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Tue, Feb 01, 2005 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Banking

Chinese listings in doubt

Plans for the Bank of China and China Construction Bank, two of the country's four largest lenders, to list on markets overseas were thrown into doubt, a press report said yesterday. The two banks, beset by corruption scandals, accounting issues and weak corporate governance, looked increasingly unlikely to attempt to list on international markets this year, the Standard newspaper reported, citing sources close to the banks. The two banks were not yet in a position to launch their Initial Public Offerings (IPO) as they need to resolve a host of outstanding issues, such as existing bad debt and new soured loans which were expected to surface, the report said. Meanwhile, BOC executive assistant president Zhu Min, who is at the center of the bank's restructuring plans, told reporters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum conference in Davos, Switzerland over the weekend, that the bank needed "to clean house" first before any overseas listing.

■ Printing

Kodak in talks to buy Creo

The Eastman Kodak Co is in talks to acquire Creo Inc, a Canadian printing technology company, for about US$1 billion, executives close to the negotiations said over the weekend. Exact terms of the proposed deal could not be learned. The executives cautioned that it was still possible the talks could fall apart. Creo is under attack from dissident shareholders who are seeking to oust its management. The deal would be the latest in a string of acquisitions by Kodak, which is based in Rochester, New York. Two years ago, Kodak set aside US$3 billion for purchases, and US$1 billion remains. Creo's board is being advised by Merrill Lynch over the possible sale of part or all of the company. Other companies that have been cited as possible bidders include Fuji Photo Film, Agfa-Gevaert, Hewlett-Packard and Electronics for Imaging Inc.

■ Economics

Malaysia to fund SMEs

Malaysia will set up a development bank to assist small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) this year, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said yesterday. "The banks at present are focusing their attention on loan applications from big industries and the SMEs are having a problem getting capital," Abdullah said. "The SMEs require greater attention in the form of capital and loans and the setting up of an SME bank will give them the opportunity for growth," he said. Abdullah gave no further details, saying these would be worked out by the Treasury.

■ Biomedicine

Singapore's plan pays off

Singapore's strategy to develop a regional biomedical hub is paying dividends with the industry growing 33 percent last year and worth more than S$15 billion (US$9.2 billion), the government said yesterday. Output by the biomedical sciences industry was worth S$15.8 billion last year with the fast-growing pharmaceuticals sector making up 88 percent of the market, the Economic Development Board said. The yearly output far exceeded the government's target set in 2000 for the industry to be worth some S$12 billion dollars by the end of this year. The board said close to 15 international companies had established research and development facilities at Singapore's Biopolis center.

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