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Sat, Dec 27, 2003 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ InternetSoftbank gets 3G license

Softbank Corp, Japan's second-largest high-speed Internet access provider, said it has a preliminary license to test so-called third-generation wireless communications technology. A license for Softbank to test TD-CDMA technology, one of the standards approved by the International Telecommunications Union for 3G mobile telephones, was granted by the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications, Hideo Azuma, a spokesman for Softbank, said. Softbank and eAccess Ltd, which provides networks for high-speed Internet access, last month applied separately for licenses to test high-speed wireless Internet access service based on the TD-CDMA technology, which can be used for voice connections and for e-mail and wireless Internet access.

■ Semiconductors

Company plans China plant

A Singapore parts manufacturer for Intel and Motorola says it plans to open a plant in China next year to meet rising demand for chipmaking gear. "Our customers are more positive," Chris Borch, president of Micro-Mechanics, said in an interview. "They've seen an increase in orders and some are beginning to order production equipment to handle the increased order level." Micro-Mechanics makes parts like the tiny needles that push freshly cut silicon chips out from wafer slabs, and the metal plates that hold chips in place while machines etch their circuitry. The global chip industry is estimated to reach US$200 billion next year -- driven by sales for chips used in everyday goods like mobile phones and TVs. The plant will be located in Suzhou near Shanghai and is expected to open in June.

■ Video games

Nintendo losing ground

Nintendo Co, the world's biggest maker of hand-held game players, may be falling behind rivals such as Sony Corp in development and sales of video games, according to a Washington Post report, citing industry analysts. Kyoto-based Nintendo, whose GameCube console appeals to younger buyers than those buying Sony's PlayStation 2 and Microsoft Corp's Xbox, last month reported its first loss since going public in 1962. Sony has sold a total of about 60 million PlayStation 2 machines worldwide so far, compared with about 10 million for both the GameCube and the Xbox, the report said. The gap in sales is fueling speculation among some analysts that Nintendo may eventually go the way of Sega Corp and focus on game design, according to the report.

■ Petroleum

Petrobras awards contract

A Singaporean-French consortium may get a second multimillion dollar contract to build an offshore oil production platform from Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras), a spokesman for the Brazilian energy firm said yesterday. The Petrobras spokesman told financial news agency AFX-Asia it was possible that the consortium involving FELS Setal, a unit of Singapore's Keppel Corp, and France's Technip may be given the second contract. "It is possible that the FELS Setal/Technip consortium is awarded both contracts," a Petrobras spokesman said in an e-mail response to an AFX-Asia query. The consortium was awarded the first contract this month to build the US$775 million P-52 platform after submitting the best bid. FELS Setal will have a 75 percent stake while Technip will have 25 percent.

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