- - Sunday, April 22, 2012

RETAILING

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s federal government should investigate accusations of a vast bribery campaign by top executives of Wal-Mart’s Mexican subsidiary to build stores across the country, the head of a watchdog group said Sunday.

Eduardo Bohorquez, director of Transparencia Mexicana, said international conventions obligate Mexico’s government to get involved even though only local officials have been linked to the scandal.

“The laws in Mexico and the United States relating to bribery are in effect, so the practices [of legal business] should be the same in both countries,” he said.
Government officials declined Sunday to comment on the accusations contained in a New York Times report that said Wal-Mart Stores Inc. failed to notify law enforcement after its own investigators found evidence that millions of dollars in bribes had been paid in Mexico to spur its rapid expansion there.

CLOTHING

Benetton handed over to next generation

ROME — Luciano Benetton, who founded his clothing company with his siblings 47 years ago, said Sunday that he plans to hand over the reins to his son, the company’s vice chairman.

“The rudder passes to my son Alessandro, who will become chairman,” Mr. Benneton told Italy’s leading daily Corriere della Sera in an interview. “After a run that has lasted 47 years, I will resign Tuesday from my duties in the company founded with my brothers and sister.”

In a half-century, the company has grown into a giant, with some 6,000 stores in 120 countries.
Mr. Benetton, 77, who appears in robust health, sporting long hair and his trademark round glasses, said 48-year-old Alessandro had shown the passion he would need in the two years he has served as vice chairman.

INSURANCE

Aviva to exit U.S. at $1.6 billion cost

LONDON — British insurer Aviva is set to pull out of the U.S. in a move that could cost the company about $1.6 billion, the Sunday Times reported.

The newspaper said Aviva’s chief executive, Andrew Moss, was expected to announce the sale of Aviva USA at the May 24 investor day.

“The American life assurance business is likely to fetch roughly half what the company paid for it six years ago,” the broadsheet said.

The sale is part of a change of strategy agreed between Mr. Moss and incoming chairman John McFarlane.

ENERGY

Egypt ends export deal for natural gas to Israel

CAIRO — Egypt has scrapped a 2005 gas export deal with Israel, which relies on Egyptian natural gas for 40 percent of its supplies to produce electricity, the chairman of a government holding firm said Sunday.

The accord was “annulled on Thursday with the East Mediterranean Gas Co. which exports gas to Israel because the company failed to respect conditions stipulated in the contract,” Mohamed Shoeib told Agence France-Presse.

The sale of gas to Israel, which signed a peace treaty with Egypt in 1979, always has been controversial in Egypt. A pipeline in the Sinai Peninsula that has been used to supply Egyptian gas to Israel and Jordan has been attacked 14 times since the uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.

REAL ESTATE

Trump, Georgia president release resort plans

TBILISI, Georgia — U.S. real estate mogul Donald Trump joined Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili on Sunday in unveiling plans to build a luxury apartment complex along the Black Sea coast.

The 47-story Trump Tower in the city of Batumi will be built by the Silk Road Group under a licensing agreement signed during Mr. Saakashvili’s visit to New York last year.

The Georgian conglomerate expects to have the necessary funding by the end of this year, with construction slated to start in early 2013, Mr. Saakashvili said during Sunday’s presentation in Batumi.

From wire dispatches and staff reports