■ Auto industry
BMW posts record sales
German luxury automaker BMW boosted global vehicle sales by nearly 10 percent last year to a record 1.33 million, with US sales topping the list, the company said on Monday. All of the Munich-based automaker's brands -- BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce -- posted higher sales last year, according to data released at the Detroit Motor Show. Profit and dollar sales figures were not released yet. "We expect BMW Group to stay on the growth path also in 2006," chief executive Helmut Panke said. Claiming world leadership in the premium car market, the company said it sold 1,127 million of its flagship BMW brand cars last year, up 10.1 percent from the year before. Sales of Mini models rose by 8.7 percent to 200,400.
United secures financing
United Airlines' parent UAL Corp said on Monday it secured US$3 billion in loans and credits as part of its plan to emerge from bankruptcy, which is scheduled for Feb. 1. The financing by JP Morgan and Citigroup is secured by effectively all of United's assets. United is scheduled to present its reorganization plan at a Jan. 18 hearing, with an official Chapter 11 exit coming two weeks after that. A majority of all United's creditor classes have approved the exit plan, and the results of the balloting have been forwarded to the US Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois, which is overseeing the case, the company said.
EU endorses compensation
A 2004 EU law that increases compensation to airline passengers for delays, cancelations and overbooking conforms to EU rules, Europe's highest court said. The rules, which took effect last February, raised compensation for travelers stranded because of overbooked or canceled flights to between 250 euros (US$302) and 600 euros from a maximum of 300 euros. Airlines also must provide meals and hotels for delayed passengers. "The regulation on compensation and assistance for air passengers is valid," the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg said in a statement yesterday. Full-service airlines such as British Airways Plc and low-cost carriers including Ryanair Holdings Plc want the legislation scrapped. The airlines have said the law breaches rule-making procedures and contravenes an international agreement that provides a defense to airlines in cases of delay that are beyond their control.
Oracle to add staff in India
US business software maker Oracle Corp plans to hire 1,400 people in India as part of its plans to expand its operations to nine more cites in the South Asian nation, a company executive said yesterday. Oracle already has about 8,600 employees in India and operates in six cities, and is looking to quickly add the additional staff, said Derek Williams, the company's executive vice president for Asia-Pacific. Williams refused to specify what types of operations would be set up in the three new cities. The company already operates research and development centers in Bangalore and Hyderabad. "We will grow from 8,600 employees to over 10,000 employees over the next eight months," he said on the sidelines of a two-day conference Oracle is hosting on the future of information technology in Bombay. The conference began yesterday. Over the past five years, Oracle has invested over US$2 billion in India, he said.