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Sat, Aug 05, 2006 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Electronis
Sony mulls land sale

Sony is considering selling part of the land from its Tokyo headquarters in continuing restructuring efforts, although details aren't finalized, spokesman Atsuo Omagari said yesterday. Sony officials went to the city ward office on Thursday to say the company was considering selling some of that Tokyo property, including buildings and land, but details of the sale, including land size, the buyer and value of the assets, aren't decided, Omagari said. Sony is constructing a new headquarters building in Tokyo, set to open later this year, he said. The company has already sold off ¥113 billion (US$980 million) of assets.

■ Automobiles

Toyota's net profits rise

Toyota Motor Corp said yesterday a 39.2 percent jump in net profit for the fiscal first quarter to a new record high as it won customers from struggling US rivals. The world's second largest automaker said its net profit reached ¥371.5 billion (US$3.23 billion) in the three months to June from a year earlier. "We posted substantial increases in both revenue and profits, achieving record levels," Toyota Motor senior managing director Takeshi Suzuki said. Operating profit increased by 26.5 percent to ¥512.4 billion, on revenue of ¥5.64 trillion, up 13.2 percent year-on-year. The profit surge was driven by a strong performance in North America where sales rose by 106,000 units to 747,000.

■ Software

Microsoft apologizes

Microsoft was trying to make amends on Thursday to bloggers irked by problems with a revamped social networking service the US computer software giant rolled out this week. Windows Live Spaces stumbled after being launched late on Tuesday, Microsoft wrote in a contrite Web log posting. "We know we disappointed a bunch of you," the Microsoft posting read. "We planned long and hard for this release and unfortunately it was one of those gotchas that only showed up once we were in production." Microsoft wrote that it scrambled this week to get Spaces Live "in much better shape," but there were still things in need of fixing.

■ IPR

Japan seeks beef patent

Japan plans to make its cattle intellectual property to protect its high-end beef industry by identifying pure Japanese animals against those of mixed origin, the agriculture ministry said yesterday. Japan will seek to patent the cattle's genes and put bar-codes on semen stocks in a bid to protect its beef, known as wagyu here and overseas often called Kobe beef. Kobe beef fetches high prices as it is marketed as being of elite quality. Ranchers sometimes massage the cows or feed them beer while they are being raised for slaughter.

■ Confectionary

M&Ms offers brand packs

The candy that "melts in your mouth, not in your hand" has a new message: this space for rent. As of next month M&Ms will be available for corporate logos and advertising under a plan called "My Branding" -- an escalation in a war with The Hershey Co and its "Kissables." Hershey's has encroached on M&M's turf with the kiss-shaped chocolates in a hard candy coating, packaged to be finished in one helping. Masterfoods USA, a unit of privately held Mars Inc and the maker of M&Ms, wants more people and companies to order M&Ms in bulk, for favors or corporate gifts.

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