Chinese consumption grows
China, the world's second biggest consumer of oil, imported a record 130 million tonnes of crude last year, up 3.3 percent from the previous year, official data showed yesterday. The figure, in line with domestic experts' forecasts, was well below the rise of 34.8 percent in crude oil imports seen in 2004. The China General Administration of Customs, which released the import figures for last year, did not give any more details. In 2004, China consumed 314 million tonnes of crude oil, of which it imported more than 120 million tonnes, accounting for 8.0 percent of world consumption. China became a crude oil importer in 1993 and has since been racing to secure resources abroad to power its booming economy as domestic production has fallen into decline.
Casino bidder pulls out
Australian gaming giant Tabcorp said yesterday it has pulled out of the bidding for the second Singapore casino project because of rising costs, the expected return and the emergence of other opportunities worldwide. The number of bidders for the Singapore casino projects has been whittled down to four from 14 when the city state announced last year it was building two casino resorts to spice up its staid image and boost tourism receipts. Still in the running are Harrah's Entertainment of the US with Singapore's Keppel Land, Sands and local partner City Developments, Malaysia's Genting International and Star Cruises, and MGM Mirage and CapitaLand of Singapore.
Mergers on the up
The Asia-Pacific region has re-emerged as a hot spot for deals with merger and acquisitions (M&A) hitting record levels last year, an investment banking analysis firm said yesterday. For the first time, China overtook Australia as the top target country, according to Dealogic. Excluding Japan, M&A volume increased by 19 percent to US$249.4 billion from US$209.3 billion in 2004, the breakdown showed. The previous high of US$243.3 billion was posted in 2000. Within Asia, China dominated M&A transactions with US$65 billion or 23 percent of deals, of which US$37.7 billion involved cross-border transactions. US companies were the single-largest foreign buyers. Australia was second although deal volume fell 32 percent to US$48.5 billion.
Microsoft releases patches
Microsoft Corp released two patches on Tuesday that carry its maximum rating of critical, to fix software problems that could allow an attacker to take control of another person's computer. Microsoft said one patch is to fix a flaw in Windows desktop and server software that could let an attacker gain control of an Internet-connected computer if a user were tricked into visiting a malicious Web site. The fix is for operating systems dating back to Windows 2000. The other patch is to fix a flaw in the part of Microsoft's Office business software and Exchange Server software that lets users change and manage language preferences. The fix is for versions of the software dating back to Office 2000. The patches, released on Tuesday as part of Microsoft's regular monthly security update, follow the release last week of another critical fix for a flaw in an element of Windows that is used to view images.