Global Investing Roundup

Ping An Builds Stake In Fortis; Vimpel Sees Profit Soar; Toronto Dominion Banks Big 4Q Earnings; Dubai International Bolsters Advisory Board;

  • Ping An Insurance Group (PNGAY), a leading Chinese insurance concern announced yesterday (Thursday) that it spent $2.68 billion for a 4.18% stake in Fortis NV (FORSY), Belgium's biggest financial services company.  That makes Ping An, which is 16.8% owned by HSBC Holdings Plc (HBC), the single largest Fortis shareholder.  Ping An, said in an announcement that it bought 95.01 shares in Fortis at an average price of $27 (19 euros) per share.  In a prepared statement Ping An Chairman Peter Ma said, "Ping An will befit from Fortis' expertise in cross selling, risk management and innovation in product design." Fortis Chairman Maurice Lippens in his statement said its investment will "raise Fortis' profile in China, which combined with an expected increase access to the Chinese market, will lift our overall growth potential." It was also announced that Ping An President Louis Cheung would be joining the Fortis board immediately. According to Bloomberg News, Chinese companies have spent almost $17 billion buying stakes in financial companies worldwide including Barclays Plc (ERO) Bear Stearns and Company (BCS) and the Blackstone Group (BX).
  • Russia's second largest mobile phone company, Vimpel Commuciations (VIP), announced Thursday that revenues and earnings had reached record highs in the third quarter of 2007.  Net operating revenues for the company were  $1.95 billion a year over year increase of 43%. Net income grew to $458 million a 70.7% increase over the same quarter of 2006. VimpelCom also reveled that they had gained more than 8 million new subscribers and that the average revenue per user grew to an average of $13.40, versus $10.6 last year. Vimpelcom also reported that active marketing efforts in Russia led to revenue growth of 34.5%. In a press conference following the release company CEO Alexander Izosimov said, " We are pleased with our results in Russia and in the CIS counties particularly the Ukraine and Uzbekistan. On the back of strong revenue growth OIBDA of our Ukrainian business moved into positive territory confirming our ability to build a profitable business in that country."
  • Toronto Dominion Bank (TD) announced on Thursday quarter earnings were up 44% in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2007, Globe Investor reported.  Net income for the three months was $1.1 billion on an adjusted basis. The bank's earnings announcement goes against the trend of many international banks, including competitor Bank of Montreal (BMO) who have been reporting losses and asset write downs for subprime and credit concerns. "In a year of turbulent markets, clearly the successful altering of our risk-reward profile was a significant advantage for us," Chief Executive Officer Ed Clarke said.
  • Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, appointed three big name CEOs to the advisory board to Dubai International Capital, the country's state-owned investment fund, the Financial Times reported. The new advisors are Nobuyuki Idei [former CEO of Sony Corp. (SNE)], Helmut Panke [former CEO of BMW AG] and Jean-Pierre Garnier [current CEO of GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK)]. Dubai International CEO Sameer Al Ansari said the board additions reflect the fund's global ambitions. "All three have unrivaled experience in running blue chip worldwide business, and their industry expertise and international outlook will provide the fund with valuable insights," he said.