• Friday, November 28, 2014

Business

Unilever goes from strength to strength

Unilever goes from strength to strength

Innovations and sustainability are at the heart of growth. That's why Unilever is integrating both into its business strategy. Paul Polman, chief executive officer of Unilever Plc, says he is happy with the progress in driving the company's sustainability agenda in Bangladesh and this has contributed significantly to the strong growth of business here. Polman spoke to The Daily Star in an email interview to give an overview of Unilever's strategy and the positive contribution being made by markets like Bangladesh to its global business growth. The Daily Star (TDS): For nearly two and a half decades, Bangladesh clocked about 6 percent growth and the economy is expected to maintain similar or higher growth in the coming years. How does Unilever interpret the growth trajectory? What prospects do you see in Bangladesh and what are your future plans here, especially in addressing...

LDCs must focus on higher productivity

LDCs must focus on higher productivity

Least-developed countries like Bangladesh will have to focus on structural transformation...

At least 10 years needed to move out of LDC list: economist

Bangladesh will need at least ten years to move out of the list of least-developed countries as none of the criteria...

Challenge conventional economic models

Challenge conventional economic models

Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus has called for collective effort at both...

Electricity prospects brighten on Saarc deal

A power deal signed by Saarc countries in Kathmandu yesterday has raised hopes for cross-border electricity trade among the South Asian nations through a common grid. Once the network comes into being, power-starved countries like Bangladesh will be able to import surplus electricity of their neighbours. Officials said the deal would further strengthen regional cooperation in the power sector and allow Bangladesh to import electricity from neighbouring countries such as Nepal and Bhutan that have immense potential in hydropower. Bangladesh now imports...

Banks cash in on dollar demand

Some banks have artificially created a greenback scarcity to charge more from importers, seeing a spike in imports. Within a span of 15 days, some banks have inflated the dollar rate by Tk 2-3, although the greenback has not appreciated as much, several importers told The Daily Star. Abul Bashar Chowdhury, chairman of Chittagong-based BSM Group, said his firm bought dollars at Tk 77.35-77.40 each ten days ago. Now, some banks are demanding Tk 79.25 for a dollar. The sudden spiral in...

Online grocers come up trumps in India's e-commerce boom

Online grocers come up trumps in India's e-commerce boom

Put off by snarled city traffic and a shortage of parking, more Indians are shopping for groceries online, helping e-tailers like Bigbasket.com and Localbanya.com turn in profits while supermarkets are struggling. The online grocers benefit from low overheads, as they store goods in warehouses outside big cities where commercial rents are sky-high. Some like...

Opec begins pivotal meet as oil prices hit fresh lows

Opec ministers met Thursday to decide whether to slash oil production amid a glut in global supplies, sending crude prices to new lows ahead of their pivotal vote. The 12-nation oil cartel is under pressure from its poorer members like Venezuela and Ecuador to cut output as collapsing prices have slashed their precious revenues. But its powerful Gulf members have rejected calls to turn down the taps unless they are guaranteed market share in the highly competitive arena, particularly in the...

Coca-Cola partnership to create biggest bottler in Africa

The Coca-Cola Company Thursday announced a partnership to form its largest soft drinks bottling company in Africa, serving "high growth" countries on the continent. The Coca-Cola company together with British drinks giant SABMiller and Gutsche Family Investment, a South Africa private firm, will join forces to form Coca-Cola Beverages Africa. "The new bottler, Coca-Cola Beverages Africa, will serve 12 high-growth countries accounting for approximately 40 percent of all Coca-Cola beverage volumes in Africa," said a statement. It will be majority owned by...

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US automakers aim for luxury market in China

US automakers aim for luxury market in China

China is the new El Dorado for US automakers looking to develop sales of their luxury brands, which globally are lagging behind German and Japanese competitors. General Motors, the largest US automaker, already sells more cars in China each month than it does in its home market and expects that to continue. "Our joint ventures...

US cruise liner taps into growing Southeast Asian market

US-based Princess Cruises, the world's third largest cruise line, launched its first Singapore-based service on Thursday in a move to tap into the emerging Southeast Asian cruise travel market. Industry players said a fast-rising middle class, which has fuelled a boom in budget air travel, is also likely to drive demand in the region's fledgling cruise market. More than 2,500 guests were due to depart from the city-state Thursday evening aboard the 116,000-tonne Sapphire Princess for an 11-day voyage that will...

