■ Soft drinksCoke adds new flavor
The Coca-Cola Co. is introducing another Coke with a twist: regular cola with lime. Meanwhile, its chief rival, PepsiCo Inc., is continuing to push new varieties of their flagship brands. Atlanta-based Coke said Friday it will roll out Coca-Cola with Lime in the United States in the first quarter. The launch follows the roll out a year ago of Diet Coke with Lime. Pricing for the new product was not released. "I think it's an interesting product, but I don't think it will be a blockbuster," said John Sicher, editor of Beverage Digest. According to figures provided by Sicher, through the first nine months of 2004, Diet Coke with Lime had a 0.7 percent share of the retail soft drink business in the United States. That compares to 7.6 percent for plain Diet Coke.
■ Oil industry
China looks at Unocal
China's third biggest oil and natural gas company is considering making a bid for all or part of US rival Unocal Corp., published reports said Friday. If true, it would be the latest indication of China's rising appetite for overseas investment. The Financial Times said that China National Offshore Oil Corp. was considering a bid or more than US$13 billion for all of Unocal, which is based in El Segundo, California, and is the ninth biggest US oil company in terms of reserves. Unocal has a policy of refusing to comment on rumors about acquisitions and mergers, company spokesman Barry Lane said Friday. Unocal shares rose US$1.18, or 2.7 percent, to US$45.32 in afternoon trading Friday on the New York Stock Exchange, giving the company a market value of about US$11.75 billion.
China wants Learjets
Canada-based Bombardier Inc. says its latest family of Learjets has been granted approval in China, clearing the way for the business jets to be based in there. Spokesman Leo Knaapen said the approval by the Civil Aviation Administration of China is a welcome breakthrough for Bombardier Aerospace in China, considered the world's fastest-growing economy. Next week, Bombardier Aerospace will deliver the first of two Learjet 45 XR jets to Global Wings, a Tokyo-based charter service.
Global Wings will base the new aircraft in Beijing to provide charters in China, as well as between China and Japan. Knaapen says it will be the first light business jet service between the two countries. Knaapen said Bombardier Aerospace has delivered 17 business jets to customers based in China, including the Challenger, earlier Learjet models and the Global Express. This is the first new Learjet [approved for China], so it's a good break for us,'' Knaapen said.
■ Air transport
New cheap carrier planned
The top three executives of Irish state airline Aer Lingus, set to depart their posts in May, plan to set up their own low cost airline, the Irish Times newspaper said on Friday. Chief executive Willie Walsh, chief financial officer Brian Dunne and chief operations officer Seamus Kearney announced their resignations last year when Prime Minister Bertie Ahern ruled out a proposed buy-out of Aer Lingus. The new airline to be set up by the departing Aer Lingus trio will have substantial backing from Irish and overseas investors and could enter service as early as January next year with the intention of serving the Irish, European and US markets, the Irish Times said.