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Listed firms' debt-repaying ability improves in 2013

SEOUL, April 21 (Yonhap) -- The ability of South Korean listed companies to pay back their debts improved last year due mainly to a rise in their operating profits and lower financial costs, data showed Monday. The average interest coverage ratio of 613 firms listed on the main bourse came to 4.84 last year, compared with 4.23 tallied a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Korea Exchange (KRX). The ratio, or a firm's operating profit divided by its interest costs, measures the company's ability to pay interest on outstanding debt.

Church of England still invested in payday lender

LONDON (Reuters) - The Archbishop of Canterbury said the Church of England still held an indirect investment in short-term loan company Wonga, even though he branded its activities "morally wrong" nine months ago. Archbishop Justin Welby, leader of the world's 80 million Anglicans, said last year he had been embarrassed to learn that the church's pension fund had invested a relatively small sum in a U.S. venture capital firm that led Wonga's 2009 fundraising.

Church of England still invested in payday lender

LONDON (Reuters) - The Archbishop of Canterbury said the Church of England still held an indirect investment in short-term loan company Wonga, even though he branded its activities "morally wrong" nine months ago. Archbishop Justin Welby, leader of the world's 80 million Anglicans, said last year he had been embarrassed to learn that the church's pension fund had invested a relatively small sum in a U.S. venture capital firm that led Wonga's 2009 fundraising.

U.S. funds warn of risks from sanctions against Russia

By Ross Kerber BOSTON (Reuters) - U.S. fund managers warned this month of risks shareholders could face from current or future Western sanctions against Russia, underscoring the stakes for emerging-markets investors arising out of the turmoil in Ukraine. Securities filings since April 4 outlined potential problems for funds including the $124.6 million ING Russia Fund <LETRX.O>, the $841.1 million SSgA Emerging Markets Fund <SSEMX.O> and a number of iShares exchange-traded funds offered by BlackRock Inc <BLK.N>.

Carlyle launches sub-Saharan Africa fund as investor interest grows

Carlyle this week became one of the first major private equity players to launch a dedicated sub-Saharan Africa fund, underscoring the growing investor interest in the continent's growing middle class. The US-listed alternative investment manager has raised $698 million (505 million euros) -- almost $200 million above its initial target -- from both African and international investors wanting to profit from the region's expanding pool of consumers with extra cash to spend.

Europe's mergers and acquisitions market heats up

Europe's mergers and acquisitions market is rebounding after years in the doldrums, as improving market sentiment is prompting companies to spend piles of cash built up during the financial crisis. A flurry of new deals have been announced in the past month alone, including Numericable's purchase of Vivendi's SFR mobile phone unit in France, the merger of Swiss cement group Holcim and French rival Lafarge and the tie-up of Sopra and Steria to create a new French technology services giant.

German financial watchdog: Low interest rates could trouble bigger insurers

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Some bigger German life insurance companies could find themselves struggling if low interest rates persist, according to comments made by the country's top insurance regulator in an interview with a newspaper. Rock bottom capital market interest rates in Europe have slashed the income insurers can earn from their investments in bonds and other safe securities, making it increasingly difficult to fulfil obligations to policy holders.

Rajaratnam's brother loses bid to dismiss insider trading charges

(This story from April 18 corrects the number of counts the judge called "inconsistent" from four to two in 3rd, 16th and 17th paragraphs) By Nate Raymond NEW YORK (Reuters) - Rengan Rajaratnam, the younger brother of imprisoned hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam, on Friday lost a bid to dismiss some of the insider trading charges leveled against him last year. U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in Manhattan ruled that the indictment adequately alleged the essential elements of the crimes charged.

China sacks state firm head amid corruption allegations

China on Saturday announced the removal of the head of one its major state-owned firms, conglomerate China Resources, for suspected law violations, state media reported using terms which typically refer to corruption. Chinese President Xi Jinping has pursued a highly-publicised anti-graft drive since taking office, vowing to go after both senior "tigers" and low-level "flies".

Questions on bubble as tech momentum fades

After the tech euphoria of 2013, the fast-moving sector has hit a speed bump. The wobbly action of 2014 is still an open question: is this a correction, bear market or a bubble like the catastrophic dot-com boom and bust of 1999-2000? By some measures, segments of the tech sector look to be over the top, even after recent slumps. "There are some astronomical valuations out there," says Roger Kay, an analyst who follows tech companies at Endpoint Technologies.
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