• Monday, February 02, 2015

Business

Govt plans to trim growth target as blockade bites

Govt plans to trim growth target as blockade bites

The government plans to revise down its economic growth target for the current fiscal year as the ongoing countrywide blockade and the associated violence have continued to hit the economy hard. “We will have to revise it because of the current situation. The revision exercise has already begun,” Finance Minister AMA Muhith told reporters at his secretariat office yesterday. The government had earlier targeted 7.3 percent economic growth for the current fiscal year. The World Bank forecast that the economy would grow by 6.2 percent this fiscal year, while the Asian Development Bank said the growth would be 6.4 percent. The central bank last week also said the GDP growth would be in the region of 6.5-6.8 percent. Muhith is due to...

Businesspeople to rally on Feb 8 for political stability

About 3.5 crore people are expected to participate in countrywide rallies to be organised by FBCCI on February 8, demanding an...

Muhith criticises Islamic banking

Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday criticised Islamic banking, saying the system has been built on "misconception". "The system seems to me absolutely...

Govt may step in if large-loan restructuring policy fails: Muhith

The government may tread on the central bank's path if its large loan restructuring policy fails to improve the default loan...

NBR to relax rules to import cars to be used as taxicabs

The National Board of Revenue is going to relax the rules for importing cars that will be used for taxicabs. The tax authority aims to reduce the lower threshold of engine capacity to 1,485cc (cylinder capacity) from 1,500cc for cars that will be used as taxicabs. However, the duty privilege and upper threshold for importing cars for cabs will remain the same, said a senior official of NBR, seeking anonymity. At present, taxicab operators get a reduced rate of 20 percent on...

Ceramics makers swelling with stockpiles for turmoil

Ceramics makers swelling with stockpiles for turmoil

The ceramics industry, which has seen investments of about Tk 5,000 crore in the past decade, is now sitting on huge stockpiles for the nonstop blockade. “Our warehouses are packed to the rafters,” said Shirajul Islam Mollah, managing director of China-Bangla Ceramic Industries. Monno Ceramic Industries, a pioneer in the sector, has halted its production...

Stocks plunge on panic sales amid political strife

Stocks fell yesterday mainly due to panic sales as the ongoing political instability has dented investor confidence, with the main gauge of the market hitting a three-month low. DSEX, the benchmark general index of Dhaka Stock Exchange, closed at 4,654.95 points, after falling 69.09 points or 1.46 percent. DSEX had stood at 4,675.91 points on November 9, 2014. Turnover, the most important indicator of the market, was Tk 184.69 crore yesterday, the lowest in one month, falling 10.6 percent from Tk...

Thai businesses keen to invest in Bangladesh

Thai entrepreneurs are in dialogues with some Bangladeshi businessmen to invest in the country and exploit its immense business potential, senior Thai government officials said yesterday. As part of the efforts, they held a discussion with the leaders of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) in Dhaka. “Bangladesh has numerous promising sectors for investment thanks to its cost competitiveness, strategic location and the incentive packages offered by the government,” said Chokedee Kaewsang, deputy secretary general of Thailand Board of...

Shell revises down annual net profit after error

Oil giant Shell revised down Friday its 2014 net profit, after uncovering an error in the value of its downstream operations one day after posting annual results. Shell announced in a new statement that annual net profits fell nine percent to $14.874 billion (13.17 billion euros) last year compared with 2013, hit by collapsing global oil prices. The Anglo-Dutch oil group on Thursday had stated its 2014 net earnings as $15.052 billion. Profits after taxation meanwhile tumbled by 67 percent to $595...

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Finnish phoenix: The start-ups rising from Nokia's ashes

For many, Finland and Nokia were synonymous. And when in 2012 and 2013, Nokia shed 24,500 employees and sold Nokia House (and its mobile phone division to Microsoft), they called it the "Elopcalypse" after then-chief executive Stephen Elop. But the sinking of Nokia has led to an explosion of start-ups, as a skilled workforce jumps ship and begin businesses. And the coolest pitching in the world now takes place in a cut-out ice hole in the northern city of Oulu in February,...

