Philippine tobacco giant pays $586 million to settle tax case

The Philippine government had accused Mighty Corp. of using counterfeit tax stamps to avoid paying 37.88 billion pesos in taxes, and threatened it with criminal charges. (Reuters)
Updated 06 October 2017
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Philippine tobacco giant pays $586 million to settle tax case

MANILA: The Philippines said Friday it has dropped a tax evasion case against the country’s number-two cigarette manufacturer after it was sold to Japan Tobacco to raise funds for a record 30 billion-peso (SR220.8 million) settlement.
Manila had accused Mighty Corp. of using counterfeit tax stamps to avoid paying 37.88 billion pesos in taxes, and threatened it with criminal charges.
However in July, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the finance department to accept a settlement, under which Mighty, which has 23 percent of the local cigarette market, would drop out of the tobacco business.
“We could consider this case as closed. (The) government of the Philippines is 40 billion pesos richer,” Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre told reporters.
The company settled the case with a 30-billion-peso payment, and paid another 10 billion pesos in taxes and penalties, he explained.
Mighty had originally offered a 25-billion-peso settlement, Aguirre added.
The company sold off its assets to Japan Tobacco International in order to meet its tax deficiencies, the finance department said earlier.
The Japanese firm, one of the world’s biggest tobacco companies, whose global brands include Winston and Camel, announced on August 22 that it was purchasing Mighty for 46.8 billion pesos.
Asked to comment on the justice department decision, a Japan Tobacco spokesman in Japan said “the tax liability is an issue that should be solved appropriately between Mighty Corp. and the Philippine government.”


UAE property developers’ earnings give Gulf markets a boost

Updated 17 February 2019
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UAE property developers’ earnings give Gulf markets a boost

  • Real estate sector gets confidence boost
  • DAMAC gains despite 87 pct drop in Q4 net profits

DUBAI: Most stock markets in the Middle East closed higher on Sunday, reflecting a rally in global stock markets on Friday, and were also boosted by better-than-expected company results, particularly in real estate.

The Abu Dhabi index gained 0.7 percent and the Dubai index 0.6 percent, as two of the largest property developers in the United Arab Emirates posted positive fourth-quarter financial results last week that beat market expectations.

“The market is starting to rebuild confidence in earnings as a driver for sentiment,” said Arqaam Capital in a research note. “Sentiment on the UAE was very weak in 2018, specifically for real estate, on concerns over oversupply risk, pricing pressure that is leading to extended payment plans, and a rental yield compression that is continuing to fall,” Arqaam said.

“But Q4 numbers provided evidence that a few developers have emerged as winners (Emaar Co’s, Aldar) out of market consolidation.” Emaar Properties, Dubai’s largest listed developer, reported a 27 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit.

The stock rose 2 percent on Sunday. DAMAC Properties closed up 0.8 percent, despite having reported a nearly 60 percent fall in full-year profit and an 87 percent drop in fourth-quarter net profits.

In Abu Dhabi, Aldar Properties gained 3.6 percent. Last week, the developer reported a rise in fourth-quarter earnings and higher dividends for 2018. In other sectors, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank rose 0.5 percent after saying it had no merger and acquisition plans. This was in response to a Bloomberg report last week which said the bank was considering such options.

The Saudi index closed 0.4 percent down, in contrast to the rest of the region’s markets. Arab National Bank reported an increase in full- year net profit to 3.13 billion riyals ($834.62 million) from 3.03 billion riyals one year earlier.

The stock remained unchanged and this failed to give support to the banking sector. Alinma Bank < 1150.SE> and Al Rajhi Banking & Investment Corp. lost 0.3 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.

In Egypt, where the main index gained 1.4 percent, Orascom Investment Holding, up 3.2 percent, was among the stocks attracting the highest trading volume. Shares in the company jumped last week after its chairman, Egyptian billionaire businessman Naguib Sawiris, said he saw possible investment opportunities in North Korea if a summit between its leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump later this month was successful.

SAUDI The index lost 0.4 pct to 8,592 points ARABIA DUBAI The index rose 0.6 pct to 2,550 points ABU DHABI The index rose 0.7 pct to 5,070 points QATAR The index gained 0.7 pct to 10,011 points EGYPT The index rose 1.4 pct to 15,199 points KUWAIT The index gainedd 0.1 pct to 5,427 points OMAN The index was down 0.8 pct at 4,077 points BAHRAIN

The index went up 0.6 pct to 1,381 points ($1 = 3.7502 riyals)