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Mon, Jun 07, 2004 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take


■ Trade

S Korean firms move north

Within months, more than a dozen South Korean com-panies will set up shop in a long-delayed North Korean industrial park to take advantage of cheap labor there, Seoul's Trade Minister Hwang Doo-yun said on Saturday. Hwang said the Kaesong Industrial Complex project just north of the demilitarized zone Pyong-yangwas suddenly more viable due to an agreement struck on Saturday in economic talks in Pyong-yang to reopen railway and road connections severed 50 years ago. He said more than 600 companies have expressed interest in invest-ing in the North, which has begun to introduce market reforms in an effort to revive an economy shat-tered after a succession of natural disasters worsened by mismanagement.

■ China

Cellphone use booms

One in four Chinese people will have a mobile phone by the end of the year, as the world's most populous country consolidates its status as the largest cell market, state media said yesterday. By later this year, it is expected that 24.5 percent of the people, or about 320 million, will own a cellular phone, the Xinhua news agency reported, citing the Ministry of Information Industry. In the first four months of this year, China's mobile phone users rose by 27.1 million people to 295.8 million, Xinhua said. Cellphones account for about half of all operating revenue in China's telecom industry, with short message and wireless Internet services seen as important growth sectors, the agency said.

■ Banking

Japanese clean up loans

Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Heizo Takenaka said yesterday that the Japanese economy has entered a final stage of bad loan disposal. Several banks are still suffering sizable bad loans, "but overall situations have changed," Takenaka said in a TV interview. "Japan is now facing the last hurdle of bad loan disposal." Last month, three of the biggest banks, including Mizuho Financial Group, reported spectacular returns to profit in the year to March after they aggres-sively tackled the problem. But UFJ Holdings Inc, still under pressure, announced a net loss of ?402.8 billion (US$3.6 billion) in sharp contrast to a profit of ?78 billion yen it projected in April. Takenaka said UFJ could even speed up bad loan disposal by asking for the cooperation of the Industrial Revitalization Corp of Japan, a govern-ment body designed to help troubled companies.

■ Gambling

MGM Mirage bids for rival

The casino group MGM Mirage has made a US$4.85 billion offer to acquire rival Mandalay Resort Group in a bid to create the US' biggest gambling empire. Mandalay said in a statement it would review MGM Mirage's offer, which was announced late on Friday. MGM Mirage offered to buy its rival for US$68 per share in a US$4.85 billion cash trans-action and assume a US$2.8 billion debt, bringing the total offer to around US$7.65 billion. MGM Mirage already owns the MGM Grand, Bellagio, Treasure Island and New York-New York hotels. If the offer is accepted, MGM Mirage would add to its roster the luxurious Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, giving the group three of the biggest hotels in Nevada gambling mecca. Mandalay Resort also owns the pyramid-shaped Luxor hotel and the medieval-themed Excalibur Hotel and Casino.

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