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Mon, Jul 26, 2004 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Banking

Global Trust's assets frozen

Global Trust Bank, a private bank in India with 882,000 depositors, has been ordered to freeze all withdrawals for a period of three months by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), reports said yesterday. The RBI order led to panic as depositors all over India rushed to ATMs and branches of the bank last Saturday only to find a closed notice pasted on the front gates, the newspapers said. At some branches angry depositors ransacked bank offices, damaging computers and furniture, while at others staff was heckled, the Hindustan Times said. During the three month freeze, depositors are allowed to withdraw only10,000 rupees (US$217) from the Hyderabad-based bank.

■ Trade

Australia, Malaysia in talks

Australia and Malaysia will examine the possibility of a free trade agreement today at a meeting of senior government officials, Trade Minister Mark Vaile's office said. Vaile will meet his Malaysian counterpart Rafidah Aziz in Melbourne Monday at the 11th meeting of the Australia-Malaysia joint trade committee. A spokesman for Vaile said Malaysian officials had floated the possibility of a free trade deal over the past 18 months and the Melbourne meeting was an opportunity to assess whether to begin formal negotiations. Australia has signed free trade agreements with Singapore and Thailand in the past 18 months and Vaile's office said Canberra had shown it was serious about its trade relations with Southeast Asia.

■ Airlines

SAS may beat Boeing

European aerospace giant Airbus SAS is "marginally ahead" of US rival Boeing Co in a battle to win a US$5 billion aircraft order from Virgin Atlantic Airways, a British newspaper reported yesterday. "We are on the verge of putting in a very big order," The Sunday Telegraph quoted Virgin Atlantic Chairman Richard Branson as saying. "Things will come to a head in the next seven to 14 days. Airbus is marginally ahead. That is a US$5 billion order." The Virgin order, which centres around potentially 30 more A340s or Boeing 777s, has been the subject of a bitter battle between Airbus and Boeing, the world's top two commercial jet makers. Virgin and Airbus have a long-standing alliance which Boeing has attempted to break-up by trying to persuade Virgin to buy its 777 twin-jets rather than the Airbus A340.

■ Indicators

Japan has recovered: poll

Japan's top 100 companies say the economy has recovered or has entered a recovery phase, citing a rise in earnings and capital spending, according to a poll published yesterday. The survey by Japan's top-selling daily Yomiuri Shimbun found all of the big firms, including Sony and Toyota, were upbeat on a recovery in the world's second largest economy. In a previous poll in April, 95 percent of the same top firms responded positively to the economic recovery. In the July survey, 65 firms said their earnings were improving, with another 65 saying they were boosting capital spending. Thirty-one companies also said economic growth in Asia was supporting Japan's economic recovery. But 75 firms said they were concerned over a possible slump in the global economy and 39 said they were worried over stagnant domestic consumption.

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