■ South Korea
OPEC to join APEC meeting
Pacific Rim energy ministers and Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) officials will meet next week in South Korea to address soaring oil costs and explore possible cooperation in regional energy projects. The 7th APEC Energy Ministers' Meeting will take place in the southeastern city of Gyeongju on Oct. 18 and Oct. 19, South Korea's Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy said yesterday. The energy meeting is usually held every two years, but the member economies have scheduled it for this year even after a meeting in Manila last year because of surging energy prices. It will also mark the first time that OPEC officials will attend.
Snow pushes for reform
US Treasury Secretary John Snow yesterday urged China to move even faster in pushing ahead with reforms of its nascent capital markets, which still lag behind the rest of the booming economy. China allows only limited foreign-exchange trading, its bond and other financial products markets are in their infancy, and most companies choose to list shares not on domestic bourses but in Hong Kong and elsewhere. "It's clear the potential of the financial sector to play a larger role in the economy is enormous," Snow said, adding that he would continue to press for greater openness for foreign companies -- and for more progress toward a more flexible, market-driven exchange rate. "I think it's in China's interest to continue down this path," said Snow, who is leading a US delegation in Beijing, backed by Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan.
Paribas inks China deal
French bank BNP Paribas (BNPP) signed a deal yesterday that ramps up its presence in China with the purchase of a 19.2 percent stake in Nanjing City Commercial Bank for US$87 million. "BNPP is to acquire from several shareholders a 19.2 percent shareholding in NCCB (Nanjing City Commercial Bank) at a price of 704 million yuan," a joint statement said. After more than a year of tough negotiations BNP Paribas will become, after regulatory approval, the Chinese bank's second largest shareholder. Nanjing State-owned Asset Investment and Management Holding (Group) Co remains the largest shareholder with a stake of 19.7 percent.
Post, couriers in talks
Japan's postal system is winding up talks on tie-ups with several major couriers such as TNT Post Group of the Netherlands and Japan's Nippon Express Co, with the goal of tapping into the courier business, a news report said yesterday. Japan Post wants the deals, expected to be concluded by the end of the year, so it can set up joint courier firms that can gain a foothold in Asia, the largest daily Yomiuri Shimbun said. Under the current law, Japan Post can only transfer international mail it receives in Japan to a postal service operator in another country. On Tuesday, Japan's lower house of parliament passed legislation to privatize the country's vast postal system, which would allow Japan Post to start international distribution of goods starting April next year.