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Sat, May 06, 2006 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Airlines
Crew retired to cut costs

Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong's leading carrier, said yesterday it is offering early retirement to 1,600 cabin crew to offset surging fuel prices and operating costs which are chewing heavily into profits. Cabin crew with more than 15 years of experience -- about 1,600 people -- could opt to retire early and receive up to 17 months' salary on top of their standard retirement benefits, Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd spokeswoman Carolyn Leung said. Cathay Pacific reported earlier that its net profit fell 25 percent last year to HK$3.3 billion (US$426 million), down from HK$4.42 billion in 2004, as higher jet fuel prices offset strong growth in passenger demand. The carrier said during the year its fuel costs rose 67 percent to HK$15.59 billion, accounting for a third of its operating expenses.

■ Oil

Venezuela buys Chinese rigs

Venezuela's state oil company will form a joint venture with a Chinese company to assemble oil rigs, a company executive said. Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, has agreed to purchase 28 drilling rigs from China Petro Technology and Development Corp to assemble some of the rigs in Venezuela, Luis Vierma, vice president for exploration and production at PDVSA, said on Thursday at an industry conference in Houston, Texas. The company is a subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corp. "By the year 2008 we're going to be assembling rigs in Venezuela," Vierma said. "By 2010-11, we're going to be able to build our own rigs." Venezuela currently operates about 90 rigs but doesn't manufacture any. The purchase comes as Venezuela endeavors to ramp up its production to 5.8 million barrels a day from its official output of 3.3 million at present.

■ Computers

Dell confident about future

Dell Inc founder and chairman Michael Dell, responding to concerns about his company's recent stock declines, said on Thursday he remains confident in the direct-sales model that helped create the world's largest PC maker. "Let's kind of review the situation here," Dell said. "In the last 10 years our company has grown about 10 times and our stock is up a couple thousand percent." Shares of the company have sunk since a Citigroup analyst cut his rating on the stock to "Sell" last month amid concerns that Dell's gross margins could rapidly deteriorate if it slashes prices in order to gain market share.

■ Internet

Google sued over porn links

A US politician sued Google Inc, claiming the search engine leader is profiting from illegal child pornography. Jeffrey Toback, a member of the Nassau County Legislature, said on Thursday Google has paid links to Web sites containing pornography involving minors. "This case is about a multi-billion dollar company that promotes and profits from child pornography," said the complaint filed in state Supreme Court in Mineola, New York. A Google spokesman denied the allegations and said the Mountain View, California-based company takes numerous steps to prevent access to child pornography. "When we find or are made aware of any pornography, we remove it from our products, including our search engine," spokesman Steve Langdon said in a statement. "We also report it to the appropriate law enforcement officials and fully cooperate with the law enforcement community to combat child pornography."

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