Europe, Middle East and Africa

Merger May be Investigated By Commission

The Australian reports that commodities trader Glencore and mining company Xstrata may be the subject of a European Commission competition investigation regarding their proposed merger. The merger would reportedly create the fourth largest mining group in the world. The companies reportedly stated that they “expected the merger not to have any negative impact on competition in the commodity markets in which the two companies operate”.
The Australian: Glencore seeking marriage approval in Europe (27 February 2012)
(Source: The Australian)

OFT to Review Payday Lending Sector
Business Ethics and Corporate Culture, Consumer Protection

The UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has announced that it will conduct a detailed review of the payday lending sector, prompted partly by concerns that some payday lenders “may be taking advantage of people in financial difficulty”. The investigation will look into payday lenders’ level of compliance with the relevant legislation, and the results of the review will be used “to drive out companies that are not fit to hold consumer credit licences”. The review will involve OFT conducting on-site inspections of 50 major payday lenders and surveys of industry and consumer organisations.

Key concerns of the OFT include:

  • lending without carrying out adequate checks regarding the borrower’s ability to repay loans;
  • “targeting particular groups of people with clearly unsuitable or unaffordable credit”;
  • causing charges to escalate so that loans become unaffordable; and
  • not being fair to borrowers.

OFT’s media release (24 February 2012)
(Source: OFT)

Lego Parent Company to Invest €400 million in Wind Farm Project
Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, Health, Safety and Environment

Lego Group (Lego) has announced that its parent company Kirkbi will invest approximately €400 million in the construction of a new wind farm off the German coast, owning a third of the wind farm’s production of electric power upon its completion in 2012. The 77-turbine wind farm is being built as a joint venture between Dong Energy, the Oticon Foundation via William Demant Invest and Kirkbi. The company’s long-term goal is to produce enough renewal energy capacity to meet all of its energy requirements by 2020. Additionally, Lego is increasing investment in its resources for energy efficiency in production by 5% each year. In 2010, the company reduced the consumption of gas used for heating its Czech factory by 17% by reprogramming the thermostats, a result achieved despite the fact that the factory was expanded by the addition of an extra production hall and a doubling of office capacity.
Lego’s media release (23 February 2012)
(Source: Lego)

Unlawful Disclosure of Personal Information
Privacy and Data Protection

The Persónuvernd has made available Decision 2011/930  (14 February 2012 – Icelandic language version available only) regarding the disclosure of personal information to companies by Data Reykjavik for marketing purposes. The Persónuvernd found that the disclosure was unlawful. 
Further information from the Persónuvernd (Icelandic language version available only)
(Source: Persónuvernd)

CEO Likely to Receive Multi-million Pound Bonus
Business Ethics and Corporate Culture

Fox Business reports that advertising company WPP PLC (WPP) is likely to pay its chief executive officer Martin Sorrell “a multi-million pound bonus”. The company is reportedly expected to deliver a record yearly profit of £1.4 billion. According to Fox Business, the report did not specify Mr Sorrell’s bonus figure but revealed “it may anger WPP shareholders who complained about boardroom pay” in 2011. Mr Sorrell earned £4.6 million in salary, bonuses and pension benefits, and received share options potentially worth £14 million in 2010, and it is likely that Mr Sorrell’s pay could be higher still for 2011, reports Fox Business.
Fox Business: WPP CEO Sorrell’s Bonus Could Stoke Row Over Pay – Report (26 February 2012)
(Source: Fox Business)