28 August 2000
While President Clinton was in Nigeria he mentioned it would be nice if his hosts could help lobby other oil producers to get the price of oil down, a bizarre way of supporting income growth in a third-world nation. Then, over the weekend, a report appeared of China flying in tens of thousands of troops plus prisoners-turned-security guards to the Christian and animist southern Sudan, to quell the long-running southern rebellion against the Muslim north. Why? To protect Sudan’s oil production, which began last year with supportfrom the Chinese and Malaysian national oil companies. Two British companies have also just won Sudanese pipeline contracts.28 August 2000
25 August 2000
Melbourne’s Crown Casino, which lost $A350 million two years ago before Kerry Packer bought it from Lloyd Williams, has bumped up operating profit 50% in the June 2000 year to $A273 million. The Nine TV network increased operating income 26% to $A282 million and the two business’ parent, Publishing & Broadcasting, made $A324 million.
US premium-range whiteware maker Maytag, No 3 in the US behind Whirlpool and General Electric, is said to be testing takeover prospects with Electrolux of Sweden, Siemens and Bosch of Germany.
20 August 2000
The sons of Chinese president Jiang Zemin and Taiwanese tycoon YC Wang, good friends Jiang Mianheng and Winston Wang, are to form a joint venture to build a $US800 million semiconductor plant in Shanghai. Taiwan bans such investment and Mr Wang Sr’s Formosa Group will provide no funding. Winston Wang heads Hung Jen Group, which has big petrochemical investments in China and will put together investments totalling $US6.4 billion from other sources for more semiconductor projects.
19 August 2000
Maersk Sealand, the world’s biggest container line, will move its business from Singapore to Tanjung Pelepas, the Malaysian state of Johor’s new port just round the corner. That will cut about 12% from Singapore operator PSA Corporation’s business, just a year from the government company’s plan to float. Maersk will own 30% of the new port and operate its terminal. Tanjung Pelepas will become a serious alternative for companies in Singapore’s western Jurong industrial belt. But Maersk’s New Zealand shipping will continue to go through Singapore.
Ong Beng Seng and his wife Christina will take 41.7% of English luxury goods company Mulberry for Â£7.6 million, with the ability through 8 million preference shares to take full control of the company within two years. The billionaire Ongs of Singapore have substantial hotel interests, particularly in Australia, control Armani in Britain and hold the Asian franchise for Planet Hollywood. The deal involves expanding Mulberry into the US, starting with at least five stores at a Â£5 million cost.
16 August 2000
Citigroup will issue Â¥155 billion of Samurai bonds in the next month, joining non-Japanese bankers taking advantage of the low interest on Japanese government bonds and strong investor demand. Samurai bonds, issued in yen by non-residents, have doubled this year to Â¥1.34 trillion.
15 August 2000
Australian property giant Lend Lease Corporation is establishing a vulture fund, focusing on Japan, Korea and Thailand, as Asia’s huge institutional debt portfolios are unravelled. The Lend Lease International Distressed Debt Fund will be run by the asset management division of Lend Lease Real Estate Investments, formerly Amresco, a company formed in Texas in 1986 to help that region out of the US banking crisis. It is looking for investments of at least $US5 million, with an expectation of generating at least a 25% annual return.
9 August 2000
Accountancy firm Arthur Andersen and Andersen Consulting have been split by the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce, ending a three-year case and a decade of acrimonious battles over business poaching. The arbitrator ordered the consulting side to pay the accountants $US1 billion, but not the $US14.5 billion penalty payments the accountants were claiming and to stop using the Andersen name.
KPMG’s consultancy unit should split from the parent accountancy firm this year, forming a $US5.6 billion public company. The KPMG accountancy side and internet service provider Cisco Systems will hold 20% each in the new company, which will not bear the KPMG name. The accountants will sell down over five years and 55% of the new company will be for sale in the float.
3 August 2000
The Indonesian restructuring agency, Ibra, is looking at whether to sell the Salim group as one unit, back to its original owners, or break it up for sale of the parts, but will leave that call to the Government. The group has 108 companies in 14 industries and in the couple of years before the 1997 Asian financial crisis that brought it down it become a more international investor, including being an original investor in the Hong Leong-led Camerlin consortium which bought into Brierley Investments. Salim is said to be worth about $3.8 billion.