Myanmar coffee scene fuelled by middle class caffeine high

Myanmar coffee scene fuelled by middle class caffeine high

Behind a wooden counter in downtown Yangon's Coffee Club, the unmistakable hiss of a barista steaming milk briefly drowns out a funky soundtrack piped through a store filled with students glued to their smartphones. In any other Asian capital it would be a ubiquitous sight. But in Yangon, this is something new. Long absent from...

Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing bets on Europe as China slows

Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing bets on Europe as China slows

Famed for his sharp business acumen and knack for perfectly timed investments, Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing is shifting away from a slowing Chinese economy and bargain hunting in Europe. The move is seen as a quest for stability for the tycoon's vast empire and a sign of diminishing confidence in the region. Li's holdings are embodied in a striking 63-storey glass skyscraper in the heart of Hong Kong and his business decisions have the potential to affect property and utility prices for the city's seven million residents. But his focus is now switching to European and other foreign markets. The announcement just over a week ago that he plans to buy UK...

EU, US look for 'fresh start' in trade talks

US negotiators travel to EU headquarters in Brussels Monday to jumpstart talks on the world's biggest-ever free trade deal, which after nearly two years remain bogged down by public opposition. The future of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Pact, or TTIP, is in doubt in the face of bitter opposition by activists and mixed signals from key governments, including Europe's biggest economy Germany. "This is the dirtiest trade deal in Europe's history," a new video posted by the anti-TTIP group Corporate...

Published Date: February 1, 2015
Strict rules for large loan restructuring

Strict rules for large loan restructuring

Bangladesh Bank has now followed through on its decision to allow restructuring of large loans until June 30 with a watertight guideline for banks to ensure no further defaults on the loans. Political turmoil for the best part of last fiscal year has damaged many large borrowers' business and their debt servicing capacities. Given that the affected large borrowers have significant importance from the socio-economic and employment generation perspective, the BB board on Wednesday agreed to extend restructuring facility to them on their loans of Tk 500 crore and above. The guideline, circulated on Thursday, said the restructuring facility would only become effective after the receipt of down-payment of at least 2...

Published Date: February 1, 2015
Ruposhi Bangla renovations kick off finally

Ruposhi Bangla renovations kick off finally

The much-awaited renovation work at Ruposhi Bangla has finally gotten off the ground, but the two-month delay still poses the risk of derailing the project timescale. The reason for the delay was the failure to award the contract for the first phase of renovation work on time. But the contract has now been signed on...

Published Date: February 1, 2015
Govt rolls out landmark IT training programme

The government yesterday rolled out a major programme to train 30,000 students in information technology and IT-enabled services over the next three years to further its Digital Bangladesh vision. “It is part of a plan to transform the labour-based economy into a digital one,” Zunaid Ahmed Palak, state minister for ICT, said at the programme's launch ceremony at the capital's Sonargoan Hotel. The programme is supported by the 'Leveraging ICT for Growth, Employment and Governance project' (LICT) initiative of Bangladesh Computer...

Published Date: February 1, 2015
Water shortage drives farmers to wheat cultivation

Water shortage drives farmers to wheat cultivation

Wheat acreage has increased in the current plantation season as farmers shift away from paddy due to shortage of water for irrigation during the dry season. This winter, farmers planted wheat on 4.81 lakh hectares of land, according to an estimate from Department of Agricultural Extension. The figure is 12 percent higher than in...

Published Date: February 1, 2015
Bangladesh becoming a hub for non-traditional garment products

Bangladesh has become a hub for technical and non-traditional garment products as international retailers are coming with an increasing number of work orders. Bangladesh is the second largest garment exporter after China in woven and knitwear segments. Not only that, Bangladesh also supplies military uniforms, travel bags, backpacks, sleeping bags, tents, outdoor jackets, jute slippers and other jute goods. “Currently, Bangladeshi factories, especially the ones in export processing zones, are performing well in export of non-traditional items,” an official of Chittagong...

