The ministry of railways operates ultramodern bullet trains but its singular focus on rail at a time of booming car ownership and air travel makes it a relic from an era when 100 ministries ran Chinas planned economy. That could soon change. Chinas new communist leaders are considering another shake-up of a sprawling bureaucracy that has added market regulators and shed agencies that once dictated prices and told companies what to produce. Modernising the rail ministry a Soviet-style behemoth with 2.1 million employees, its own courts and police and 1.7 billion passengers last year by making it part of a transportation super ministry would be a likely priority. Such change would be politically fraught since it threatens top jobs and influence, the lifeblood of party factions. And it could require years to complete. But reformers say it is urgently needed to keep the worlds second-largest economy growing. Though details of the streamlining are yet to be announced, general secretary Xi Jinping and other Communist Party leaders opened a three-day meeting on Tuesday to discuss a reorganisation plan, state media reported.
BASF sees 2012 earnings slip, raises dividend
Higher raw materials costs and slow demand at BASF SEs basic chemicals business combined to push the companys earnings in 2012 lower. Booming sales at the companys oil and gas division were also blunted by higher taxes and a one-time charge, BASF said on Tuesday. Overall, net profit fell 21% to 4.89 billion euros despite a 7% rise in sales to 78.7 billion euros. Still, BASF said profits would rise this year and raised its dividend by 10 cents to 2.60 euros ($3.46) a share. A more detailed look at the earnings showed that earnings at the chemicals division fell 30% on higher raw materials costs and following a slow year for the entire industry.
Chinas CNOOC completes $15 bn Nexen purchase
Chinese oil company CNOOC says it has completed its $15.1 billion purchase of Canadian energy producer Nexen. State-owned CNOOC said in a statement that the acquisition was completed on Monday. Chinas biggest overseas energy deal was finalised after winning approval from a US agency that reviews takeovers by foreign companies for national security implications. The agency had a say because Nexen has Gulf of Mexico oil and gas fields. Canada approved the deal despite worries it could lead to a flood of takeovers in the countrys oil sands sector. Canadas prime minister said approval of similar deals in the future would be unlikely.
Portugal oppn chief wants renegotiation of bailout
Portugal should renegotiate the terms of its 78-billion-euro international bailout because its programme of budget austerity has failed, the head of the main centre-left opposition said on Tuesday. The Socialists, who agreed to Portugals original deal with international creditors in 2011, have been calling for some time for an easing of cuts which have driven the eurozone member into recession, but had stopped short of demanding new talks on the terms of the bailout. We need more time and a delay of interest payments, Socialist head Antonio Jose Seguro told journalists. There cannot be more austerity, there has to be a strategy of growth. He was speaking a day after Portugals creditors started their seventh review of the bailout during which the government is expected to request an easing of tough budget goals. Calls for less austerity have risen sharply since the economy took a turn for the worse in the fourth quarter of last year.
AirAsia net profit at $613 m in 2012
AirAsia Bhd, Asias largest budget airline by passengers, reported a net profit of 1.9 billion Malaysian ringgit ($613.10 million) in the full year 2012, up more than two-fold compared to the previous year. The result was higher than the average forecast for full-year profit of 775.7 million ringgit in a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S poll of 20 analysts. Revenue rose to 4.99 billion ringgit, 11% higher than a year earlier, the Malaysia-listed firm said on Tuesday. Profit for the quarter ended December 31 was 350.6 million ringgit, up 168% year-on-year.