Global business

  • Updated: November 26, 2012 - 4:54 PM

Hewlett-Packard stunned investors by accusing the former management at Autonomy, a British software firm that it bought for $10.3 billion in 2011, of "accounting improprieties, misrepresentations and disclosure failures." An internal investigation by HP concluded that Autonomy was "substantially overvalued." HP wrote down $8.8 billion and referred the matter to American and British authorities.

Intel began its search for a new chief executive after Paul Otellini's unexpected decision to retire next May. Under Otellini Intel has maintained its dominance in processors for personal computers, but that market is slowing and it is doing less well with chips for smartphones and other wireless devices.

Xstrata's shareholders at last approved the mining company's mega-merger with Glencore. The deal was announced in February, but at times seemed to be in trouble as investors griped about the terms. In the end Qatar's sovereign-wealth fund, which holds a 12 percent stake in Xstrata, gave its support. However, shareholders refused to back a $200 million pay package recommended by the board to retain Xstrata's senior executives.

Hostess Brands, which has been baking Twinkies and other calorific treats and breads since 1930, went out of business. The company, which was brought low by arcane union work rules and a strike, had been trying to restructure through bankruptcy since January. Around 18,500 workers will lose their jobs, though some will be kept on for the next few months as Hostess unwinds and seeks buyers for its brands.

GE Aviation acquired Morris Technologies, one of the leading firms in America specializing in 3D printing. Based near GE's plant in Cincinnati, Morris has been "printing" parts for the company for several years. It soon will start printing components for GE's jet engines.

Credit Suisse reorganized its business into two distinct divisions, one that focuses on wealth management and the other on higher-risk global investment banking. The Swiss bank described the changes as an "alignment with the new regulatory reality." Some analysts were surprised that it did not take the opportunity to slash further its investment-banking operations, as UBS, its bigger rival, has done.

 

Carson Block, whose firm, Muddy Waters, has made its name by short-selling shares in Chinese firms, turned his sights on Olam, an agribusiness company listed in Singapore. Block said that he would bet against Olam because, he claimed, its accounting procedures are unsound and it has overvalued its agricultural assets. As its share price swooned, Olam called Block's comments "unfair" and started a libel suit against him.

Political economy

Moody's cut its triple-A rating of French sovereign debt by one notch, and the French government shrugged. The sizable market in French bonds also took little notice. Moody's downgraded France because of doubts about its future competitiveness and its aversion to structural reforms of the economy.

 

Spain's king and prime minister called on Latin American companies to invest in their recession-hit country at an Ibero-American summit in Cadiz, Spain. There has been a dramatic change in the balance of economic power between Spain and Portugal and their former colonies since the annual summits began in 1991.

The International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and finance ministers from the eurozone were unable, after 12 hours of talks in Brussels, to agree on how to make Greek debt sustainable. The troika must find a solution before the next loan installment is paid to keep Greece solvent.

A Polish university researcher was arrested on suspicion of planning to detonate a 4-ton bomb in front of the parliament building in Warsaw while the president, prime minister and other politicians were inside. The plot was discovered as investigators looked into Polish links to Anders Behring Breivik, a Norwegian right-wing extremist who was jailed this year for a mass murder in 2011.

One of India's most controversial tycoons, Ponty Chadha, and his brother were killed in a shootout at a farmhouse on the outskirts of Delhi. Mystery surrounds the incident, which followed a property dispute. Chadha's business empire is estimated to be worth $10 billion.

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