Financial News from AFP

  • Air France-KLM board picks Janaillac as new CEO AFP - 10 hours ago
    Air France-KLM board picks Janaillac as new CEO

    Air France-KLM's board of directors on Sunday appointed Jean-Marc Janaillac, the current head of French transport group Transdev, as the group's new chief executive following the surprise resignation of Alexandre de Juniac. "The board has decided that Mr Janaillac will be co-opted as a group director when Mr de Juniac leaves office on July 31 at the latest. The appointment of 63-year-old Janaillac was widely anticipated but French media had expected the announcement to come on Tuesday at the earliest.

  • 'The Jungle Book' tramples competition at the US box office AFP - 11 hours ago
    'The Jungle Book' tramples competition at the US box office

    Three new movie releases failed to best Disney's "The Jungle Book," which trounced the competition at the US box office during its third weekend with $42.4 million, industry estimates showed ...

  • Brussels airport departure hall partly re-opens, 40 days after attacks AFP - 15 hours ago
    Brussels airport departure hall partly re-opens, 40 days after attacks

    The departure hall at Brussels' Zaventem airport partly re-opened Sunday, 40 days after suicide attacks claimed by the Islamic State group which killed 32 people, half of them at the air hub. "We are back to the familiar scene of our passengers in the departure hall," said Arnaud Feist, head of Brussels Airport, which operates Zaventem, at an opening ceremony. Twin explosions killed 16 people there on March 22 and devastated the departure hall, shattering the building's glass facade, collapsing ceilings and destroying check-in desks.

  • Seaweed farmers in hot water as Zanzibar struggles AFP - 19 hours ago
    Seaweed farmers in hot water as Zanzibar struggles

    Waist deep in sparkling blue water off the white beaches of the Indian Ocean spice island of Zanzibar, seaweed farmer Mtumwa Vuai Ameir gently ties seedlings to wood poles. Seaweed farmed on the Tanzanian archipelago is one of Zanzibar's key exports -- used for food, cosmetics and medicines in Asia, Europe and North America -- but now the vital industry is struggling with warmer waters killing the crops. "We are desperate, and some farmers have been discouraged and abandoned the work," said Ameir, who has been a seaweed farmer for over 20 years.

  • China manufacturing index expands at slower pace AFP - 20 hours ago
    China manufacturing index expands at slower pace

    China's economic recovery stabilised in April, an official factory activity gauge showed Sunday, as the property market recovered and credit grew. The Purchasing Manager's Index (PMI), tracking activity in factories and workshops, rose for the second successive month, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

  • Venezuelan president decrees 30 pct minimum wage boost AFP - 20 hours ago
    Venezuelan president decrees 30 pct minimum wage boost

    President Nicolas Maduro, speaking in a national broadcast on the eve of International Workers' Day, decreed a 30 percent increase in the minimum wage for Venezuelan workers. In his late Saturday presentation Maduro also called on his followers to join May Day rallies in Caracas. While the minimum wage increase may seem substantial, given Venezuela's triple-digit inflation rate that brings the amount to the equivalent of $40 a month at the official exchange rate, or just $14 a month at the black market rate.

  • Recent rise in yen 'extremely worrying': Japan finance minister AFP - Sun, May 1, 2016 5:55 AM AEST
    Recent rise in yen 'extremely worrying': Japan finance minister

    Japan's finance minister said late Saturday the recent sharp rise in the yen is "extremely worrying", adding Tokyo will take action when necessary. The remarks, which suggest Tokyo's possible market intervention, came after the Japanese unit surged to an 18-month high against the dollar in New York Friday. It extended the previous day's rally, which was boosted by a surprising monetary decision made by the Bank of Japan.

  • Senegal, Mauritania bet on oil and gas in perilous climate AFP - Sun, May 1, 2016 5:52 AM AEST
    Senegal, Mauritania bet on oil and gas in perilous climate

    While petro-states reel from plunging oil prices and gas producers brace for American exports to hit the market, two west African nations are forging ahead with potentially massive extraction projects others might fear to touch. Energy firms say Senegal and Mauritania's current oil and gas ventures will transform them into net exporters by 2020, betting on long-term demand and the eventual recovery of the slumped market, as well as their proximity to Europe. Located off Africa's western extremity, three oil wells drilled by Scottish firm Cairn Energy have yielded a "significant resource base" in Senegalese waters, its chief executive Simon Thomson said in early April, confirming that work would begin on a fourth.