Published Date: February 1, 2015
Eskayef launches android app for medical post-graduation

Leading pharmaceutical company Eskayef Bangladesh has recently launched an android-based mobile application for doctors taking preparation for medical post-graduation. The app–Esoral Medi-Quiz—has been developed under the sponsorship of Esoral, one of Eskayef's premium antiulcerant brands. “It contains thousands of questions covering the major medical specialties like medicine, surgery, gynaecology and paediatrics,” Eskayef said in a statement yesterday. The app will provide the users with a unique opportunity to go through multiple-choice questions and single best answers, according to the statement. Searching the keyword...

Published Date: February 1, 2015
Amazon surprises with profit despite fierce spending

Amazon surprised the market Thursday with a quarterly profit far better than anticipated for the online giant known for pouring money into projects such as original video programs and delivery drones. "Amazon beat estimates even though Jeff Bezos is moving at a paranoid pace; pretty much spending money as fast as it comes in and going flat out as if there were somebody right on his heels chasing him," said independent analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group in Silicon Valley. "When...

Published Date: February 1, 2015
Samsung Electronics to buy Brazil printing solutions firm

South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co Ltd said on Saturday that it would acquire Brazilian printing solutions company Simpress, the latest deal by the tech giant to bolster its business-to-business operations. The acquisition comes as Samsung searches for ways to stabilise earnings. The maker of Galaxy smartphones reported its first annual profit decline in three years as contributions from its erstwhile cashcow mobile division fell sharply. One of the tech giant's responses to the uncertain smartphone outlook has been making acquisitions to...

Published Date: February 1, 2015
Dhaka Travel Mart begins April 9

Dhaka Travel Mart 2015, an international tourism fair, will kick off in Dhaka on April 9. Bangladesh Monitor, a travel publication, will organise the fair at Sonargaon hotel, it said in a statement yesterday. This is the 12th edition of the fair, where local and international airlines, tour operators and hotels will display and promote their products and services.

Published Date: February 1, 2015
Honda cuts profit forecast as airbag recall weighs heavy

Honda on Friday cut its full-year net profit forecast as the Japanese automaker faces soaring recall costs, including those from an exploding airbag crisis linked to at least five deaths. The downgrade came as Honda said late Thursday that it was probing a deadly crash in the United States possibly linked to exploding airbags made by embattled supplier Takata, which has sparked the recall of millions of vehicles worldwide. Takata has been plunged into a public relations crisis over the deaths....

Published Date: February 1, 2015
Politics, mobile overshadow Alibaba's fairy-tale run

Politics, mobile overshadow Alibaba's fairy-tale run

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's underwhelming holiday quarter performance and an escalating war of words with a powerful Chinese industry regulator highlight two major risks to its seemingly fairy-tale ascent: politics and the shift to mobile commerce. The Chinese e-commerce giant has acquired a rosy aura since its record-breaking IPO last spring, revealing growth rates...

Published Date: February 1, 2015
Chevron slashes investment, share buybacks

Chevron slashed $5 billion from its investment budget and shut down its share buyback program Friday as the crude price plunge continued to savage budgets of oil industry powerhouses. Chevron said it would spend $35 billion on exploration and production projects, 13 percent less than last year, in response to the nearly 60 percent fall of the oil price since the middle of 2014 due to a global glut. In addition, after spending $5 billion on share repurchases in 2014 --...

