■ Oil industry
`Yes' to CNPC takeover bid
China's state-owned China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC, 中國石油天然氣) said yesterday that the board of PetroKazakhstan, a Canadian firm that is a major oil producer in the Central Asian republic of Kazakhstan, has accepted a US$4.2 billion takeover offer. The deal, if completed, would add to a series of foreign acquisitions of oil and gas assets that Beijing hopes will secure energy supplies for its booming economy. The offer is to be put to PetroKazakhstan shareholders at a meeting expected to be held in October, CNPC said. "The Board of Directors of PetroKazakhstan has recommended that its shareholders accept CNPCI's offer," the company said. The announcement by CNPC comes just days after another state-controlled Chinese oil firm, CNOOC Ltd, withdrew a multibillion-dollar bid for US oil and gas producer Unocal Corp.
SMEs to fuel next IT boom
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are expected to fuel the next boom in infotech (IT) services across the Asia-Pacific region, researchers said in a report yesterday. By the end of 2009, the region outside of Japan will see revenues cross US$17.7 billion on IT services alone from US$11 billion this year, according to Access Markets International (AMI) Partners. Nearly half is expected to come from medium-size business with 100 to 999 employers, said the New York-based firm specializing in infotech research. "SME's already play a major role in the economy of many Asian countries," the Business Times quoted Anurag Agrawal, AMI's chief operating officer, as saying. By 2009, the 27 million SMEs in the region will grow 7 percent, AMI said.
Manga on cellphones
Sony said yesterday it will begin selling comics via mobile telephones in Japan in a move to dominate the small but rapidly growing market in downloading the country's "manga" cartoons. Sony Pictures Entertainment, a unit of the Japanese electronics icon, has signed with 10 popular Japanese comic artists, letting users of third-generation (3G) telephones download about 300 manga books, a Sony spokesman said. Manga readers would pay ?315 (US$3) per month to receive five stories with added cost for more downloads. He said Sony expected to be the largest provider of comics via mobile telephones, although several other firms have already entered the market such as NTT Solmare, a unit of telecom giant NTT, and Toppan Printing. Sony will offer more comic books than its competitors, who said they hoped Sony's entry would be a boon for the overall market.
Yahoo takes on iTunes
Yahoo Japan Corp launched a new online music service yesterday that allows customers to listen for free to any of 100,000 songs before buying them as the company tries to counter Apple Computer Inc's rival iTunes Music Store. Other Internet music services in Japan offer only 30 seconds from free sampling, making Yahoo's the first to offer free listening to full-length songs, Yahoo Japan spokesman Masaki Hanyu said. The free songs will have sound quality comparable to that of FM radio, but listeners will be able to pay to download and save higher-quality recordings. Users won't be able to choose the free songs or save them on computers.