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Fri, Aug 22, 2003 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Electronic
Sanyo to invest in China

Japanese electronics maker Sanyo Electric has signed a deal in China to invest US$300 million in new production facilities, state press reported Thursday. Sanyo will sink US$120 million into the initial phase of investment in the eastern city of Suzhou's high-tech zone, the Oriental Morning Post said. The 60,000m2 production base will serve as a multi-purpose center for research and development, production, processing and sales of Sanyo's electronic sectors, the newspaper said. Sanyo Electric Co Ltd earned net profits of ¥3.6 billion (US$30.3 million) in the first quarter this year, up 1.3 percent from the same period last year. The company's domestic sales rose 9.1 percent to ¥296 billion, while overseas sales jumped 22.5 percent to ¥289.5 billion.

■ Beverages

Soda is safe, India says

Government tests show that soft drinks produced by Coca-Cola and PepsiCo operators in India are safe to drink, countering claims by an environmental group that they contained dangerous levels of pesticide residue, the health minister said yesterday. Sushma Swaraj told Parliament samples of the drinks had residue levels that fell "well within" Indian safety limits for bottled water, although they did not meet EU standards as had been claimed by the two companies. There are no standards for soft drinks in India, so the standard for bottled water was used by the government's food testing laboratory in the southern Indian city of Mysore. The results cut across charges of high residue levels reported by the privately run Center for Science and Environmental on Aug. 5.

■ Real estate

CBRE releases office survey

Occupancy costs for prime office space in Asian cities are the lowest in Manila, Jakarta and Bangkok, a study showed yesterday. Among 14 cities covered by the CB Richard Ellis (CBRE) findings, Grade A office space was US$0.84 per square foot at the end of June in the capital of the Philippines. Next was US$1.01 in Jakarta and US$1.02 in Bangkok. Occupancy cost is rent inclusive of service charges and taxes. Costliest by far was Tokyo, at US$9.51 while Mumbai emerged second at US$3.23, Hong Kong at US$2.99 and Seoul at US$2.72. With occupancy costs sliding since 2001, Singapore came out fifth at US$2.56, a 10 percent decline from the previous quarter. It is still more expensive than New Delhi, at US$2.32, Shanghai, US$2.25, Beijing, US$2.13 and Taipei, US$2.01, the study found.

■ Tobacco

RJ Reynolds cuts workers

RJ Reynolds Tobacco Holdings Inc, the second-biggest US cigarette maker, will eliminate an unspecified number of jobs to reduce costs as competition from discount brands hurts sales and profit. Employees were asked to consider severance packages to minimize firings, said Carole Crosslin, a spokeswoman for the Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based company. She declined to comment on how many of the company's 7,500 jobs will be cut. The company also plans to reduce benefits and limit overtime pay and end its practice of matching contributions by employees and retirees to arts and educational groups. Second-quarter profit at RJ Reynolds tumbled 67 percent and sales fell 16 percent and its shares have tumbled 23 percent this year.

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