German labour market unfazed by economic weakness

The German labour market continued to shine in November, shrugging off the current economic weakness, with unemployment now at its lowest level since unification, official data showed on Thursday. The number of people registered as unemployed in Europe's biggest economy fell by a seasonally-adjusted 14,000 in November to 2.872 million, the Federal Labour Office said. That is the lowest number since December 1991, although the jobless total came close to these levels in early 2012. The unemployment rate -- which measures the...

Toyota recalls more cars for dangerous Takata air bags

Toyota Motor Corp said on Thursday it would recall 57,000 vehicles globally to replace potentially deadly air bags made by Takata Corp, as a safety crisis around the Japanese auto parts maker looks far from being contained. Toyota's action follows a recall by rival Honda Motor Co for the same problem two weeks ago after revelations of a fifth death, in Malaysia, linked to Takata's air bag inflator. More than 16 million vehicles have been recalled worldwide since 2008 over...

Stock turnover hits four-month low

Turnover on the Dhaka Stock Exchange fell 15.6 percent to a four-month low of Tk 264 crore yesterday from the previous day, as investors remained inactive to take fresh exposure amid a bearish trend. DSEX, the benchmark general index of the DSE, ended the day at 4,772.55 points, after gaining 15.94 points or 0.33 percent. The shariah index of the Dhaka bourse, DSES, fell 1.84 points or 0.17 percent to close at 1,106.86. Combined with heightened volatility and low turnover, the closing...

Bangladesh, India team up in leather sector

Leather manufacturers from India and Bangladesh yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding to intensify cooperation, foster joint ventures and explore possibilities of direct investments. The Indian Footwear Components Manufacturers Association (IFCOMA) and the Leather Goods and Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association of Bangladesh signed the agreement on the sidelines of a leather sector fair at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka. The deal provides for frequent interactions, exchange of information and development of healthy business relationship between the two associations, the...

Amazon cuts Fire phone price to ignite sales

Amazon on Wednesday slashed the price of Fire mobile phones that stalled after launch early this year, becoming a drag on the US online retail titan's bottom line. The price cut, which Amazon said would last until December 1, was the second for Fire and was included in a set of holiday-shopping season deals announced for items including Kindle e-readers. Fire smartphones free of accompanying contracts with telecom carriers are available for $199 and come with a year-long membership to Amazon...

New chairman for BDBL

New chairman for BDBL

Md Yeasin Ali has recently joined Bangladesh Development Bank as chairman, the bank said in a statement yesterday. Prior to joining BDBL, Ali was the chairman of Bangladesh House Buil-ding Finance Corporation. He has previously served Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank, Bangladesh Shilpa Bank, Rupali Bank and Dutch-Bangla Bank as managing director, according to the statement. He has also worked with Bangladesh Krishi Bank and Agrani Bank.

Philippine economic growth slows in third quarter

Growth slowed sharply in the Philippine economy in the third quarter because of typhoon damage and falling public spending, officials said Thursday. The economy grew by 5.3 percent in the three months to September -- below expectations -- and 5.8 percent through the first nine months of the year. Deputy chief statistician Romeo Recide added that gross domestic product (GDP) growth in this period fell to the lowest level since the last quarter of 2011. The government has set a GDP growth...

Published Date: November 27, 2014
AK Khan Co to develop special economic zone

AK Khan Company will build a 200-acre special economic zone in Narsingdi, the first under the private sector. The work for the SEZ will start in January, and once completed, the zone will create about one lakh jobs. The Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority yesterday handed over the pre-qualification licence to the local conglomerate at a programme at its office in the capital. AK Khan Company will lease out plots to foreign investors, said Salahuddin Kasem Khan, managing director of AK Khan Company,...

Published Date: November 27, 2014
Drug prices to rise as NBR taxes total commission

The prices of certain drugs may rise in the new year after the National Board of Revenue imposed value-added tax on the entire commission pharmaceutical companies pay to retailers. The retailers and distributors get 16 percent commission on average, but the universal 15 percent VAT is calculated on 13.33 percent of commission. From January 1, the entire commission amount -- 16 percent -- must be taken into account for VAT calculations. The new system will allow the revenue authority to get an...

Published Date: November 27, 2014
Most rickshaw-pullers in Dhaka use mobile to send money home: study

Three out of four rickshaw-pullers in the Dhaka city send money to their village homes through mobile banking services which they deem safe and cost-effective, according to a new study. Salahuddin Aminuzzaman, a professor of the public administration department at Dhaka University, conducted the study on 350 rickshaw-pullers to understand the pattern of internal remittance behaviour of the rickshaw-pullers in the capital as well as the use of the remitted money. The study, conducted between March and June 2013, shows 47...

