Business

Morning business round-up: Eurozone unemployment rises

What made the business news in Asia and Europe this morning? Here's our daily business round-up:

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In Asia, Samsung Electronics, the world's biggest memory chip maker, has unveiled plans to invest $7bn (£4.4bn) to build its first chip factory in China.

Samsung will initially invest $2.3bn in the plant, which will make chips for smartphones, tablets and MP3 players, and increase its investment gradually.

The firm has been looking to tap into the lucrative Chinese market, but there have been fears of technology leaks.

Samsung won government approval to build the plant earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Malaysia's CIMB said it will acquire most of Royal Bank of Scotland's (RBS) Asia-Pacific units in a deal worth 431.8m Malaysian ringgit ($141m; £88m).

The agreement will see CIMB get hold of RBS' cash equities and investment banking businesses in the region.

The deal comes as RBS has been trying to scale down in a bid to streamline its operations after receiving a government bailout, while CIMB has been seeking to expand its operations.

In other company news, oil explorer Cairn Energy has announced it is to buy Norwegian rival Agora Oil and Gas for $450m (£281m).

Edinburgh-based Cairn said the move would add drilling to its 2012 exploration programme, with up to nine Agora wells scheduled to be drilled off the UK and Norway.

Agora is currently owned by RIT Capital Partners and Lord Rothschild's family interests, along with management.

The transaction is subject to consent from regulators in the UK and Norway.

And the Pret a Manger sandwich chain is creating 550 jobs in the UK this year as the company continues its rapid expansion.

Pret plans to open 44 new stores in 2012, of which 20 will be overseas.

Those expansion plans were released along with the company's annual results. Sales rose 15% last year to £377.3m.

The company said that two stores which opened in Paris earlier this year were doing well and it plans two more.

In economics news, the number of Spanish jobseekers rose for the eighth month in a row in March to hit a record 4.75 million.

The Labour Ministry said the number of people filing for unemployment benefits rose by 38,769 with the services sector seeing the most jobs lost.

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The jobless rate in Spain stood at 23.6% in February, according to EU figures released on Monday.

The situation is even worse for young Spaniards as youth unemployment is running at 50%.

However, the UK economy has shown a few signs of improvement in the first three months of this year, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has said.

The latest quarterly economic survey by the business lobby said that domestic orders and exports were all higher from the previous quarter.

The BCC had previously warned of "stagflation".

But the UK economy "is still facing huge challenges and the recovery is much too slow", the BCC said.

You can examine the big issues facing the global economy in the latest edition of our Business Daily programme.

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