Selasa, 3 Disember 2013

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The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

Shopping giant Westfield to split mall empire


SYDNEY (AFP) - Australian shopping centre giant Westfield Group on Tuesday announced plans to split its international and Australian assets in a reshaping of its global empire which it said would unlock more value for investors.

Under the restructure, its Australian and New Zealand businesses - with interests in 47 malls - will be merged with those of Westfield Retail Trust, which was spun off from the main company in 2010.

The resulting US$26 billion entity will be named Scentre and listed on the Australian stock market, with a development pipeline for projects worth some US$3 billion.

Westfield Group will be renamed Westfield Corporation with total assets of $US17.6 billion, comprising interests in 44 shopping centres in the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe.

Westfield Group chairman Frank Lowy said the company's international and local businesses had both grown in scale and quality to the stage where they could now stand on their own.

"They can each operate more efficiently, and generate greater growth and value for investors, by being independent," he said.

"The proposal represents the latest in a series of capital restructures that have maintained the success of Westfield since it was first listed in 1960."

"Our current structure has served us well, but we believe that this new structure will create more value for investors going forward."

Lowy will be chairman of both entities with Scentre expected to list in mid-2014.

Westfield is one of the world's largest shopping centre operators and Lowy said a purely international focus for the new Westfield Corp would allow it to be more easily compared with international peers.

WTO in ‘make-or-break’ move


NUSA DUA: The WTO launched a frantic drive to salvage its floundering efforts to liberalise global trade at a summit laced with potential make-or-break implications for the body's global influence.

WTO chief Roberto Azevedo implored trade ministers to reach a modest agreement on key trade issues on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, in hopes it will keep alive a stumbling 12-year-old effort to slash international trade barriers.

"It is there for the taking. It is a matter of political will," Azevedo said during an appearance ahead of the four-day summit's opening yesterday.

In an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, Azevedo called the 159-member group's gathering "the most important World Trade Organisation meeting in years".

"At stake is not only a package of measures to boost the global economy ... but also the role of the WTO and the multilateral trading system in global economic governance," he said in an editorial in the Wall Street Journal.

In 2001, the WTO launched the "Doha Round" of talks in Qatar, seeking to overhaul the world trading system by setting a global framework of rules and tearing down barriers.

Various estimates say it could create tens of millions of jobs and perhaps US$1tril (RM3.2tril) in new economic activity.

But protectionist disputes between rich and poor countries – as well as the WTO's insistence that any accord be unanimous – has made a deal elusive.

Retreating for now from Doha's lofty aims, the WTO has instead put forward a limited "Bali package" on specific issues.

Azevedo hopes an agreement on that package can keep the Doha Round on life-support for a later push.

But the Bali measures have hit snags, most notably India's insistence that it be allowed to offer subsidies to its millions of poor farmers to keep food prices down. — AFP

Govt plans Asia-centric trade court


SINGAPORE said it plans to launch an international commercial court that will aid in settling an increasing number of cross-border disputes as Asia's economies boom.

The Ministry of Law said in a state­ment the proposed Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC) will leverage on robust cross-border investment and trade in Asia, where gross domestic product is expected to triple over the current decade to US$34.9 trillion (RM111 trillion) in 2020.

"Against this backdrop, the number and complexity of cross-border disputes is expected to increase, enabling the legal services sector in the Asia-Pacific to grow significantly," the ministry said.

It said the SICC will build on Singapore's reputation as a leading destination for international arbitration, which allows for disputes to be resolved by third-party arbitrators outside of court.

The Singapore International Arbitration Centre, set up in 1991, last year handled 235 disputes worth S$3.61bil (RM9.15bil).

It is considered the fourth most preferred arbitration institution in the world, after similar bodies headquartered in Paris, London and New York, according to a survey by international law firm White & Case.

"Building on the success of the arbitration sector in Singapore, the proposed international commercial court will make Singapore an even more attractive venue for dispute resolution in Asia and beyond," the ministry said.

With similar commercial courts in London and Dubai handling a growing number of global cases, "a window of opportunity currently exists for an Asian dispute resolution hub catering to international disputes with an Asian connection", said a report of an international committee that looked into the feasibility of setting up the court.

Law Minister K. Shanmugam told reporters that Singapore is the "obvious choice" for investors looking to have disputes resolved in a transparent and efficient manner. — AFP


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