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Sat, Jan 15, 2005 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Telecoms

Bluetooth shades planned

Motorola Inc, the world's second-largest mobile-phone manufacturer, and Oakley Inc plan to make sunglasses that communicate remotely with electronic devices. Schaumburg, Illinois-based Motorola will install Bluetooth technology, which allows machines to speak to each other without a wire, in Oakley-designed sunglasses, the two companies said in a statement yesterday. Details of the first models from the joint venture are expected by the middle of this year, the companies said.

■ Automakers

China expects sales growth

Both production and sales of vehicles in China are forecast to rise about 10 percent year-on-year in 2005 to about 5.6 million units, state-run media reported yesterday, citing the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. The association reported that China's total vehicle output climbed 14 percent over a year earlier to 5 million units, with passenger car production rising 12 percent to 2.3 million units. Total vehicle sales were up 15 percent, also at 5 million units, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. Though still robust by international standards, that growth outlook is anemic compared with the 75 percent jump in passenger car sales in 2003 and nowhere near the 15 percent increase in sales last year.

■ Internet

Napster touts growth

Online music-swapping pioneer Napster on Thursday reported having some 270,000 subscribers to its fee-based music service as of late last year, after just over a year in operation. Napster said the figure, which represents a 50 percent increase in subscribers from the previous quarter, "makes Napster the fastest-growing music subscription service in the industry." The firm began trading on the New York Stock Exchange last week. "These results, combined with industry analysts' projections, continue to support our belief that the future of digital music is subscription services," the company said, adding: "We expect to continue to drive very substantial subscriber growth in 2005."

■ Telecoms

Nokia overtakes Ningbo

Nokia Oyj, the world's largest mobile phone maker, overtook Chinese rival Ningbo Bird Co to gain the biggest share of China's cellular handset market last year, Japanese researcher Fuji-Keizai Co said. Nokia secured the No. 1 position with a 12 percent market share, the Tokyo-based research group said in a release yesterday. Motorola Inc had 11 percent. Ningbo Bird, China's biggest mobile phone maker, declined to No. 3 with 10 percent after taking the top spot in 2003. The number of mobile phone users in China is expected to rise 14 percent to 390 million this year from 343 million previously, the group said.

■ Cosmetics

Hutchison set for top spot

Hong Kong-based conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa is set to become the world's largest cosmetics retailer with the expected announcement later yesterday of its purchase of the French perfume chain Marionnaud through its subsidiary AS Watson. Late Thursday, a trade union official revealed that a deal had been reached for the purchase of Marionnaud and its 1,280 retail outlets throughout Europe. Sources close to the deal say the purchase price will be 346 million euros (US$456 million) or 21.80 euros per Marionnaud share. AS Watson is to assume its debt of 459 million euros.

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