■ BankingHSBC to buy Korean bank
Global banking giant HSBC has agreed to buy Korea First Bank in a deal which will put the British bank in competition with its US rival Citigroup in the world's 11th largest economy, a source said yesterday. US invest-ment fund Newbridge Capital plans to sell its entire 48.56 percent stake in Korea First Bank (KFB) to HSBC Holdings PLC, the source close to the deal said. KFB, the country's eighth-largest lender with 47 trillion won (US$45 billion) in assets, has held a board meeting "to approve the proposed transfer of management control to HSBC," the source said. KFB confirmed the board meeting was held but indicated the deal could be delayed.
Global production rises
Japan's top three automakers Toyota Motor Corp, Nissan Motor Co and Honda Motor Co said yesterday that global production rose sharply in November on the back of strong overseas demand. Worldwide output by Japan's biggest automaker, Toyota, rose 16.3 percent year-on-year to 613,643 vehicles, while that of rival Nissan rose 9.9 percent to 274,735. "Strong overseas demand supported our worldwide production. In particular, demand in China and Indonesia was growing fast," a spokesman for Toyota said. Nissan said brisk demand in the US and Mexico had boosted its global output last month. Japan's third-largest automaker, Honda, said its global output last month grew 12.8 percent to 278,676 units. However, scandal-hit Mitsubishi Motors said its worldwide output last month fell 4.2 percent to 112,877, marking the 19th consecutive year-on-year decline.
Flight rights formalized
Transport ministers from Singapore, Thailand and Brunei are slated to sign a deal on Monday to liberalize airline passenger traffic between the three countries, a newspaper reported yesterday. The deal, to be inked at a ceremony in Bangkok, formalizes rights that airlines from the three already have -- allowing them to operate an unlimited number of passenger services on any route between the countries -- the Straits Times newspaper said. It was confirmed yesterday by a spokesperson from Singapore's transport ministry. Officials hope the multilateral pact will spur other Southeast Asian states toward similar deals, the report said. "It establishes a useful framework for ASEAN to liberalize its passenger services eventually," a spokesman for Singapore's transport ministry was quoted as saying.
GM, VW to recall vehicles
General Motors Corp, the world's largest automaker, will recall 717,302 minivans in the US because a power sliding door may injure passengers. Volkswagen AG is recalling as many as 350,000 Jetta, Golf and GTI cars to fix faulty lighting switches. The General Motors recall affects 1997 to 2005 Chevrolet Ventures, 1997 to 2004 Oldsmobile Silhouettes and 1997 to 2005 Pontiac Trans Sport and Montana models, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on its Web site. Volkswagen is recalling 2000 through 2002 cars to replace switches that may burn out and cause turn signals and flashers to fail, NHTSA said. Passengers in the General Motors models can injure their lower arms against a seat backrest if they don't let go of the power sliding door's handle as it moves backward, the agency said.