New figures show that European banks are lending less to companies — another sign the continent’s economic upswing remains less than robust. The European Central Bank on Friday reported that loans to companies slipped by 3.1% in November from a year earlier. The drop was sharper than the previous month’s 3.0%. Analysts say some companies are afraid to borrow due to uncertain growth prospects while others are sitting on adequate cash reserves. The economy of the euro currency union — a bloc that grew from 17 to 18 members in the new year with Latvia's accession — expanded by only 0.1% in the third quarter last year, with unemployment at 12.1%. Governments’ efforts to reduce debt by cutting spending and raising taxes have weighed on growth.
US firm buys co that tied cyber attacks to China
FireEye on Thursday said it has acquired Mandiant, the firm that linked years of cyber attacks against US companies to a secret Chinese military unit. FireEye said that the purchase of privately held Mandiant would increase its ability to stop attacks in their early stages. The company valued the deal at nearly $1 billion. FireEye said it would buy 21.5 million shares and options of its stock — worth about $884 million at Thursday’s closing price — and pay $106.5 million in cash to former Mandiant investors. FireEye makes computer-security software. It had a successful IPO in September, with the shares nearly doubling in price on the first day of trading. The California-based company said its customers include more than 100 of the Fortune 500 corporations.
Snapchat plans to make app more secure
Snapchat says it plans to put out a more secure version of its application following a breach that allowed hackers to collect the usernames and phone numbers of some 4.6 million of its users. The disappearing-message service popular with young people said in a blog post late on Thursday that the updated version of its app would allow users to opt out of its ‘Find Friends’ feature and would stem future attempts to abuse its service. The breach occurred after security experts warned