Services

  • Eurostar services cancelled due to technical fault AFP - Thu, Apr 17, 2014 8:13 PM AEST
    Eurostar services cancelled due to technical fault

    Hundreds of Eurostar commuters had their Easter travel plans disrupted on Thursday as a technical fault inside the tunnel held trains up for five hours and forced the cancellation of later services. Customers on the French side of the tunnel were told there had been a fatality on the line, and then that a freight train had broken down inside the tunnel. A later message sent at around 1900 GMT confirmed that "all Eurostar services are closed now" but those travelling on Friday should check in as usual. Commuters using the cross-Channel service were affected last month when a lightning strike sparked a fire on the English side, forcing one train to turn back.

  • Canteen catering giant Sodexo says 1H profit up 18% AFP - Thu, Apr 17, 2014 6:51 PM AEST
    Canteen catering giant Sodexo says 1H profit up 18%

    Catering giant Sodexo, providing canteen services from government departments to oil rigs, reported a 17.8-percent jump in first-half profits on Thursday, helped by cost-cutting and strong emerging markets growth in its benefits and services business. The benefits and services business, which deals with employee rewards cards or meal tickets, posted strong growth, with organic revenue up 15.1 percent thanks to momentum in its South American, Asian and European businesses. We had good results, especially the 11.4 percent rise in operating income, excluding foreign exchange impacts and before exceptional charges," Chief executive Michael Lande said on a conference call.

  • Why high oil prices are good for airlines AAP - Thu, Apr 17, 2014 2:01 PM AEST

    These changes, along with high oil prices, have created an insurmountable roadblock to startup airlines that hope to undercut established carriers. Last year, they paid an average of $US3.03 a gallon, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. High oil prices forced the major airlines to do business differently. Now - since fuel is such a great expense - that doesn't happen, said Scott Kirby, president of American Airlines, at a recent aviation symposium in Phoenix.

  • Air cargo class action nears settlement AAP - Thu, Apr 17, 2014 1:58 PM AEST
    Air cargo class action nears settlement

    Several airlines including Qantas have agreed to a $38 million settlement of a class action related to price fixing. The settlement agreement, which still needs court approval, comes seven years after the law suit relating to alleged cartel conduct in air freight services began. The class action against Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Air New Zealand, British Airways and Lufthansa Cargo relates to alleged price fixing on international freight services since January 1, 2000.

  • Goldman Sachs earnings dip on trading declines AFP - Thu, Apr 17, 2014 1:38 PM AEST
    Goldman Sachs earnings dip on trading declines

    Goldman Sachs reported lower quarterly profits Thursday due to declines in some key trading divisions, but notched a big gain in financial advisory services. Earnings for the first quarter came in at $2.03 ...

  • Amazon hit by new strikes in Germany AFP - Thu, Apr 17, 2014 10:00 AM AEST
    Amazon hit by new strikes in Germany

    Two of Amazon's key sites in Germany were the target of fresh walkouts by staff on Thursday in an long-running wage dispute. The services sector union Verdi has called for full-day stoppages at Amazon's logistics centres in Leipzig and Bad Hersfeld. Amazon has a workforce of around 2,000 in Leipzig and 3,300 at Bad Hersfeld. Amazon has a total of nine sites in Germany and has been regularly hit by walkouts over the past year.

  • Cyclone Ita recovery: Queensland rail network under repair after category-four storm ABC - Thu, Apr 17, 2014 9:20 AM AEST

    Queensland Rail says there is significant damage in the state's north after Cyclone Ita, with parts of the east coast network likely to stay closed until at least Sunday. The service between Townsville and Cairns is expected to reopen tomorrow morning, but the track between Mackay and Townsville will remain closed. North Queensland regional general manager Michael Mitchell says repairs are being completed as quickly as possible. "With the torrential rain, lots of washouts and scouring across the network, so there's quite a few locations from basically Mackay all the way through to Cairns," he said.

  • IBM hammered on earnings slump AFP - Wed, Apr 16, 2014 9:42 PM AEST
    IBM hammered on earnings slump

    IBM reported a 21 percent slump in first quarter earnings Wednesday, as the computer giant saw weaker hardware sales and focused more on services and the Internet "cloud." The results were largely in line with expectations, but in after-hours trade IBM stock slid 4.3 percent to $188. IBM said revenues from hardware sales including its big servers fell 23 percent, and posted an operating loss in part due to restructuring costs.

