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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mining boss resigns

THE chief executive of mining giant Rio Tinto has resigned after the company announced a $US14billion ($F24.56b) write-down. The write-down relates to the company's aluminium and coal-mining businesses. Chief executive Tom Albanese stepped down by mutual agreement with the board, Rio Tinto said, and has been replaced by Sam Walsh, chief executive of the miner's iron ore business. In a statement, Rio Tinto chairman Jan du Plessis said the scale of the write-down was "unacceptable". The company's aluminium assets saw a write-down in the range of $US10b-$US11b ($F17.54b-$F19.29b). This was largely related to the company's purchase of Canadian aluminium giant Alcan in 2007. It spent $US38b ($F66.66b) buying the company shortly before the onset of the global financial crisis.

Shale gas signing

UKRAINE has signed a major shale gas deal with Royal Dutch Shell - a move seen as an attempt by Kiev to reduce its dependency on Russian gas imports.The contract - reportedly worth $US10billion ($F17.57b) - was agreed on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos. Ukraine is believed to have some of the largest shale gas reserves in Europe. New technology means they are more easily recoverable, but opponents warn of a high risk of pollution. The deal between Ukraine's state company Nadra Yuzivska and Shell was signed by the energy giant's CEO Peter Voser and Ukrainian Energy Minister Eduard Stavytsky last week. "We have witnessed a great event today. I believe we have become almost relatives," said Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was present at the ceremony.

Nuclear warning

FORMER US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has warned that a crisis involving a nuclear Iran is in the "foreseeable future". The Nobel Peace laureate, 89, was speaking about prospects in the Middle East at the World Economic Forum. He said nuclear proliferation in the region triggered by an armed Iran would increase the chances of an atomic war — "a turning point in human history". He also urged the US and Russia to co-operate in resolving Syria's conflict. "There has emerged in the region, the most urgent issue of nuclear proliferation. For 15 years, the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council have declared that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable, but it has been approaching," he said. "In a few years, people will have to come to a determination of how to react, or the consequences of non-reaction."

Nokia bounces back

NOKIA, the struggling mobile phone maker, swung back into profit in the last three months of 2012. But Nokia said the trading outlook was tough and that no dividend would be paid, the first time in 20 years that shareholders have missed out. Pre-tax profit for the quarter was $EUR375million ($F880m), against a $EUR974m ($F2.2billion) loss last year. Nokia said it sold 15.9 million smartphones in the quarter, down from 19.6 million a year earlier. Paying no dividend would help the company preserve cash, and ensure "strategic flexibility", Nokia said in a statement. The rate at which Nokia was burning through cash as it invested in new products had been a worry for investors. The company finished 2012 with net cash of $EUR4.4b ($F10.3b), down 22 per cent from a year earlier.

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