Group to build Bangkok rail
A Japanese consortium will build an urban transit system in Bangkok, as part of Japan’s drive to expand exports of railway infrastructure to the rest of Asia, a report said yesterday. East Japan Railway, trading house Marubeni and electronics giant Toshiba have landed the deal, at an estimated price of about ￥40 billion (US$405 million), the business daily Nikkei Shimbun reported. Under the deal, ordered by Bangkok Metro Public Co, the consortium will construct a new 23km rail line in the Thai capital, the daily said, adding the rail operation is set to start in 2016. The Japanese group will supply 63 train cars and build the power grid, signals and rail yards, as well as 16 stations for the project. It will also provide maintenance services under a 10-year contract and about 20 technicians with operational expertise will be stationed in Bangkok.
KT chairman resigns
The head of South Korea’s KT Corp — the country’s top fixed-line telephone operator and No. 2 mobile carrier — has offered to resign following a corruption probe, a report said yesterday. Chairman Lee Suk-chae has told his board of directors that he would step down, Yonhap news agency reported. On Friday, state prosecutors raided the offices of KT and the homes of its executives. The probe focuses on breach of trust charges filed against Lee, alleging the existence of a slush fund and poor investments that cost the firm hundreds of millions of dollars. Lee, a confidant of former South Korean president Lee Myung-bak, has denied the allegations. KT’s third-quarter net profit plunged 63 percent from a year earlier to 136 billion won (US$128 million).
China to finance projects
A report by a local media Web site says China has agreed to finance US$20 billion in development projects in the country using oil money not transferred to the Islamic Republic because of international sanctions. The tasnimnews Web site published a report on Saturday quoting prominent lawmaker Hasan Sobhaninia saying the deal was reached during talks between Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani and Chinese leaders. Larijani visited China this week and Sobhaninia accompanied the speaker. Government spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nowbakht said last week that about US$22 billion dollars of the country’s oil money is stuck in China because of sanctions. The US and its allies have imposed oil and banking sanctions against the country over its disputed nuclear program. It frequently uses barter arrangements because of the sanctions. China is its top crude oil importer.
OfficeMax purchase approved
Office Depot Inc’s purchase of OfficeMax Inc won approval from US antitrust regulators, clearing the way for the office-supply companies to create a single retailer to compete with Staples Inc. The US Federal Trade Commission voted to close its seven- month investigation into the merger, saying online retailing ensured competition in the retail market for office supplies, a statement yesterday said. The agency said the market has changed significantly since 1997, when it derailed Staples’s acquisition of Office Depot as anti-competitive. Consumers today rely on retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc, in addition to Internet shopping for office products, the commission said. Office Depot and OfficeMax, the second and third-largest office-supply chains in the US, agreed in February to combine in a US$1.17 billion deal after losing sales to online rivals and to Staples.