Published Date: February 1, 2015
Novo Nordisk profit boosted by North American growth

The world's biggest insulin maker, Novo Nordisk, on Friday reported a five percent rise in annual profit, driven by sales of the group's key drug Victoza and modern insulin. Net profit reached 26.48 billion kroner (3.56 billion euros, $4.03 billion) as revenue grew six percent to 88.8 billion kroner, helped by sales of Victoza, which controls blood sugar levels by mimicking an intestinal hormone called GLP-1, and long acting insulin Levemir. The North American market accounted for 61 percent of growth...

Published Date: February 1, 2015
Panasonic closes TV plant in China

Panasonic has closed its last remaining TV manufacturing factory in China and is to sell its plant in Mexico as part of a restructuring plan aimed at stemming losses, a newspaper said Saturday. The Japanese electronics giant was forced to pull the plug on local production in the two countries due to a sharp decline in TV prices in North America and China, the Nikkei newspaper said. The move will see Panasonic cutting back overseas production by 700,000 units a year,...

Published Date: February 1, 2015
Roll-out of 4G unlikely this year

Roll-out of 4G unlikely this year

Mobile operators may not be able to roll out 4G services in Bangladesh this year due to the absence of the necessary telecom ecosystem, a top official of Grameenphone said. “4G or LTE (long-term evolution) services cannot be rolled out alone, as it depends on penetration and market price of handsets and spectrum regulation,”...

Published Date: February 1, 2015
India raises over $4b in Coal India stake sale

India's government raised over $4 billion Friday by selling 10 percent of its stake in mining giant Coal India as it looks to raise funds through asset sales to keep its fiscal deficit in check, an official said. Investors bid for 675.24 million Coal India shares against more than 631 million shares on offer that were priced at a minimum of 358 rupees each, preliminary data from the Bombay Stock Exchange showed. "Strong interest was expected. Sentiment about India has changed,...

Published Date: February 1, 2015
US economic growth in 2014 fastest in four years

The US economy grew at its fastest pace in four years in 2014, outpacing all of the other major developed countries as consumers gained confidence helped by sinking oil prices. But a slowdown in the fourth quarter bared some of the persistent challenges -- like the strong dollar -- to locking the world's largest economy into higher gear. While the halving of fuel prices clearly gave American consumers the power to spend more at the end of the year, businesses slowed...

Published Date: February 1, 2015
Japan's biggest airlines foresee smooth annual earnings

Japan's biggest airlines foresee smooth annual earnings

Japan's two biggest airlines on Friday projected smooth full-year earnings, with All Nippon Airways (ANA) placing a $2.2 billion order for Boeing and Airbus planes, while rival Japan Airlines (JAL) raised its full-year profit forecast. ANA said its April-December net profit soared 57.2 percent to 52.36 billion yen ($443 million) from a year ago,...

Published Date: February 1, 2015
Russia's economy to shrink by 3pc in 2015: minister

Russia's economy minister Alexei Ulyukayev on Saturday forecast GDP to fall by three percent in 2015 on the back of a collapse in oil prices and a massive capital flight. "We have issued a forecast for 2015 which uses the current prices, that is $50 dollars a barrel for the entire year," Ulyukayev was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying. Ulyukayev emphasized that his prediction of a three-percent contraction was "conservative" given that most analysts forecast oil prices to recover...

Published Date: February 1, 2015
Under fire, Germany suspends minimum wage for transit truckers

Germany slammed the brakes Friday on applying its new minimum wage to foreign truck drivers transiting the country in a move welcomed by Poland which vigorously opposed the system. Just weeks after the minimum wage took effect, German Labour Minister Andrea Nahles said after talks with her Polish counterpart in Berlin that the suspension was decided "out of consideration for (Germany's) neighbours". It will be kept on ice until European rules on the issue have been clarified, she told reporters. Polish transport...

Published Date: January 30, 2015
BB treads cautious path

BB treads cautious path

The central bank will continue to follow its restrained monetary policy in the second half of the fiscal year in a bid to contain inflation and move to a higher growth path amid the prevailing political unrest. Bangladesh Bank cited three reasons: the annual average CPI inflation is still above the targeted ceiling, core...

