Wed, Nov 19, 2014 - Page 15 News List

World Business Quick Take



Sony sees film unit growth

Sony Corp said that new Spider-Man movies and more content based on PlayStation video games are aimed at helping drive revenue growth of as much as 36 percent at its pictures unit over the next three years. Sales are expected to rise to between US$10 billion and US$11 billion in the 12 months ending March 2018, compared with US$8.1 billion now, the company said in a statement yesterday. Sony plans to focus on “tent-pole” movies and TV programs to increase operating margin to as much as 8 percent from 6.6 percent. CEO Kazuo Hirai made a case yesterday to investors for growth in the entertainment business, more than a year after rejecting Daniel Loeb’s push to spin off part of the unit. Hirai is looking for ways to link the popularity of content like the Uncharted game franchise and Breaking Bad TV series to demand for Sony smartphones and televisions.


Fuel cell cars to go on sale

Toyota Motor Corp will introduce its first mass-market fuel cell car next month, hoping to replicate the success of its Prius hybrid with a vehicle that runs on hydrogen instead of gasoline. The four-seater sedan, named Mirai, the Japanese word for “future,” will first go on sale in four cities in Japan on Dec. 15. Sales in the US and Europe will follow in the fourth quarter of next year, the world’s biggest automaker said, unveiling the car simultaneously in California and Tokyo. The ultimate “green car,” fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) run on electricity made by mixing hydrogen fuel and oxygen in the air — a technology first used in the Apollo moon project in the 1960s. Its only byproduct is heat and water — water so pure the Apollo astronauts drank it. Mirai will cost ¥6.7 million (US$57,460) before taxes in Japan, which yesterday announced a subsidy of ¥2.02 million on FCV purchases.


Snapcash takes off

Smartphone app Snapchat on Monday began letting users in the US send money to friends by simply typing dollar amounts into new “Snapcash” messages. The new feature came from a first collaboration between Snapchat and Square, a mobile payments company headed by Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey. “The product you’re seeing today is fast, fun, and incredibly simple,” Snapchat, which has been eagerly looking to boost revenue, said in a blog post. Those opting to use the new feature must store their debit card numbers at Square to carry out the transfers and users must be 18 years of age or older. However, about half of Snapchat users are reported to be 17 or younger. Financial terms of the alliance between Snapchat and Square were not disclosed.


Actavis commits to R&D

Actavis, which is buying Botox-maker Allergan for US$66 billion in one of the biggest acquisitions announced so far this year, plans to stay committed to developing new products. CEO Brent Saunders said on Monday that the combined company would have more than two dozen products in late-stage clinical testing, which is usually the last and most expensive development phase, and it will work to support research. “It is the lifeblood of our company,” he told analysts. Actavis and the company it outbid for Allergan, Valeant Pharmaceuticals, have both grown rapidly in recent years through multibillion-dollar acquisitions of other drugmakers. However, experts say developing new products internally is still the preferred method for revenue growth if enough of that research is successful.

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