Asia

Australian iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. said it will defend itself in court against claims it misled the market in 2004 over agreements with three Chinese government-backed entities, The Wall Street Journal reported. The long-awaited court case, brought against Fortescue by the Australian corporate watchdog, begins next week and is expected to last about five weeks.
Read more
China Minmetals Nonferrous Metals Co. is offering US$1.21 billion for most of the assets of OZ Minerals Ltd. in a deal designed to win Australian government approval, prompting the debt-laden miner's lenders to grant it an extension on its outstanding loans, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Read more
Delphi Corp. will sell its brakes-and-suspension business to BeijingWest Industries Co. as part of the auto supplier's ongoing turnaround plan, Dow Jones reported. Delphi, which has been in bankruptcy protection since October 2005, is General Motors Corp.'s largest supplier and has been slammed by the recession and the steep drop in demand for new vehicles. Delphi agreed earlier this month to sell its global steering business to GM as a critical move in both companies' restructuring.
Read more
HMP Constructions, one of Queensland’s largest privately-held companies, has entered voluntary administration with the loss of an estimated 500 jobs and debts of around $150 million, the Queensland Business Review reported. It is reported the company was hit by BHP Billiton's decision to axe contracting from its Goonyella mine in Central Queensland, where some 350 staff were employed.
Read more
Japan's economy, the second-largest in the world, is shrinking at the fastest pace in more than 30 years, roughly twice as fast as the U.S. economy, The Washington Post reported. Exports and imports declined in February at a record rate, with monthly sales to the United States down nearly 60 percent compared with last year. Tokyo is giving itself public-works medicine for these global trade ills, deploying legions of men and women with flags and hard hats to repave streets, repaint crosswalks and fix broken clocks in city parks.
Read more
Debt-ridden Chinese carrier East Star Airlines, grounded by the government earlier this month, faces liquidation, the official Xinhua news agency said on Friday. Six creditors of East Star Airlines have asked a court in the central city of Wuhan to start liquidation proceedings against the privately-run carrier, Xinhua said, citing unnamed city officials. It did not name the creditors but said the carrier's 16 bank accounts had been frozen by the court.
Read more
The British division of HSBC PLC said Wednesday that it may lay off as many as 1,200 staff following a review of operations, although the Unite union claimed that 2,900 staff would be affected. HSBC UK said the 1,200 cuts represent about 2% of its 58,000 employees in Britain and are being made in information technology, human resources and other support operations -- not in front-line branch staff. Some employees would be able to take other positions within the company, HSBC said.
Read more
The crash of Seoul’s Kumkang Valve Mfg. Ltd. came not because orders dried up but after the fallout from currency contracts that Chief Executive Officer Choi Kyung Shik signed with banks and now says he didn’t understand, Bloomberg reported. In September, Kumkang filed for bankruptcy because of changing exchange rates and terms of the deals. In November, one bank closed the last of Choi’s contracts, costing him $15 million, half of his annual revenue last year. Choi’s firm joined more than 50,000 businesses around the globe that are in a similar predicament.
Read more
Debt-laden Australian miner OZ Minerals slumped almost 12 percent Tuesday after the government postponed a decision on allowing a A$2.6 billion dollar ($1.8 billion) takeover by China's Minmetals, Agence France-Presse reported. The market had hoped to see the deal approved when OZ Minerals shares were suspended on the Australian Stock Exchange Monday pending an announcement, but instead the government said it would not make a decision for 90 days.
Read more
China called for the creation of a new currency to eventually replace the dollar as the world's standard, proposing a sweeping overhaul of global finance that reflects developing nations' growing unhappiness with the U.S. role in the world economy, The Wall Street Journal reported. The unusual proposal, made by central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan in an essay released Monday in Beijing, is part of China's increasingly assertive approach to shaping the global response to the financial crisis. Mr.
Read more