• Friday, February 27, 2015

Business

Banks' profits drop on bad loans

Banks' profits drop on bad loans

The banking sector's net profit dropped around 17 percent year-on-year in 2014 to Tk 5,993 crore on the back of mounting bad loans which necessitated large provisioning. The banks last year made operational profit of Tk 21,265 crore, from which Tk 9,037 crore was deducted as tax and Tk 6,238 crore as provisioning against bad loans, according to central bank statistics. Of the 56 banks, UK-based Standard Chartered Bank recorded the highest profits last year: their operating profit was Tk 1,742 crore and net profit Tk 1,098 crore. Another foreign bank, HSBC, came in the second position with their net profit of Tk 579 crore and operating profit of Tk 969 crore. The private and foreign banks saw their net profits rise last year, by 21 percent and 17 percent respectively. The 48 private banks altogether clocked in operating profits of Tk 14,941 crore, of which Tk 6,350 crore was taken off as tax and Tk 2,881 crore for provisioning. After the deductions, the banks logged in net profit...

More Bangla content on way to Wikipedia

More Bangla content on way to Wikipedia

Popular online encyclopaedia 'Wikipedia' plans to develop more Bangla language content...

Midland Bank brings new deposit products, credit card

Midland Bank brings new deposit products, credit card

Midland Bank yesterday came up with five new deposit products along...

Forex reserves cross $23b

Foreign currency reserves have crossed $23 billion for the first time in the country's history, on the back of steady export,...

Large cap firms pull stocks up

Stocks broke a two-day losing streak and returned to the black yesterday, as investors went on a buying spree of large cap stocks amid the continued political turmoil. DSEX, the prime index of the Dhaka Stock Exchange, edged up 20.99 points or 0.44 percent to close at 4,763.22. DSES, the shariah index of DSE, rose 4.12 points or 0.36 percent to close at 1,130.91. The market responded positively to the earnings growth despite a gloomy outlook, commented IDLC Investments. Political instability kept...

Trade ties with Philippines to be strengthened

Bangladesh might introduce direct flights between Dhaka and Manila to enhance connectivity between the two countries and increase trade with the Philippines, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said yesterday. The Philippines is a very promising trading partner for Bangladesh, but many people do not know of the potential for poor connectivity between the two countries, he said, adding that he will discuss the issue of launching direct flights between the two capitals with the civil aviation minister. Ahmed's comments came at the...

WB to help Bangladesh attain middle-income status

The World Bank has pledged strong support for Bangladesh to achieve the goal of becoming a middle-income country by the end of this decade. “For this to happen, Bangladesh needs to do more to narrow the power and transportation gaps, manage urbanisation, reduce climate change impacts, and also improve the business environment and governance,” said Annette Dixon, WB's vice-president for South Asia region. She said they will help Bangladesh clear bottlenecks that impede faster growth and connect to regional and global...

Etihad Airways offers up to 30pc discount

Etihad Airways now offers up to 30 percent discount on business and economy class tickets for guests travelling from Dhaka, Sylhet and Chittagong to over 350 popular destinations in UK, Europe, South America, Middle East, Africa, USA and Canada. Etihad's biggest ever seat sale for 2015 was launched in corporation with the carrier's equity code share partner airlines across the world, the airline said in a statement yesterday. The tickets can be availed for bookings between February 25 and March...

Credit, money data offer glimmer of hope for eurozone

New credit and money supply data for the 19-nation eurozone on Thursday offered tentative signs that the region's battered economy is slowly mending, analysts said. The European Central Bank calculated that loans to the private sector -- a gauge of the single currency's economic health -- fell by just 0.1 percent in January, after long years of declines. The fractional drop marked an improvement over the previous month when loans to the private sector had contracted by 0.5 percent. The long...

Loader

More

German unemployment at new post-unification low

German unemployment fell in February to the lowest level since the country reunited in 1990 as growth in Europe's biggest economy picks up, official data showed on Thursday. The number of people registered as unemployed in Germany fell by a seasonally-adjusted 20,000 to 2.812 million in February, the Federal Labour Office said. Analysts had been expecting a much shallower decline of 8,000 this month. The unemployment rate -- which measures the jobless total against the working population as a whole -- was...

Qantas roars back into black after aggressive cost-cutting

Australian carrier Qantas on Thursday roared back into the black after an aggressive shake-up to stem mounting losses, posting its best interim result in four years helped by a revival in its international arm. The Aus$203 million (US$162 million) result in the six months to December 31 marked a stunning turnaround from a net loss of Aus$235 million in the same period in 2013 and smashed analyst forecasts. Underlying profit before tax -- the airline's preferred measure of financial performance --...

