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Mon, Dec 20, 2004 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take


■ Oil

Russian oil bid blocked

In Houston, a federal judge upheld an order that granted Russian oil giant Yukos a temporary injunc-tion halting the Moscow auction of its key produc-tion subsidiary. US District Judge Nancy Atlas late Saturday rejected an appeal from Russian state-controlled natural gas giant Gazprom, which had sought to bid for Yukos in an auction in Russia. Yukos filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday in Houston. The Yukos auction could have made Gazprom -- and by extension the Russian government -- one of Russia's biggest oil players virtually overnight. The Russian government planned to sell the subsi-diary, Yugansknef-tegaz, to pay off some of the US$27.5 billion in back taxes it says is owed by Yukos, Russia's largest oil producer. Russia had pledged to proceed with the auction, saying the US order is irrelevant on Russian soil.

■ Development

No final LCD-plant plans

Sharp Corp, Japan's biggest maker of liquid-crystal display panels, said it hasn't made a final decision regarding plans to build a new plant to make the devices. Sharp will spend as much as ?200 billion (US$1.9 billion) to build a so-called eighth-generation LCD plant that will start production in 2006, Nihon Keizai newspaper reported yesterday. The plant will be built at Sharp's facilities in Kameyama, Mie Prefecture, in central Japan, the report said. "We are considering many alternatives for our new Kameyama plant, but no details have been decided yet," said Heiha-chiro Ochiai, a company spokesman based in Osaka.

■ Online Business

Auction-site boss in jail

The US is closely following the case of an Indian-born US businessman arrested after an Indian Internet auction site owned by eBay sold a student sex video, an embassy spokeswoman said yesterday. Avnish Bajaj, country manager of Baazee.com, was arrested after video compact discs showing a teenage girl and boy from a well-known Delhi private school engaged in oral sex were sold via his auction site. "The US embassy is following this case very closely and there is a high level of interest in Washington regarding this case," the spokeswoman said. On Saturday, a New Delhi city court ordered Bajaj to remain in custody for a week, saying the alleged offence did not warrant the granting of bail. Baazee.com in a statement released late on Saturday said the company was "outraged that the police have objected to the release of Avnish Bajaj. Baazee.com is an online marketplace -- a trading platform that offers buyers and sellers an opportunity to transact. Unlike a retailer, Baazee.com does not own or sell any of the goods that are listed on the site," it said.

■ Digital Products

New iPod to boost shares

Synaptics Inc, Sigmatel Inc and Audible Inc are among suppliers of components of Apple Computer Inc's iPod whose shares may be overvalued because of the popularity of the digital music player, Barron's reported. Rising competition will put greater pressure on the suppliers to lower prices and may hurt companies such as SigmaTel and PortalPlayer Inc, which get as much as 90 percent of their revenue from the iPod and other digital music players, Independent Research Group analyst Carter Driscoll told Barron's. Synaptics' touch-screen technology may become essential in digital products and its stock isn't "just an iPod play," Bear Stearns analyst Andrew Neff said.

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