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Wed, Dec 22, 2004 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Banking

HSBC bids for Korea First

London-based HSBC Hold-ings PLC has proposed buying Korea First Bank for US$2.5 billion, South Korea's Maeil Business Newspaper reported yesterday. HSBC, one of two bidders for Korea First Bank, decided on the amount based on the lender's asset portfolio and stock prices of its rival lenders in the local market, the newspaper said, citing an unidentified source familiar with the talks. Officials at both banks declined to comment on the report. Newbridge Capital Inc, based in Fort Worth, Texas, owns a 48.56-percent stake in Seoul-based Korea First Bank. The remaining stake is held by the Korea Deposit Insurance Corp and the South Korean government. Newbridge is seeking at least 3.6 trillion won (US$3.4 billion) for Korean First.

■ Airlines

SIA cuts regional fares

Singapore Airlines (SIA) has slashed fares to Bangkok, Jakarta, Hong Kong and Taipei in a bid to undercut the prices of budget carriers, a spokesman said yesterday. Round trip tickets to the four cities are going for S$98 (US$59) each for passengers traveling in pairs from Jan. 3 to 31. It is the lowest fare the national carrier has offered since Valuair, the first budget airline to operate in Singapore, took to the skies in May. SIA's latest deal undercuts the fares offered by Valuair, Tiger Airways and Jetstar Asia, the three Singapore-based budget airlines. "New entrants in the market will not have a monopoly on initiating special offers," spokesman Stephen Forshaw told The Straits Times. "SIA will be a strong competitor and will offer good value fares with exceptional service." Tiger, which is partially owned by SIA, said it would offer 10,000 seats to both Phuket and Hat Yai for travel next month for S$48.88 one way.

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