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  • Obama wraps up Japan visit but no trade deal

    Reuters - 1 hour 56 minutes ago

    By Linda Sieg and Matt Spetalnick TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama wrapped up a state visit to Japan on Friday during which he assured America's ally that Washington would come to its defense, but failed to clinch a trade deal key his "pivot" to Asia and to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's reforms. Obama and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had been seeking to display the alliance was strong in the face of a rising China, but their success in putting recent strains behind them was partly marred by a failure to reach a trade deal seen as crucial to a broader regional pact. Obama and Abe had ordered their top aides to make a final push to reach a trade agreement after the leaders met on Thursday, but Economy Minister Akira Amari told reporters that gaps remained despite recent progress. More »Obama wraps up Japan visit but no trade deal

  • Insight: Push for tax-avoidance curbs in G-20 threatens Publicis-Omnicom deal

    Reuters - 7 hours ago

    By Tom Bergin and Pamela Barbaglia LONDON (Reuters) - International pressure to curb corporate tax avoidance is behind delays to a $35 billion merger of French advertising group Publicis and U.S. rival Omnicom, and could even scupper the deal, tax advisers and sources close to the deal said. Last July, Paris-based Publicis and New York-headquartered Omnicom announced plans to create the world's biggest advertising group. The new company would be registered in the Netherlands and tax resident in the UK. However, on Wednesday Omnicom Chief Executive John Wren said the Dutch and British tax authorities had, "unexpectedly" so far failed to approve the arrangements, which Omnicom said last year would save $80 million a year in taxes. More »Insight: Push for tax-avoidance curbs in G-20 threatens Publicis-Omnicom deal

  • U.S. Justice Department seeks over $13 billion from BofA: Bloomberg

    Reuters - 8 hours ago

    By Aruna Viswanatha, Karen Freifeld and Peter Rudegeair (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Justice is asking Bank of America Corp to pay more than $13 billion to settle allegations the bank overstated the quality of mortgage bonds it sold during the housing bubble, according to Bloomberg News. CNBC News reported that Bank of America's mortgage securities settlement could exceed $10 billion. More »U.S. Justice Department seeks over $13 billion from BofA: Bloomberg

  • Alstom shares jump on report of $13 billion GE bid

    Reuters - 9 hours ago

    By Natalie Huet and Benjamin Mallet PARIS (Reuters) - Shares of Alstom jumped 10.9 percent on Thursday after a report that U.S. conglomerate General Electric was in talks to buy the struggling French turbine and train maker for about $13 billion. The companies may announce the deal as early as next week, Bloomberg cited people with knowledge of the matter as saying late on Wednesday. If confirmed, a takeover offer from a foreign company would raise concern among politicians and unions in France, where Alstom employs around 18,000 people, or 20 percent of its global workforce. While Alstom is well known for both its transport and power turbine business, the latter is likely to be of most interest to GE, one person familiar with the industry said. More »Alstom shares jump on report of $13 billion GE bid

  • Judge strikes down NY limits on donations to 'super PACs'

    Reuters - 10 hours ago

    By Joseph Ax NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal judge on Thursday reluctantly struck down New York's limits on donations to independent political action committees as unconstitutional, potentially ushering in a new era of "super PACs" in state campaigns. District Judge Paul Crotty said the statutes could not survive First Amendment scrutiny in light of recent landmark Supreme Court decisions that have lessened restrictions on big-money political donors. "I think there is a risk of quid pro quo corruption, but the Supreme Court has not recognized it," he said during a hearing in Manhattan federal court. "We know what the Supreme Court has held, whether we like it or not, and I'm bound to follow it." The New York laws had limited the amount of money individual donors could contribute to independent political committees, known as super PACs, that operate separately from a candidate's campaign. More »Judge strikes down NY limits on donations to 'super PACs'

  • Burkina watchdog fines cellphone firms $12 million for poor service

    Reuters - 11 hours ago

    By Mathieu Bonkoungou OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) - Burkina Faso's communications regulator has ordered three cellphone companies to pay 5.8 billion CFA francs ($12.23 million) in fines for poor service. The Authority for the Regulation of Electronic Communications and Post said on Thursday it fined Airtel Burkina 2.4 billion CFA francs, Onatel 2.07 billion and Telecel Faso 1.3 billion. It gave the companies 15 days from April 11 to pay the fines to the finance ministry. ... More »Burkina watchdog fines cellphone firms $12 million for poor service

