Morning business round-up: Greece to get debt swap


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

Greece has said it has received enough backing to push through the largest restructuring of government debt in history.

Holders of 85.8% of debt subject to Greek law and 69% of its international debt holders agreed a debt swap, according to the Ministry of Finance.

Take-up was high enough for the government to force unwilling investors to consent to the deal.

The deal has already had implications for the financial sector - with Dutch bank ABN Amro reporting its underlying net profit for 2011 was hit by bad debt charges, including 880m euros (£763m, £1.16bn) for Greece.

Underlying profits for the year, which strip out the cost of integration and separation of businesses, were 960m euros, compared with 1.1bn euros profit for 2010.

The bank was bought by the Royal Bank of Scotland in 2007 for 71bn euros.

In company news, an inquiry into whether BSkyB, partly owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, is a "fit and proper" owner of a UK broadcasting licence has been stepped up by media regulator Ofcom, it has emerged.

The Financial Times has revealed a team was set up in January to scrutinise evidence from the Leveson inquiry, MPs' committees and police investigations.

It means the UK media interests of Rupert Murdoch and his son, James, have come under further scrutiny.

And UK pubs chain JD Wetherspoon has cut its expansion plans, announcing a fall in second-half sales as it blames the UK's tax regime.

Media caption,
Biz Heads

In Asia, talks between Australia's Qantas and Malaysia Airlines to establish a premium airline in Asia have broken down, in a setback for both carriers.

Qantas said the two sides could not agree on commercial terms. Qantas shares fell 4% in Sydney.

Qantas has announced plans to focus on the Asia region as a way to stem losses in its international business.

In Asian economic news, China's inflation rate has fallen to a 20-month low as food price rises eased, giving policy-makers room to stimulate the economy.

Inflation was 3.2% in February, down from 4.5% the previous month, the National Bureau of Statistics said. That is the lowest since July 2010.

Premier Wen Jiabao on Monday set China's 2012 inflation target at 4%.

China's economy has been sluggish in recent months as weak demand from Europe has weighed on exports.

And in the US last night, a jury ruled that authorities can try to seize $330m (£208m) linked to the convicted pyramid schemer Allen Stanford.

On Tuesday, Stanford was found guilty of swindling $7bn from about 30,000 investors around the world.

Officials can now target 29 accounts in Switzerland, the UK and Canada, after a jury found there was enough evidence to link the funds to the scheme.

The latest edition of the Business Daily programme asks whether structural reform can save Europe and investigates the cost of fuel subsidies in Indonesia.

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