Cheap oil: Asia's winners and losers

Cheap oil: Asia's winners and losers

The price of crude oil has halved since June 2014. Who has benefitted? Mainly those countries that need to import oil, that use more of it than they can produce themselves. The probable gainers include India, South Korea, Thailand and - up to a point - China and Japan. South Korea is a striking case....

India aims to invest $137b in railways in next 5 years

The Indian government unveiled plans yesterday to invest $137 billion in its decrepit rail network over the next five years, heralding Prime Minister Narendra Modi's aggressive approach to building infrastructure needed to unlock faster economic growth. Over the next year, India will increase investment by about a half to 1 trillion rupees ($16.15 billion) including funds raised by market borrowing. To meet the five year target, investment will have to speed up even more after that, leaving economists questioning where the...

StanChart picks ex-JPMorgan exec Winters as CEO to replace Sands

Asia-focused bank Standard Chartered said former JPMorgan investment bank boss Bill Winters will take over as chief executive in June to replace embattled boss Peter Sands. Standard Chartered said on Thursday Chairman John Peace will also leave next year, and named other changes to its board in a massive overhaul in management following a run of problems for the UK bank prompted top shareholders to call for change. Winters, 53, is one of the most respected bankers in the industry and...

Citigroup unit probed over money laundering

Citigroup Inc said additional government authorities have started probes of possible breaches of anti-money laundering laws at its Banamex USA unit. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, a unit of the US Treasury, and the California Department of Business Oversight have asked the company for information on its compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money laundering rules, Citigroup disclosed in an annual filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday. The disclosure comes one year after Citigroup revealed a...

Bharti Airtel raises $310m through share sale in tower unit

Bharti Airtel, India's biggest mobile phone operator by users, said on Thursday it had raised $310 million through a secondary share sale in its mobile tower unit Bharti Infratel Ltd. Bharti Airtel will use the funds primarily to reduce debt, the company said in a statement. Its equity holding in Bharti Infratel has reduced to 71.9 percent following the deal, it said. Bharti Airtel, headed by billionaire Sunil Mittal, and around a third owned by Singapore Telecommunications, had net debt of...

IBM targets $40b in cloud, other growth areas by 2018

International Business Machines Corp, which ruled computing in the age of the mainframe, is targeting $40 billion in annual revenue from the cloud, big data, security and other growth areas by 2018. The aggressive target, set by IBM executives at the company's annual investor meeting in New York on Thursday, is the latest step for the technology giant towards emerging, high-margin businesses, and away from its previous strongholds in hardware and servers. The $40 billion will come from areas which IBM...

Published Date: February 26, 2015
Oil price fall: a boon for economy

Oil price fall: a boon for economy

The country can save up to $2 billion a year, thanks to the sliding oil prices in the global market, LankaBangla said in a recent research. In 2014, the oil prices plunged 44 percent to $60.55 a barrel and the trend continued into 2015. Oil prices yesterday stood at $ 58.91 a barrel. Since oil accounts for the largest share in the import basket (11 percent), the savings will be quite significant, which will go on to improve the trade balance -- currently in the negative, the stockbroker said in the report titled Bangladesh Investment Guide 2015. With the decline in energy cost, non-food inflation would be lower, which would, in turn,...

Published Date: February 26, 2015
Robi profits surge 20pc

Robi profits surge 20pc

Robi's net profits rose around 20 percent year-on-year to Tk 440 crore in 2014 on the back of attractive customer-centric products and service offerings and effective cost management. In 2014, the operator, the country's third biggest, saw its subscriber base increase 13.2 percent to reach 2.53 crore. Its revenues stood at Tk 4,940 crore, up...

Published Date: February 26, 2015
Businesses to seek incentives to recoup unrest losses

MAJOR DEMANDS Deferred payment facility of up to five years for term loans Release of all due incentives as soon as possible Important bank branches should remain open during public holidays Businesses want special incentives for exports to eurozone Struck by the debilitating political limbo, business-people will now seek deferred payment facility of up to five years from the government for their industrial term loans to tide them over. A deferred payment is a loan arrangement in which the borrower is allowed to make payments...

Published Date: February 26, 2015
Small steel mills suffer for political turmoil

AT A GLANCE Annual demand for steel bars (rod):  40 lakh tonnes Tech-savvy large mills supply 65% of the demand Remaining 35% is supplied by small mills There are 400 small mills -- 200 have been temporarily shut down due to unrest Non-graded traditional steel millers are facing a difficult time as they are losing market share to tech-savvy large mills, while their remaining business is being eaten up by the ongoing political unrest, industry insiders said. There are around 400 small mills that produce non-graded...