  • Feeding frenzy in Spain's renewable energy sector AFP - Sun, May 1, 2016 5:08 AM AEST
    Feeding frenzy in Spain's renewable energy sector

    A wind of change is blowing on Spain's renewables: companies and investment funds have been on a buying spree, taking advantage of the know-how and growth prospects of a sector still limping out of a crisis. In 2015 "total transactions reached 5 billion euros ($5.7 billion)", says Joao Saint-Aubyn, a Madrid-based energy expert at global consultancy Roland Berger. The biggest by far were the acquisition last year by US private equity firm Cerberus of renewables specialist Renovalia for about one billion euros, and investment group KKR's buy-out of solar group Gestamp Solar for a similar amount.

  • Burundi economy battered by year-long crisis AFP - Sun, May 1, 2016 4:59 AM AEST
    Burundi economy battered by year-long crisis

    A year into a political crisis which has claimed about 500 lives, driven a quarter of a million into exile and prompted Western donors to suspend government aid, Burundi's economy is on the ropes. The central African country had only just begun to recover from a 1993-2006 ethnic-based civil war when it became sucked back into violence after President Pierre Nkurunziza announced a year ago that he would seek a third term in office. "The economy had been starting to stabilise, inflation was under control, and with average growth of around 4.5 percent over several years, Burundi seemed to be on the right path," said an economics professor at Burundi University, who did not wish to be named.

  • Future of scandal-hit Mitsubishi Motors in doubt -- again AFP - Sun, May 1, 2016 4:17 AM AEST
    Future of scandal-hit Mitsubishi Motors in doubt -- again

    Mitsubishi Motors' future is hanging in the balance for the second time in a decade after a bombshell admission that it has been cheating on fuel-economy tests for years. The crisis is threatening to put the company into the ditch permanently, but some analysts think the vast web of shareholdings among Japanese firms may just save it from the scrap yard. "I really think the future of Mitsubishi Motors is grim," said Hideyuki Kobayashi, a business professor at Hitotsubashi University, who authored a book about the company's struggles with an earlier cover-up.

  • France to build Australia subs but US to arm them AFP - Sun, May 1, 2016 4:06 AM AEST
    France to build Australia subs but US to arm them

    Australia may have awarded France a bumper contract to build its next generation of submarines, but its highly secretive combat system will come from close ally the United States. French shipbuilder DCNS last week beat off Germany and Japan to secure the Aus$50 billion (US$39 billion) deal to design and build the 12 subs, a scaled down conventionally-powered version of its 4,700-tonne Barracuda, to be named Shortfin Barracuda. Australia has made clear it prefers the American AN/BYG-1 system, along with the joint Australian-US heavyweight Mark-48 torpedoes as its main weapon.

  • Berlin cracks down on Airbnb rentals to cool market AFP - Sun, May 1, 2016 3:59 AM AEST
    Berlin cracks down on Airbnb rentals to cool market

    Berlin has begun restricting private property rentals through Airbnb and similar online platforms, threatening hefty fines in a controversial move meant to keep housing affordable for locals. The German capital fears that the growing trend of people letting out apartments to tourists through sites such as Airbnb, Wimdu and 9Flats is cutting into a limited property supply and driving up rents. It is "a necessary and sensible instrument against the housing shortage in Berlin," said Andreas Geisel, Berlin's head of urban development.

  • Germany's Schaeuble 'doesn't understand' bonuses for crisis-hit VW: report AFP - Sat, Apr 30, 2016 10:29 PM AEST
    Germany's Schaeuble 'doesn't understand' bonuses for crisis-hit VW: report

    German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said he didn't understand how Volkswagen bosses could defend their bonuses after a huge emissions-rigging scandal plunged the carmaker into global turmoil, according to an interview with Die Welt published Sunday. The criticism comes after Volkswagen revealed this week that its top executives would be paid a total of 63.2 million euros ($72 million) for 2015 despite a massive loss incurred from the cheating controversy. "I can't understand how you can steer a major DAX (German stock exchange) company into a crisis that threatens its very existence, and then defend your own bonuses in a public debate," Schaeuble told the German daily.

