■ Real Estate
Miramar wants Taiwan hotel
Miramar Hotels & Investment Ltd plans to buy a hotel with at least 250 rooms, or commercial buildings in Taiwan, a Chinese-language newspaper reported, citing Billy Yen (顏炳立), president of DTZ Pacific Holdings Ltd in Taiwan. Miramar Hotels, which operates Hong Kong's Miramar Hotel, hired DTZ Pacific as its agent to look for hotels and buildings to acquire, the Taipei-based newspaper reported. Miramar may buy land to build a hotel, the report said. Taiwan's government in May said it plans to relax restrictions to allow more tourists from China to visit the country. Hong Kong had a record 1.65 million visitors in June, more than double the number in June 2003, after China made it easier for mainland residents to visit the city.
IMF defers Zimbabwe case
The IMF has delayed for at least six months its threatened expulsion of Zimbabwe over the country's debt to the fund, the fund said. In making its decision, announced on Friday, the executive board of the IMF took into account that Zimbabwe last month repaid the fund US$131 million, reducing its debt considerably. Despite that payment, Zimbabwe still owes US$175 million. The country has failed to make timely interest payments to the IMF since February 2001 on a US$4.5 billion loan. A delay of the expulsion decision gives Zimbabwe "further opportunity to strengthen its co-operation with the IMF," it added in a statement. A member can be expelled from the IMF if its debt reaches an set amount beyond its deposits and if its debt is not serviced. The fund's executive board is demanding Zimbabwe undertake economic reforms and support for people in need.
Swiss return more loot
Switzerland is transferring to Nigeria another US$290 million looted by former military dictator Sani Abacha and stashed in the Alpine country, a Swiss official said on Friday. The transfer order, made this week via the Basel-based Bank for International Settlements (BIS), means that US$490 million of the embezzled US$700 million found in Swiss accounts will have been returned to Africa's most populous nation. "I confirm that we gave the transfer order to the BIS," Livio Zanolari, spokesman of the Swiss federal police and justice department, said from the capital, Berne. The World Bank will monitor how the funds are used, under an agreement reached last week, he added. Switzerland agreed a year ago to return money traced to Abacha, who died in 1998, and the Swiss Supreme Court in February rejected an attempt by Abacha's family to stop the transfer. In all, Abacha is believed to have stolen at least US$3 billion during his five-year rule.
Fiat, Ford to cooperate
Fiat Auto SpA has reached out to a new partner seven months after breaking off a broad alliance with General Motors Corp, announcing a more limited agreement on Friday with Ford Motor Co that envisages working together on new models of their small cars. Fiat and Ford both said they have signed a "memorandum of understanding" for the development of two small cars: a revival of Fiat's iconic "Cinquecento" and a new Ford "Ka." Both companies have been ailing, and analysts greeted the partnership as a sensible and necessary step to cut costs in a highly competitive global market, which is plagued by overcapacity.