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Thu, May 04, 2006 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Macroeconomics
Japan may lift rates soon

The Bank of Japan's (BOJ) concern over rising prices indicates that it could move as early as next month to raise interest rates, Morgan Stanley said yesterday in its latest outlook for the anticipated shift. The move would be the central bank's first major tightening in five years and a further signal that Japan is continuing to tread the path of steady economic recovery. "It looks to us as if the BOJ can hike the rate sometime soon if it chooses," Morgan Stanley analyst Takehiro Sato said in a report released yesterday. "Therefore, we conclude that the rate hike could be a bit earlier than previously expected, and now attach probabilities of 30 percent in June, 60 percent in July and 10 percent for August or after," he said.

■ Banking

China bank debts high

China's banking debt problem is far higher than official estimates indicate with non-performing loans worth as much as US$900 billion, the Financial Times reported yesterday. Citing an Ernst and Young survey, the London-based newspaper said the NPLs for China's big four banks alone were worth US$358 billion, more than double the government's figure. Ernst and Young's latest numbers compare with its estimate in 2002 that NPLs then were worth US$480 billion, with the problem worsening despite recent government reforms of the banking sector to try and fix the debt problem.

■ Telecoms

SingTel subscribers up

Southeast Asia's largest phone company Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) said yesterday that its Asia-Pacific mobile customer base surpassed 85 million at the end of March, boosted by sharp growth in India and Indonesia. The figure marked a 31 percent increase from March last year and is the biggest subscriber base for any telecoms firm in Asia outside of China, SingTel said in a statement. It said its Indian associate Bharti posted record mobile subscriber growth of 78 percent while in Indonesia, Telkomsel was up 51 percent. SingTel retained its dominance in its home market, with subscribers rising 5.73 percent to 1.66 million.

■ Finance

Seoul to tax foreign funds

South Korea's parliament has approved a bill which will allow the government to impose taxes on gains made by tax haven-based foreign funds, the finance ministry said yesterday. The bill, approved on Tuesday, will help the ministry enact new rules under which investment income derived in South Korea will face a withholding tax, regardless of double taxation treaties. Ministry officials say the new system is in line with international standards and is aimed at stopping foreign funds based in tax shelters from abusing the pacts to avoid tax payments.

■ Music

Warner snubs EMI offer

British music group EMI revealed yesterday that it made a takeover approach to Warner Music earlier this week but said its advances had been snubbed by its US rival. "EMI Group confirms that on 1 May 2006 it made an approach to Warner Music Group Corp," the group said in an official statement to the London Stock Exchange. EMI said that its proposed offer of US$28.50 per share, in a combination of cash and EMI shares, was rejected but added that it remained interested in a deal at the right price.

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