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Thu, Feb 27, 2003 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ SoftwareMicrosoft eyes India

A Microsoft Corp executive said that moving some software development work to India would help the company save money and accomplish more, according to a presentation obtained by a Washington state union. Moving some work to India could "leverage the Indian economy's lower cost structure," according to slides from a July presentation by Senior Vice President Brian Valentine of the Windows operating system group. The slides were posted on the Web site of the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers. Microsoft spokeswoman Stacy Drake confirmed their authenticity. Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft, which is investing US$400 million in India over three years, plans to hire 5,000 workers by June 30 to add to the more than 50,000 it had at the start of its fiscal year in July.

■ Economics

Germany stagnates

Germany's economy stagnated in the fourth quarter as unemployment at a 4-and-a-half-year high sapped consumer confidence and the government cut spending. GDP was unchanged in the fourth quarter from the previous three months, the Federal Statistics Office said. Economists had expected a contraction of 0.1 percent. The economy expanded 0.5 percent from the year-ago period. Europe's largest economy, which last year grew at its slowest pace in almost a decade, has barely expanded since a recession in the second half of 2001. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's popularity is waning as companies from truck maker MAN AG to Deutsche Bank AG eliminate jobs. "The consumer will be a brake on the economy" this year, said David Kohl, an economist at Bank Julius Baer in Frankfurt.

■ Wireless

Qualcomm to reduce stake

Qualcomm Inc, whose patents are the basis for cellphones used by about 140 million people, said its investment in wireless operators will slow because a surge in users will only come at the end of next year. The San Diego-based company, which develops technology for the use of high-speed mobile data services such as downloading video on cellphones, said it hasn't decided how much it will spend on these investments this year. "The amount of money we invest in operators would decline over time, but we are opportunistic and there are always special opportunities that come along that we'd consider," Jeff Jacobs, Qualcomm's president of global development, said in an interview in Singapore.

■ Biotech

GM corn approved

A new corn genetically designed to resist rootworm can go onto the market, the Environmental Protection Agency announced. "This new variety of corn pest control holds great promise for reducing reliance on conventional insecticides now used on millions of acres of corn in the US" Stephen Johnson, an assistant administrator at the EPA, said Tuesday. Monsanto, a St. Louis biotech company, designed the corn variety so it would produce its own insecticide to fend off rootworm, a pest whose larvae feed off the plant's roots. The plant's pesticide is derived from a protein contained in a natural soil bacterium called Bt, or Bacillus thuringiensis. Farmers have had to depend on chemical insecticides and alternating soybean and corn crops every other year to control rootworm.

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