: January 25, 2015
China's use of yuan for cross-border business growing

China's use of its own yuan currency for cross-border transactions has increased "notably" to 9.95 trillion yuan ($1.63 trillion) last year, the central bank said Friday, without giving a comparative figure. China is seeking to make the yuan -- also known as the renminbi (RMB) -- used more internationally in line with its standing as the world's second-largest economy. Some analysts predict the unit will one day rival the US dollar. The combined volume of yuan settlement for cross-border trade, investment...

Published Date: January 25, 2015
Ukraine headache grows for IMF

The International Monetary Fund is far from being done with Ukraine, its latest mega-bailout client. A new aid plan for Kiev -- larger and longer -- is under discussion and raises the risk for the global crisis lender as Ukraine sinks deeper into war against pro-Moscow separatists. Less than a year ago, the IMF agreed to a $17 billion, two-year loan to help the country rebuild its finances and economy. But already that is proving not nearly enough. The original program "was...

Published Date: January 25, 2015
Davos: Closing gender gap good for business, says Lloyd's boss

Davos: Closing gender gap good for business, says Lloyd's boss

As the first female head in the 325-year history of the Lloyd's of London insurance market, Inga Beale is something of a shining light at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where gender equality is a key theme this year. But as she told AFP in an interview on the sidelines of the snowy...

Published Date: January 25, 2015
Davos elites warned about catastrophic cyberattacks

Davos elites warned about catastrophic cyberattacks

Attacks on power plants, telecommunications and financial systems, even turning all of Los Angeles' traffic lights green: Davos elites were warned Saturday of the terrifying possibilities of modern cyber terrorism. Eugene Kaspersky, who heads the Kaspersky Lab security group, said the possibilities of individuals being hacked would only increase in future as more devices,...

Published Date: January 25, 2015
US MasterCards will soon work in Cuba

MasterCard in March will begin processing transactions made on US-issued cards in Cuba, becoming the first major credit card company to do so since Cuba and the United States started to normalize relations. MasterCard said in a statement Friday that the move, effective March 1, follows renewed guidance from the US Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control. Though most US tourists are still barred, the US government this month eased travel and trade restrictions to the communist island. The government...