  • Financial industry looks to grow in Asia AAP - Wed, Apr 16, 2014 4:11 PM AEST

    Australia's financial services industry is literally being given a passport to spread its wares more easily to new clients in the Asia-Pacific region. The federal government has backed an initiative that came out of the 2009 report that looked at Australia as a financial centre that would give financial service exporters greater access to overseas markets. Called the Asia Region Funds Passport, it would reduce the red tape faced by fund managers across the region, while providing Australian investors with a greater choice of investment portfolios. The idea was endorsed by APEC finance ministers' Bali meeting last September, and a statement of intent for the framework was signed by Australia, Korea, New Zealand and Singapore.

  • Phone company TPG fined $400k for cutting off access to emergency services ABC - Wed, Apr 16, 2014 2:25 PM AEST
    Phone company TPG fined $400k for cutting off access to emergency services

    Telephone company TPG has been fined $400,000 in the Federal Court for failing to give customers access to the triple-0 emergency service. She could not get through and later discovered that TPG had cut off access to the emergency service number because her phone bill was in arrears. An investigation by the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) revealed there had been another 193 failed emergency calls from 100 home phones. ACMA said TPG failed to ensure the service was available to nearly 6,000 telephone services.

  • Yahoo's 1Q highlighted by Alibaba AAP - Wed, Apr 16, 2014 11:18 AM AEST

    Yahoo is still prospering from its lucrative investments in Asia while the internet company's listless advertising sales are picking up, if ever so slightly, under chief executive Marissa Mayer. The positive signs in the Yahoo's first-quarter report overshadow a 20 per cent decline in the company's earnings during the opening three months of the year. The results, released on Tuesday, highlight the contrasting performances of Yahoo's investment portfolio and the company's main business of running ad-supported online services. Yahoo Inc is making most of its money from its holdings in two Asian internet companies - China's Alibaba Group and Yahoo Japan.

  • Intel posts lower 1Q net income AAP - Wed, Apr 16, 2014 10:47 AM AEST
    Intel posts lower 1Q net income

    Intel's earnings have fallen in the first three months of the year, but revenue has grown because of solid demand for tablet processors and its data centre services. Intel Corp on Tuesday said it earned $US1.95 billion ($A2.08 billion), or 38 US cents per share, in the January-March quarter. Intel has been challenged by a shift in consumer spending away from PCs. Although Intel is the leader in making chips for PCs, it hasn't done as well selling processors for smartphones and tablets.

  • Malaysia Airlines MH370: Wreck hunter confident plane will be found ABC - Tue, Apr 15, 2014 7:21 PM AEST
    Malaysia Airlines MH370: Wreck hunter confident plane will be found

    One of the world's foremost wreck hunters believes searchers have found the crash site of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, and recovering the plane's black boxes is inevitable. "I think essentially they have found the wreckage site," the director of the UK-based Bluewater Recoveries, David Mearns, told 7.30. Mr Mearns solved one of the nation's greatest maritime mysteries when he found the wreck of HMAS Sydney deep in the Indian Ocean. His advice was also crucial in helping to find the wreckage of Air France flight 447.

  • Germany's RWE to supply gas to crisis-hit Ukraine AFP - Tue, Apr 15, 2014 5:32 PM AEST
    Germany's RWE to supply gas to crisis-hit Ukraine

    RWE, Germany's second-biggest power supplier, said on Tuesday it will start gas deliveries to Ukraine as Russia threatens to cut off supplies to Kiev. "RWE -? via its trading subsidiary RWE Supply ...

  • Tigerair takes flight between Darwin and Brisbane ABC - Tue, Apr 15, 2014 4:08 PM AEST
    Tigerair takes flight between Darwin and Brisbane

    Darwin airport will welcome the first Tigerair passenger flight from Brisbane tonight. It marks the start of a new daily service between the two capital cities. The flights will make 130,000 more airline seats a year available for the Northern Territory capital. NT Airports chief executive officer Ian Kew says Darwin International Airport was the first base for Tigerair when it started flying to Australia from Singapore.

