Novartis makes US4.5b bid
Swiss pharmaceutical group Novartis said yesterday that it had made an offer to the board of US laboratory Chiron of US$4.5 billion dollars for the 57.8 percent of the business it does not already own. Chiron specializes in bio-pharmacy and the price of shares in Novartis was showing a gain of 0.16 percent to 60.90 Swiss francs shortly after the announcement. Novartis said that it had made its offer in agreement with independent members of the board of Chiron and that Novartis would be better placed to help Chiron to overcome fundamental problems if the US business became a fully owned subsidiary. However, Novartis said that there was no certainty that the bid would succeed. For last year, Novartis reported sales of US$28.2 billion dollars and net profit of US$5.8 billion dollars.
Gambling addiction tackled
Singapore has set up a council to tackle gambling addiction four years before the city-state is due to open its first casinos. The 15-member National Council on Problem Gambling began its two-year term on Wednesday, the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sport said. In a statement posted on its Web site, the ministry said the council will advise the government on education programs to raise public awareness on gambling ills. The Singapore government in April announced that two Las Vegas-style casino resorts would be built by 2009 to spice up its staid image and attract more tourists. A government survey released earlier this year showed that more than half of Singaporeans are gamblers.
■ Hong Kong
Salaries to rise only 3.4%
Salaries in Hong Kong next year will grow at the second slowest level of 11 leading Asia-Pacific countries, a media report said yesterday. People are likely to see their salaries rise by just 3.4 percent, the Standard said, quoting a survey by consultancy firm, Hewitt Associates. Only Japan will have a lower rate of increase, of 2.8 percent, according to Hewitt's annual salary study. By comparison, India is forecast to have the highest growth of 14 percent, followed by 8.1 percent in both China and the Philippines. Hewitt Associates Nishchae Suri said Hong Kong's high wage costs and low inflation rate restrict future salary growth. The Hong Kong government said the economy grew at a faster-than-expected 6.8 percent in the second quarter and had predicted full-year growth of between 4.5 percent and 5.5 percent.
US firms optimistic
The business outlook for US firms in China is promising but concerns remain about the government's commitment to implement trade obligations like intellectual property protection, a survey said yesterday. "China's economic reforms continue to pay off for its own economy as well as American companies," Emory Williams, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce China, said in launching its annual white paper on the business climate. According to a survey of the chamber's more than 4,000 members, 86 percent of member companies reported higher revenues and 68 percent reported profitable or very profitable performances. These levels are slightly lower than those of the last two years, largely because of increasing competition from both international and local firms.