While Edward Snowden is on the run in Asia – last seen checking out of a hotel in Hong Kong yesterday – his former employers Booz Allen (majority-owned by Washington-based private-equity firm Carlyle Group, which employs former UK prime minister John Major) has gone into full-blown crisis-control mode. The share price of Booz Allen – which gets 99% of its revenue from US government contracts – fell 5% in intraday trade before closing 2.6% down in New York. Snowden outed himself as the source of a damaging disclosure that the US is ‘spying’ on its own citizens. He was only employed by the consulting firm for three months – Booz Allen says that “if” Snowden’s allegation are true, it was “a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values” of the firm. It added that it is working with clients and authorities to investigate the leaks. Speculation has already started, reflected by the market sell-off, that Booz Allen will be made the scapegoat, and will haemorrhage its lucrative government contracts.
Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, which has a broad spectrum of interests including finance, has upped its offer for Sprint Nextel Corp by 7.5% to $21.6 billion to fend off an unsolicited bid from Dish Network Corp.
Private-equity investors are seeing growing interest from mainland entrepreneurs whose businesses have grown, and now require input from experienced managers.
The number of Australians without access to a bank account, credit or insurance has risen by more than a percentage point in the past two years to 17.7% despite a decline in the cost of financial services. National Australia Bank says the entire industry needs to tackle financial exclusion.
Malaysian long-haul budget carrier AirAsia X launched an up-to-US$370 million initial public offering on Monday, seeking funds for its fleet expansion as it targets buoyant travel demand in Asia-Pacific and looks to fend off regional rivals.