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Wed, Nov 03, 2004 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ SemiconductorsChina equiment sales up

Applied Materials Inc, the world's biggest maker of chipmaking equipment, forecast China sales will more reach almost US$1 billion this year, driven by rising demand for semiconductors used in mobile phones and other electronics. China sales will account for 10 percent to 15 percent of revenue, up from 1 percent, or US$100 million, in 2000, Mike Splinter, chief executive of the Santa Clara, California-based company, said in an interview in Shanghai. The outlook for demand is "a bit unclear, with inventory having worked down throughout the industry," Splinter said. Chipmakers "are very aware of their inventory levels, and they are really managing that tightly. It's good for the industry." Splinter's prediction for China sales is in line with the US$1 billion he forecast in May.

■ Tourism

Bangkok tops Web bookings

Bangkok remains the top destination for Asia-Pacific travelers who book flights and hotel rooms online, followed by Hong Kong and Singapore, according to a survey released yesterday. The Indonesian resort island of Bali also kept its position as one of the top 10 destinations for the second consecutive quarter in the survey carried out by ZUJI, a leading online travel portal in the region. The Indonesian capital Jakarta was in fourth place, followed by Kuala Lumpur and London. Bali was the seventh most popular destination, trailed by Taipei, Los Angeles and Colombo, Sri Lanka, which rounded up the top 10 list.

■ Industry

`Lord Moneybags' dies

Former industrialist Lord Hanson, a one-time playboy who became one of the biggest figures in UK corporate history, has died in London from cancer, the BBC reported yesterday. He was 82. Hanson, once engaged to the actress Audrey Hepburn, built the industrial group Hanson Plc into one of the UK's most powerful companies after decades of deal-making on both sides of the Atlantic. Along with the late Lord White, Hanson built an industrial empire worth nearly ?11 billion (US$20.16 billion) that ranged from chemicals and tobacco to energy and building. He bought undervalued, unglamorous companies and then improved performance by ejecting managers and cutting costs. Critics saw him as a ruthless expansionist who symbolized uncaring big business in the 1980s. He was nicknamed "Lord Moneybags" by one tabloid newspaper.

■ Software

Oracle sweetens bid for foe

Oracle Corp sweetened its hostile bid for rival business software maker PeopleSoft Inc to US$9.2 billion on Monday, a 14 percent increase aimed at resolving the long-running takeover battle between the bitter foes. The new all-cash bid of US$24 per share raises the stakes from US$21 per share -- an offer that PeopleSoft rejected as inadequate in May. It marked the fourth time that Oracle has revised its bid since it began its attempt to buy PeopleSoft nearly 17 months ago. Oracle described its latest bid as its "best and final offer," determined to resolve a soap opera that has featured acerbic exchanges between both sides. The company also said it will abandon the takeover attempt if a majority of PeopleSoft's shareholders haven't accepted the new offer by a midnight Nov. 19 deadline.

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