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Thu, Dec 26, 2002 - Page 12 News List

World business quick take

Automobiles

US to get more `green' SUVs

General Motors Corp and Toyota will unveil plans to introduce hybrid-electric versions of some of their sport-utility vehicles and pick-up trucks at next month's Detroit auto show, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday. GM, the world's largest automaker, will announce plans to introduce hybrid systems as optional equipment across much of its line-up between 2004 and the end of the decade, according to company sources quoted by the daily. Toyota is expected to say it will launch hybrid versions of its Lexus RX300 luxury sport-utility vehicle and its Toyota Highlander before the middle of the decade. What's more, the Japanese powerhouse is considering developing hybrid versions of the Camry, one of America's best-selling family sedans, and the full-size Tundra pick-up truck, the Journal reported. Currently, American consumers who want to drive the more economical and environmentally-friendly hybrid electric vehicles have just two choices, both of them in the small car segment, Toyota's Prius and Honda's Insight.

High-speed Web

Sony may take stake in Usen

Sony Corp said its Internet unit may take a stake in Usen Corp's Use Communications, an owner and wholesaler of fiber-optic networks in Japan, bolstering its ability to offer high-speed Internet access. Details, including the timing and how much Sony Communication Network Corp may pay, will be decided by the end of February, said Hiroyuki Ueno, a Sony Communi-cation spokesman. Sony Communication will begin offering its customers Web access through Usen's fiber-optic network at that time. The move by Sony underscores efforts by the world's second-largest consumer-electronics maker to distinguish itself from rivals such as Korea's Samsung Electronics Co by offering products able to be linked to the Internet. Investors and analysts say it may take years for Sony's Internet investments to pay off.

Bank of japan

Private-sector chief wanted

The successor to the central bank governor, Masaru Hayami, should come from the private sector, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said. "It's desirable for the next Bank of Japan chief to be someone aggressive in fighting deflation," Koizumi said, speaking in a group interview with domestic media. "I want someone who knows what's happening in reality." Asked whether the Bank of Japan should adopt inflation targeting, Koizumi said the central bank should fight falling prices. "I think we, as the government, have done as much as we can on fiscal and tax policies. Given that, I think the BOJ's role in fighting deflation is quite big." He said the government and the central bank should cooperate in fighting deflation. Koizumi added that he had no plan to appoint Financial Services Minister Heizo Takenaka as the next BOJ governor.

Household produce

Lion to cut jobs by August

Lion Corp, Japan's fourth-largest maker of household products, said it will cut 120 jobs by Aug. 29 as part of its plan to reduce fixed expenses. The Tokyo-based company will achieve the reductions by offering early retirement to employees between the ages of 45 and 58 in March, June and August 2003, Lion said in a release after the market closed. The company will spend Japanese Yen 2.2 billion (US$18.3 million) on the reduction process next year, Domoto said.

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