Published Date: November 27, 2014
Atiur receives Gusi Peace Prize

Atiur receives Gusi Peace Prize

Bangladesh Bank Governor Atiur Rahman received the Gusi Peace Prize 2014 at a ceremony in Manila yesterday. The Gusi Peace Prize foundation has termed Rahman as the "poor man's economist" in the award citation. "I see this prestigious Gusi peace prize initiative as a reaffirmation of our collective commitment to human progress through poverty eradication...

Published Date: November 27, 2014
ADB to boost funds for Bangladesh

The Asian Development Bank has signalled that it would increase its development assistance to Bangladesh. ADB Vice President Wencai Zhang spoke to Finance Minister AMA Muhith at a meeting in Dhaka yesterday. Muhith later told reporters that the ADB vice president informed him that their commitment to Bangladesh reached $1 billion last fiscal year and now the bank intends to increase it to $1.5 billion.   Bangladesh requested Zhang to raise the amount to $2 billion and Zhang responded positively, Muhith told reporters....

Published Date: November 27, 2014
Higher economic growth demands larger FDI

Bangladesh needs to accelerate GDP growth to over 8 percent and maintain the present remittance growth to become a middle-income country by 2021, the International Chamber of Commerce Bangladesh said in the editorial of its news bulletin yesterday. Bangladesh's economy has maintained a healthy 6 percent-plus growth rate in the past decade despite global shocks. Sustained growth has generated higher demand for improved infrastructure including uninterrupted power supply, better transport and telecommunication services, all of which require increased private investment, it...

Published Date: November 27, 2014
Security is top concern for home buyers: Lamudi

A house-hunter's decision on where to live is driven by security concerns, trumping over other factors like location and affordability, according to a new report on Bangladesh's property market. The observations came from a research from global property website Lamudi, which released its first annual report recently. The report, Real Estate in the Emerging Markets, provides a comprehensive overview of the property sector in 16 emerging countries, including Bangladesh, it said in a statement yesterday. The report is based on a series...

Published Date: November 27, 2014
US new home sales rise in October

US new home sales rose modestly in October, with inventories on the market continuing to creep higher as the housing market recovery lags, government data released Wednesday showed. Sales of new single-family homes rose 0.7 percent from September to an annual rate of 458,000, the highest pace of the year, the Commerce Department reported. But that modest growth came from a lowered base after the department revised down the September pace to 455,000 from 467,000. The readings for July and August...

Published Date: November 27, 2014
Merchant bankers pledge to work for market growth

Bangladesh Merchant Bankers Association (BMBA) will not take any decision that puts a negative impact on the stockmarket, it said. “We will not make any decision that may impede positive growth of the capital market,” Tanjil Chowdhury, president of BMBA, said at a press briefing in Dhaka yesterday. The BMBA has recently submitted a set of proposals to Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission to facilitate merchant bankers in recovering default margin loans. “The association always works to promote and protect the interests...

Published Date: November 27, 2014
Alibaba founder pledges more investment in India

Alibaba founder pledges more investment in India

Alibaba founder Jack Ma, China's wealthiest man, said Wednesday he plans to invest more funds in India and believes the Internet can transform the country's future. Ma, whose Alibaba controls 80 percent of e-commerce in China, was speaking to a business audience on his first visit to India, two months after his record initial-public-share...

Published Date: November 27, 2014
Samsung sells units and announces $2b share buyback

Samsung announced Wednesday the $1.7 billion sale of stakes in four affiliates and a $2.0 billion share buyback as the South Korean giant steps up restructuring efforts ahead of a generational ownership succession. The sale of its petrochemical and defence units to the Hanwha conglomerate, which has major petrochemical holdings, is expected to be finalised in the first half of next year, Samsung Group said in a statement. The deal involves Samsung Electronics and other group affiliates selling their combined stakes...

Published Date: November 27, 2014
ADB ready to work with new China-led bank, says president

The head of the Asian Development Bank said Wednesday he is ready to work with China on a new infrastructure investment lender proposed by Beijing, despite fears it could undermine his institution. The Manila-based ADB is too large and established to be threatened by the proposed lender, Takehiko Nakao told a foreign correspondents forum in the Philippines. "If the AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank) is established, we are very happy to have the appropriate collaboration," Nakao said, adding the banks could...

Published Date: November 27, 2014
BlackBerry courts iPhone users with cash

Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry is wooing Apple customers with a cash offer for trade-ins of iPhones for its new square-screened, keyboard-equipped Passport. The promotion was announced late Monday and will be available starting next month until February 13, in Canada and the United States. Customers who trade in their iPhones could receive up to $400 cash back depending on the model and condition of their trade-in, plus a $150 gift card. This marks the first time that BlackBerry has gone head-to-head with...

