Wed, May 18, 2011 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

Agencies

BANKING

HSBC hiring in Asia

HSBC said yesterday it would employ at least 2,000 extra people in China and Singapore over the next five years, as it seeks to tap the fast-growing Asia Pacific markets. The Asia-focused British lender plans to hire at least 200 staff in China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) each year until 2016, and another 1,000 in Singapore during the period, a spokeswoman from HSBC Hong Kong’s office said. The bank, which is headquartered in London, currently has 5,000 employees in China and 3,500 in Singapore. The spokeswoman said the hiring plan did not specify in which areas the new employees would be hired.

ENERGY

Toshiba eyes Landis+Gyr

Toshiba and its Japanese partners plan to buy Swiss metering technology firm Landis+Gyr for ¥200 billion (US$2.5 billion), the Asahi Shimbun and the Nikkei Shimbun said yesterday. The Japanese electronics giant has obtained preferential negotiation rights with an Australian investment group that has the major stake in the Swiss firm, the newspapers said. The two sides are likely to reach a final agreement as early as the end of this week in a deal aimed at enhancing Toshiba’s competitiveness in the next-generation power grid market, the dailies said.

DEFENSE

BAE fined US$79 million

British defense contractor BAE Systems has agreed to pay additional fines of up to US$79 million for flouting US regulations governing the export of sensitive military hardware. BAE, Europe’s biggest defense company and a major supplier to the US military, said yesterday that the latest penalties formed part of a civil settlement with the US Department of State. It said the latest fine would be payable over three years and that it would be able to reduce it by up to US$10 million to offset the cost of improved export control compliance measures.

INTERNET

Bing counting on Facebook

Microsoft’s Bing search engine is leaning more heavily on Facebook to make its results more meaningful than Google’s. As of Monday, Bing’s search results will vary depending on whether the person making a request is logged into Facebook’s online social network at the same time. This means that a link that Bing’s standard ranking formula would have buried on the fourth or fifth page of results might appear on the first page if the information had been recommended by friends within the searcher’s Facebook circle. Bing is also adding several other features and tools that draw upon the preferences shared among Facebook’s more than 500 million members.

TRADE

US delays free-trade pacts

US President Barack Obama’s administration said on Monday it would hold off on trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia until Congress approves benefits for workers. It marks the latest political feud to block congressional action on the free-trade deals. The White House, which has butted heads with its labor allies by pressing ahead with free trade, said it would not send to Congress legislation on the three pacts until renewal of a program that supports affected workers. Obama’s top economic aide Gene Sperling said that the US had an “economic and moral obligation” to assist workers and voiced hope that the Republicans would agree on the assistance alongside the trade agreements.

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