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Tue, Jul 27, 2004 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Telecom

AT&T faces takeover

AT&T Corp, the company that brought telephone service to US homes a century ago, will probably be the target of a takeover bid, Newsweek magazine reported, citing unidentified sources. Several former AT&T executives are working with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Co (KKR), the world's biggest buyout firm, which in the past year approached AT&T about purchasing the company, Newsweek said. At least one other private-equity firm offered to buy Bedminster, New Jersey-based AT&T in the past year, the magazine said. AT&T and KKR declined to comment, Newsweek said. AT&T last week said it will stop advertising and marketing to attract local and long-distance customers, while still providing service to existing users.

■ Petroleum

IPO for PetroChina?

PetroChina, China's largest oil company, is planning

an ambitious US$3.6 billion to US$4.8 billion domestic listing to fund expansion plans overseas, the Financial Times reported yesterday. The amount is by up to four times the biggest initial public offering so far in China and comes as the country's ailing stock markets are sapped of liquidity, the newspaper said, quoting unnamed officials close to the company. However, its success will turn on the market's ability to absorb the listing depending on its pricing, especially in relation to the valuation of PetroChina's listed company in Hong Kong, the news-paper said. The application has not yet been approved and neither has the timing nor the size of the offering. "The application is in but nobody really knows when or if it will be approved by the regulators. There is really no timetable," the newspaper quoted one official as saying.

■ Banking

Abbey National accepts bid

Management of British mortgage bank Abbey National announced yes-terday that it had accepted a friendly takeover bid by the biggest Spanish bank, Santander Central Hispano, in a deal creating one of the biggest banks in Europe. "Further to its announce-ment on Friday ... Abbey National plc confirms that it has reached agreement with Banco Santander on the terms of a recommended cash and shares offer to be made for the whole of its ordinary share capital," the British bank said in a statement to the London Stock Exchange. Abbey said a full announcement of the terms and conditions of the offer would be made later yesterday. British press reports have put the deal at ?8.5 billion (US$15.6 billion). A deal between the two institutions would create the fourth-biggest bank in Europe by market capi-talization, behind HSBC, the Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS, the largest in the eurozone and the eighth-biggest worldwide.

■ Telecom

Asian IC standard in sight

Telecommunications ministers from China, South Korea and Japan agreed yesterday to work toward an "Asian standard" on IC tags -- tiny computer chips with antennas which can be used to track products by radio. IC tags can store

data that can be used

for inventory, product distribution and tracking other movements of items. The three countries have been meeting regularly in recent years to try to agree on a single standard for Internet and other telecommunications technologies.

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