Morning business round-up: G20 seeks EU bailout boost


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

Eurozone states need to put more money in their rescue fund before G20 nations can step in to help them, the G20 finance ministers have said.

They said such a move was "essential" to their decision to provide more resources to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help the region.

At their meeting in Mexico, the G20 finance ministers warned that risks to global economic growth continued to remain high.

In company news, HSBC's annual profits rose 15% to £13.8bn ($21.9bn) in what it called a year of "major progress".

The bank is the biggest in Europe and makes about 90% of its profits outside the UK.

Publisher Pearson, which owns the Financial Times newspaper, has reported a rise in profits thanks to improved digital sales and growth in emerging markets.

Pre-tax profits at the group were up 72% to £1.15bn ($1.8bn), including one-off items, for the year to 31 December.

Adjusted operating profits from continuing operations were up 12% at constant exchange rates to £943m.

Danish container shipping firm AP Moller-Maersk has reported a sharp fall in profits for last year and warned 2012 would see profits slip further.

Net profit in 2011 was 18.1bn Danish kroner ($3.3bn; £2.1bn), down from the 28.2bn kroner the company made in 2010. Revenue was up 2% at 322.5bn kroner.

Maersk said the results were "acceptable" given falling shipping rates during the year.

And the Prudential, the UK's biggest insurer, is considering moving its headquarters out of the UK to escape tougher new capital rules for insurers.

The company said in a statement that there was uncertainty over the planned new rules, called Solvency II.

It acknowledged there had been long-running speculation that it could move its base and said it regularly reviewed its position.

Media caption,
Biz Heads

In Asian news, the World Bank has said China needs to embrace fundamental free-market reforms if its economy is to continue to grow at the "impressive" pace of the past three decades.

The country had reached a "turning point" and needed to reform a growth model that was "unsustainable".

The role of government and state enterprises needed redefining, it said.

But even if growth slows, China was likely to become the world's largest economy before 2030, the bank added.

Australian surf wear maker Billabong has rejected a takeover bid from TPG Capital but said it is still negotiating with the investment firm.

TPG had offered 765m Australian dollars ($823m; $520m), or A$3 per share, which Billabong said was too low.

Billabong has seen its fortunes decline in recent years because of falling global demand.

Its net profit fell 72% to A$16m in the six months to the end of December.

To hear about some of the wider trends in the world of business, listen to our Business Daily podcast which looks at doing business in one of the world's poorest countries, Sierra Leone.

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