  • Airlines, business back Badgerys Creek, Sydney Airport noncommittal ABC - Tue, Apr 15, 2014 3:47 PM AEST

    The Federal Government's announcement of a second airport for Sydney at Badgerys Creek has been met with enthusiasm by airlines and business groups, but the owner of the city's existing airport has given a lukewarm response. Sydney Airport has a right of first refusal on the project - a condition of Kingsford Smith Airport's sale by the Federal Government. The right of refusal gives Sydney Airport the first option to develop and operate any new airport within 100km of Sydney's CBD.

  • Delay access to super: FSC's Brogden AAP - Tue, Apr 15, 2014 1:01 PM AEST

    The age at which people can access their superannuation should be pushed back closer to the retirement age to prevent "double dipping". The Financial Services Council's John Brogden believes it sends the wrong message that people can access their super at 60 but still get the pension when they retire at 67. "It actually encourages people to arrange their affairs so they get the maximum out of the superannuation and the maximum out of the government pension," he told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday. Mr Brogden questions whether a couple who own their family home, have one million dollars in assets and an annual income of $60,000 should be eligible to receive a part pension.

  • Gulfstream announces 60-plane deal for China AFP - Tue, Apr 15, 2014 12:59 PM AEST
    Gulfstream announces 60-plane deal for China

    Business jet maker Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. on Tuesday announced a deal to sell 60 aircraft to a Chinese leasing company, one of the largest orders in the US company's history. The agreement, signed with Minsheng Financial Leasing Co. in the fourth quarter last year, includes firm orders for 40 Gulfstream aircraft and options for 20 more, the company said in a statement. Private jet use in China is small but rapidly growing, backed by demand from wealthy individuals and Chinese companies operating overseas, industry officials say. The order includes planes from across Gulfstream's product line, including the G280, G450, G550 and G650.

  • India inflation accelerates, rate cut hopes dashed AFP - Tue, Apr 15, 2014 9:43 AM AEST
    India inflation accelerates, rate cut hopes dashed

    India's inflation accelerated in March to a three-month high, data showed Tuesday, dashing hopes of an interest rate cut to boost the struggling economy. The Wholesale Price Index (WPI), the closest watched cost-of-living monitor, jumped by almost a percentage point from the previous month to hit a year-on-year rate of 5.7 percent in March. The data came in the midst of voting in India's multi-phase election whose results are due in mid-May. A new opinion poll released late Monday predicted the opposition Hindu nationalist opposition and its allies would win a clear parliamentary majority. The Reserve Bank of India has raised its benchmark lending rate three times since last September.

  • US financial services giant unveils $6.25 bn takeover AFP - Mon, Apr 14, 2014 3:32 PM AEST
    US financial services giant unveils $6.25 bn takeover

    US financial services provider TIAA-CREF, a leader in pensions, said Monday it has agreed to buy investment management company Nuveen Investments for $6.25 billion including debt. TIAA-CREF is acquiring Nuveen from an investor group led by Madison Dearborn Partners, a private equity investment firm that bought Nuveen in 2007 for $5.75 billion. "This transaction reinforces our position as a leading diversified financial services organization with a broad mix of product offerings to serve clients today and those in retirement for decades to come," said Roger Ferguson, TIAA-CREF's president and chief executive.

  • Swedish city introduces payment by hand scanning AFP - Mon, Apr 14, 2014 2:42 PM AEST
    Swedish city introduces payment by hand scanning

    Hand scanning has become an alternative payment method for people in a city in southern Sweden, researchers at Lund University said Monday. Some 1,600 people have signed up already for the system, which its creator says is not only faster but also safer than traditional payment methods. "Every individual?s vein pattern is completely unique, so there really is no way of committing fraud with this system," researcher Fredrik Leifland said in a statement. The creators have plans to further expand the business and other companies around the world are already starting to implement the new payment method.

  • US retail sales surge 1.1% in March AFP - Mon, Apr 14, 2014 1:46 PM AEST
    US retail sales surge 1.1% in March

    US retail sales leaped higher in March, giving further evidence of stronger economic activity after a particularly brutal winter, government data showed Monday. Retail and food services sales surged 1.1 percent from February to $433.9 billion, slightly above the average analyst estimate, according to the Commerce Department. The February gain was revised upward to 0.7 percent from the prior estimate of 0.3 percent, another sign that consumer spending held up despite bad weather that gripped much of the country. Robust auto sales contributed largely to the upbeat March report, a key indicator of consumer spending that accounts for most US economic activity.

