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Morning business round-up: Olympus executives charged

What made the business news in Asia and Europe this morning? Here's our daily business round-up:

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Tokyo prosecutors have charged camera-maker Olympus and three of its former executives in connection with a $1.7bn (£1bn) accounting cover-up.

Ex-chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, former executive vice-president Hisashi Mori and former auditor Hideo Yamada are among those charged with falsifying securities reports.

Olympus has admitted to hiding these losses for over twenty years, in one of Japan's biggest corporate scandals.

The three were arrested last month.

In Europe, investors remain tense ahead of a deadline for a Greek debt swap deal that may determine whether or not the country can remain in the euro.

Investors have until 2000 GMT on Thursday to agree to swap their Greek government bonds for new debts that are worth about 70% less.

The deal is a condition for Greece's new bailout and a failure to clinch it would probably lead to a debt default.

Stocks plunged on Tuesday on fears that many investors would not sign up.

German sportswear firm Adidas has unveiled record annual profits, as hopes rise that this year's Olympics will help it to perform even more strongly.

It reported a 18% rise in net profits in 2011 to 671m euros ($881m; £559m), though the firm barely made a profit in the last three months of the year.

Rising sales in Eastern Europe and China drove demand, the company said.

Adidas said the 2012 Olympics and the UEFA European football championships would push figures even higher this year.

HSBC and its Hong Kong subsidiary Hang Seng Bank have struck a deal to sell off two overseas insurance businesses for $914m (£580m).

AXA Group of France paid $494m for HSBC's general insurance businesses in Hong Kong, Singapore and Mexico.

HSBC also sold Hang Seng General Insurance, based in Hong Kong, and a similar business in Argentina to Australia's QBE Insurance for $420m.

HSBC said it wanted to invest in other areas, including wealth management.

Australia's economy expanded by less than expected in the fourth quarter of 2011, as business spending dropped, sending the dollar to a six-week low.

Gross domestic product rose by 0.4% in the three months to the end of December compared with the previous three months, said the Bureau of Statistics.

Analysts were expecting growth of 0.8%.

However, growth is expected to pick up due to high levels of resource investment.

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The US has taken India to the World Trade Organization challenging its ban on imports of American poultry.

India has banned shipments of US farm products, including poultry meat and chicken eggs, since 2007 to prevent the spread of avian flu.

US authorities said India had imposed the ban to protect local industry and that it violates global trade rules.

The move comes just days after the US created a new panel to crack down on unfair trade practices by its partners.

With hundreds of eurozone banks on life support, the latest edition of the Business Daily programme asks whether will there be another credit crisis? Lesley Curwen talks to Carsten Brzeski, senior economist at ING Belgium.

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