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Exclusive: China meat supplier faced claims last year over unethical work practices

Security guards stand inside the Husi Food factory in ShanghaiBy Kazunori Takada SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Shanghai Husi Food, the U.S.-owned Chinese food supplier at the center of a meat safety scandal, won a court case earlier this year against a former quality control officer whose claims included that he was made to forge meat production dates. Wang Donglai, who worked at Shanghai Husi Food from 2007 to 2013, sought around 38,000 yuan ($6,100) in compensation for damage to his health from exposure to chlorine used as a cleaning agent by the meat processor. He also sought to terminate his contract at Shanghai Husi, claiming he was forced to work overtime and made to do "unethical work" that violated food safety laws, court documents showed. At his hearing last October, Wang said he was unwilling to illegally forge dates at the plant, adding that he repeatedly urged his employer to change a practice which he said violated food safety laws and hurt consumer interests, according to court documents seen by Reuters.

Thu, 24 Jul 2014 22:41:53 -0400
BSkyB to pay $8 billion to create Sky Europe

Satellite dishes are seen on the side of a block of flats in south LondonBritain's BSkyB has agreed to pay around 4.9 billion pounds ($8.3 billion) to buy Rupert Murdoch's pay-TV assets in Germany and Italy, responding to the slowing growth at home with a deal to create a European media powerhouse. BSkyB, 39-percent owned by Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox, will pay for the deal with cash, debt and by a placing of shares that represents around 10 percent of the firm's issued share capital. BSkyB said under the deal it would pay 2.45 billion pounds for Sky Italia and 2.9 billion pounds for Fox's 57 percent stake in Sky Deutschland to create a combined group with nearly 20 million customers. The payment for Sky Italia will be made up of cash and BSkyB's stake in the National Geographic Channel.

Fri, 25 Jul 2014 02:26:15 -0400
Vodafone revenue dragged lower by Spain and South Africa in first quarter

A pedestrian passes a Vodafone store on Oxford Street in central LondonVodafone received no relief from tough market conditions in the first quarter, with a slowdown in Spain and South Africa resulting in another heavy drop in its key revenue measure. The world's second-biggest mobile operator said the pace of decline in organic service revenue, which strips out items such as handset sales and currency movements, accelerated to 4.2 percent in the three months to June 30. Chief Executive Vittorio Colao said the year had started in line with the company's expectations, and its performance had improved in markets such as Germany. The limited number of analysts who provide forecasts for the first quarter expected group service revenue to decline by 4.2 percent.

Fri, 25 Jul 2014 02:24:42 -0400
Sluggish Latin American results show risks for U.S. companies

Workers check new cars before they are transported to dealers in Sao Bernardo do CampoU.S. companies are reporting sluggish financial results in Latin America, showing the risks they face in relying on Brazil and other emerging markets in the region for growth. Companies ranging from Ford Motor Co to 3M Co and Caterpillar Inc reported second quarter earnings that highlighted weakness in their Latin or South American operations. Several companies reported tepid performance in Brazil, the biggest economy in Latin America, where some economists fear the country is on the verge of a recession. "The place where we see a little bit more of a challenge is Latin America," 3M Chief Executive Officer Inge Thulin told analysts on the company's quarterly conference call on Thursday.

Fri, 25 Jul 2014 01:13:22 -0400
Asian shares pull away from three-year highs but gain on week

A pedestrian holding an umbrella walks past an electronic board showing the graph of the recent fluctuations of Japan's Nikkei average outside a brokerage in TokyoBy Lisa Twaronite TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian shares pulled back from this week's three-year highs on Friday after a mostly flat day on Wall Street, though a fresh S&P closing record and upbeat U.S. employment data underpinned sentiment. "The German Ifo current assessment index and expectations index are both expected to decline, which could weaken euro/dollar," said Marshall Gittler, global head of FX strategy at IronFX Global. "The Ifo index is in contrast to Thursday's positive PMI figures, perhaps because the Ifo incorporates more recent data on the impact that sanctions on Russia are likely to have on the German economy," Gittler said in a note to clients. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down about 0.3 percent, though still on track for solid weekly gain of more than 1 percent.

