By Andrei Khalip LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal's international bailout is expected to end in mid-May. That won't mean the end of hardship for the Portuguese. To avoid a repeat of the 78 billion euro ($108 billion) financial rescue agreed in May 2011 with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, Lisbon cannot let up on shrinking its budget gap and trimming a huge sovereign debt. That means it will be easier than in the past couple of years to meet goals imposed on Portugal by existing bailout terms and European treaties between now and 2017. Still, with a population intent on making ends meet - and a general election due in the middle of next year - assurances from Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho often fall on deaf ears.
Dutch food and cosmetics giant Unilever said on Sunday it has bought a majority stake in Chinese water purification company Qinyuan in its biggest investment in the country in a decade. "We are delighted to be making this strategic investment –- a majority stake in Qinyuan -– our biggest acquisition in China for more than 10 years," Unilever chief executive Paul Polman said in a statement. Rotterdam-based Unilever, which last year clocked up a net profit of 4.84 billion euros ($6.56 billion), declined to put an amount on the deal or disclose the size of its stake. Qinyuan last year made almost 140 million euros in sales in China's rapidly-expanding water purification market, which has grown more than 20 percent a year over the last three years, Unilever said.