  • Crisis-hit Venezuela to push clocks forward to save power AFP - Sat, Apr 30, 2016 10:19 PM AEST
    Crisis-hit Venezuela to push clocks forward to save power

    With their country gripped by an economic crisis, Venezuelans will lose half an hour of sleep Sunday when their clocks are moved forward to save power on President Nicolas Maduro's order. At 2:30 am local ...

  • Venezuela's main brewer suspends operations as crisis bites AFP - Sat, Apr 30, 2016 7:30 PM AEST
    Venezuela's main brewer suspends operations as crisis bites

    Venezuela's economic crisis claimed another victim as the country's largest brewer said Saturday it is suspending operations because it can't obtain hard currency to buy supplies. The Polar beer company's closure of its four plants in Venezuela on Friday will lay off 7,000 employees for up to two months. The company has a 70 percent market share in Venezuela and is part of a huge business group that produces many everyday consumer products such as cornmeal.

  • Cuba's budding businesswomen learn on the fly AFP - Sat, Apr 30, 2016 5:38 PM AEST
    Cuba's budding businesswomen learn on the fly

    Gretel de la Rosa, a budding Cuban businesswoman, had been in Mexico City for just a few hours, but she already had stuffed three bags with fabric for her shop back home. While Cuba's communist regime has implemented modest economic reforms, allowing some private ventures, running a business on the island remains a challenge for trailblazers like de la Rosa. As they sat at a bar in a hotel near the city's busy Reforma boulevard, the women said they have already learned much from their trips to places such as Chile, Bolivia and Cuba's former Cold War nemesis, the United States.

  • Nissan recalls 3.8 million cars over faulty airbags AFP - Sat, Apr 30, 2016 1:57 PM AEST
    Nissan recalls 3.8 million cars over faulty airbags

    Nissan has said it will recall more than 3.8 million vehicles, mostly in North America, because the passenger-side airbag may not deploy in a crash due to a defect in the seat sensor. The Japanese automaker said the global recall would cover 2013-2017 including some Nissan Altima, Leaf, Maxima, Murano, Pathfinder, Sentra and Rogue models. "This recall will affect approximately 3.5 million Nissan vehicles and approximately 381,000 Infiniti vehicles globally," the company said in a statement Friday, adding that more than 80 percent of them were sold in North America.

  • Bombed Brussels airport departure hall to partly reopen Sunday AFP - Sat, Apr 30, 2016 8:56 AM AEST
    Bombed Brussels airport departure hall to partly reopen Sunday

    The departure hall at Brussels airport, hit in March by a deadly double suicide bombing claimed by the Islamic State group, will partly reopen on Sunday, the management said. The twin explosions on March 22 killed 16 people and devastated the departure hall, shattering the building's glass facade, collapsing ceilings and destroying check-in desks. "After a reopening ceremony, passengers from three flights on Sunday afternoon will be able to check in in the departure hall," airport management said in a statement on Saturday.

  • Colombia's illegal mining linked to malaria outbreak AFP - Sat, Apr 30, 2016 7:07 AM AEST
    Colombia's illegal mining linked to malaria outbreak

    Colombia's widespread illegal mining is blamed for causing environmental damage and holding workers in slave-like conditions -- and now is also being blamed for a malaria outbreak. Critics point to stagnant water buildups at the clandestine sites and poor sanitary conditions at the workers' camps for an increase in mosquitos spreading the disease, which has quadrupled in jungle regions of the hard-hit and impoverished western department of Choco. "The country had more or less controlled its malaria problem... the death rate had dropped significantly," Health Minister Alejandro Gaviria said this week.

  • Janaillac among candidates to head Air France-KLM AFP - Sat, Apr 30, 2016 6:03 AM AEST
    Janaillac among candidates to head Air France-KLM

    Jean-Marc Janaillac, head of French transport group Transdev, is likely to be nominated to head Air France-KLM on Tuesday following the surprise resignation of CEO Alexander de Juniac, French economic newspaper La Tribune reported. "According to our information, the group's nomination committee which met on Friday decided to propose Tuesday to the Air France-KLM board the name of Jean-Marc Janaillac... to lead the airline group," La Tribune said on its website. Janaillac, 63, was among the most frequently mentioned names, along with former GDF Suez CEO Jean-Francois Cirelli, to succeed Juniac.