Published Date: January 30, 2015
No strong links between pay hike and inflation: BB

Bangladesh Bank got mixed results while analysing the impact of pay scales on inflation, according to the new monetary policy statement released yesterday. “Our analysis did not indicate any clear or near one-to-one relationship (between pay scale and inflation),” the BB said in its policy stance for January-June of 2015. The central bank has analysed the causative factors of inflation around different pay hikes since 1982 after the proposed eighth pay scales triggered controversy centring its possible effects on inflation. Some economists...

Published Date: January 30, 2015
Garment exports to new markets on the rise

Garment exports to new markets on the rise

Garment exports to new destinations are increasing substantially though shipments to traditional markets have been on a downward curve. The new markets are promising mainly due to the government's stimulus package, aggressive marketing by exporters and relaxation of the "rules of origin" by some countries. Rules of origin are the criteria that are used to define where a product was made. The origin of a product is important because it will determine how it is treated at the border of an importing country and the origin may impact the import duty payable and admissibility into the country. Apparel exports to new destinations -- all markets except the EU, the US and Canada...

Published Date: January 30, 2015
Samsung to bring smartphone with own operating system

South Korean mobile giant Samsung is set to premiere its Tizen operating system in the country next month by way of the low-priced Z1 smartphone. “The smartphone market in Bangladesh is rapidly evolving, but many users are still using feature phones to remain connected. We have customised the Samsung Z1 to meet the unique requirements of Bangladeshi users, so they can easily upgrade to a smartphone,” said Choon Soo Moon, managing director of Samsung Bangladesh.  The local customisations were developed by...

Published Date: January 30, 2015
EPZ investments edge up 12pc

Investments in the eight export processing zones or EPZs went up 12.17 percent year-on-year in the first half of the current fiscal year, getting a boost from new industrial units. Over $213 million was invested in the EPZs in July-December, compared to $190.23 million in the same period last year, data from Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority shows. The companies in operation exported goods worth $2.9 billion between July and December, against $2.59 billion in the same period last year, according...

Published Date: January 30, 2015
Central bank to recognise good borrowers

Bangladesh Bank plans to frame a policy to provide incentives to good borrowers, as there has been an allegation that the central bank stands by only defaulters. "I have instructed the concerned department to prepare a rebate policy to provide facilities and incentives to borrowers who have repaid their loans in time," Bangladesh Bank Governor Atiur Rahman said yesterday. The response from the regulator came at the launch of the Monetary Policy Statement for the second half of the current fiscal...

Published Date: January 30, 2015
Developing world needs better roads to curb hunger: study

Billion-dollar investments in basic transport and electricity in developing nations are among the best ways to curb hunger by 2030 since a quarter of all food is now wasted after harvest, according to a report issued on Thursday. A total of $239 billion invested over the next 15 years, in road and railway connections to connect farms to markets and in electricity supplies to improve cold storage, would yield benefits of $3.1 trillion by safeguarding food, it said. Mark Rosegrant, lead...

Published Date: January 30, 2015
Facebook beats forecasts with strong profit gains

Facebook said Wednesday that profit soared on the wings of mobile ad revenue but stressed it is more concerned with investing in the future than making quick cash. While earnings figures surpassed market forecasts, Facebook executives strived to temper expectations, while stressing they plan to continue aggressively investing to achieve long-range goals. Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg described 2014 as a year of heavy investments, with "big bets" placed on mobile communication and next-generation computing with multibillion-dollar buys of WhatsApp and the...

Published Date: January 30, 2015
Nokia profits buoyed by growth in North America

Finnish telecom equipment group Nokia reported a sharp rise in annual net profit Thursday, boosted by a substantial one-off tax-related gain and strong North America sales in the fourth quarter. The group's net profit in 2014 soared fivefold to 1.16 billion euros ($1.31 billion) compared to the previous year, due in part to a tax gain worth 1.4 billion euros from its businesses in Germany and Finland. Operating profit was slashed by a third to 170 million euros while sales were...