  • Chinese group acquires House of Fraser AAP - Mon, Apr 14, 2014 7:22 AM AEST

    Chinese conglomerate Sanpower has agreed to buy a majority stake in British department store House of Fraser in a deal worth STG480 million ($A860.75 million), according to a joint statement. Sanpower, a Nanjing-based conglomerate listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, will acquire an 89 per cent stake in the 165-year-old British brand through its Nanjing Cenbest subsidiary. Sanpower's founder and chairman, Yuan Yafei, said the deal was the largest overseas acquisition in the retail sector by a Chinese business, and a "landmark transaction". He expressed his intention to expand House of Fraser overseas, particularly in China.

  • Tenacity pays off for founder of 'Nollywood Netflix' AFP - Sun, Apr 13, 2014 5:11 PM AEST
    Tenacity pays off for founder of 'Nollywood Netflix'

    At only 33, Jason Njoku is already considered one of Africa's most promising entrepreneurs thanks to an online film distribution service that has tapped high demand for Nigerian movies. But the British-born Nigerian entrepreneur, whose firm iROKO has been compared to the US Internet movie and TV streaming giant Netflix, is cautious about reading too much into the accolade. "On paper, I'm a millionaire, absolutely," he told AFP at his office in Nigeria's financial capital, Lagos.

  • Chinese group acquires Britain's House of Fraser AFP - Sun, Apr 13, 2014 9:51 AM AEST
    Chinese group acquires Britain's House of Fraser

    Chinese conglomerate Sanpower has agreed to buy a majority stake in British department store House of Fraser in a deal worth £480 million (578 million euros, $800 million), according to a joint statement. Sanpower, a Nanjing-based conglomerate listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, will acquire an 89 percent stake in the 165-year-old British brand through its Nanjing Cenbest subsidiary. Sanpower's founder and chairman, Yuan Yafei, said the deal was the largest overseas acquisition in the retail sector by a Chinese business, and a "landmark transaction". He expressed his intention to expand House of Fraser overseas, particularly in China.

  • US beef prices highest since 1987 AAP - Sun, Apr 13, 2014 8:41 AM AEST

    The highest beef prices since 1987 are hitting the hip pockets of home cooks and restaurant owners in the US. A dwindling number of cattle and growing export demand have tightened the supply and caused the average retail cost of fresh beef to climb to $US5.28 ($A5.63) a pound in February - 24 cents higher than January. Prices likely will stay high for a couple of years as cattle producers start to rebuild their herds.

  • US producer prices jump in March AAP - Fri, Apr 11, 2014 11:34 PM AEST

    US producer prices surged higher in March as demand for services increased the most in four years, government data released Friday showed. The Labor Department said its producer price index rose 0.5 per ...

  • Malaysia Airlines MH370: Tony Abbott says officials 'very confident' signals are coming from black b … ABC - Fri, Apr 11, 2014 1:14 PM AEST
    Malaysia Airlines MH370: Tony Abbott says officials 'very confident' signals are coming from black b …

    Searchers are now confident they are picking up fading signals from flight MH370's black box, and have narrowed down the search area to "within some kilometres", Prime Minister Tony Abbott says. "We have very much narrowed down the search area and we are very confident the signals are from the black box," Mr Abbott said during his visit to China yesterday. The Australian Navy's Ocean Shield picked up acoustic signals around the small search zone earlier this week, but Mr Abbott has warned the signals are beginning to fade as the unit's batteries run out. Mr Abbott said he would wait for further briefings and his meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping before saying more.

  • Malaysia Airlines flight MH370: Aircraft detects another possible signal in search for missing plane ABC - Thu, Apr 10, 2014 8:32 PM AEST
    Malaysia Airlines flight MH370: Aircraft detects another possible signal in search for missing plane

    An Australian P3 Orion aircraft has detected another possible signal from a black box recorder in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, who is heading the search, says the aircraft detected the signal near the Australian Navy ship Ocean Shield on Thursday. He says further analysis is needed but the signal may be from a man-made source. The search area has been narrowed from 75,000 square kilometres to about 58,000 square kilometres after four signals were detected in an area less than 40 kilometres apart by a US Navy towed pinger locator deployed by Ocean Shield.