  • Fears new rules could see US cigar factory go up in smoke AFP - Sat, Apr 30, 2016 1:41 AM AEST
    Fears new rules could see US cigar factory go up in smoke

    Eric Newman eases into an armchair on the top floor of his century-old factory, lights a cigar named after his grandfather, and ponders the prospect of his family legacy going up in smoke. The 68-year-old Newman says new regulations on cigars expected any day now from the US Food and Drug Administration could snuff out his 130-year-old business, the J.C. Newman Cigar Company, by making it too costly and complicated to introduce new blends of cigars. Health experts, however, welcome the government's plan to regulate a range of tobacco products for the first time, from tiny flavored cigars that appeal to young smokers, to e-cigarettes, hookahs and full-sized cigars.

  • US growth worries cloud global stock markets AFP - Fri, Apr 29, 2016 11:02 PM AEST
    US growth worries cloud global stock markets

    Traders dumped retail US stocks Friday, with giant Walmart losing 3.0 percent, after a weak report on American consumer spending added to worries about the strength of the economy. Coming on the heels ...

  • US puts Germany, China on watch list for large trade surpluses AFP - Fri, Apr 29, 2016 10:44 PM AEST
    US puts Germany, China on watch list for large trade surpluses

    The United States named Germany, China and three other East Asian countries on Friday to a new "monitoring" list of trade partners with excessive current account and trade surpluses. Taiwan, South Korea and Japan were also on a new watchlist of the US Treasury that points out countries that Washington suspects are behaving unfairly to support their economies. The new assessment expands on the previous biannual "currency manipulator" review mandated by Congress that threatened to punish anyone found guilty of artificially holding their currencies down to boost their exports.

  • US puts Germany, China on watchlist for economic surpluses AFP - Fri, Apr 29, 2016 8:39 PM AEST
    US puts Germany, China on watchlist for economic surpluses

    The United States named Germany, China and three other East Asian countries on Friday to a new "monitoring" list of trade partners with excessive budget and trade surpluses. Taiwan, South Korea and Japan were also on a new watchlist of the US Treasury that points out countries that Washington suspects are behaving unfairly to support their economies. The new assessment replaces the previous biannual "currency manipulator" review mandated by Congress that threatened to punish anyone found guilty of artificially holding their currencies down to boost their exports.

  • Million people urge Bayer to stop bee-killer pesticides AFP - Fri, Apr 29, 2016 7:56 PM AEST
    Million people urge Bayer to stop bee-killer pesticides

    German agrochemicals and pharmaceuticals giant Bayer was presented Friday with a petition of more than one million signatures urging it to stop manufacturing pesticides that are blamed for the decline in the world's bee populations. "Bee killing is not really something that a company that is looking toward the future should do," Anne Isakowitsch, an activist for Sum of Us, an environmentalist campaign group, told AFP. Hence Berlin-based Isakowitsch travelled to Bayer's annual shareholder meeting in Cologne on Friday to present the maker of agricultural chemicals with a petition of 1.4 million signatures.

  • Portugal keeps investment grade rating and access to EU help AFP - Fri, Apr 29, 2016 7:22 PM AEST
    Portugal keeps investment grade rating and access to EU help

    Portugal kept its much-needed access to EU financial help Friday after an European Central Bank-approved credit agency maintained its rating of Portuguese debt at investment grade level. Toronto-based DBRS announced it had kept Portugal's rating at "BBB" level, with a "stable" perspective. "The rating reflects Portugal's eurozone membership, favourable public debt maturity structure, and reduced vulnerabilities, following a substantial correction of the current account deficit over the past few years," it said in a statement.

  • Chinese ship set to be first through expanded Panama Canal AFP - Fri, Apr 29, 2016 7:11 PM AEST
    Chinese ship set to be first through expanded Panama Canal

    A Chinese-owned freighter will be the first vessel to pass through Panama's newly expanded canal, to be inaugurated with great pomp in June after nine years of work, officials said Friday. The Andronikos, a Marshall Islands-flagged container ship belonging to the China Cosco Shipping Corporation (COSCOCS), a Chinese state-owned group, was selected by lottery among the Panama Canal Authority's 15 largest clients. The aim is to greatly boost the annual revenue Panama collects in shipping passage fees, currently worth a billion dollars.