  • Politics clouds proposed overhaul of U.S. housing finance system

    Reuters - 12 hours ago

    By Margaret Chadbourn WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate Banking Committee appears likely to back a bill to wind down government-backed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, according to sources familiar with talks on the legislation. The committee's leaders have secured a bare majority of the votes needed to push the bill forward, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is not keen for it to come up for a vote on the Senate floor ahead of congressional elections in November, these industry and Capitol Hill sources say. Congressional aides say the panel's Democratic chairman, Senator Tim Johnson, and its top Republican, Senator Mike Crapo, want at least 16 "yes" votes on the 22-member committee before going to Reid, a Democrat who has voiced opposition in the past to measures that would get rid of Fannie and Freddie. "If you want to end the government's monopoly in the housing finance system, which is what both Republicans and Democrats want to do - the environment to get it done is ripe. More »Politics clouds proposed overhaul of U.S. housing finance system

  • South Sudan to free prisoners as pressure mounts for peace deal

    Reuters - 14 hours ago

    By Carl Odera JUBA (Reuters) - South Sudan will free four high-profile political prisoners facing treason charges, a presidential spokesman said on Thursday, meeting a demand by rebels in a faltering peace process. President Salva Kiir has come under mounting pressure as rebel fighters loyal to Kiir's sacked deputy, Riek Machar, seize territory and close in on northern oil fields that provide the country's economic lifeline. More »South Sudan to free prisoners as pressure mounts for peace deal

  • Gucci's sales growth remains sluggish in Q1

    Reuters - 14 hours ago

    By Astrid Wendlandt PARIS (Reuters) - Gucci's sales growth remained sluggish in the first three months of the year, hit in part by the brand's upmarket repositioning and the clean-up of its wholesale distribution network. The Italian brand, which represents the bulk of valuation for parent Kering , on Thursday posted a 0.3 percent rise in like-for-like sales for the first quarter, broadly in line with analysts' expectations. In a conference call with journalists, Kering Finance Director Jean-Marc Duplaix said Gucci's sales in China were still declining, without providing figures, but added that "trends are improving". Gucci still makes more than 20 percent of its turnover from wholesale buyers, whose contribution to comparable sales dropped 19 percent in the first quarter after some accounts with department stores ended. More »Gucci's sales growth remains sluggish in Q1

  • China tells officials to fly discount on government travel

    Reuters - Wed, Apr 23, 2014 11:54 PM EDT

    China has ordered officials to buy discount airfares for business trips, as part of Beijing's campaign to crack down on wasteful government spending. The new rules ban officials from travelling on full-price tickets and force domestic airlines to offer discounts of at least 12 percent. Government employees are also required to take domestic carriers as much as possible when traveling abroad, according to the rules jointly released by the Ministry of Finance and the Civil Administration of China on Tuesday. If domestic carriers do not provide a direct international service, officials should fly on a domestic carrier to a neighboring country and then transfer to a foreign carrier that can take them to the destination country, the rules state. More »China tells officials to fly discount on government travel

  • Facebook first-quarter revenue grows 72 percent on rising mobile ads

    Reuters - Wed, Apr 23, 2014 10:07 PM EDT

    By Alexei Oreskovic SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Facebook Inc's mobile advertising business accelerated in the first three months of the year, helping the Internet social networking company top Wall Street's financial targets. Shares of Facebook were up nearly 3 percent at $63.05 in after-hours trading on Wednesday. Facebook said that mobile ads represented 59 percent of its ad revenue in the first quarter, up from 30 percent in the year-ago period. Facebook's overall revenue grew 72 percent year-on-year to $2.5 billion in the first quarter, above the $2.36 billion expected by analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. "They've got the right products for what advertisers are looking for and that's manifesting itself in the results you're seeing," said JMP Securities analyst Ronald Josey. More »Facebook first-quarter revenue grows 72 percent on rising mobile ads

  • Advisory Board 101: How to Get Advisors to Say Yes

    Entrepreneur - Wed, Apr 23, 2014 8:30 PM EDT

    An advisory board can be essential to a startup's success. But it isn't always easy to get busy professionals to join you team. Here are five tips on getting them to say yes. More »Advisory Board 101: How to Get Advisors to Say Yes