Published Date: February 26, 2015
LR Global fined Tk 50 lakh for bending rules

The stockmarket regulator yesterday fined LR Global Bangladesh Tk 50 lakh, as a regulatory probe unearthed a number of gross violations of securities rules and misappropriation of hard cash of six mutual funds managed by the asset management company. The asset management company cannot also float any new mutual fund for next one year. Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission also fined Bangladesh General Insurance Company, the mutual funds' trustee, Tk 25 lakh and Hoda Vasi Chowdhury and Co, its auditor, Tk...

Published Date: February 26, 2015
Swedish IT firms interested in Bangladesh

Some of the top Swedish IT firms that have operations in the Indian city of Bangalore are interested in relocating to Bangladesh for lower costs of production, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said yesterday. To explore the relocation prospects, a delegation comprising top businessmen from Sweden is due in the country on March 11, the minister told reporters after a meeting with Swedish Ambassador in Dhaka, Johan Frisell, at the secretariat. Bangladesh is a good destination for investment for its good and...

Published Date: February 26, 2015
Are low oil prices here to stay?

Are low oil prices here to stay?

Predicting the oil price is a bit of a mug's game. There are simply too many variables involved to make any kind of meaningful, definitive forecast. What we do know is that, despite a recent upturn, the price of oil has slumped almost 50 percent since last summer following the longest-running decline for 20...

Published Date: February 26, 2015
India under pressure to deliver on 'Modinomics' in budget

India under pressure to deliver on 'Modinomics' in budget

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government unveils its first full budget Saturday under intense pressure to bring about promised reforms to grow India's economy after winning the biggest mandate in 30 years at last year's elections. Modi has promised to slash red tape, reform tax and overhaul land acquisition laws to try to attract...

Published Date: February 26, 2015
Social enterprises need policy support to flourish: analysts

Social enterprises need policy support to flourish: analysts

Bangladesh needs to promote innovative finance models for social enterprises to unlock investment from the private sector, said Durreen Shahnaz, managing director of Shujog, a social enterprise. “We need private investment to develop social enterprises in the country,” she said yesterday. Shahnaz spoke at a programme on “Social enterprise: policy and practice”, organised by the...

Published Date: February 26, 2015
Excelerate, Petrobangla ink deal to set up first LNG terminal

Excelerate Energy and Petrobangla yesterday signed a non-binding term sheet to set up the country's first liquefied natural gas import terminal near Moheshkhali island. Shafiqur Rahman, secretary of state-run oil company Petrobangla, and Sheampoo Suvasssari, director of Excelerate Energy, signed the deal at the Petro Centre in Dhaka, according to a statement from Petrobangla. A term sheet is a non-binding agreement setting forth the basic terms and conditions under which an investment will be made. It serves as a template to...

Published Date: February 26, 2015
IPOs of Olympic Accessories, Keya Cosmetics get regulator's nod

Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday gave a green light to Olympic Accessories to raise Tk 20 crore from the public. The company is set to float two crore ordinary shares of Tk 10 each to raise the fund, the stockmarket regulator said in a statement. Olympic Accessories will use the fund from the initial public offering for the construction of a new factory building and purchasing machinery. The company's earnings per share as of June last year stood at Tk 1.43...

Published Date: February 26, 2015
Apple ordered to pay $533m for patent infringement

Apple Inc has been ordered to pay $532.9 million after a federal jury in Texas found that its iTunes software infringed three patents owned by patent licensing firm Smartflash LLC. Though Smartflash had been asking for $852 million in damages, Tuesday night's verdict was still a blow to Apple. The jury, which deliberated for eight hours, determined Apple had not only used Smartflash's patents without permission, but did so willfully. Apple, which said it would appeal, said the outcome was another reason...

Published Date: February 26, 2015
EU unveils plans for historic single energy market

The EU unveiled plans Wednesday for a continent-wide single energy market to reduce its uneasy reliance on Russian supplies and cut a massive annual import bill of some 400 billion euros. The proposals by the European Commission, the executive body of the 28-nation bloc, are timely as Russia once again threatens to cut gas deliveries to Ukraine, putting onward supply to Europe at risk. "Today, we launch the most ambitious European energy project since the Coal and Steel Community," said Maros...

Published Date: February 26, 2015
Unions, charity accuse McDonald's of avoiding 1b euros in tax

Labour unions and a charity accused fast food chain McDonald's of avoiding around 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) in tax between 2009 and 2013 by routing revenues through a Luxembourg unit and called on the European Commission to investigate. Corporate tax avoidance has become a hot political issue in Europe and the EU executive has opened investigations into tax deals that some countries have cut with multinationals, including deals between Luxembourg and carmaker Fiat and online retailer Amazon.com. Umbrella organisations for...

