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Briefs, September 13, 2012

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 September, 2012, 3:00am

Unpaid bills mount at listed companies

China's publicly traded industrial companies are facing a sharp rise in unpaid bills as economic growth slows. Balance sheets from 284 non-financial companies that belong to either the CSI 300 Index of the biggest Shanghai and Shenzhen listings or to the Hang Seng Index show accounts receivable rose by about 20 per cent between December and June. Reuters

S&P lowers credit rating of Chalco

Ratings agency Standard & Poor's has lowered the foreign-currency long-term corporate credit rating on Aluminum Corporation of China (Chalco), the country's largest smelter of the metal, to BBB-minus from BBB with a negative outlook. The agency cited its expectation that the weak conditions of the aluminium industry would not improve any time soon. "We anticipate that the company's financial risk profile, which has already deteriorated more than we had anticipated, will remain muted over the next three quarters," S&P credit analyst Jian Cheng said. Eric Ng

Lending for M&A activity up by half

Chinese companies swooping on assets in Europe and the US, from metal markets to cereal companies, are driving a 56 per cent increase this year in acquisition-related lending in Asia. About US$2.8 billion of loans used to fund purchases of corporate stakes has been signed so far this year, up from US$1.8 billion in the same period last year, as overall syndicated deals in Asia-Pacific slumped. Bloomberg

Share sale plan sends China Eastern soaring

China Eastern Airlines, the mainland's second-largest carrier by passenger numbers, rose 4.7 per cent, the most since July 13, to HK$2.43 in Hong Kong after announcing plans to raise US$570 million selling shares to its state-owned parent. Its Shanghai-listed shares gained 5.2 per cent, the most in about eight months. The airline will use the funds to repay borrowings, helping pare debt levels that are the highest among the mainland's Big Three carriers. Bloomberg

McDonald's addresses obesity concerns

McDonald's, the world's biggest restaurant chain, will begin posting calorie information on menu boards at its US stores next week as it works to stem criticism that its food causes obesity. The chain said it would also test healthier items, such as egg-white breakfast sandwiches, 350-calorie sweet chilli chicken wraps and more produce side items, to add to its menu next year. Calorie counts will be listed on menus inside restaurants and at drive-through windows. Bloomberg

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