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Wed, Nov 12, 2003 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ TechnologyChina's TV becomes digital

China will switch its cable television broadcasting to digital technology by 2010 and phase out analog broadcasts altogether by 2015, an official report said yesterday. Already, 25 Chinese cities are operating digital-cable TV on a trial basis, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said, citing an unnamed official at the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television. Most of China will shift from analog to digital broadcasting by 2008, the official said. The report did not say which cities were expected to make the transition first, although Beijing is operating three digital cable channels on a trial basis. China began promoting digital technology this year, apparently eager to goad its own television makers into adopting the newer technology as they join the ranks of top world producers.

■ Investment

Asia wants US securities

Fannie Mae, one of the largest US debt issuers, said yesterday the Asian appetite for its securities is growing, even as the US dollar's depreciation and a potential rise in interest rates next year threaten to limit returns for investors. "We've seen a tremendous growth in Asian demand for our long-term securities from commercial banks, insurance companies and fund managers," Franklin Raines, chairman and chief executive officer of Fannie Mae, said in Hong Kong as part of an annual roadshow in the region. Raines said Asian investors now account for the largest share, or 16.50 percent, of Fannie Mae's long-term benchmark securities issues. Raines said the US dollar's fall is unlikely to adversely affect regional demand for Fannie Mae's debt securities as Asian institutions are flush with dollar reserves.

■ Internet

Celebrities plug Amazon

Amazon.com Inc, the world's biggest online retailer, is using celebrities to promote holiday sales without paying for their services, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing company executives. Amazon is using a corner of its home page to display a list of famous people, including Bruce Springsteen, this month and next, each of whom provides it with an exclusive song, video or other item that can be viewed free of charge, the Journal said. The promotion costs Amazon nothing while giving well-known figures an opportunity to promote their own works, the Journal said. Amazon's ability to line up so many well-known names without paying for them illustrates its increasing ability to sell videos, music and books, the paper said.

■ Telecoms

China to restructure firms

China yesterday announced plans to restructure China Telecom and China Unicom by transferring US$4.3 billion of state-owned assets into foreign-listed companies. China Telecom, the largest state-owned phone company, will inject assets of six of its provincial affiliates into new companies by the end of the year, the Xinhua news agency reported. The transfer of China Telecom's net assets worth 33.2 billion yuan (US$4 billion) would go into a new state-owned enterprise with a further handover to a newly listed company, an official said. China Unicom, the listed unit of China's second-biggest cellular communications provider, will place the assets of nine provincial firms worth some 2 billion yuan into a state-owned corporation.

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