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Tue, Aug 15, 2006 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Banking
Bank wins offering approval

China Merchants Bank (招商銀行) said it had won regulatory approval for a multi-billion-dollar public offering in Hong Kong, the latest Chinese bank seeking to raise cash on overseas stockmarkets. In a statement to the Shanghai stock exchange released over the weekend, the lender said it had secured approval from the China Securities Regulatory Commission to sell up to 2.53 billion shares. The bank must now await approval from Hong Kong regulators. The bank did not provide a date for the offering, although local media reports previously said the sale could come as early as the third quarter.

■ Oil

ONGC, Sinopec win oil bid

India's ONGC Videsh Ltd and Chinese oil major Sinopec (中國石油化工) have jointly won a US$800 million-plus bid for oil assets in Colombia, a news report said yesterday. Under the deal, ONGC and Sinopec will take a 25 percent stake each in Omimex de Colombia, a Delaware, US-based company that operates oil fields in Colombia, the Financial Express reported citing unnamed sources. The acquisition will likely to be concluded by end of this month, the report said.

■ Economics

German economy grows

The German economy, the biggest in the 12-country eurozone, grew at its fastest rate in five years in the second quarter of this year, propelled notably by a pick-up in domestic demand, official data showed yesterday. German GDP expanded by 0.9 percent quarter-on-quarter in the period from April to June, up from 0.7 percent in the preceding three months, the federal statistics office, Destatis, said in a statement. It was the fastest rate of growth since the first quarter of 2001. "While the momentum of foreign trade weakened, it was primarily investment in construction and equipment that contributed to the economic pick-up in the second quarter," the statisticians said. However, analysts are skeptical whether the German economy will be able to maintain the same momentum during the coming months. Much of the current pick-up in domestic demand is attributable to consumers bringing forward big-ticket purchases ahead of the planned rise in value-added tax from the beginning of next year.

■ Trade

US beef agreement close

South Korea and the US are nearing an agreement to resume imports of US beef suspended over fears of mad cow disease, a government official said yesterday. "We are in the final stage of negotiations," said Park Hyun-chool of the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry's livestock bureau. Park gave no time frame, saying only that the market would open after the US addresses South Korean concerns over how beef at US slaughterhouses is processed. South Korea was the third-largest foreign market for US beef after Japan and Mexico when it shut its doors in December 2003, when the US reported its first case of mad cow disease. The government agreed in January to allow imports of beef from US cattle younger than 30 months, but the reopening has stalled over measures to ensure meat safety. South Korea wants US beef processed separately from foreign beef in US facilities. It also wants equipment used on older cows to not be used to process the younger ones.

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