Vietnam, US to ink trade deal
Vietnam and the US are preparing to sign a trade agreement within weeks, Vietnam's trade minister said yesterday. The deal would pave the way for the communist country to join the WTO. The two countries reached an agreement in principle after four days of negotiations in Washington earlier this month. Trade Minister Truong Dinh Tuyen said US Trade Representative-designate Susan Schwab is expected to attend a meeting of trade ministers of the APEC forum in Ho Chi Minh City on June 1 and 2, and that Vietnam and the US were expected to sign their agreement at that time. Vietnam applied to join the world trade body in 1995 and has concluded negotiations with 28 members that had requested bilateral talks.
Arcelor board considers bid
The board of steel group Arcelor decided on Sunday to postpone its response to an improved takeover bid from its rival Mittal Steel while financial regulators review and approve it, its chairman said. The board had also mandated the management of Arcelor "as soon as the prospectus of the revised offer and the business plan of Mittal are received to study their conditions and report back," Joseph Kinsch said after a four-hour board meeting. In Paris Lakshmi Mittal, head of the group that bears his name, said he was "convinced" his new offer of 25.8 billion euros (US$32.9 billion), or 37.74 euros a share announced on Friday would be enough to win a majority of shareholders.
New bank to be formed
Japanese bank Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc will jointly establish an investment bank with former Morgan Stanley vice chairman Joseph Perella and others, a report said yesterday. The investment bank to be launched in the US will handle international mergers and acquisitions, the business daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun said. Mitsubishi would bring its client network and product development capabilities, while Perella would offer his expertise and personal connections to the new institution, the newspaper said. Mitsubishi UFJ Securities Co, which handles the group's investment banking business, will extend a combined US$100 million toward the new bank's capitalization and its investment funds, the paper said. The bank, which will launch its operations as soon as next month, will offer merger and acquisition consulting services, as well as engage in its own corporate lending and investments.
Chinese may break up bank
China's central bank has recommended breaking up the huge but financially troubled Agricultural Bank of China, its fourth biggest bank, a newspaper reported yesterday. A breakup was the "preferred proposal" among several submitted to the Cabinet by central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan (周小川), the China Business Post said, citing unidentified "authoritative channels." The Agricultural Bank has lagged behind China's other major state-owned commercial banks, which have been recapitalized by the government and found foreign strategic investors. The central bank would turn the Agricultural Bank into a group of provincial-level banks, which could let Beijing force provinces to share in the cost of shoring up its balance sheet, the Business Post said.