Sun, Mar 13, 2005 - Page 11 News List

Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Software

Microsoft expands in Ireland

Microsoft Corp announced plans on Thursday to open a new research and development center in Ireland that it said would design parts of the next edition of its Windows operating system, codenamed "Longhorn." The announcement came during 20th anniversary celebrations of Microsoft's 1985 arrival in Dublin. The software giant employs 1,200 people in suburban south Dublin and has made Ireland -- the world's biggest exporter of software, thanks to Microsoft's presence -- one of its main European bases for customer support, production and research. Besides working on components of Longhorn, the center's researchers are expected to develop applications for Windows Media Center and make Microsoft software more adaptable for use in different languages and countries.

■ Airlines

Dragonair to increase seats

Dragon Airlines Ltd plans to increase its seats on flights to China this summer to meet expectations of a sharp rise in passengers, the company says. The carrier -- Hong Kong's second largest -- also plans to start flights to South Korea and Australia and launch a cargo service to the United States in the coming months, chief financial officer Francis Wai said in an interview. Wai said China's robust economy warranted the increase in the carrier's air services. "Mainland China is our core market and will continue to be so," Wai said. Dragonair posted record passenger and cargo volume last year, when it flew 4.5 million passengers, up 49.2 percent from 2003.

■ Entertainment

Warner Music files IPO plan

Warner Music Group Corp, home to Madonna, on Friday revealed plans for an initial public offering, filing with regulators to sell up to US$750 million of common stock. In its Securities and Exchange Commission statement, the company did not estimate how many shares or at what price it planned to offer its stock, but said shares will be sold by both the company and several shareholders. Warner Music, one of the world's largest record companies, plans to list its stock on either the New York Stock Exchange or on the NASDAQ. Proceeds from the deal will be used to repay debt and for general corporate purposes, according to the SEC document, submitted on Friday. New York-based Warner Music was formed about a year ago when a group of investors, led by chairman and chief executive Edgar Bronfman, bought Time Warner Inc's music division for US$2.6 billion in mostly cash.

■ Airlines

Jetsgo grounds all its planes

Discount Canadian airline Jetsgo announced on Friday that all its flights had been canceled while it seeks bankruptcy protection, stranding an estimated 17,000 passengers, many of whom were heading out on their long-awaited spring break. Jetsgo advised customers to make alternative arrangements before heading to the airport since there would be no Jetsgo staff or planes available while the airline seeks bankruptcy-court protection. Travelers who are already away were told their return tickets were no good and to make other arrangements to get back home. The privately held company issued the stunning announcement shortly after midnight on Friday. It is asking Quebec Superior Court to grant it protection from creditors. Jetsgo said that difficult market conditions and competitive pressures led the company to discontinue operations and ground all of its planes.

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