Published Date: November 27, 2014
Germany agrees law on quota for women board members

Germany agrees law on quota for women board members

Germany's biggest companies will have to fill 30 percent of supervisory board positions with women candidates from 2016 under a law agreed late Tuesday by the country's ruling parties. Enterprises that fail to find suitable female candidates for their board of directors will have to leave them vacant under a so-called "empty chair sanction". "I'm...

Published Date: November 27, 2014
Opec looks for help to tackle oil supply glut

Opec needs non-cartel members to help address an oil supply glut that is set to grow next year, Iran's oil minister said here Wednesday. "All the experts in the markets believe that we have an oversupply on the market and next year we will have more oversupply," Iran's Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh told reporters. But Zanganeh said it was not solely up to the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to tackle the oversupply which is sending crude prices crashing...

Published Date: November 27, 2014
India-Pakistan friction threatens regional trade at Saarc summit

India-Pakistan friction threatens regional trade at Saarc summit

Hostilities between rivals India and Pakistan yesterday threatened to scupper efforts by South Asian leaders to boost trade among almost a quarter of the world's people, throwing into doubt any prospect of a regional customs union. India and Pakistan have fought three wars, and just last month exchanges of fire across the border in...

Published Date: November 27, 2014
A well-functioning free trade area to give a boost to South Asia

A well-functioning free trade area to give a boost to South Asia

There is great excitement for the 18th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit being held in Kathmandu. A big question is whether there will be faster progress towards greater regional trade, which could boost economic growth and spread prosperity across South Asia. South Asian leaders have long advocated for an economic union in South Asia. An essential condition for such a union is the South Asian Free Trade Area (Safta). Though Safta came into effect in 2006 to promote mutual trade and economic cooperation, considerable work remains before South Asia's 1.67 billion consumers can enjoy the benefits of free trade. Under Safta, all countries are allowed to maintain...

Published Date: November 27, 2014
WTO postpones trade deal by a day after last-minute objection

The World Trade Organization postponed adoption of the first global trade reform in its 19-year history on Wednesday, delaying by a day after a last-minute objection from Argentina, diplomats said. "It's not a big drama," WTO chief spokesman Keith Rockwell told reporters. Diplomats said they expected the meeting to go ahead on Thursday and the reform package to be adopted. But, after repeated pitfalls, nobody could rule out the deal tripping up. The WTO has lurched from one disappointment to another over...

Published Date: November 27, 2014
Juncker unveils giant 315b euro plan to 'kickstart' Europe

Juncker unveils giant 315b euro plan to 'kickstart' Europe

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker unveiled a huge 315-billion euro investment plan Wednesday to "kickstart" the stalling economy, saying it would show the world that Europe is back in business. The eagerly awaited plan, the keystone of Juncker's five-year mandate, involves the EU setting up a 21 billion euro ($26 billion) fund with the...

Published Date: November 27, 2014
Bangladesh to pursue regional connectivity: Muhith

Bangladesh wants to go ahead with sub-regional connectivity even if it does not come to fruition in the ongoing Saarc summit in Nepal. The issue is now resting on the response of the new Indian government, Finance Minister AMA Muhith told reporters after a meeting with Wencai Zhang, a vice-president of the Asian Development Bank, in Dhaka yesterday. “As I said, the change of government in India requires a fresh start in this area. I think we will wait for action...

Published Date: November 27, 2014
Europe feels sting in the tail of Russia sanctions

At a technology fair in Moscow last month, European executives faced the new reality of doing business in Russia since the West imposed sanctions: the number of companies at the international showcase had shrunk by half from a year ago. "The impact on business couldn't be clearer. Fewer stands, fewer companies," said Mark Bultinck, a sales executive for Belgian digital screen maker Barco, which had a booth at the annual expo for the audiovisual industry. The impact of the sanctions was...

Published Date: November 26, 2014
Non-bank borrowing escalates

Non-bank borrowing escalates

The government's non-bank borrowing soared in the first quarter of the current fiscal year because of the country's utter failure to make the most of the availability of cheap foreign funds due to its poor record in project implementation. As a result, the government's debt servicing cost would rise in fiscal 2014-15, warned the...

Published Date: November 26, 2014
Mongla silo nearly done

Mongla silo nearly done

The construction of the food grain silo at Mongla is nearing completion, creating hopes of job opportunities and higher economic activities among locals of the decaying seaport town and its adjacent rural areas. Already 65 percent of the construction work for the 50,000-tonne grain silo, the largest in the southwest region, has been completed,...

