Microsoft, MTV launch URGE
Microsoft joined with music television giant MTV on Wednesday in launching an online music service aimed at challenging Apple Computer's market-leading iTunes store. The beta, or test, version of the service launched in the US, dubbed "URGE," offers downloads from a catalog of two million songs for US$0.99, the same price as iTunes. It also will feature 130 CD-quality radio stations in a variety of musical genres and 500 "playlists" for subscribers of a service paying about US$10 a month or US$99 a year, similar to the services of Napster and RealNetworks. URGE is offering a 14-day free trial for the service. International versions of the URGE store will depend on the success of the US launch, which will be updated later this year, company officials said.
BK shares priced at US$17
Burger King's parent company priced its initial public offering at US$17 per share on Wednesday, a day before the No. 2 hamburger chain's stock is set to trade for the first time. Burger King Holdings Inc said the company plans to offer 25 million shares, and its expected stock price was at the high end of the US$15 to US$17 range it had estimated earlier this month. The company expects to receive approximately US$393 million from the offering, though it intends to use the proceeds for repayment of US$350 million of outstanding debt, Burger King said in a news release. The sale would represent about 19 percent of the company's overall shares, and a sale at US$17 a share would value the entire company at about US$2.25 billion. The biggest burger chain, McDonald's Corp, has a market value of about US$43.2 billion by comparison.
■ Real estate
China worried about prices
China will adjust lending and other policies to cope with surging real estate prices, the government says, reacting to a potentially destabilizing scarcity of affordable housing and rising financial risks from property speculation. China's top leaders met on Wednesday and ordered stricter enforcement of curbs on lending and tax policies aimed at discouraging property speculation, state media reported yesterday. The report did not give details of how policies would be changed. Property prices in 70 major cities rose an average of 5.5 percent in the first quarter of this year, compared with the same period last year, according to government statistics.
Tiger celebrates for pennies
Low-cost Tiger Airways is offering one-way promotional fares to Bangkok and Phuket for S$0.88 (US$0.55), the carrier said yesterday. The promotion, running from today to Monday, is for travel from July 1 to Oct. 28 this year, said the Singapore Airlines-backed Tiger in a statement. The fare, excluding taxes, is valid for travel from Singapore to Bangkok or Phuket as well as from both Thai destinations to the city-state. Tiger flies to five cities in Thailand. The fare marks the selection of Tiger as the only low-cost carrier to win an award from the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore earlier this month. It was selected among the top 10 airlines operating at Changi Airport. Tiger serves 16 cities in six countries -- Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Australia -- as well as Macau.