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Fri, Jan 27, 2006 - Page 6 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Robotics
Hello Kitty willing to work

Need temporary help on your company's reception desk? One Japanese employment agency is suggesting you try recruiting a robot. For just under ¥50,000 (US$430) a month, a fraction of the cost of a human temp, the PeopleStaff agency will dispatch Hello Kitty Robo, a robotic receptionist capable of sensing a visitor's presence, greeting him or her and holding simple conversations. The Nagoya-based agency is also offering the services of Ifbot, an elderly-care robot that chats and poses riddles and arithmetical problems to train the brain and help avoid dementia. Ifbot, which also quizzes people about their health, is aimed at hospitals and old peoples' homes.

■ Airlines

Airbus to exhibit A380

Airbus plans to display its double-decker A380, the world's largest passenger plane, at an Asian aviation exhibit in Singapore next month, the European plane maker said. The Feb. 21-26 Asian Aerospace show is billed as the largest aviation and defense technology exhibit in the region. The first delivery of the A380 -- to Singapore Airlines -- is scheduled for November. Airbus orders from the Asia-Pacific region last year accounted for over 45 percent of the global total, with more than 500 firm orders from 13 customers, Airbus said in a statement.

■ Computers

Dell opens Penang center

Dell Inc, the world's largest maker of personal computers, opened a service and support center in Penang, Malaysia, yesterday as part of its expansion plan in Asia. The service and support center is Dell's third in Asia, after China and Japan. It will have 20 employees and serve customers in Australia, India, Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and New Zealand, Dell spokeswoman Judy Low said.

■ Gas

PNG, China ink agreement

Papua New Guinea and China have signed a "far-reaching" agreement to develop and process PNG's significant gas reserves, the National newspaper reported yesterday, quoting Oil Minister Sir Moi Avei. The framework agreement was signed in Beijing last week by Avei, who is also deputy prime minister, and officials of the state China National Petroleum Corp, it said in its online edition. The accord paves the way for a joint feasibility study into the construction of a northern gas pipeline and integrated methane refinery complex in PNG's Momase region to produce compressed natural gas and LPG, it said.

■ Markets

Kerkorian buys back shares

Billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian's holding firm said on Wednesday it had bought 12 million shares of troubled General Motors Corp (GM) to take its total stake back up to 9.9 percent. After selling 12 million GM shares last month for tax purposes, Tracinda Corp said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it had bought back the shares this week for a total of almost US$263 million. Kerkorian said in September he may seek a seat on the board.

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