Sun, Jun 27, 2004 - Page 11 News List

Business Briefs

AGENCIES

■ Real estateMalaysia eases restrictions

Malaysia will ease procedures for foreigners to buy property and major stakes in local companies as part of efforts to boost the country's competitiveness, reports said yesterday. The move follows a series of reform initiatives by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to cut red tape and increase government transparency since taking over as premier from Mahathir Mohamad last year, the New Straits Times said. From August, rules for property transactions as well as acquisitions of interests, mergers and takeovers of local companies for foreign investors under the Foreign Investment Committee (FIC) will be simplified to cut down the current two months' processing time, the newspaper said. Investors will be required only to make a declaration in a prescribed format that they have or will fulfill the conditions stipulated, it said.

■ Defense industry

Lockheed rethinks takeover

The planned takeover of the San Diego-based military supplier Titan Corp by Lockheed Martin Corp for US$1.66 billion might collapse if Titan cannot meet a Friday deadline for resolving bribery allegations. Titan said it was unlikely it could reach a plea agreement in the US Justice Department's inquiry into the company's alleged bribery of foreign advisers, according to US media reports. Lockheed refused Thursday to extend its deadline, something it has already done twice. In September, both firms tied the deal to the resolution of the bribery inquiry, which focuses on Titan's business practices in Benin and Saudi Arabia. Titan president Gene Ray said it was too soon to say the deal had collapsed but said his firm is also a strong company on its own, US media reported. Ray, a former Pentagon physicist, founded the company in 1981.

■ Macroeconomics

Russia's GDP to grow: IMF

Russia's GDP should grow by 7.25 percent this year, matching last year's economic growth, the IMF said in a report late Friday after carrying out a mission in Moscow. Russian output growth should then slow down slightly and reach 6.5 percent next year, the IMF added in its report. "The mission believes that real GDP will grow by 7.25 percent in 2004, as in 2003, slowing only marginally to 6.5 percent in 2005, mainly owing to somewhat lower oil prices," said the report, posted on the IMF's Web site. Russia's GDP grew 7.4 percent in the first quarter of this year, compared to the first three months of last year, the state statistics committee reported last week.

■ Technology

Itochu forms space venture

Japanese trading house Itochu Corp, satellite communication firm Jsat Corp and three other firms plan to jointly launch earth observation (EO) satellites as soon as 2008, becoming the first in Asia to do so, a news report said yesterday. The group, which also includes NTT Data Corp, Imageone Co and NEC Toshiba Space Systems Ltd, seeks to gain a foothold in the commercial satellite imaging market, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun said. The five firms will establish a jointly held company in August, with plans to launch two satellites in 2008 or later, it said. The new entity will have an initial capital base of ?200 million (US$1.8 million). The low-altitude remote sensing satellites to be used will orbit the earth at about 500 to 1,000km. They will employ the most advanced commercial-satellite-compatible cameras, enabling them to provide images of objects smaller than 1m across. The satellites will cover nearly all points on earth, the newspaper said.

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