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Mon, May 29, 2006 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

■ Pornography
UK fastest-growing market

Britain is the fastest growing market for the booming Internet adult pornography business, with one in four adults, including 1.6 million women, downloading images each month, a study suggested yesterday. A survey by Nielsen NetRatings for the Independent on Sunday found that more than 9 million men -- almost 40 percent of Britain's male population -- used pornographic Web sites last year compared with an estimated 2 million in 2000. One in four men aged 25 to 49 -- 2.5 million -- have visited an adult Web site in the last month alone, while some 1.5 million women used Internet pornography in the last 12 months, up from 1 million in the previous year, the survey found. Men and women spent an average 40 minutes each month looking at pornographic Web site while half of all couples watched pornography on the Internet together.

■ Steel

Severstal head lauds merger

The head of the Russian steel group Severstal on Saturday hailed a prospective merger of his company and European steelmaker Arcelor, saying it signalled Russia's entry into the global business arena. "Russian business is coming out into the world arena," Severstal's chief executive Alexei Mordashov told reporters. Arcelor announced on Friday that it planned to buy Severstal in a US$15.3 billion transaction. The merger aims to head off an earlier 25.8 billion euro (US$32.8 billion) offer from the world's No. 1 steelmaker, Mittal Steel, to take over Arcelor. The Arcelor-Severstal merger, which would create the world's biggest steel group, "shows that Russians are capable of taking part in the creation of global companies. It is a precedent," Mordashov said. When the merger is completed, Mordashov is due to become one of the main shareholders in Arcelor, holding 32 percent of the capital.

■ Trade

Uribe wants reversal

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said he hopes to persuade Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to reverse his decision to leave the Andean Community of Nations trade bloc. "International commerce is a road to overcoming poverty and the goods we sell need a free-trade pact," Uribe said at a press conference in Bogota. Uribe said he will seek a private meeting with Chavez when the presidents of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, the countries that make up the free-trade association, gather in Quito on June 13 and June 14. Chavez said on April 19 his country would quit the bloc because free-trade agreements reached by Colombia and Peru with the US had made it obsolete.

■ Beverages

Coke eyes booze market

Coca-Cola Amatil Ltd, Australia's biggest soft drink maker, may expand into the alcohol market for the first time to tap new growth as rising commodity prices crimp profit margins. The Sydney-based company will "actively look" at creating an alcohol unit, which may be done through acquisitions or by developing its own products, chief executive officer Terry Davis told the Nine Network's Business Sunday program yesterday. Davis, a former head of Foster's Group Ltd's wine unit, is seeking new sources of earnings growth as increased competition makes it harder to raise prices and recover higher costs for sugar, aluminum and resin for plastic bottles.

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