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Mon, Jan 24, 2005 - Page 12 News List

World Business 

AGENCIES

■ Aviation

Chinese airline to buy A380s

Airbus SAS, the world's largest airplane maker, is scheduled to seal a contract on Jan. 28 with China Southern Airlines Co (南方航空) for five A380s, according to the agenda of France's transport minister. The order is worth about US$1.4 billion, based on list prices. French Transport Minister Gilles de Robien will attend a signing ceremony in Paris for the planes, according to an agenda published by his office yesterday. Gwenaelle Verpeaux, a spokeswoman for the ministry, declined to comment. About a third of the 149 orders and commitments that Airbus has won so far for the 555-seat A380, which will displace Boeing Co's 747 as the world's largest passenger aircraft, have come from Asia. None have come yet from China, the world's fastest-growing aviation market. Air travel there will expand about 8.1 percent in each of the next 20 years, Airbus predicts.

■ Retail

Wal-Mart food sales take off

Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world's largest retailer, said January sales are rising within its forecast for a gain of as much as 4 percent as shoppers purchased food more than general merchandise. Sales this month at US stores open at least a year will increase 2 percent to 4 percent, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based discounter predicted. Customers purchased more food than general merchandise, the company said. Shoppers also continued to redeem gift cards received during the holidays, said Don Gher at Coldstream Capital Management in Bellevue, Washington. "Industry surveys have suggested that about one-third of gift cards recipients plan to redeem those cards during January," said Gher, who helps manage about US$600 million, including Wal-Mart shares.

■ Banking

Korean bank to cut staff

Kookmin Bank, South Korea's biggest lender, may cut its workforce by as much as 17 percent, or 4,800 workers, in the next three years as part of a restructuring plan. "That number is the highest out of the many plans we are considering," Lee Ok Won, a company spokesman, said in response to a Yonhap News report. Kookmin hasn't pared its employee numbers since it merged with mortgage loan leader H&CB in 2001 and then combined with Kookmin Credit Card Co, the nation's third-largest credit card issuer, in 2003. Yonhap reported earlier today that Kookmin will cut 3,800 workers this year and 4,800 by 2007, citing unidentified officials in the finance industry. Kookmin's management submitted a plan to labor unions on Jan. 21, the report said.

■ Telecoms

China Mobile may buy CSL

China Mobile (Hong Kong) Ltd (中國移動) is talks with Telstra Corp to buy the Australian company's Hong Kong mobile phone unit CSL Ltd, the 21st Century Business Herald in China reported, citing people it didn't identify. The acquisition talks are at a very preliminary stage, the report said. Telstra of Australia bought CSL for about US$2.1 billion in two transactions in 2001, the Guangzhou-based newspaper reported. CSL is currently the second-largest mobile phone operator in Hong Kong, the newspaper said. China Mobile may be keen to take over CSL because of the potential revenue generated by calls between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland, the newspaper said.

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