Thu, May 19, 2011 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

Agencies

PHARMACEUTICALS

Shire to buy firm

British pharmaceuticals group Shire yesterday said it had agreed to buy US company and tissue repair specialist Advanced BioHealing for US$750 million in cash. Under the deal, Shire will acquire the US group’s skin substitute product Dermagraft, which is used to treat diabetic foot ulcers. “The potential to build on the success of Dermagraft is attractive,” Mike Cola, president of Shire’s Specialty Pharmaceuticals business, said in a statement. “It’s already a leading product providing a solution for a common complication suffered by diabetics in the US that, if not treated effectively, can lead to lower limb amputation and high cost to patients and society.”

ELECTRONICS

Intel shifts chip focus

Intel CEO Paul Otellini says his company’s focus is shifting toward power--saving chips as smartphones and tablets account for a rising share of the computer market. Intel will aim for power consumption of 15 watts as a midpoint. Now, the midpoint for chips for laptops is around 35 watts. Otellini said tablets based on Intel chips are expected later this year and smartphones are due early next year, and those new devices in turn will boost demand for servers — many of which use Intel chips. He said one server is needed to handle the traffic from every 600 smartphones or 122 tablets.

HONG KONG

Mercantile Exchange opens

A new commodity exchange began trading yesterday as the territory attempts to challenge established markets in Europe and the US. The only product available to trade so far on the Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange is a futures contract for 1kg of gold with physical delivery in the territory. However, there are plans for other products involving precious and base metals, agriculture, energy and commodity indexes. Officials have also hinted at products denominated in yuan as investor demand grows for China’s gradually strengthening currency.

MINING

Xstrata to close Mount Isa

Diversified Anglo-Swiss mining giant Xstrata said yesterday it would close down its copper smelting activities at Mount Isa and refining in Townsville over the next few years, with 500 jobs reportedly under threat. Xstrata Copper North Queensland chief operating officer Steve de Kruijff cited challenging market conditions as the reason for the closure. He said the operations would be phased out by the end of 2016. A report in the Australian newspaper said up to 500 jobs could be lost. However, the company will expand its Mount Isa mining and concentrate production operations, and potentially develop new mines in the region, it said in a statement.

LABOR

Starbucks sued over firing

The US government is suing Starbucks, saying the coffee company fired a barista in El Paso, Texas, because she is a dwarf. When the employee asked for a stool or small stepladder to perform her job, Starbucks denied the request and fired her that same day, claiming that she could be a danger to customers and workers, according to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The commission, which filed the lawsuit on Monday, said that Starbucks violated federal law by denying a reasonable accommodation to the employee, who was hired in July 2009 and was fired after three days of training.

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