S&P revises Ballarpur Industries’ outlook to ‘stable’ from ‘negative’

S&P has revised its rating outlook on Ballarpur Industries to ‘stable’ on the back of its operating performance, which is expected to continuously improve, according to the rating agency

Ratings agency Standard & Poor's (S&P) has said that it has revised its rating outlook on India's printing and writing paper manufacturer Ballarpur Industries Ltd (BIL) to ‘stable’ from ‘negative’ reflecting the company’s improved performance and stability in operations.

"The stable outlook reflects our expectation that BIL's cash flow measures will improve, supported by continued stable demand in the domestic paper market and better operating environment at its overseas operations," said S&P’s credit analyst Yasmin Wirjawan.

The ratings agency said it expects BIL's operating performance to continue to improve because of the company's cost efficiency measures and the stabilisation of its pulp operations at Sabah Forest Industries Sdn Bhd (SFI).

BIL acquired Malaysia's largest paper manufacturer SFI for $261 million in March 2007.

"We expect Ballarpur to complete its paper capacity expansion in 2010, which, in our view, will improve the company's economies of scale and strengthen its cash flows over the medium term," Ms Wirjawan said.

Domestic demand for paper products continues to be strong, and the company's pulp operations have stabilised after a weak performance. SFI's pulp operations have also stabilised over the past two quarters. The demand for paper products has improved in both the domestic and export markets since mid-2009. S&P said it expect the company's capacity utilisation to be high (at about 85%) in the next few quarters, and its proportion of domestic sales, which have higher margins than exports, to remain above 90%.
BIL has completed its paper capacity expansion in India. “We expect the company's profitability and cash flows to improve because of higher capacity and a better product mix. We expect Ballarpur's debt-to-EBITDA ratio, which was above 5x as at 30 June 2009, to improve to about 4x in the near term, supported by rising profit margins and higher production,” the ratings agency added.


Apple CEO Steve Jobs takes $1 salary in 2009

Steve Jobs was paid his customary $1 annual salary in 2009 by Apple, the makers of iPhone, iPod and Mac computers. But his stake in the company is valued at $1.10 billion

Apple Inc chief executive officer (CEO) Steve Jobs was paid his customary $1 annual salary in 2009, but Apple's strength through a rough economic climate returned the value of his personal holdings in the company to pre-meltdown levels.

Mr Jobs does not get a bonus or reimbursement for perks many other CEOs accept, such as personal security, according to a regulatory filing made yesterday. Apple said it reimbursed Jobs $4,000 for company travel on his $90-million Gulfstream V jet, which he received as a bonus in 1999.

That's far less than the $871,000 Apple reimbursed Mr Jobs in 2008. The CEO took nearly six months off in 2009 for medical leave, during which he received a liver transplant. He returned to work at the company's Cupertino, California, headquarters part-time at the end of June.

Mr Jobs, 54, holds 5.5 million shares of Apple's stock. He has not sold any shares since he rejoined the company in 1997, nor has he been awarded any new equity since 2003.

In 2008, the value of Jobs' stake in the company he founded, was cut in half as investors worried that Apple's pricey gadgets might not fare well through the US recession. But shares of the maker of iPods, iPhones and Mac computers gained about 42% during the 2009 fiscal year that ended in September and at the close of trading yesterday, when Apple's stock reached $202.10, Mr Jobs' holdings were worth about $1.10 billion.


Asia-Pacific records highest volume of billion-dollar deals

India was one of the top 10 nations in terms of billion-dollar transactions, as it attracted deals amounting to over $7.40 billion

The Asia-Pacific region attracted as many as $89 billion-dollar deals—the highest total on record —worth over $292 billion so far this year, reports PTI.

"Asia-Pacific deals over $1 billion reached $292.10 billion via 89 deals in 2009, up 44% on 2008, making it the highest total on record," global deal tracking firm Dealogic said.

The Asia-Pacific region attracted nearly one-fifth of the entire pie of 'billion-dollar' deals across the world, so far this year, Dealogic said. "Asia-Pacific targeted deals accounted for almost 20% of global deals over $1 billion, up 9 percentage points on last year."

Inbound cross-regional deals, however, accounted for just 12% of total Asia-Pacific volume, down 4 percentage points compared to that in 2008, the report added.

Within the Asia-Pacific region, Australia was the most targeted nation as it attracted $128.20 billion through billion-dollar deals announced during the year.

The $58-billion merger of BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto iron ore assets was the major reason that propelled the Australia targeted deal volume to more than $128 billion, Dealogic said.

India was one of the top 10 nations in terms of billion-dollar transactions, as it attracted
billion-dollar deals amounting to over $7.40 billion.

Other than Australia and India, the top 10 targeted nations in terms of billion-dollar deals include Japan, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia and Hong Kong.

Of the top 10 nations, five witnessed a decline in deal volume on a year-on-year basis and four saw an increase despite recessionary fears, the report said.

Goldman Sachs was the top adviser on Asia-Pacific targeted deals over $1 billion, as it advised on 18 transactions worth $111.50 billion. The other top M&A advisers include Morgan Stanley and Macquarie.

"Morgan Stanley was the second with $93.60 billion through 19 deals, and Macquarie was in the third place with $83.70 billion by way of seven deals," Dealogic added.


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