Published Date: November 26, 2014
Sweden pledges Tk 1,659cr in aid for Bangladesh

Sweden pledges Tk 1,659cr in aid for Bangladesh

Sweden will give Bangladesh 1.6 billion Swedish krona, or Tk 1,659 crore, in development assistance in the next seven years. The move is part of the Nordic country's development strategy for Bangladesh for 2014-2020, announced yesterday at an event at the capital's Amari Hotel. The aim of the strategy is to: alleviate poverty; strengthen democracy,...

Published Date: November 26, 2014
IGW cartel proposal goes to Hasina

The telecom ministry has recently sent to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina the proposal of a group of international gateways (IGWs) for installing a "common switch" meant for controlling the entire cache of overseas calls. IGW Operators Forum, comprising 17 gateways of the total 29 in the market, plans to introduce the system. The switch will be led by seven gateways and may allow for a murky window for collecting unspecified fees, said operators who did not join the forum. They also...

Published Date: November 26, 2014
Muhith comes down hard on businessmen

Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday came down hard on businessmen for their constant requests for lowering of interest rates for the sake of investment. The same people refuse to reduce the interest rates when they become bank directors themselves, he said in parliament yesterday. “It is necessary to stop this contradiction.” Businessmen should stop extreme profiteering, Muhith said. Also at the session, Muhith refused to give answers to two questions -- one from an independent MP and another from Jatiya Party MP --...

Published Date: November 26, 2014
MCCI elects new president

MCCI elects new president

Syed Nasim Manzur, managing director of Apex Footwear, has been elected president of Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry for 2015, the MCCI said in a statement yesterday. Anis A Khan, managing director and chief executive of Mutual Trust Bank, has been re-elected as vice-president. Manzur has investments in Apex Tannery, Apex Pharma, Apex Investments and joint-venture companies that include Blue Ocean Footwear, Grey Advertising Bangladesh and Quantum Consumer Solutions. He sits on the board of Pioneer Insurance, Guardian Life Insurance, International Publications and Western Marine Shipyard, according to the statement. Manzur is also the current president of Leathergoods and Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association of Bangladesh. Prior to joining MTB, Anis A Khan...

Published Date: November 26, 2014
Mobile operators to face fresh audits next year

The telecom regulator will open fresh audits into mobile phone operators by next year, its chief said yesterday. Seven international firms have submitted their offers to conduct the audits in association with local audit companies, said Sunil Kanti Bose, chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission. “The appointment process is going on and will be completed by next year. The audits will start soon after,” he said. The regulator had earlier appointed several audit firms to audit top two operators -- Grameenphone and...

Published Date: November 26, 2014
Social business summit starts in Mexico

The Global Social Business Summit began in Mexico City yesterday aiming to create and spread a movement in Latin America and the rest of the world riding on the business theory of Bangladeshi anti-poverty activist Muhammad Yunus. The motto of this year's summit is shaping social business to shape the world of 2020. This year's gathering, the sixth edition, will be a four-day programme that began with a research conference in the Mexican capital. On Wednesday, a meeting of young challengers...

Published Date: November 26, 2014
Banks, tax offices to remain open on Saturday

Banks and tax offices will remain open on Saturday to help people pay taxes and submit income tax returns within the November 30 deadline, Bangladesh Bank and National Board of Revenue said yesterday. All main branches of private and state-run banks at the district and division levels will remain open on the day, the central bank said in a notice. Tax offices at the field level will also receive tax returns from 9am to 5pm, the NBR said in another notice. The...

Published Date: November 26, 2014
Pizza Hut, KFC team up with Visa to offer 15pc discounts

Pizza Hut, KFC team up with Visa to offer 15pc discounts

International restaurant chains Pizza Hut and KFC yesterday introduced a 15 percent discount for Visa cardholders on combo meals at all their outlets. The offer, which will be valid for three months, will encourage consumers to use their Visa cards and enjoy the convenience of electronic payments, said Akku Chowdhury, managing director of Transcom...

Published Date: November 26, 2014
Emirates offers special fares for Bangladeshis

Emirates has announced special fares for both business and economy-class travel from Bangladesh to all of the company's 37 European and 10 American destinations, the airline said in a statement yesterday. The offer applies to travel between December 5, 2014 and March 31, 2015, it said. The offer is valid for purchase of tickets between November 25 and December 4, 2014 from any travel agency in Bangladesh or online at www.emirates.com/bd. Tickets can also be purchased from Emirates offices in...