EBay's results disappoint
Online auctioneer eBay Inc said on Wednesday its quarterly profit increased by 36 percent, disappointing investors. In a statement, the San Jose, California-based company said its fourth quarter consolidated net income increased 36 percent to US$279.2 million, or US$0.20 a share, from US$205.4 million, or US$0.15 a share, a year ago. Revenue grew by 42 per cent to US$1.3 billion, the company added. "Q4 capped off a remarkable year for eBay," said eBay president and CEO Meg Whitman in a statement. The company said it had 180.6 million confirmed registered users at the end of the fourth quarter, a 33 percent increase over the 135.5 million users reported a year earlier.
■ Auto industry
Mercedes' China sales jump
DaimlerChrysler AG, the world's fifth-largest carmaker, said sales of its Mercedes-Benz brand rose 39 percent in China last year, as increasing affluence spurred more people to buy S-Class luxury cars. The company sold 16,128 Mercedes cars to consumers in China last year, the Stuttgart, Germany-based company said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. Sales by the Chrysler Group rose 5 percent to 30,394 units last year. "This year DaimlerChrysler will launch several new models from Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler and Jeep in the region, where we continue to see tremendous growth potential," said Till Becker, chairman and chief executive officer of DaimlerChrysler in northeast Asia. DaimlerChrysler's sales in the northeast Asia region including China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and South Korea increased 15 percent last year to 58,245 units.
New port opens in Busan
South Korea yesterday opened a new cargo port in the city of Busan, stepping up a regional race to become the leading shipping hub in Asia. South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun attended the opening and vowed to turn the new port into "a logistics hub for Northeast Asia" in a televised speech at the opening ceremony near Busan, 450km southeast of Seoul. The new port has three container berths initially, growing to 30 berths capable of handling 8 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) a year by 2011. The new port sits between Busan, the world's fifth-largest container port with 21 berths, and the neighboring port of Jinhae on the southern coast. "Let's work together to make it successful. Let's realize our dream of creating a logistics hub in Northeast Asia," Roh said.
D'Long founder's trial starts
Tang Wanxin (唐萬新), a businessman whose conglomerate once was China's biggest stockholder went on trial yesterday in central China on charges of alleged illegal banking and share price manipulation, state media reported. According to the official Xinhua News Agency, D'Long (德隆), founded by Tang, allegedly amassed more than 45 billion yuan (US$5.5 billion) in deposits by illegally offering guarantees to its clients. The China Business News said Tang had pleaded innocent to the charge he illegally took public deposits, or engaged in illegal banking, an offense with a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment. However, he did not contest the lesser charge of stock price manipulation, which carries a maximum sentence of five years, it said.