August 2008

Please wait
Australia will make a decision "in a few months" on whether Sinosteel Corp can take a stake in Murchison Metals, after Sinosteel made a A$1.36 billion (US$1.3 billion) bid for Murchison’s rival, Midwest Corp.


Empty space
Demand for prime office space in Japan has shown signs of waning as foreign financial institutions hold back expansion plans in the face of the fallout from the subprime crisis.

Video game winner
Almost written off two years ago, Nintendo has captured the top spot in Japan for "Innovation in Responding to Customer Needs" with its Wii in the Wall Street Journal Asia’s latest Asia 200 survey of readers.

And loser
Sony has lost US$3.3 billion since it launched the PlayStation 3, its business hit by Microsoft’s Xbox360 and its own strategy of selling the consoles at losses by hoping to recoup from game sales. There is talk Sony may drop out of the game business.

China securities
1) hard ball: China is delaying the entry of Wall Street firms to its coveted securities market, keeping Morgan Stanley and Citigroup waiting for months for regulatory approval of their joint venture with Chinese securities firms.

2) soft ball: Meanwhile China is opening its doors to the Europeans, allowing Deutsche Bank to form a joint venture with Shanxi Securities and Credit Suisse with Founder Securities, subsidiary of a mainland conglomerate.

3) cross straits : Ma Ying-jeou’s government has relaxed rules to allow Taiwanese brokerages to invest in their Chinese peers, something the brokers have been asking for a decade.

Inn fight
Hotel Okura and Royal Hotel are forming a new venture for common booking and marketing in yet another sign of prestigious Japanese hotels teaming up to fight the incursion of foreign luxurious hotels.

Foul weather
Cathay Pacific and three other airlines – Air France-KLM, a subsidiary of Danish carrier SAS and Martinair Holland – were fined US$504 million by the US Justice Department for conspiring to fix air cargo prices. Cathay’s share of the fine is US$60 million.

Beyond books: Pearson, which owns the Financial Times, Penguin Books and 50% of the Economist, is buying the Learning Education Center (LEC), a chain of 15 private English-language schools based mainly in Shanghai, to strengthen its presence in China.

Kofu shows the way
The town of Kofu, in the prefecture of Tottori, has become the trendsetter of Japanese retailing. As more and more of the aged in Kofu give up driving, the home delivery business is booming – so much so that retail giant Ito-Yokado is planning to expand a service that allows customers to order goods online to be delivered the same day without charge. All its 170 stores will offer the service nationwide in three years.

Fake five-rings
One month before the tourists start arriving for the Beijing Olympics, China has decided to crack down on the widespread use of fake Olympics logos in television programmes, newspapers, websites, and print.

Birds of a feather
Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp, which knows a thing or two about bad loans, is investing in the British bank Barclays, which has written down billions in questionable loans.

Please call
KDDI, Japan’s second-biggest phone company, will offer free calls between land and mobile lines to encourage greater usage of its unprofitable land line business.

Falling titan
HK-based Titan Petrochemicals will scale down its supply chain operations and sell its oil trading business to settle debt and increase cash-flow. It will also axe 56 staff in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Hong Kong bound
China Merchants Bank shareholders have approved a US$2.5 billion purchase of 53% of Wing Lung, a 75-year old family-run bank that is the fourth-largest in Hong Kong.

Oil alternatives
China has cut the value-added tax on dimethyl ether (DME), a coal-based alternative to oil, by four percentage points to 13%, to boost energy supply.

Star Wars remembered
Japan and China are staging events in July to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the first release of the cult Star Wars movies. The six movies and the various merchandises and television spin-offs are highly popular in both countries.

Rained out
Nearly 400 Taiwan-funded companies suffered losses of 446 million yuan (US$65 million) in Guangdong due to incessant heavy rain. In Hunan province, losses were about 60 million yuan.

Mobile routs fixed line
China Mobile’s subscribers hit a record 407 million in May, up nearly 8 million in a month. The figure will soon double the number of fixed line subscribers by China Telecom, which was down by 820,000 to 215 million in the same month.

Cold front
A new airport that opened in the Chinese city of Mohe is expected to boost tourism at the so-called "China's North Pole". Mohe attracts around 100,000 tourists a year to see its spectacular winter sights, almost as many as its residents.

Goodbye Tokyo Tower
The construction of Tokyo Sky Tree could mark the end of the 50-year old Tokyo Tower as a tourist draw. To be completed in 2012, Tokyo Sky Tree in Oshiage will stand at 610 metres, nearly double the height of the 332-metre Tokyo Tower. The former aims to attract an average of 2.7 million visitors a year, most of which could come from the 2.5 million who now visit the Tokyo Tower annually.

LG fights Haier?
Both companies have been named by Jeff Immelt, chairman of General Electrics, as potential candidates for buying its appliance business. Immelt said LG is a "leading candidate" while Haier is said to have arranged financing for the purchase, which could be up to US$8 billion.

Earthquake relief
Dongfang Electric, a state-owned enterprise, has been given a 4.5 billion yuan (US$656.6 million) contract for power generation equipment by China Huaneng Group to help it recover from the May 12 Sichuan quake, which brought down a few of its buildings in the Mainzhu city, killing about 100 people.

Asus in China
The Taiwan firm that specialises in making cheap computers recently laid the foundation for a 3-billion-yuan (US$430 million) factory in the Jiangxi Province to make copper wire yarn and computer accessories. The factory will progress to making motherboards and notebook computers in the future.

A shoe-eat-shoe world
Half the shoemakers in Guangdong province – the biggest shoemaking region in the world – closed their doors in the first five months of this year. But those that remain have grown bigger and total exports have actually increased 9.7% to nearly US$4 billion, according to figures from the authorities.

SHK chairman ousted
Walter Kwok, chairman of Hong Kong’s biggest developer, was ousted in a bitter family dispute by his two younger brothers and his 79-year old mother, who controls the most shares and who now takes on the role of chairman.



First Published: 
August 2008


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

lee han shihLee Han Shih is the founder, publisher and editor of asia! Magazine.

[email protected]

Recommended Reading


voicesAnother Point

of View


Cricket: The Great Indian Obsession
Little Sisters
Eco-label questioned
Our Chico in heaven

100 DAYS

100 days blogAn imaginary factual blog of General David Petraeus, Commander, United States Central Command