Global business news briefs from the Economist

  • Updated: August 26, 2013 - 4:40 PM

In this Friday, March 9, 2012 photo, Hewlett Packard CEO and President Meg Whitman speaks at a conference on the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto, Calif. Whitman could get more than $15 million for her first year as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, according to company filings. It's a big payday even by the lofty standards of big-time CEOs. The chief executives of major public companies made a median of $9.6 million in 2011, the most recent year available, according to executive pay research firm Equilar. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma) ORG XMIT: MIN2013022120434919

Global business

BHP Billiton’s net profit for the year to June fell by 30 percent, to $10.9 billion. The mining company is to invest heavily in potash, an ingredient used in fertilizer and for which there is a burgeoning demand worldwide. This should offset some of its decline in prices for iron ore and copper, as the Chinese-led commodities boom cools.

Glencore Xstrata reported its first earnings since merging as a new company in May, and announced a $7.7 billion write-down of its mining assets.

Vestas, a Danish maker of wind turbines, replaced its chief executive, after its quarterly earnings revealed steeper losses. Once a leader in the industry, Vestas’ wind-power business has been buffeted by competition from China; it also gets less from European subsidies for green energy. Anders Runevad, who used to work at Ericsson, a Swedish telecom firm, is the new boss.

Carlsberg and Heineken saw profits slip in their latest set of earnings, partly because the cooler-than-usual European spring watered down the demand for beer. Carlsberg said the closure of outdoor beer kiosks in Russia in an effort to curb public drunkenness also hurt it. Both companies pointed to Asia as a bright spot.

Meg Whitman’s turnaround plan for Hewlett-Packard hit a bump in the road when she said she no longer expects to see a return to revenue growth next year after almost all its divisions recorded a drop in quarterly sales. HP’s big push into computer servers has so far not offset the decline of its PC business.

A judge refused Carl Icahn’s request to speed up his lawsuit to stop the proposed buyout of Dell, the latest setback to the activist investor’s alternative takeover proposal for the computermaker. A postponed shareholders’ vote is now to take place on Sept. 12. Dell, meanwhile, reported a 72 percent drop in quarterly net profit, after heavily discounting sales of its PCs and servers.

Al Jazeera began broadcasting on its new news channel in the United States, building on the network of Al Gore’s Current TV, which it bought in January. With bureaus in 12 American cities, the Qatari company promises to provide an alternative on cable to CNN, Fox and MSNBC.

A judge approved Eastman Kodak’s plan to restructure and leave bankruptcy protection, which it filed for in January last year. The company has shed its photography business (and $4.1 billion in debt) to focus on commercial printing technologies. Kodak designed the world’s first working digital camera in 1975, only to discard the project and stick to film.

Political economy

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  • In this image taken from video, Former Chinese politician Bo Xilai speaks in a court room at Jinan Intermediate People's Court in Jinan, eastern China's Shandong province, Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013. Bo on Sunday sought to discredit his former top aide as a lying, unreliable witness as the ousted leader denied criminal responsibility in the country's messiest political scandal in decades.decades. (AP Photo/CCTV via AP Video) CHINA OUT, TV OUT ORG XMIT: MIN2013082614585843

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