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Sat, Mar 20, 2004 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Game Consoles

Sony sticks to its guns

Sony Corp said it was closely watching trends in the market for game machines and has no plans to cut the price of its PlayStation 2 console, following a report that Microsoft Corp will reduce the price of its XBox game unit. "We have our own marketing strategy," said Yoshiko Furusawa, an investor relations official at Sony Computer Entertainment. "We don't do something just because Microsoft cut its prices." Microsoft plans to reduce the price of its XBox game console by 17 percent to US$149 to compete with Sony, according to an earlier report from the Nihon Keizai newspaper. Microsoft declined to comment on the report.

■ Semiconductors

Fujitsu to build new plant

Fujitsu said yesterday it would build a US$1.5 billion quake-proof plant in Japan to produce cutting-edge chips for cellphones, DVD recorders and other hi-tech gadgets. The company said it plans to begin constructing the plant at its Mie semiconductor complex in western Japan for a total investment of ?160 billion (US$1.5 billion) in the next three years. The factory would use large diameter 300mm wafers to mass-produce advanced chips with 90 nanometer-wide circuits initially and eventually produce with the next-generation 65-nanometer circuitry, Fujitsu said. The plant will also be the world's first semiconductor factory equipped with micro-vibration control and resistance to earthquakes.

■ Drinks

NGO targets brewery

A non-governmental organization (NGO) has accused Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) of exploiting Cambodian women to sell its products there, a newspaper reported yesterday. Headquartered in Singapore, APB-owned Cambodia Breweries distributes Tiger Beer, Anchor, ABC Stout and Heineken beer. Heineken, a Dutch beer-maker, owns 34 percent of APB. A similar charge has been levelled against several other breweries, including American company Anheuser-Busch, which makes Budweiser, and Danish beer-maker Carlsberg, The Straits Times said. The study by the NGO, Siem Reap Citizens for Health, Education and Social Issues, claims the women are paid a pittance and have to turn to prostitution to make ends meet and to lure customers so they can fulfil their sales quotas.

■ Gas

China signs Iran deal

A Chinese company has signed a preliminary agreement with Iran to buy US$20 billion worth of liquefied natural gas over 25 years in one of the biggest deals of its kind, a newspaper reported yesterday. The deal adds to massive Chinese efforts in recent years to secure new energy supplies both at home and abroad to feed its surging economy. The agreement with Iran calls for Zhuhai Zhenrong Corp to buy 2.5 million tonnes of natural gas annually from Iran beginning in 2008, The Asian Wall Street Journal said. It comes two years after China signed deals worth a total of US$21.5 billion to buy gas from Australia and Indonesia. A Chinese-led consortium also is building a 3,900km pipeline to carry gas from the remote northwestern Xinjiang region to Shanghai, the country's commercial capital.

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