Published Date: February 26, 2015
EU truck makers face 4b-euro fine for price-fixing

European truck makers could be fined more than 4 billion euros ($4.5 billion) by the EU in one of Europe's biggest-ever price-fixing scandals, the business daily Handelsblatt reported on Tuesday. MAN and Scania, both owned by German auto giant Volkswagen as well as Daimler, DAF of the Netherlands, Iveco of Italy and Sweden's Volvo are accused of forming an illegal cartel between 1999 and 2011. According to Handelsblatt, which quoted industry sources, MAN will escape prosecution because it reported the price-fixing...

Published Date: February 26, 2015
Australia plans fees for foreign property investors

Foreign investors may have to pay large fees before buying Australian residential real estate or businesses, the government has announced. PM Tony Abbott said the government was proposing a range of civil penalties and fees linked to foreign investment. Property prices are a hot button issue in Australia, especially in Sydney, and there are claims foreign investment is artificially boosting house prices. But Mr Abbott conceded there was not enough data on this issue. He also ruled out reviewing Australia's negative gearing rules,...

Published Date: February 26, 2015
Facebook claims 2m advertisers

Facebook said Tuesday it has boosted the number of advertisers on the social network to two million as it launched a mobile app for those managing their commercial pitches. Dan Levy, Facebook's vice president for global marketing and small business, said the number of advertisers has doubled over the past year and a half. "We think it's a strong sign of the commitment we are making to help small businesses," Levy told AFP. "They continue benefiting the economy for their region and...

Published Date: February 26, 2015
Strong dollar hurts HP's earnings forecast

Hewlett-Packard Co reported flat or lower quarterly revenue in all of its operating units on Tuesday, and forecast full-year earnings well below analysts' expectations due to a strong U.S. dollar. Its shares tumbled 6.7 percent in after-hours trading. The world's No. 2 PC maker, which has struggled to adapt to the new era of mobile and online computing, is preparing to split into two listed companies later this year, separating its computer and printer businesses from its faster-growing corporate hardware...

Published Date: February 26, 2015
Tough road for Greece after bailout extension

Tough road for Greece after bailout extension

The hard work for Greece's new anti-austerity government began Wednesday of living up to promises made not only to international creditors but also to voters expecting relief from years of painful cuts. On Tuesday Athens secured -- but only just -- a four-month extension to its lifeline bailout programme, although the German and Greek...

Published Date: February 26, 2015
American Express to raise credit card rates

American Express Co is raising interest rates for over 1 million cardholders for the first time in more than five years, Bloomberg reported. American Express told customers this month that their annual rates will rise an average of 2.5 percentage points to at least 12.99 percent following a review last year, Bloomberg reported, citing people briefed on the move. The company sent letters to its cardholders saying it is making adjustments after finding its rates were below those of rival cards...

Published Date: February 26, 2015
Visa Europe plans new security that could pave way for Apple Pay

Visa Europe has announced a new, more secure way for consumers to pay retailers via smartphones, a move that could set the stage for Apple's Apple Pay and rival mobile payment services to be introduced into Europe in the coming months. Visa Europe said on Tuesday it would introduce to member banks by mid-April a "tokenisation" service which substitutes random numbers for a user's credit card details when a merchant transmits transaction data, reducing the risk of online theft. Similar security...

Published Date: February 25, 2015
Garment exporters hit by euro slide

Garment exporters hit by euro slide

The steep fall of the euro along with political crisis at home has dealt a twofold setback to garment exporters, who are losing money both ways. “It's a double whammy for us,” said Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association. “On one hand, we are losing business for the ongoing political impasse inside the country and on the other hand, we are losing money due to currency devaluation in our main market.”  The eurozone is the largest export destination for Bangladesh, with 60 percent, or more than $14 billion, of garment items being shipped to the region every year. The taka is getting stronger against the euro and the...

Published Date: February 25, 2015
NBR shy of 7-month target

NBR shy of 7-month target

The National Board of Revenue logged Tk 69,465 crore in the first seven months of this fiscal year, falling 3.28 percent short of the target for the period. The revenue target for July-January of fiscal 2014-15 was Tk 71,825 crore, while it is Tk 149,720 crore for the entire year. The NBR is hopeful about...

