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Sat, Nov 06, 2004 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Tourism

Visitors flock to Hong Kong

Hong Kong has seen a record 15.75 million visitors in the first nine months of the year, more than for the whole of last year, tourism officials said yesterday. The former British colony has seen a surge of 52 percent year-on-year in visitor arrivals and is on course to book more than 20 million visitors for this year. The sharp rise is aided by the easing of restrictions on visitors from China coming to the territory. Visitors from China now account for more than half of tourist arrivals in Hong Kong, with 8.9 million crossing the border from January through September.

■ Computers

Lenovo bids for IBM plant

Lenovo Group Ltd (聯想) is in talks to buy IBM China Co Ltd's notebook and server factory in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, the Beijing Morning Post said, citing unidentified people close to both companies. The companies could agree on the transaction as early as the end of this year, the report said. At issue is the selling price, which the paper reported is about US$90 million. Beijing-based Lenovo hopes to strengthen its notebook sales by acquiring IBM technology through the acquisition, the report said. A decision will be made no later than March, the paper said. Officials of Lenovo, China's biggest maker of personal computers, didn't answer phone calls seeking comment. IBM officials were also not immediately available for comment.

■ Economics

Japan data show contraction

Japan's index of leading economic indicators fell below the boom-or-bust line in September for the first time in 18 months, the government said yesterday, suggesting the world's second-largest economy may be slowing. The leading index stood at 30 in September, below the key 50 level and down from 72.2 in August, the Cabinet Office said. A level above 50 indicates economic expansion over the next three to six months while a reading below 50 suggests contraction. Of the leading indices, industrial output inventories, the Tokyo Stock Exchange index and the outlook for small firms remained weak while final demand inventories, new job offers and durable goods shipments were negative. The coincident index, which measures the current state of the economy, stood at 22.2 in September, below 50 for the second consecutive month. Indices for industrial output and large-lot electricity use remained negative while commercial sales turned weaker in September.

■ Telecoms

Verizon to buy air licenses

Verizon Communications Inc, the largest US telephone company, agreed to pay US$3 billion for airwave licenses from NextWave Telecom Inc so its mobile-phone division can send more calls in 23 cities, including New York. Verizon Wireless, the No. 2 US mobile-phone operator, will acquire the assets as NextWave exits Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The move will help Verizon Wireless expand in an area that covers 73 million people, the Bedminster, New Jersey-based company said in a statement. NextWave's licenses will help Verizon Wireless offer a wider range of mobile-phone services, including video and Internet access, after adding a record number of subscribers in the third quarter. Chief Executive Dennis Strigl is upgrading his network and bolstering call capacity to win back the No. 1 spot in the US$90 billion US cellphone market from Cingular Wireless LLC.

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