■ World Bank
Wolfensohn to leave in June
World Bank President James Wolfensohn said on Sunday that he expects to leave when his current five-year term expires in June. The head of the development lending agency, Wolfensohn, 71, is finishing a second five-year term. "I've had 10 years, and I think that's probably enough," he said Sunday on ABC Television's This Week. "But if the need is there, I'll do whatever the shareholders want. My understanding and my belief is that probably during the course of this year, I'll give over to someone else." He was first appointed in 1995 by US President Bill Clinton. Traditionally, the chief of World Bank has been selected by the US president, while European leaders choose the head of the IMF.
Singapore reports on growth
Singapore said yesterday the city-state's economy grew by 8.1 percent last year, largely due to final-quarter growth of 5.4 percent from a year ago. That would make it one of Asia's fastest-growing economies after China, which recorded growth of around 9 percent last year. The government warned however that the optimism would not remain for long, because growth has begun to slow and the country's GDP was expected to moderate to 4 to 4.5 percent this year. Singapore's export-oriented US$95 billion economy is highly dependent on manufacturing -- a sector which only grew by 9.5 percent on year in the October-December quarter. It had grown 11.9 percent in the preceding quarter, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said.
S Korea makes new rules
South Korea has introduced new rules to help domestic firms protect themselves from hostile takeover bids by foreign investors, officials said yesterday. The new rules will take effect in March, the Ministry of Finance and Economy said. Investors who hold a stake of 5 percent or more in any one firm will be banned from exercising voting rights or buying additional shares for five days if they make public their intention to secure a say in management in the company, the ministry said. A local company targeted for takeover can then sell shares or issue debt, in what would elsewhere be called a "poison pill defense," so as to fend off the unwanted suitor. If an investor launches an open tender on the over-the-counter market to buy a stake of 5 percent or more in a company, the target firm will also be allowed to issue convertible bonds and other securities.
1.3bn PCs expected by 2010
The number of personal computers in use worldwide will reach nearly 1.3 billion by 2010, with the bulk of the new additions from China, India, Indonesia and Mexico, a study said yesterday. The doubling from 575 million PCs currently in use is expected to come primarily from emerging markets, said Forrester Research Inc. Mature markets in the US, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region will add only 150 million new PCs to the world market by 2010, according to the report. "Today's products from Western PC vendors won't dominate in those markets in the long term," The Business Times quoted Forrester's senior analyst Simon Yates as saying. PC makers such as the Lenovo Group in China and Aquarius in Russia that "can better tailor the PC form factor, price point, and applications to their local markets will ultimately win the market share battle," he added. Forrester predicted China will see 178 million new PCs five years from now.