Published Date: January 30, 2015
Philippines confident of faster growth after 2014 rebound

Philippine officials voiced confidence the country had escaped a "boom-bust cycle" as they predicted on Thursday that economic growth would accelerate in 2015, after expansion last year beat international expectations. The economy grew 6.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, new figures showed, offsetting weaker growth in the previous nine months to boost full-year gross domestic product (GDP) expansion to 6.1 percent, exceeding forecasts from major international institutions. The rebound puts the country on a high-growth trajectory not seen in...

Published Date: January 30, 2015
After Vodafone, India changes tax rules to boost investment

India's decision to drop a tax dispute with Vodafone Group Plc is likely to mean relief for Royal Dutch Shell PLC and others caught in similar, protracted battles, as the government tries to attract much-needed foreign investment. India's image as an investment destination has been tarnished by a reputation for red tape, unpredictable rules and a tax office long seen as over zealous in its pursuit of foreign firms. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, seeking to reboot a slowing economy,...

Published Date: January 30, 2015
Japan's top steelmaker cuts full-year profit forecast

Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal said Thursday its nine-month net profit dropped 20.3 percent as it slashed its full-year profit forecast, citing the impact of plunging oil prices on a Brazilian unit. The Tokyo-based company, one of the world's biggest steelmakers, said its earnings for the April to December period came in at 153.6 billion yen ($1.3 billion), while sales rose 3.6 percent to 4.18 trillion yen. Nippon Steel blamed part of the profit slump on a 68.6 billion yen extraordinary...

Published Date: January 30, 2015
China's challenge: Moving from copier to innovator

China's challenge: Moving from copier to innovator

When Brent Hoberman, the founder of online interior design and furniture store Mydeco.com, visited China one man in particular was keen to meet him, offering to meet any time of day or night. When they got together, the man explained that in 2007 he too had wanted to launch some kind of web business...

Published Date: January 30, 2015
Asian airlines slash fuel surcharges but fares likely to rise

Asian airlines are slashing fuel surcharges as oil prices hover at six-year lows, but passengers hoping for cheaper tickets will be disappointed as carriers are likely to bump up fares to maintain margins. Australia's Qantas Airways Ltd became the latest airline to eliminate the surcharge on Tuesday, but at the same time said it was raising base fares as oil was not cheap enough to offset the impact of competition on international routes. Aviation experts say other airlines are likely to...

Published Date: January 30, 2015
Uber steers anti-taxi idea to become global phenomenon

Uber steers anti-taxi idea to become global phenomenon

Unlike many American startups, Uber was not founded in someone's garage, but was conceived instead on a cold night in Paris, when two tech entrepreneurs could not find a taxi. Uber chief Travis Kalanick and co-founder Garrett Camp were attending the technology conference Le Web in late 2008, where they were brainstorming ideas for...

Published Date: January 30, 2015
IMF begins work on 'Plan B' as US blocks reforms

The International Monetary Fund said Wednesday it would begin working on alternatives to its stalled, five-year-old reform program after passing another year without the required ratification by the US government. In a proposal mapped out by the IMF executive board, the global crisis lender will take six months to see what can be salvaged from the 2010 reforms, originally backed by Washington, the IMF's largest shareholder, but now blocked in the US Congress. The IMF did not say what the so-called...

Published Date: January 30, 2015
Samsung posts first annual profit decline in 3yrs

Samsung Electronics posted its first drop in annual net profit in three years Thursday and saw resurgent arch-rival Apple barge in on its pole position as the world's top smartphone maker. The South Korean firm, whose key mobile phone operations have struggled in the face of intense competition from cut-price Chinese rivals, also warned that it expected 2015's "business environment... to be as challenging as 2014." The tech giant said Thursday it recorded a net profit of 23.4 trillion won ($21.45...