China bans Nike kung-fu ad
Nike has been forced to withdraw a TV ad in China showing basketball star LeBron James tackling kung-fu fighters after viewers said it was insulting, a news report said yesterday. The 90-second ad shows the US sportsman defeating a succession of animated Chinese kung-fu opponents, the South China Morning Post reported. The ad set off an outcry against Nike on Web sites in China and has now been banned by the government which ruled that it "blasphemes ethnic customs and habits," the newspaper said. China's State Administration of Radio and Television said commercials must "maintain the state dignity and interest and respect the country's traditional culture."
■ Mobile Phones
Nokia sets aside funds
Nokia Oyj, the world's biggest mobile-phone maker, set aside US$100 million for investments in more mature wireless technology companies which already have a commercially available product. The US$100 million fund will be invested in "mid- to late-stage" companies worldwide and will complement Nokia's existing investment activities, the company said in an e-mailed release yesterday. Nokia already has funds invested in "early-stage" technology firms.
■ Mobile Services
Virgin in talks with Chinese
British conglomerate Virgin Group Ltd announced yesterday it is in talks with a Chinese telecommunications company to set up a joint venture to provide mobile services in China. Virgin Chairman Richard Branson said in Hong Kong that his company has set aside US$300 million to invest in a 50-50 joint venture with a potential partner in China, who he declined to name. "We are in the early stages of discussion. I suspect the whole thing would take 12 to 18 months before we'll launch," Branson said.
ADB pares estimates
The Asian Development Bank trimmed its economic growth forecasts for next year for the region, citing higher oil prices that may hurt global demand and push up inflation. The revision was made because of the impact of higher oil prices, Jean-Pierre Verbiest, assistant chief economist at the bank, told reporters after a conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. Other factors include "some slowdown in China," he said, adding "monetary policy is probably tightening a little bit more than we originally thought throughout the region because of inflation." The 42 economies of Asia excluding Japan will grow 6.3 percent next year, Verbiest said. That compares with the bank's 6.7 percent forecast made in September.
CSFB to be combined
Credit Suisse Group, Switzerland's second-largest bank, said yesterday it will combine its US-based Credit Suisse First Boston investment unit with its retail and private banking business within two years. A company statement said the move would "better address client needs in a rapidly changing market environment, as well as making more efficient use of its resources." It said combining Credit Suisse and CSFB would take between 18 months and two years. It gave no indication whether jobs would be cut. The group has 60,000 employees worldwide. The company said that its Winterthur insurance arm would "continue its strategy of profitable growth with the aim of preparing for a capital market flotation."