Khamis, 1 Mei 2014

The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Danone to buy New Zealand dairy factories

Posted: 01 May 2014 07:27 PM PDT

PARIS: French dairy giant Danone on Thursday said it would buy milk powder factories in New Zealand to make up for supplies lost when it ended its supply contract with Fonterra last year.

Its local subsidiary Nutricia will buy Gardians drying plant and Sutton Group's blending and packing plant in Auckland, allowing it to maintain and possibly increase its exports to China.

Danone's net profit slumped 15% in 2013 after a food safety warning by key supplier Fonterra last year forced the group to launch a massive recall in Asia.

"This transaction will provide Nutricia with a large milk drying capacity, along with a long-term fresh milk supply access," the company said in a statement.

"It will also add an infant formula blending and packing facility to Nutricia's existing operations platform."

The purchase its subject to regulatory approval and is expected to complete in the next few months, Danone added. – AFP

Plus agrees to restructure toll rates, says Fadillah

Posted: 01 May 2014 07:24 PM PDT

KUCHING: Projek Lebuh Raya Utara-Selatan (PLUS), which owns the country's most lucrative highway concession, has agreed to restructure toll rates, says Works Minister Datuk Fadillah Yusof. 

He said the restructuring would involve amendments to the existing concession agreement in order to make it more favourable to the public. 

"PLUS has agreed to restructure toll rates and this means amending the existing agreement taking into account the peoples' interest," he told reporters on Friday.

PLUS, which operates several highways including the 772 km North-South Expressway, was taken private in 2012 by a joint venture between government-linked companies, the Employees Provident Fund and UEM Group Bhd.

Fadillah said toll hikes were automatic every three or five years under the present concession but, under the restructuring, PLUS has to explain the rationale and basis for any future hike. 

"The government will study and determine if a request for toll hike is justified based on PLUS' entire cost structure," he added. - Bernama

US auto sales extend rebound from winter slump

Posted: 01 May 2014 07:06 PM PDT

WASHINGTON: Automakers on Thursday reported generally higher US sales in April from a year ago, extending the spring thaw from the deep freeze in January and February amid brutal winter weather.

A total of 1.39 million cars and trucks were sold in the US in April, a gain of 8.1% from a year ago and accelerating from March's 5.7% annual pace, industry specialist AutoData said.

But sales slowed slightly month-over-month. The April annual sales rate was 16.0 million vehicles, down from 16.4 million in March, according to AutoData.

Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst at, a car-shopping website, said despite a trend toward fuel-efficient vehicles in recent years, car shoppers still showed keen interest in trucks and sport utility vehicles.

"SUVs, in particular, are not only selling well, but they are selling at a quicker pace than cars, pickups, or vans. SUVs are selling, on average, 20 days faster than other cars and trucks," the analyst said.

General Motors, the largest US automaker, said total sales rose 7% in April from a year ago, to 254,076 vehicles.

Kurt McNeil, GM's US vice president of sales operations, was upbeat about demand.

"The economy continues to strengthen," he said. "Retail demand was steady in April, and truck sales and transaction prices were especially strong."

Chrysler Group, the US unit of Italy's Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, clocked in a 14% jump year-over-year with 178,652 vehicles sold, its best April performance since 2007. For GM and Chrysler, sales gains were higher than estimates of 4.7% and 12.3%, respectively, from analysts at Edmunds. com, a car-shopping website.

But Ford Motor Company, the number-two US automaker, reported sales fell 1% from a year ago, to 141,950 vehicles. analysts had forecast a 4.6% increase.

Ford's sales numbers came the same day the company named chief operating officer Mark Fields to replace Alan Mulally as chief executive on July 1.

Japanese rival Toyota, the world's top automaker, said US sales increased 9% to 199,660 vehicles.

"Sales momentum from March rolled into April pushing the industry to its best back-to-back monthly sales pace since fall of 2007," said Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president and general manager.

Fellow Japanese automaker Nissan said US sales shot up 18.5% to an April record of 94,764 vehicles.

Honda's sales fell 2.9% from last year's record in April to 96,704 vehicles.

"Even though our April sales were off slightly, it was still one of the 10 best sales months in American Honda history," said Dick Colliver, the company's executive vice president of sales.

"The market is very competitive, but there are still plenty of people out shopping for cars and trucks."

South Korean firm Hyundai Motor said its US unit sales rose 4.4% to 66,107 cars and trucks.

Volkswagen's US sales skidded sharply lower. The German company posted a 10.4% drop from a year ago, to 30,831 units. – AFP


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