Fri, Feb 29, 2008 - Page 11 News List

Bisiness Briefs

AGENCIES

Acer gets green light from EU

Acer Inc, the world's third-largest computer supplier, secured EU antitrust approval to acquire Packard Bell BV.

The European Commission, the 27-nation EU's antitrust regulator in Brussels, announced the approval in a statement yesterday.

Acer is a global supplier of laptop and desktop personal computers, servers, storage devices, LCD monitors and high-definition televisions. Packard Bell, based in the Netherlands, supplies desktops, notebooks and other computer products.

The commission said the personal computer market will remain competitive after the merger because of competition from Fujitsu Siemens Computers Holding BV, Hewlett-Packard Co, Dell Inc and other suppliers.

China Railway completes IPO

China Railway Construction, which built part of the controversial train line to Tibet, said yesterday it raised 22.25 billion yuan (US$3.1 billion) from a domestic initial public offering.

The company priced the 2.45 billion yuan-denominated A shares offered at 9.08 yuan each, the top end of an indicative range of 8.00 to 9.08 yuan per share, it said in a statement filed with the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

The price valued the company at 30.56 times last year's projected net profit based on Chinese accounting standards, it said.

The offering attracted about 3.1 trillion yuan of subscription funds, with the retail tranche 156 times oversubscribed and institutional tranche 78 times oversubscribed.

South Korea's deficit widens

South Korea's current account deficit widened to an 11-year high last month because of soaring prices of oil and other raw materials, the central bank said yesterday.

The current account shortfall reached US$2.6 billion last month following a deficit of US$813.8 million the previous month, the Bank of Korea said.

Last month's deficit was the largest since January 1997 when South Korea posted a deficit of US$3.13 billion.

Resource-poor South Korea, the world's 13th largest economy, posted a current account surplus of US$6 billion last year.

The central bank predicts the account will register a shortfall of US$3 billion this year, which would be the first deficit since 1997.

Higher inflation hits Vietnam

Vietnam's inflation rate reached 15.7 percent this month, the highest in more than a decade, as the government struggled to control prices in Southeast Asia's fastest-growing economy.

The increase was driven by sharp price gains in food, housing and construction materials, the General Statistical Office said on its Web site yesterday.

Food prices were 25.2 percent higher than the same period last year, and housing and construction materials were up 16.4 percent.

Tokyo exchange warns on loans

The Tokyo Stock Exchange Inc will monitor stock option-backed loans used by Japanese companies to raise funds, saying the practice may dilute shareholders' stakes and undermine limits on banks' control over the companies.

"It would dilute shareholders' voting rights and increase the chance for banks to abuse their power," Atsushi Saito, the bourse's president, said at a regular press briefing in Tokyo yesterday. "We will alert investors."

Loans backed by stock options can cause dilution if a borrower fails to pay interest, defaults or is delisted, prompting the lender to exercise the options. Japanese banks, barred from owning more than 5 percent of a company, may also use the options to boost their influence, while companies may use the prospect of share dilution to ward off unsolicited takeovers, Saito said.

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