BA weighs bid for Virgin
British Airways is weighing a bid for Virgin Atlantic Airways, in an attempt to foil a proposed merger between Virgin and BMI British Midland, the Financial Times reported yesterday. Top managers from British Airways were to meet in emergency session Monday, in what is seen as a bid to put the brakes on BA's two largest rivals at Heathrow going in together. A BA spokesman said Sunday the heavy-weight airline was not ruling out any option following confirmation last week that Richard Branson's Virgin and BMI had held talks on merging. Those talks have been scaled back and the two -- both privately held carriers -- are discussing ways to better cooperate.
Mitsubishi reports profits
Japan's Mitsubishi Motors Corp said yesterday its group net profit rose 231.9 percent to a record ?37.4 billion (US$322 million) in the fiscal year ended March. Mitsubishi, owned by DaimlerChrysler AG, attributed the record profit to cost-cutting efforts and favorable exchange rates. Material costs were lowered by 15 percent in the fiscal year from the previous year, according to Mitsubishi. The Japanese auto maker also said its group net profit jumped 358.1 percent to ?54.3 billion, while sales rose 21.4 percent to ?3.9 trillion. Mitsubishi said passenger car sales overseas topped 1.2 million units for the first time in the company's history.
■ Free trade
Bangladeshis get new cars
Despite economic woes, Bangladeshis may soon be able to enjoy the luxury of owning new cars as importers hold their first auto show this week. In the past, Bangladeshis have mostly imported cheaper reconditioned cars, particularly from Japan, rather than buying new vehicles from abroad. But, citing environmental concerns, the government last year banned the import of reconditioned vehicles. Under pressure from the industry it has allowed the trade to continue for another three years, but taxes on reconditioned cars have increased, while import taxes on new cars have been reduced to make them more affordable. The Bangladesh Automobile Distributors Association will be showcasing more than 20 brands, including luxury ones such as Mercedes Benz, in this cash-strapped country's first ever motor show which begins tomorrow.
Honda returns to China
Honda Motor Co said on yesterday the company lifted a business trip ban to its Chinese production foothold in Guangdong Province, hit hard by SARS. The move came as the World Health Organization (WHO) last Friday lifted its travel warning to the SARS-hit region. Honda will send about 50 employees to its joint venture in Guangzhou city from June 1 for the start of production of its Fit Saloon subcompact sedan, a Honda spokesman said. "But we will carefully watch the development of SARS," said the Honda spokesman. Honda initially planned to start producing the Fit Saloon in China in July for sale in August. It now expects a delay of one and a half months in the start of production and sales. But the effects of the delay will be offset by an increase in production of the Accord model at the same plant, the Honda official said.