■ Internet MusicTesco to offer downloads
Tesco Plc, the UK's biggest retailer, will compete with Apple Computer Inc's iTunes and Napster Inc by offering digital music downloads on its Web site, the London-based Times reported, without saying where it got the information. Tesco's music service will be supported by Woolworths Group Plc's Entertainment UK music wholesale unit, which supplies the retailer with CDs and DVDs, the newspaper said. Tesco's Web site's download service will run on Microsoft Corp's Windows Media Audio format, preventing owners of Apple's iPod digital music player from being able to make use of tracks on it, the Times said. Tesco will offer over 500,000 music tracks at a charge of &$163;0.79 (US$1.46) for a single track, the newspaper said.
Infosys to convert shares
India's second largest software exporter, Infosys Technologies Ltd, plans to increase the availability of its shares on New York's Nasdaq stock exchange by draining the Indian stock markets of 16 million shares, or nearly 6 percent, of its stock. The company said yesterday it will let its Indian shareholders sell their stock to US investors, convert such shares into a form tradable on Nasdaq and cancel their listing on India's stock exchanges. "All equity shareholders in India ... would be eligible to tender their equity shares in the offering," the company said in a notice to the Bombay Stock Exchange. Infosys said it will seek the approval of its shareholders for the conversion on Dec. 18. The price and timing of the sale is to be determined later. Infosys, which employs 33,000 people, expects revenues in the year ending in March to exceed US$1.55 billion. The company derives about 65 percent of its revenues from the US.
GE sells stake
US manufacturing and energy giant General Electric Co will sell 60 percent of its global outsourcing business for US$500 million to two US investment companies, GE officials announced yesterday. Pramod Bhasin, chief executive officer of GE Capital International Services, said in a statement that the stakes would be sold to equity investors, General Atlantic Partners and Oak Hill Capital Partners, in a deal reached over the weekend. "This transaction allows us to offer our quality business process services to an expanding roster of leading companies worldwide," Bhasin said. Until now, 95 percent of the back-office business in GE Capital International Services was from General Electric.
■ Auto industry
Honda invests in China
Japanese automaker Honda said yesterday it would spend US$340 million to quadruple capacity at its joint plant with Dongfeng Motor in Wuhan, China, to 120,000 units by 2006. The company said construction will begin this year to triple the size of plant buildings and improve on its current annual capacity of 30,000 units. "Looking at the long-term needs of the Chinese auto market, this was deemed to be a necessary investment," said Honda Motor Co spokesman Yuji Hatano. Dongfeng Honda Automobile (Wuhan) Co is a 50-50 joint venture between Honda and Dongfeng Motor Industry Investment Corp. The Wuhan plant will boost the number of workers to 2,800 from 930 by 2006 and will begin making the Civic sedan on top of its current output of the CR-V sport utility, Honda said.