SAfrica import duty

JOHANNESBURG: Africa’s largest steel maker, ArcelorMittal South Africa, has asked the government to impose a 10 per cent import duty on steel and in return it may offer shares to black empowerment partners, a newspaper reported on Sunday. Shares in the unit of the world’s largest producer of steel are trading around their lowest levels in more than a decade and the company has said South Africa’s high labour costs, poor rail infrastructure and slowing economy have forced it to consider cutting back operations and jobs. The Sunday Times newspaper reported that steel baron Lakshmi Mittal was in South Africa in June, where he briefed President Jacob Zuma’s government on the challenges in the steel industry and asked for intervention to counter cheap Chinese imports.

Iran trade prospects

KUWAIT CITY: Iran should boost trade with its Gulf Arab neighbours if a deal on its nuclear programme sees sanctions and an oil embargo lifted, but higher Iranian crude production could worsen tensions within the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), analysts say. As of Saturday, the prospects of such a deal were still very much in question, with no sign of an end to a nail-biting deadlock after 15 straight days of negotiations in Vienna between Iran and major world powers. Iran’s oil exports plummeted as a result of the embargo imposed by the United States and European Union, dropping from about 2.2 million barrels per day (bpd) in mid-2012 to about 1.2 million bpd now. Fellow OPEC members Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates boosted production to make up for that, keeping supply levels stable. Iranian officials have said Tehran is looking to return to pre-embargo levels, though experts say production increases will take time.

VW seeks chairman

BERLIN: Volkswagen is still looking for a successor to former chairman Ferdinand Piech, meaning the interim holder of the position, Berthold Huber, is likely to stay until at least the end of the year, a German newspaper reported on Sunday. Following the departure of patriarch Ferdinand Piech in April, who resigned after losing a showdown with Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn, former union boss Huber was meant to hold the role for only a few months, Bild am Sonntag reported. But one candidate, Wolfgang Porsche, who already sits on the supervisory board, has said he is not available for the role, Bild said without citing its sources. The paper said Porsche’s nephew, Ferdinand Oliver Porsche, is also a candidate, as is Winterkorn. Separately, Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on Saturday that Works Council Boss Bernd Osterloh felt he was better off staying as part of the works council, rather than taking up a position on the carmaker’s executive board, as had been under discussion.

CEO breaks ranks

BOSTON: US companies often pay their CEOs far too much compared with their lowest-paid workers as boards of directors compete to compensate their top executives more than peers. That harsh critique actually comes from one of Corporate America’s friends. “It would be healthier for our society if CEOs were paid less,” said Michael Kagan, who oversees about $9 billion in assets as a senior portfolio manager at ClearBridge Investments in New York. “You have this arms race, where people look at peers to see the pay is fair, so pay is raised year after year.” Kagan’s comments mark a rare exception to the stance of most mutual fund executives to not discuss executive pay in detail.