The rich to train for space
Wealthy Chinese citizens may soon embark on private space flights, with the first group of adventurous millionaires starting astronaut training as early as May, state media reported yesterday. The possibility of following in the footsteps of Yang Liwei (楊利偉), who became China's first man in space in 2003, has opened up with the entry of US tour operator Space Adventures into the Chinese market, the Beijing News said. Hoping to attract customers among the increasingly affluent Chinese, Space Adventures signed a cooperation agreement with Hong Kong Space Tour Corporation on Sunday in the south Chinese city of Shenzhen, according to the paper.
Federated to acquire May
Federated Department Stores, owner of Macy's and Bloomingdale's, has agreed to buy May Department Stores, which operates Hecht's and Lord and Taylor, for US$10.4 billion, the Washington Post reported on Sunday. Citing executives close to the talks, the newspaper said the deal was to be announced officially yesterday. The report said Federated has long sought to create a national department store chain under the Macy's nameplate, and analysts predict the Hecht's banner eventually could be dropped. Citing unnamed sources, the paper said the two sides agreed that Federated would pay about US$35.50 for each May share. The US$35.50 will be in Federated stock and cash. The combined company may have to close stores in certain markets, but regulators were not expected to block the deal, according to the Post.
■ Hostile takeovers
Japan to issue guidelines
Japan's government will release guidelines as early as May on what companies can do to fend off uninvited takeover bids, Satoshi Kusakabe, an official of Japan's Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry said. The plan to advise companies on how directors and shareholders can counter hostile offers within the bounds of securities and commercial laws comes as Livedoor Co, a Japanese Internet company, asked a court to stop Nippon Broadcasting System Inc from selling stock options to rival bidder Fuji Television Network Inc. Timing for the guidelines, which will accompany proposals to allow subsidiaries of foreign companies to offer shares to their parent companies in takeovers, is not linked with the Livedoor court challenge, Kusakabe said. An initial report outlining possible takeover measures will be released on Monday, he said.
DoCoMo earnings lower
Japan's top mobile phone operator NTT DoCoMo warned yesterday that earnings for the current year to this month would be lower as it winds up its loss-making personal handyphone system (PHS) service. The company cut its net profit forecast to ¥722 billion (US$6.9 billion) from its earlier estimate of ¥758 billion but maintained its sales projection at ¥4.82 trillion. DoCoMo will stop accepting new PHS subscriptions at the end of April to focus on its third-generation (3G) cellphone business. It expects to incur a loss of ¥61 billion due to impaired assets held by the money-losing PHS division, it added. PHS mobile technology uses small cells in greater numbers than conventional mobile systems which resulted in lower equipment costs but although it was touted as a global standard, it never took off outside of Japan.