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Fri, Dec 24, 2004 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Auto Industry

GM to reduce workers

General Motors Corp plans to offer another round of early retirement offers and buyout packages to US salaried workers early next year, the company said on Wednesday. GM, the world's largest automaker, declined to say how many of its roughly 38,000 US salaried employees would receive the offers. "For the past several years GM has been aligning its work force with its business needs, and 2005 will be no different," GM spokesman Robert Herta said. In the face of declining market share, weak auto-motive profits and mounting health care and pension costs, DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group also plans to exercise a contract provision to reduce skilled trades workers at some plants.

■ Automotive

Bosch to invest in China

Robert Bosch, the German maker of car parts, is planning to invest 550 million euros (US$736 million) in the next three years to promote its business in China, the head of Bosch's Asian-Pacific activities said yesterday. The investments would expand Bosch's manufacturing in China, in particular at two sites in Wuxi and Suzhou, board mem-ber Rudolf Colm told the Financial Times in an inter-view. Bosch would also spend a further 30 million euros on a television and billboard advertising camp-aign to promote the comp-any's sales of braking and diesel-jnjection systems, Colm said. Bosch aims to increase sales in China from about 1.3 billion euros this year to 5 billion euros by 2013.

■ Economics

US on positive footing

The US economy headed into the end of the year with good momentum, expanding at an annual rate of 4 percent in the third quarter, a faster clip than previously thought. The new reading on the gross domestic product, released on Wednesday by the US commerce department, exceeded the previous estimate of a 3.9 percent growth rate for the July-to-September quarter. It marked the best showing since the opening quarter of this year and was up from a 3.3 percent pace in the second quarter. Brisk spending by consumers and businesses helped the economy expand nicely in the third quarter. For all of this year, the economy is expected to grow by more than 4 percent, which would mark an improvement from last year, when GDP rose by 3 percent. However, economists foresee slower, but still healthy, growth for next year.

■ Retail

Daiei chair to resign

Daiei Inc chairman Kunio Takagi will step down next week when a bailout scheme for the ailing Japanese retail giant is formally approved, a press report said yesterday. Takagi's resignation will take effect on Tuesday when the state-backed Industrial Revitalization Corp of Japan (IRCJ) formally announces the rescue plan involving Daiei's three main creditor banks, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun said. Most of Daiei's current management, including president Toshio Hasumi, are also expected to resign at the end of March when the current business year closes, the leading business daily added. IRCJ reportedly reached a basic agreement with Daiei's creditor banks last Tuesday to provide Japan's third-biggest supermarket chain with financial assistance worth ?597 billion (US$5.7 billion). IRCJ has demande Daiei clarify the account-ability of its management upon receiving the rescue package and executives scheduled to step down will likely decline retirement payments, the daily said.

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