  • Democratic governors challenge Connecticut campaign finance law

    Reuters - Wed, Apr 23, 2014 5:49 PM EDT

    The U.S. Democratic Governors' Association on Wednesday sued the state of Connecticut, saying its laws on political spending are unconstitutionally broad and limit the ability of political groups to buy independent ads backing candidates. The lawsuit said the state unfairly treats independent money spent on ads and other political messages by the national group as contributions to particular candidates, and thus subject to campaign finance limits. "Connecticut's campaign finance laws ... conflict with Supreme Court First Amendment precedent and place a cloud of uncertainty over what DGA may say or do without fear of prosecution," the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Connecticut said. It asked a judge to block the State Elections Enforcement Commission from enforcing its rules. More »Democratic governors challenge Connecticut campaign finance law

  • California lawmakers, bruised by scandal, turn to ethics training

    Reuters - Wed, Apr 23, 2014 3:35 PM EDT

    By Sharon Bernstein SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - California lawmakers, their reputation tarnished by fraud and corruption scandals, on Wednesday took a break from normal business to attend ethics training, the latest step by the state Senate to repair its image as elections loom. The all-day, mandatory sessions, held behind closed doors away from the Capitol in Sacramento, were scheduled after three Democratic senators faced criminal charges in a spate of embarrassments for their party, which dominates the state's Legislature. "When it comes to mixing campaigning and public policy making, everybody should know when to have that gut reaction that 'Nope, we cannot have this conversation,'" Senate Democratic leader Darrell Steinberg said. Last month, Democratic state Senator Leland Yee was arrested on charges that included accepting bribes in the form of campaign contributions. More »California lawmakers, bruised by scandal, turn to ethics training

  • Hole in Afghan budget stirs unease as West starts packing bags

    Reuters - Wed, Apr 23, 2014 1:19 PM EDT

    By Jeremy Laurence and Mirwais Harooni KABUL (Reuters) - A $375 million hole in the Afghan budget is threatening public projects and civil servants' salaries, officials say, putting the aid-dependent economy under stress just as Afghanistan awaits a new leader and foreign troops prepare to go home. U.S., U.N. and Afghan finance ministry officials have discussed ways to resolve what they say has become a critical situation for the budget, with civil projects most at risk as international assistance starts to taper off. "If the political situation of the country does not become normal and businesses do not start again soon this problem will become even more worrying," Alhaj Muhammad Aqa, director general of the treasury at the finance ministry, told Reuters on Wednesday. "We will not only face problems in paying salaries of employees but we will have difficulties in other issues too." Funding for security will not be affected, as costs are met by foreign governments which recognize that any chance of stability in Afghanistan rests on quelling the Taliban insurgency. More »Hole in Afghan budget stirs unease as West starts packing bags

  • 6 Things You Must Do 36 Months Before Your IPO

    Entrepreneur - Wed, Apr 23, 2014 12:30 PM EDT

    If you wait till the last minute, the public offering will disrupt your business. And if that happens, what's the point? More »6 Things You Must Do 36 Months Before Your IPO

  • South Korean prosecutors raid family home of ill-fated ferry's owner

    Reuters - Wed, Apr 23, 2014 6:19 AM EDT

    By Miyoung Kim SEOUL (Reuters) - Prosecutors investigating the fatal sinking of a South Korean ferry have raided the home of Yoo Byung-un, the head of a family that owns the Chonghaejin Marine Co. Ltd, the company that operated the ship. South Korean prosecutors and agencies tend to adopt a blanket approach in raids, rather than targeting specific lines of inquiry. They raided the home of one of Yoo's sons on Wednesday, but found that he was away and the door was locked and they could not enter the house. The finances of Chonghaejin and its complex share structure have come into the spotlight after the ferry disaster, which has shocked South Korea. More »South Korean prosecutors raid family home of ill-fated ferry's owner

  • Austria says more sanctions on Russia would inflame tensions

    Reuters - Wed, Apr 23, 2014 5:57 AM EDT

    Additional sanctions against Russia would inflame tensions between Moscow and Kiev, Austria's chancellor said on Wednesday, urging de-escalation of the conflict instead. "I would fundamentally support what the German foreign minister (Frank-Walter) Steinmeier made clear again today: that conflict between Russia and Ukraine should not be inflamed by additional sanctions, but on the contrary, that de-escalation is what is required," Werner Faymann told reporters after the Austrian government's weekly cabinet meeting. "I support that 100 percent." He added that the Austrian central bank and finance ministry were working on a factual assessment of the potential consequences of sanctions scenarios posed by the European Union. More »Austria says more sanctions on Russia would inflame tensions

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