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Fri, Jul 16, 2004 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Telecoms

New alliance formed

Six telecommunications giants in Europe, Asia, South and North America on Wednesday formed an alliance to encourage the seamless integration of mobile and fixed-line tele-phone services. Switzer-land's leading telecoms operator, Swisscom, said it would join Brasil Telecom, British Telecom, Korea Telecom, Japan's NTT Communications and Rogers Wireless of Canada in the Fixed-Mobile Con-vergence Alliance (FMCA). British Telecom will head the alliance in the first year, Swisscom said in a state-ment. Fifteen other opera-tors have also approached the group, it added. The six companies, which account for 122 million land-line and 23 million mobile-telephone customers together, want

to develop a common approach to allow the seamless use of the two forms of telecommuni-cations in the future. The FMCA launched an invita-tion to major equipment manufacturers to join the venture as associates to ensure that future tech-nology is aimed at bridging the gap between the distinct mobile and fixed services.

■ China

Theme park work halted

Shanghai authorities have suspended work on a Universal Studios theme park, a city official said yesterday. The city post-poned work after inspectors team sent by Beijing reviewed local development plans, said the official, an executive in the city's Metropolitan Transporta-tion Policy Office. Work on an underwater tunnel that would have connected the city with Chongming Island in the Yangtze River and plans to build new subway lines were also postponed, the official said. Universal executives earlier acknowl-edged delays in the project and announced they had laid off two dozen people hired to work on the theme park. They blamed admin-istrative problems. It was unclear when work on the theme park and other projects might resume. The park was due to open in 2006.

■ Automobiles

Honda targets young people

Honda Motor Co will start selling a lower-priced car targeting young people in North American starting in 2006, a market that the Japanese automaker sees as key to continued growth, chief executive Takeo Fukui said yesterday. The "entry-level car" will be priced lower than the Civic com-pact, which starts at about US$13,000, to respond

to growing demand for cheaper models, Fukui said. "The North American market remains crucial for Honda," Fukui said. He said Honda will continue to introduce other models in the US. Honda will also strengthen its offerings with good mileage as it expects the need for fuel-efficient models to grow with the recent surge in gas prices

in North America. Such models include the Accord hybrid planned for this fall, the company said.

■ Retail

Green drops M and S bid

British tycoon Philip Green announced on Wednesday that he has abandoned his ?9 billion pound (US$16 billion) bid to buy the retail giant Marks and Spencer.

He said in a statement that despite "continuing sup-port" from the largest shareholder, Revival Acqui-sitions "will not gain the cooperation of the board of M and S to provide it access to the information neces-sary for Revival to make its offer ... by August 6." Green launched the Revival Acquisitions company in order to buy Marks and Spencer.

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