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Wed, Sep 01, 2004 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take


■ APEC meetingOil and China top agenda

The rising cost of crude oil and the recent surge in the Chinese economy will be among the major topics at at the upcoming meeting of finance ministers from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Chile, Japan's Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki said yesterday. "I believe APEC ministers have interests in how high oil prices would affect the regional economy," Tanigaki told at a Tokyo press conference. The Japanese finance minister had said earlier that the Japanese economy will not be affected by the surges of oil prices as much as Asia's developing countries whose economies may be weakened by the rise. According to a projection by the Asian Development Bank, if crude oil prices stayed at US$40 a barrel throughout 2004, it would bring down gross domestic product for Asia's developing countries by an average 0.6 points.

■ CEO compensation

Outsourcing lifts pay

Chief executives of US companies that outsourced the greatest number of jobs reaped bigger pay and benefits last year, according to a new study of executive compensation being released yesterday. Average CEO compensation at the 50 companies outsourcing the most service jobs rose by 46 percent in 2003 from a year earlier, compared with a 9 percent increase for CEOs at 365 big companies overall, the study by the left-leaning Institute for Policy Studies and United for a Fair Economy found. The two groups' annual "Executive Excess" report said average CEO pay at the "top 50" outsourcing companies was US$10.4 million last year, compared with US$8.1 million for the 365 companies.

■ LCD displays

Matsushita joins with rivals

Japanese high-tech giant Matsushita Electric Industrial said yesterday it has agreed with rivals Hitachi and Toshiba to jointly produce large liquid crystal display (LCD) panels for fast-selling flat-screen televisions. "We have agreed [with Hitachi and Toshiba] on that and will announce it later today," said Mitsuru Ishii, a spokeswoman for Matsushita. She declined to confirm details reported by the business daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun. Under the agreement, the three firms would jointly build a plant at the site of an Hitachi LCD subsidiary in Chiba, east of Tokyo, with operations scheduled to start in 2006, the business daily said yesterday. Of total investment estimated at ¥100 billion (US$920 million), Hitachi is expected to put up around 50 percent, with the rest to be divided between Matsushita and Toshiba, the daily said.

■ Investigation

Sharp a suspect in bid scam

Japan's Fair Trade Commission (FTC), yesterday raided the Tokyo office of major consumer electronics maker Sharp and about 10 other firms in a probe into alleged bid-rigging, an FTC official said. Sharp and the other firms are suspected of conspiring in bids for highway electronic information board orders from the government and public corporation Japan Highway Public Corp. "The companies allegedly fixed the winners of bidding [among themselves] beforehand. We will investigate how long it has been going on," the official from the FTC, an anti-monopoly watchdog, said. The electronic boards display traffic and weather information.

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