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Thu, Jul 29, 2004 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Telecom

IPO for China Netcom

State-run China Netcom, the country's second-largest fixed-line telephone operator, has applied to list its shares in New York and Hong Kong in an initial public offering expected to raise US$1.5 billion, state media reported yesterday. The company, formally named China Network Communications Group Corp, filed applications with the US Securities and Exchange Commission and with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange last week, reports said. Citing unnamed sources, the reports said the initial public offering was expected to take place in September. China Netcom plans to list shares in its networks in six provinces and cities in northern China and its operations in Shanghai and Guangdong, the report said.

■ Jobs

Porn offers not wanted

Hong Kong's high unemployment has many people scrounging for work, but job fair officials have drawn the line at an advertisement aimed at recruiting "passionate" porn stars. The two-day job fair had been open for just 90 minutes on Tuesday when embarrassed organizers took down the ad for pornographic filmmaker Sun Power Production Co, according to two newspapers. Sun Power manager Tommy Wong was quoted as telling the South China Morning Post that he hoped to help the territory compete better in the adult film industry. "I don't understand why the organizers are so sensitive," Wong was quoted as saying. "We do not violate the law. People should not view us with bias. None of our ads are deceptive. I even mentioned that the actors have to be nude."

■ Scandals

Ahold unit faces charges

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday charged four ex-US Foodservice executives with accounting fraud for allegedly scheming to overstate the income of its parent company, the Dutch group Ahold. In a complaint filed in US District Court in New York, the commission claims the men participated in a scheme to overstate Ahold's income by US$700 million or more in fiscal years 2001 and 2002. The complaint says the four grossly inflated reported profits and induced suppliers to submit false data. One man was also charged with insider trading in securities of US Foodservice before its acquisition by Ahold and with making false statements to a government official.

■ Banking

BNP buys RSB share

French bank BNP Paribas said on Tuesday it had agreed to acquire a stake of just below 50 percent in Russian Standard Bank (RSB), the leading consumer credit bank in Russia, through its Russian unit Cetelem. An industry source said the deal values RSB at "about US$600 million." BNP Paribas said Cetelem will acquire 50 percent in the holding company which owns 93.5 percent of RSB. The World Bank's private finance arm International Finance Corp owns a further 6.42 percent in the bank. The acquisition will be earnings accretive from "year one," the company said. BNP said "it is expected that Cetelem's stake could rise subsequently depending on the future development of the bank." Further tie-ups between the banks will be pursued, in what BNP called "one of the European markets with the highest consumer growth potential." It added that the acquisition was expected to close by the end of the year.

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