Fri, 25 Jul 2014 02:36:55 -0400
PetroChina reconsiders sale of natural gas pipeline assets: sources

File photo of PetroChina's logo at a gas station in BeijingBy Chen Aizhu and Charlie Zhu BEIJING/HONG KONG (Reuters) - PetroChina is reconsidering a plan to auction off its multi-billion dollar natural gas pipeline unit, and could instead sell it to an affiliate, three people who were briefed on the matter by the Chinese energy giant told Reuters. Selling PetroChina Eastern Pipelines Co Ltd to the affiliate, 50 percent owned by PetroChina, would enable China's largest energy producer to maintain control over the national gas grid as well as raise cash to fund oil and gas exploration. PetroChina controls more than 80 percent of China's natural gas grid, and some privately owned domestic gas companies have complained this monopoly hurts their business. "It's almost a done decision to let the joint venture... acquire Eastern Pipelines," said a Beijing-based energy industry executive, who declined to be named as the matter remained confidential.

Fri, 25 Jul 2014 01:48:20 -0400
Amazon's heavy investing eats into bottom line, shares drop

A box from Amazon.com is pictured on the porch of a house in GoldenBy Deepa Seetharaman SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc posted a much larger-than-expected loss in the second quarter as it continues its rapid pace of investment in new businesses such as digital content and consumer electronics. Amazon's stock price has dropped 10 percent so far in 2014, with investors leery of betting on its long-term growth at the expense of little to no profit. Amazon is investing heavily in new businesses and hardware products, as it prepares to take on major tech rivals from Apple Inc and Google Inc to Netflix. Chief Financial Officer Tom Szkutak said Amazon had a "tremendous amount of opportunities" and its investments were "certainly impacting short-term results." The company is spending more than $100 million on original video content in the third quarter, a substantial increase compared to last year and the second quarter, Szkutak said.

Thu, 24 Jul 2014 22:46:51 -0400
Argentine debt mediator says time running short for deal

Argentina's Finance Secretary Pablo Lopez arrives for debt negotiation talks with court-appointed mediator Daniel Pollack in New YorkBy Daniel Bases NEW YORK (Reuters) - Less than a week before Argentina could default on its sovereign bonds, the government and holdout creditors have yet to meet face-to-face despite an urgent plea from the U.S. court-appointed mediator on Thursday that they start direct talks. The time for the Republic to avoid default (July 30) is short," mediator Daniel Pollack said in a statement following three hours of shuttle diplomacy. "After speaking with both sides, separately, I proposed and urged direct, face-to-face talks between the parties.The representatives of the bondholders were agreeable to direct talks. The representatives of the Republic declined to engage in direct talks," Pollack said.

Thu, 24 Jul 2014 21:59:56 -0400
McDonald's takes chicken nuggets off menu in Hong Kong amid food scare

A customer is seen through the windows of a McDonald's store in Hong KongMcDonald's Corp has suspended sales of chicken nuggets and other items in Hong Kong after it said it had imported products from Shanghai Husi Food, the U.S.-owned company at the center of a food safety scare in China. McDonald's said in a statement late on Thursday it had imported certain products from Shanghai Husi between July last year to June this year, although no food items from the Shanghai supplier remained in stock. McDonald's said it had stopped using the following ingredients from another branch, Guangzhou Husi: lettuce, corn kernels, lemon slices, green salad, cucumber, onion and tomato.

Thu, 24 Jul 2014 21:10:37 -0400
Japan consumer inflation eases in June as weak yen impact fades

People are reflected in mirrors at an entrance of a shopping complex in TokyoBy Leika Kihara TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's core consumer inflation eased slightly in the year to June, highlighting the challenges the central bank faces in meeting its 2 percent inflation target sometime next year. The BOJ expects inflation to pick up again as a tight labor market lifts wages. "Exports are weak and household spending - hit by the April sales tax hike - won't bounce back so strongly, which means the economy lacks a strong driver ahead," said Yoshiki Shinke, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute. "The economy may not recover as strongly as expected, which will certainly affect price moves," he said, predicting that the BOJ may ease policy in April next year if inflation fails to approach 2 percent by then.

Fri, 25 Jul 2014 01:58:29 -0400
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