■ Housing too costly for most
Housing has become so expensive in China that seven out of 10 urban families cannot afford their own homes, in yet another warning the property sector may be overheating, state media said yesterday. A new study from Beijing Normal University found 70 percent of China's city dwellers do not have enough money to buy a new apartment, based on average housing prices in the east of the country, Xinhua news agency reported. What is pushing up prices to levels out of reach to most of the nation's citizens is what looks dangerously like a speculative boom, according to the agency. During the first quarter of this year, the amount of unsold real estate in China rose 23.8 percent over the same period last year to 123 million square meters, the National Bureau of Statistics reported recently.
Bank mulls acquisitions
Deutsche Bank, Germany's biggest bank, is mulling major acquisitions, above all in the area of retail banking, chairman Josef Ackermann said in a newspaper interview published yesterday. "Retail [banking] is primarily where I see opportunities for acquisitions," Ackermann told the Financial Times. "A deal could be anywhere between 1 billion and 5 billion euros [US$1.26 billion and US$6.3 billion], but I also would not exclude something bigger if it makes strategic sense," Ackermann said.
Liquefying plant planned
A Japanese consortium hopes to capture carbon dioxide emissions at an Australian power plant by 2009 in a world first that would be a major step towards battling greenhouse gases responsible for global warming, a report said yesterday. Under the plan, about 20 percent of the carbon dioxide released by the plant in the northeastern state of Queensland would be trapped, liquefied then stored underground rather than released into the atmosphere. The Nihon Keizai business daily said J Power and Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries would lead the project alongside the Japanese industry ministry and Australian, US and European firms. Construction of the carbon dioxide liquefying facility, estimated to cost about US$124 million, is expected to begin next year and be ready two years later, the report said. The companies are also hoping to use the technology in developing Asian nations, particularly China, where demand for energy has increased rapidly.
Microsoft, Yahoo in talks
Software giant Microsoft and Internet media company Yahoo have been holding talks for more than a year about how to combat the rising threat of Google, including a proposal for Microsoft to buy a stake in Yahoo, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday. Among other options on the table is the sale of Microsoft's MSN online network to Yahoo in return for a minority stake in the Internet portal, the report said. The report came after a disappointing earnings report last week sent Microsoft shares tumbling more than 10 percent. The company's stock has languished for over a year on investor concerns about a challenge from Google. Last October Yahoo and Microsoft announced that their instant messaging services would be able to interconnect starting in the second quarter of this year.