Asia

Western consumers are buying fewer luxury goods, and demand for cashmere has plunged, The New York Times reported. The painful effects of this are being felt all the way to these nearly empty plateaus of Inner Mongolia, by goatherds and factory workers and owners — showing how ripples from markets in the United States, Europe and Japan can reverberate to some of the most remote corners of the world. The problem is not just the collapse of the cashmere market, but also a government ban on Kashmir goats across much of Inner Mongolia for environmental reasons.
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Bankruptcy petitions in Hong Kong in May jumped 54 percent from a year earlier, totalling 1,417, as the territory continued to struggle with economic recession, but they fell on a monthly basis for a second straight month, government data showed on Friday, Reuters reported. Bankruptcies in April totalled 1,490, up 56 percent from a year earlier. The number of bankruptcies in May was the lowest since January and marked only the third time since August that bankruptcy petitions, which give an indication of future bankruptcies, had fallen from the previous month.
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Porsche Automobil Holding SE said Wednesday that the company's owner family backs its talks with Qatar over taking a stake in the Stuttgart-based company, dismissing a German media report published earlier Wednesday, Dow Jones reported. "The family unanimously supports the talks with an investor," Porsche said in a statement, adding that there was no family meeting at which Ferdinand Piech allegedly hindered a decision for Qatar to take a stake. Financial Times Deutschland reported earlier Wednesday that the planned deal with Qatar was at risk after Piech intervened at a family meeting.
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Troubled Saudi conglomerates Saad Group and Ahmad Hamad al-Gosaibi & Bros Co will meet creditors this month to restructure $10 billion of debt, a Saudi newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed bankers. Al-Hayat newspaper said the two firms would talk to their creditors over the next two weeks in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Great Britain. The paper said that there were more than 100 creditors that would agree to major debt restructuring. This is the first time a figure has been given for the size of the debts. Al-Hayat did not say how much each company had in debt.
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Beijing is diversifying its overseas investments and pressing U.S. officials for an "exit strategy" from the ultra-loose fiscal and monetary policies that China fears will eventually inflate away the value of its U.S. bond holdings and fell the dollar. But China's pragmatic policymakers also know there is no practical alternative to the dollar as the world's main reserve currency.
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The head of the IMF questioned on Monday any debate about when to roll back stimulus spending, saying the world economy had yet to weather the worst of a recession that claimed a record number of European jobs. The 16-country euro zone lost a record 1.22 million jobs in the first quarter, official data showed. Employment during the first quarter fell 1.2 percent year-on-year, the deepest annual drop since measurements started in 1995. Even if some form of economic recovery is not far off, analysts say unemployment will climb for many months to come.
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PT Bakrie & Brothers, one of Indonesia's largest conglomerates with interests in mining, energy and telecoms, is emerging from a $1.3 billion debt restructuring in control of its major companies. Last year, Bakrie & Brothers' financial position looked untenable. It racked up huge debts, in return pledging to lenders its shares in related companies as collateral. When share prices in its companies unexpectedly collapsed during the global subprime crisis, Bakrie & Brothers was unable to top up its collateral and was forced into debt talks.
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OZ Minerals Ltd. shareholders Thursday approved the sale of US$1.39 billion of assets to China Minmetals Non-ferrous Metals Co. with the transaction now set to be completed within a week, The Wall Street Journal reported. Minmetals increased its offer to US$1.39 billion from US$1.2 billion late Wednesday, shortly after a rival 1.4 billion Australian dollar (US$1.13 billion) recapitalization proposal from Macquarie Group Ltd. was withdrawn.
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Beijing Automotive Industry Holding has expressed interest in acquiring Volvo, becoming the second Chinese company to eye the Swedish unit of Ford Motor Co., according to three people familiar with the situation, The Wall Street Journal reported. A team of executives from Chinese government-owned Beijing Auto was expected to visit Volvo's Swedish headquarters as early as Thursday to meet with its executives and tour its research-and-development and manufacturing facilities, the knowledgeable people said.
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Li & Fung Ltd., which supplies retailers worldwide, declined in Hong Kong trading after client Arcandor AG, a German department-store operator, filed for insolvency, Bloomberg reported. Arcandor contributes about 5 percent, or $700 million, of Li & Fung’s sales, Managing Director William Fung said today. The Hong Kong company that’s the biggest supplier of clothes and toys to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. said today it’s owed $5.4 million by Arcandor.
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