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Wed, Jul 07, 2004 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take 

AGENCIES

■ Banking

Watchdog warns over strike

The 12-day-old strike at Citibank-owned KorAm bank could disrupt South Korea's financial market and should be resolved quickly, the Financial Supervisory Commission said yesterday. KorAm's 2,500 unionized workers began the strike June 25, demanding wage hikes and job guarantees in the wake of a takeover by US-based Citigroup earlier this year. "If the ongoing labor-management negotiations are not resolved smoothly and such situation continues, the related government authorities will not be able to continue to neglect the issue because losses at the bank as well as possible confusion in the financial market can be foreseen," the commission said in a statement. Since the strike, customers have withdrawn more than 2 trillion won (US$1.7 billion) from the bank, and only 56 of its 223 branches have been operating normally.

■ Software

Microsoft inks China deal

Microsoft Corp has agreed to establish a global stra-tegic tie-up with Digital China Holdings, the domes-tic information technology (IT) distributor and soft-ware company said yester-day. Digital China said the companies had signed a memorandum of under-standing to work together in various fields, including software technician train-ing, research and develop-ment, and the design of industry solutions products. The two companies will jointly research and develop software applications to a number of sectors in China, involving customs, telecoms and taxation system proces-ses. Digital China used to be the exclusive distributor for Toshiba, but in April the Japanese IT firm signed up ECS Technology (China) Ltd and Highly Information Industry Co Ltd as new general sales agents for its laptops.

■ Employment

German jobless decline

The number of people looking for work in Ger-many, the biggest euro-zone economy, fell for the first time this year in seasonally adjusted terms, official data showed yesterday. Never-theless, the decline was minimal, with Germany's economic recovery not sufficiently strong to lead to any real job creation, the statistics showed. The seasonally adjusted jobless total fell by 1,000 to 4.369 million, or 10.5 percent of the workforce, the Bundes-bank calculated. It was the first time this year that the seasonally adjusted total has declined and beat analysts' expectations for a rise of around 10,000 dole claimants. In unadjusted terms, the German jobless total fell by around 60,000 to 4.233 million -- or 10.2 percent of the workforce -- last month, separate data published by the Federal Labor Agency in Nuremberg showed.

■ Singapore

BP selling retail business

Singapore Petroleum Co said yesterday that it will buy British Petroleum's (BP) retail marketing business in the city-state and has conditionally agreed to buy BP's stake in a liquified petroleum gas venture, in a deal worth about US$70 million. The deal would boost Singapore Petroleum's network of service stations in Singa-pore from 10 to 40. Both deals are expected to be completed by the end of this year, the company said in a statement to the Singapore Exchange. Earlier this year, Singapore Petroleum and ChevronTexaco bought out BP's one-third stake in Sing-apore Refining Co, raising their stakes from one-third each to 50 percent.

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