Published Date: February 25, 2015
Loan rescheduling rules relaxed for unrest-hit farmers

The central bank has relaxed the agriculture loan rescheduling policy as farmers are failing to repay loans because of the falling prices of their produce caused by the ongoing blockade and strikes. “The conditions for down payment for short-term farm loans can be relaxed based on banker-borrower relationship. Even, loans can be rescheduled without any down payments,” Bangladesh Bank said in a notice, which was issued on Monday. The BB also directed the banks to disburse fresh loans to farmers after...

Published Date: February 25, 2015
IFC, Green Delta stand by farmers

International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Green Delta Insurance Company Ltd yesterday entered into an agreement to develop insurance products for farmers to protect them from weather-related losses. Advisory support will be provided for distributing the products, increasing lending to farmers and improving their risk profile. Kyle F Kelhofer, country manager of IFC, and Farzana Chowdhury, managing director of Green Delta, signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organisations, according to a statement.  “Crop insurance will protect rural economy. Weather-index insurance will...

Published Date: February 25, 2015
Govt to start talks with WB soon on budget support

The government will begin negotiations with the World Bank soon to receive budgetary support, Finance Minister AMA Muhith said yesterday. “I have informed the WB about the policy reforms we will undertake,” he told reporters after a meeting with Annette Dixon, vice president of the World Bank for its South Asia region, at the secretariat. The finance ministry has already sent a set of policy reforms to the Washington-based multilateral lender. It covers nine areas such as public fund management, banking, energy,...

Published Date: February 25, 2015
NBR to roll out trade facilitation measures

The National Board of Revenue has moved to reduce the cost of doing business by eliminating delays and enable companies to offer better services. The NBR will soon start piloting the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO), a World Customs Organisation framework whose major objective is trade facilitation and promotion of supply chain security. Masudul Kabir, team leader of customs modernisation team of the NBR, said they would begin the piloting with the exporters within two to three months and then expand gradually. He...

Published Date: February 25, 2015
Jetro organises opinion exchange meeting for young leaders

Japanese firms operating in China want to relocate their businesses in Bangladesh due to cheap labour, and quota- and duty-free access to the developed world, especially Europe, said Mami Ideue, a Japanese student. The country has immense potential to attract more foreign investment from the world, Ideue said in a discussion between Japanese and Bangladeshi students to exchange their thoughts on Bangladesh's culture and economy. Political instability, corruption, poor infrastructure and unskilled labour are some bottlenecks for the country, she said. Japan...

Published Date: February 25, 2015
Indian sugar mills to struggle to export raws despite subsidy

Indian mills are likely to struggle to export raw sugar, despite a government subsidy to boost shipments, as global prices remain weak with large supplies from top producer Brazil set to flood the market soon. Lower exports by India, the world's biggest consumer of sugar, should take some pressure off benchmark New York prices that are mired near a 5-year low of 14.08 cents per lb. "Not only are the prices unfavourable, most refineries in the world have sufficient stocks, with...

Published Date: February 25, 2015
Retail dilemma in India - nice malls are few and far between

Retail dilemma in India - nice malls are few and far between

A severe shortage of attractive malls has made setting up shop in India easier said than done, crimping expansion plans for both foreign retailers such as Lacoste and domestic giants like department store chain Shoppers Stop. India's searing heat, heavy traffic and cluttered pavements make malls the most popular option for urban middle class...

Published Date: February 25, 2015
Google Wallet partners up to battle Apple Pay

Google said Monday it was teaming up with the mobile phone payment firm Softcard to ramp up its efforts to counter Apple Pay in the emerging sector. The California tech giant announced Google Wallet would become a pre-installed "tap to pay" app on Android smartphones sold in the US market by AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, as part of the deal with the carriers' mobile payments company Softcard. The aim is "to help more Android users get the benefits of tap and...

Published Date: February 25, 2015
US probing banks over price rigging of precious metals

The United States is probing major banks over possible manipulation of precious metals markets, the Wall Street Journal said Monday. The investigation centres on prices for gold, silver, platinum and palladium. It is being carried out by the Justice Department with help from Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which regulates raw materials and derivatives, the newspaper said, quoting sources close to the case. The banks targeted are HSBC, Bank of Nova Scotia, Barclays, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Societe Generale,...

Published Date: February 25, 2015
Toyota unveils fuel-cell car assembly line

Toyota President Akio Toyoda on Tuesday unveiled the assembly line that is making the first mass market fuel-cell car. The world's biggest carmaker plans to produce 700 units of the four-door Mirai sedan -- powered by hydrogen and emitting nothing but water vapour from its tailpipe -- by the end of December. Production of the car whose name means "future" in Japanese is scheduled to expand to 2,000 units in 2016 and 3,000 units in 2017. The Mirai, which is being made...