Business Briefs – April 17, 2016

Top Finance Officials: World Economy Still Faces Threats

WASHINGTON (AP) – The global recovery has regained most of the ground lost from the market turbulence at the beginning of the year, finance officials of the world’s largest economies said Friday. But they worry that growth remains uneven in the face of a variety of threats ranging from terrorist bombings to Britain’s upcoming vote on whether to leave the European Union.

The finance ministers from the Group of 20 major economies pledged to pursue policies that will bolster growth and further stabilize financial markets, but they offered no new measures to accomplish these goals.

Has China’s Slowdown Bottomed Out? Growth at 6.7 Pct in 1Q

HONG KONG (AP) – China’s economic growth slowed in the first quarter to 6.7 percent, largely in line with expectations, but its slowest pace since the global financial crisis.

Data reported Friday showed that the annualized growth rate for the world’s second-largest economy ticked lower from the previous quarter’s 6.8 percent. But carefully targeted stimulus helped to prevent it from slowing even further, analysts said, raising hopes that growth may be stabilizing.

A prolonged slowdown took annual growth last year to 6.9 percent, the weakest annual expansion in a quarter century.

Citigroup’s Profit Sinks 27 Percent, But Beats Expectations

NEW YORK (AP) – Citigroup’s profit fell nearly 27 percent in the first quarter, hurt by weak results at its consumer bank and trading business. But the company’s earnings still beat Wall Street expectations.

The New York-based financial conglomerate quarter continued to clean up its balance sheet and slim itself down from the depths of the financial crisis. Citi Holdings, the so-called bad bank that holds most of Citi’s toxic assets left over from the bubble years, posted its seventh straight quarterly profit. The value of Citi Holdings’ investments fell 44 percent from a year earlier as the bank sold off complicated derivatives, bonds and other assets.

GM to Recall Over 1 Million Pickups To Fix Seat Belt Problem

DETROIT (AP) – General Motors is recalling more than a million Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks worldwide because the seat belts may not hold the driver in a crash.

The company, which announced the recall on Friday, says it covers certain 2014 and 2015 model 1500 pickups. A steel cable that connects the belts to the trucks can bend when the driver sits in the seats. Over time it can wear and separate, and if that happens, the belts could come loose.

GM said that it has no reports of crashes or injuries due to the cables.

Consumer-Ratings Business JD Power Sold for $1.1 Billion

NEW YORK (AP) – McGraw Hill Financial, the financial-data group behind Standard & Poor’s ratings agency, says it has its sold consumer-ratings unit J.D. Power for $1.1 billion.

The buyer is XIO Group, a London-based investment firm established in 2014 with an aim to invest over $5 billion in North American and European companies and help them expand into Asia.

Starboard Presses on With Push To Replace Depomed’s Board

WASHINGTON (AP) – Starboard Value plans to forge ahead with its boardroom coup attempt at Depomed even though the pain treatment maker backed off a reincorporation plan that had incensed the activist investor.

Depomed said late Thursday that it decided not to pursue a proposed reincorporation to Delaware from California because it would lead to “a costly and distracting proxy contest” while the company tries to grow.

Starboard said Friday the reincorporation plan was designed to entrench the board, and the drugmaker was disingenuous in stating that it withdrew the proposal to avoid a proxy fight.

European States Urge G-20 To Share Data on Offshore Accounts

MADRID (AP) – The European Union’s five biggest economies, including Germany and Britain, have agreed to share information on company ownership and are urging other nations to do the same to make it harder for criminals and tax cheats to avoid the law.

The move announced late Thursday comes as the leak of the so-called Panama Papers claimed another political casualty: Spain’s acting industry minister resigned after his name was linked to offshore companies.

Britain’s Treasury chief George Osborne and his counterparts in Germany, France, Italy and Spain have agreed to share information on the beneficial ownership of companies.