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Fri, Jul 14, 2006 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Insurance
Aviva to swallow AmerUS

Aviva PLC said yesterday it would take over US insurance company AmerUS Group Co in a US$2.9 billion deal that will expand the UK insurer's reach into the US market. Aviva said it will raise £900 million (US$1.7 billion) in new shares at £7 each to finance the cash purchase, with the remainder to be paid with debt and money it has on hand. It will pay US$69 in cash per AmerUs share, a 10 percent premium to AmerUs' closing price July 6 and representing 12.5 times the estimated earnings per share of AmerUs next year.

■ Debt

Eurotunnel seeks protection

Eurotunnel, the debt-ridden operators of the Channel Tunnel link between Britain and France, has applied for bankruptcy protection, a statement said yesterday. Eurotunnel faces financial collapse if it does not sort out its debts of £6.2 billion (US$11.1 billion). It applied for legal protection from its creditors after last-ditch talks aimed at averting its bankruptcy broke up without agreement. The British-French company, which jointly runs the train link through the Channel Tunnel, has asked a French court in Paris to freeze its debts to enable it to continue operating while a judge tries to mediate a solution.

■ Energy

Oil price hits new high

Oil prices hit a record yesterday as an escalation of violence in the Middle East triggered concerns about stability in the region. Light, sweet crude for August delivery rose US$0.93 to US$75.88 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, breaking the previous intraday high of US$75.78 set last Friday. The front-month August Brent contract on London's ICE Futures exchange also hit a high, climbing US$0.99 to US$75.38 a barrel, above its previous $75.09 per barrel record, also set on Friday.

■ Electronics

HD DVD recorder delayed

Toshiba Corp said yesterday it would postpone the sale of the world's first HD DVD recorder because of a production delay. The new recorder, the RD-A1, had been slated to go on sale today, but the release will be pushed back to July 27, the Tokyo-based electronics maker said in a release. The delay is due to problems in securing some parts for the recorder, and Toshiba will not have enough units ready for a nationwide release until the later date, according to company spokesman Keisuke Omori. Toshiba has said the recorder will carry a suggested price tag of ¥398,000 (US$3,470). The electronics maker hopes to sell 10,000 recorders by the end of this year, Omori said.

■ Mobile phones

Sony Ericsson profits

Mobile phone giant Sony Ericsson reported yesterday a strong increase in profits in the second quarter as the company sold 33 percent more phones than in the same period a year earlier. Net profit rose to 143 million euros (US$182 million) in the second three months of the year, compared with 109 million euros in the same quarter a year earlier. Pre-tax profit at 211 million euros, compared with 151 million euros a year earlier, outstripped market expectations which had centered on 159 million euros. Sales increased to 15.7 billion euros from 11.8 billion. Sony Ericsson launched new high-end phones carrying the Walkman brand, as well a Cybershot-branded camera phone, in the second quarter.

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