World Business

China seeks another slice of Australia's mining sector

China seeks another slice of Australia's mining sector Sydney - Australian copper and gold producer OZ Minerals Ltd on Monday recommended to shareholders a cash offer from China Minmetals Non-ferrous Metals Company Ltd that values the debt-laden company at 2.6 billion Australian dollars (1.6 billion US dollars).

The takeover bid follows Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto Ltd's proposed selling of assets worth 19.5 billion US dollars to existing shareholder Aluminum Corp of China (Chinalco), another Chinese state-backed company.

Total posts highest ever profits for French company

Total posts highest ever profits for French company Paris

Energy group Vattenfall operating profits down in fourth-quarter

Energy group Vattenfall operating profits down in fourth-quarter Stockholm - Swedish state-owned energy group Vattenfall on Thursday posted a drop in operating profits for the fourth quarter of 2008, and a slight decrease of its full-year electricity production.

Operating profit before tax and interest was 6.5 billion kronor (796 million dollars), down 2.8 per cent year-on-year.

Fourth-quarter turnover increased by 22 per cent to 46 billion kronor while a lower Swedish tax charge contributed to the 10 per cent net profit increase to 4 billion kronor, Vattenfall said.

Swiss Re chief Jacques Aigrain resigns

Zurich - Jacques Aigrain, the head of Swiss Re, the world's second largest re-insurer which suffered huge losses in 2008, has resigned his post, the company announced Thursday. He will be succeeded by current deputy CEO, Stefan Lippe.

Lippe, a German national, has been with Swiss Re for 25 years.

Earlier this month, the re-insurer said it had managed to raise capital, including a 3 billion-Swiss-franc (2.58 billion dollars)- investment from US financier Warren Buffet.

The group was considering taking another 2 billion from other investors.

The capital was needed in light of losses over 2008 reaching a whopping 1 billion francs, with the company now struggling to maintain its AA credit rating.

Renault profits plunge after big second-half loss

Paris - French car maker Renault saw its profits plunge in 2008 after posting a huge loss in the second half of the year, the company said on Thursday.

Profits for last year totaled 571 million euros (735 million dollars), down 78.6 per cent from 2007, Renault said in a press statement.

The profit downturn was the result of a shrinking car market in the second half of 2008, when Renault posted a loss of 980 million euros.

Turnover for the year fell by 7 per cent, to 37.79 billion euros, as sales of Renault vehicles dropped by 4.1 per cent "in a world market that shrank by 5 per cent," the company said.

Banking group Swedbank posts lower fourth-quarter operating profit

Stockholm - Swedish banking group Swedbank fourth-quarter 2008 operating profit declined 23 per cent, the group said Thursday, announcing a write-down of its subsidiary in Ukraine.

Fourth-quarter operating profit was 2.4 billion kronor (294 million dollars), while total income in the quarter increased 26 per cent to 10.34 billion kronor.

The write-down in Ukraine totalled 1.4 billion kronor. In a comment Swedbank chief executive Jan Liden, who is to leave the bank in April, said that "although the short-term outlook in Ukraine is challenging, we are convinced of a positive long-term future."