  • S&P keeps UK on triple-A rating, says expects no Brexit AFP - Fri, Apr 29, 2016 7:03 PM AEST
    S&P keeps UK on triple-A rating, says expects no Brexit

    Britain kept its coveted top-grade triple-A credit rating from Standard and Poor's on Friday, with the agency saying it expected the country to ultimately vote to remain in the European Union. Standard and Poor's said "our affirmation of the rating reflects our assumption that, by a small majority, the referendum will deliver a vote to remain in the EU", citing polls which show a slim majority planning to vote on June 23 to stay in the EU. It added Brexit could also dampen economic growth and curtail investment which has been critical in covering Britain's current account deficit, a key measure of whether a country is paying its way in the world.

  • Transatlantic trade talks claim progress, see deal this year AFP - Fri, Apr 29, 2016 7:00 PM AEST
    Transatlantic trade talks claim progress, see deal this year

    Negotiators on the ambitious TTIP transatlantic trade pact said they had made significant progress in New York this week and hope for a deal in 2016, despite popular opposition on both sides. Both sides said they would not be deterred by increased attacks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and did not plan to water it down despite vocal objections from politicians and the public on both sides. "The United States has no interest in a 'TTIP light' that would not fulfil the economic promise of the ambitious agreement that we're seeking," said Dan Mullaney, the US Trade Representative's front man in the talks.

  • Oil profits plunge as industry eyes a bottom AFP - Fri, Apr 29, 2016 6:52 PM AEST
    Oil profits plunge as industry eyes a bottom

    Chevron on Friday became the latest big oil company to land in the red due to low commodity prices, reporting a loss of $725 million in the quarter ending March 31. The second-biggest US oil company pledged more belt-tightening after trimming capital spending nearly 25 percent in the first quarter from the year-ago period, said Chevron chief executive John Watson. ExxonMobil, which was downgraded from the highest triple-A credit rating earlier this week, managed to stay in the black with $1.8 billion in profits.

  • Valeant files overdue financials, averts debt default AFP - Fri, Apr 29, 2016 6:33 PM AEST
    Valeant files overdue financials, averts debt default

    Embattled Canadian drug maker Valeant Pharmaceuticals averted a debt default on Friday by finally filing overdue financial statements, while announcing sweeping changes to its board. Valeant also named three new board nominees for election at its annual general meeting on June 14, to join five current directors appointed in the last year, as well as new chair and chief executive Joseph Papa and two longtime members. Valeant faces numerous government probes over accusations it gouged customers over the price of its prescription drugs.

  • Eurozone growth fails to stir stock markets AFP - Fri, Apr 29, 2016 4:44 PM AEST
    Eurozone growth fails to stir stock markets

    A strong eurozone growth spurt failed to stir stock markets on Friday, as concerns about the US economy gnawed at investor confidence. A day after data showed the US economy has expanded at its slowest ...

  • Delta orders 37 Airbus A321 for $4.2 billion AFP - Fri, Apr 29, 2016 4:28 PM AEST
    Delta orders 37 Airbus A321 for $4.2 billion

    Delta ordered on Friday 37 of Airbus's medium-haul A321 aircraft with a catalogue price $4.2 billion (3.7 billion euros) as the US airline seeks to quickly retire older planes. "The order for the A321s is an opportunistic fleet move that enables us to produce strong returns and cost-effectively accelerate the retirement of Delta's 116 MD-88s in a capital efficient manner," Delta's incoming chief executive Ed Bastian was quoted as saying in an Airbus statement, referring to its McDonnell Douglas aircraft which date from the late 1980s to early 1990s. The order is for A321s equipped with standard engines as opposed to newer more fuel-efficient version for which Airbus has a huge backlog of orders, and follows previous orders in 2013 and 2014.

  • French drug giant Sanofi vows hostile bid for US prey AFP - Fri, Apr 29, 2016 4:28 PM AEST
    French drug giant Sanofi vows hostile bid for US prey

    French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi vowed to open a hostile takeover battle Friday after its $9.3 billion (8.2 million-euro) offer for US cancer drug maker Medivation was dismissed for being too cheap. Sanofi, warning that has a strong record in takeovers, said it will not give up its pursuit of the reluctant American prey, manufacturer of the high-priced, blockbuster prostate cancer medication Xtandi. Medivation said its board had unanimously rejected Sanofi's unsolicited, non-binding cash offer of $52.50 a share, declaring that it "substantially" undervalued the company and was not in the interests of shareholders.