Global Business Trends 2014

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Singapore 'Best Place for Business' 
Singapore has been ranked the best country to do business for a ninth consecutive year, according to an annual survey by the World Bank. New Zealand came second and Hong Kong third in the lender's "Doing Business" report which rates 189 nations by the ease in which firms can operate there. The UK moved up one position to eighth while the US stayed at number seven.
 
Eritrea was at the bottom of the table, along with Libya, the Central African Republic and South Sudan. The World Bank ranking uses metrics such as the time taken to launch and close a business, gain construction permits and pay taxes in a country's largest business city. "The list remains very similar to last year's" the report said. "Economies in the top 20 continued to improve their business regulatory environment."
 
The survey, which was first published in 2004, was expanded this year to include the second-largest business city in countries that have more than 100 million people. There were 11 countries that were affected by this change, including China, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
 
China advanced three places to 90th while Japan fell two spots to 29th. Similarly, India slips eight notches to 142nd. Meanwhile, Nepal was ranked at 108th spot. According to the report, the country is second easy place for doing business in South Asia after Sri Lanka which ranks 99th in the index. India, South Asia's largest economy, ranked 142nd while Maldives came at 116th, Bhutan (125th), Pakistan (128th), Bangladesh (173rd) and Afghanistan (183rd). 
 
Overall, the report found it is easier to do business globally in both developed and emerging economies as they adopt better practices and regulatory reforms that facilitate businesses. 
 
Alibaba's Jack Ma Tops China Rich List
Jack Ma, founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba, is China's richest person with a fortune of nearly USD 20 billion, as billionaires increase despite a slowdown in the country's economy, Forbes magazine said Tuesday, 28th October. The number of Chinese billionaires surged to 242 this year from 168 in 2013, Forbes said in its annual "China Rich List", which ranks the wealthy. Ma's personal wealth ballooned to USD 19.5 billion from USD 7.1 billion last year after his company's record breaking initial public offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange in September, according to the magazine. The entrepreneur also topped a similar list released last month by China-based luxury magazine publisher Hurun, which put his wealth at a much higher estimate of USD 25 billion.
 
Wang Jianlin, whose private conglomerate Wanda bought US cinema chain AMC, was knocked out of first place and slipped to fourth this year, the Forbes list showed. A "challenging" year for the domestic real estate sector, the main source of Wang's wealth, has seen his fortune shrink to USD 13.2 billion from USD 14.1 billion last year, it said. The technology sector fared better than traditional industries amid China's economic slowdown, commanding the top three spots and taking up half of the top 10, according to Forbes. Robin Li -- founder of Baidu, China's version of Google -- ranked second with wealth of USD 14.7 billion, while Pony Ma of Tencent, parent of China's most popular messaging app WeChat, sat in third place with USD 14.4 billion. Lei Jun of rapidly rising mobile phone maker Xiaomi took eighth with USD 9.1 billion, and Richard Liu of e-commerce site JD.com -- which competes with Alibaba -- was in 10th position with USD 7.1 billion. Completing the top 10, Li Hejun of renewable energy firm Hanergy was in fifth place with USD 13 billion, followed by beverage tycoon Zong Qinghou of Wahaha with USD 11 billion in sixth and nonferrous metals firm Amer's Wang Wenyin with USD 10 billion in seventh. He Xiangjian, founder of home appliance maker Midea, took ninth with USD 7.5 billion.
 
ECB Fails 25 Banks as Italy Fares Worst in Stress Test
Twenty-five lenders including Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA failed a stress test led by the European Central Bank, which found the biggest capital hole in the region's banking system in Italy. The Frankfurt-based institution identified a total gap of 25 billion euros as of the end of 2013, most of which has now been raised by banks. Among lenders still in need of funds, Italy's Monte Paschi (BMPS) and Banca Carige SpA (CRG) must find a combined 2.9 billion euros between them, the ECB said on Sunday, 26th October. "The capital shortfall is at the lower end of expectations," said Jon Peace, a banking analyst at Nomura Holdings Inc. in London. "It was always going to be a challenge for the ECB to convince the market of its credibility if it was going to be a small number which failed and capital to be raised."
 
None of Europe's largest banks were found lacking. No French, German or Spanish institutions were required to find more capital. Lenders found to be deficient now have as many as nine months to fill gaps identified by the ECB, which is aiming to close the door on half a decade of financial turmoil in the euro region.
 
Japan Unveils First Passenger Jet in Four Decades
The first passenger aircraft to be made in Japan in nearly four decades was unveiled on Saturday, 18th October, as its manufacturer pushed into the booming regional jet sector with an eye to taking on industry giants Embraer and Bombardier. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, a military contractor best known for its "Zero" World War II fighter, pulled back the curtain on its new Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ), a fuel-efficient, next-generation aircraft that claims to offer more passenger comfort with lower operating costs.
 
The jet, which will be delivered to customers from 2017 and was built with assistance from aviation giant Boeing, was unveiled at a ceremony in Komaki, near the central city of Nagoya, on Saturday. The plane marks a new chapter for Japan's aviation sector, which last built a commercial airliner in 1962 -- the YS-11 turboprop. It was discontinued about a decade later.
 
Qualcomm Agrees USD 2.5 bn CSR Takeover
US chipmaker Qualcomm has agreed a cash deal to buy UK counterpart CSR for USD 2.5bn. This equates to 900 pence a share. Analysts said the news may encourage other chipmakers to make a bid for the British company. CSR, formerly known as Cambridge Silicon Radio, rejected a takeover approach from US firm Microchip Technology in August. 
 
The Qualcomm deal was announced on the same day (15th October) the UK Takeover Panel had set as a deadline for any agreement between CSR and Microchip Technology. Qualcomm is the world's largest chipmaker, and is keen to get its hands on CSR's expertise in Bluetooth wireless technologies.
 
India set to become $2 trillion economy in 2014: IMF
India is poised to become a USD 2 trillion economy this year, while its GDP size would cross another milestone of $three trillion after five years in 2019, according to IMF's latest world economic outlook. India's ranking would also improve to seventh largest economy in the world, while measured on "current prices" basis in US dollar, in 2019 from its tenth position currently. 
 
Latest data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) show that Indian economy is set to be worth USD 2.05 trillion this year, increasing its size from USD 1.88 trillion in 2013. Last year too, India was among the ten largest economies in the world. Going by the IMF, United States would remain the world's largest economy with a size of USD 17.42 trillion, followed by China at USD 10.35 trillion. Meanwhile, India is all set to cross the USD 3 trillion milestone in 2019 with a size of USD 3.18 trillion, surpassing Russia, Brazil and Italy. This would also make India the world's seventh largest economy. 
 
At that time, Brazilian economy is estimated to be worth USD 2.89 trillion while Russian and Italian economies would have a size of USD 2.59 trillion and USD 2.45 trillion, respectively. The United States would remain the world's largest economy in 2019 with a size of USD 22.15 trillion, followed by China (USD 15.52 trillion) and Japan (USD 5.43 trillion). 
 
In 2019, other economies in the top ten segment would be Germany (USD 4.55 trillion), the United Kingdom (USD 3.7 trillion) and France (USD 3.39 trillion).

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