  • IBM buys Internet marketing firm Silverpop AFP - Thu, Apr 10, 2014 6:47 PM AEST
    IBM buys Internet marketing firm Silverpop

    IBM on Thursday announced that it is buying Internet marketing firm Silverpop to enhance its portfolio of services for businesses out to target potential customers. The technology veteran did not disclose financial terms of the deal to acquire Atlanta-based Silverpop, which specializes in pinpointing marketing messages based on real-time online activities from Web surfing to mobile device use or social networking. Silverpop chief executive Bill Nussey said in a release. Better targeted marketing translate into less annoying 'spam' messages, IBM reasoned.

  • Cardno looks to Americas, not Asia AAP - Thu, Apr 10, 2014 3:34 PM AEST

    Australia's future prosperity is inextricably tied to Asia but Brisbane-based company Cardno doesn't seem particularly interested. The fast growing infrastructure and environment services group has hitched its wagon to the North and Latin American economies and predicts a shift in global manufacturing from China to Mexico. New chief executive Michael Renshaw told AAP this week he hopes it takes Cardno to global powerhouse status. Cardno's diverse operations, such as engineering for oil and gas drillers, consulting on climate change and more have increased net profits every year for a decade, including $43.1 million for the latest half year.

  • Wage costs 'force' hotel closure at Easter AAP - Thu, Apr 10, 2014 2:12 PM AEST

    Australian hoteliers say they will close or reduce guest services over the Easter holiday due to the cost of paying their staff penalty rates. The survey by lobby group Tourism Accommodation Australia revealed 134 outlets would close or reduce guest services because of employee penalty rates. Affected services include restaurant, housekeeping, room service, bars and guest services (concierge). Metro Hospitality Group chief executive officer George Bedwani said some of his hotels would need to reduce services, closing the restaurant at lunchtime, closing room service after 9pm and leaving vacant rooms uncleaned until the following day, when paying a cleaner will cost 40 per cent less.

  • US removes Philippines from air safety blacklist AFP - Thu, Apr 10, 2014 5:24 AM AEST
    US removes Philippines from air safety blacklist

    The US Federal Aviation Administration has removed the Philippines from its air safety blacklist, Manila said Thursday, opening the door for its airlines to expand services to the United States. The FAA decision comes after the European Union in July 2013 lifted its own ban on Philippine carriers after they upgraded their aviation safety standards. The FAA put the Philippines on its "Category 2" blacklist in 2008, saying it had failed to comply with international safety standards. A letter from the FAA, released by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, praised "the hard work completed by your government on the safety oversight system".

  • Greece to end exile from bond markets as thousands protest AFP - Wed, Apr 9, 2014 9:06 PM AEST
    Greece to end exile from bond markets as thousands protest

    Greece announced Wednesday its return to the debt markets after a four-year absence on the same day protestors launched the first anti-austerity strike of the year, crippling key services across the country. While up to 20,000 people demonstrated in the streets of the capital Athens and second city Thessaloniki, disrupting rail and ferry services and closing government offices, Greece's finance ministry said the country would issue medium-term debt for the first time since 2010. One of the banks running the deal said Athens is expected to sell at least 500 million euros ($690 million) of five-year bonds as early as Thursday. Athens' move was welcomed by the International Monetary Fund, which has provided monetary support for the troubled economy.

  • Bank of America to pay for illegal credit-card actions AFP - Wed, Apr 9, 2014 6:08 PM AEST
    Bank of America to pay for illegal credit-card actions

    Bank of America will pay $772 million over illegal credit-card practices that lured consumers into signing up for added products and services, US regulators said Wednesday. Bank of America will provide about $727 million in relief to consumers harmed by the practices, estimated to number 1.4 million, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said. The second-largest US bank also will pay a $20 million civil penalty to the CFPB, and a $25 million civil penalty to the Treasury Department's Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which cooperated in the case. "We have consistently warned companies about illegal practices related to credit card add-on products," the director of CFPB, Richard Cordray, said in a statement.