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Thu, Aug 17, 2006 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take


■ Retail
Wal-Mart's profits down

The sales of its troubled German stores caused Wal-Mart Stores Inc to break a 10-year streak of rising quarterly profit reports, the world's biggest retailer reported on Tuesday. Wal-Mart's net income in the second quarter dropped 26 percent to US$2.08 billion, or US$0.50 a share. The company reported profit of US$2.8 billion, or US$0.67 a share, in the same three-month period of last year. The company, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, blamed the drop in performance on a charge of US$863 million resulting from the sale of its 85 Wal-Mart stores in Germany to Metro AG.

■ Banking

Shinhan Financial preferred

Shinhan Financial Group has won a bid to purchase a controlling stake in LG Card Co, South Korea's largest credit card issuer, Korea Development Bank announced yesterday. "Shinhan Financial is named as preferred negotiator ... and we hope to finalize the deal in October," said Kim Jong-bae, deputy governor at Korea Development Bank. KDB is a creditor of LG Card. Shinhan Financial beat out rivals Hana Financial Holdings and the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation to be named preferred bidder, the bank said. KDB didn't reveal the proposed acquisition price or the stake size that Shinhan Financial is set to purchase.

■ Automobiles

BMW, SAIC talk Rover

German automaker BMW AG and Shanghai's SAIC Motor Corp are discussing the possible sale of the Rover brand name to the Chinese car maker but have yet to strike a deal, spokesmen from both companies said yesterday. "We have been in touch with BMW all along but no final decision has been reached yet," Zhu Xiangjun, a spokesman for SAIC, said regarding reports that BMW had sold it the Rover brand name. Asked if an announcement about such a deal was imminent, Zhu said, "No." Rival Chinese automaker Nanjing Automobile Group bought Britain's bankrupt MG Rover last year, but SAIC owns the technology for two Rover models, the 25 and the 75.

■ Airlines

Freight next for Qantas

Australia's Qantas yesterday announced the formation of a new wholly-owned subsidiary domestic air freight business, Express Freighters Australia. The company will start operations in October with a single Boeing 737-300, growing to four such aircraft by March next year, chief executive officer Geoff Dixon said. Express Freighters Australia will wet lease the freighters for 12 years to Australian Air Express -- a domestic express freight joint venture between Australia Post and Qantas. The business would provide revenue growth for the group, new employment for pilots and additional work volumes for Qantas engineers, Dixon said.

■ Electronics

One phone is not enough

An iPod and two mobile phones are the latest must-have accessories along with sushi for the status-conscious British office worker, according to a survey released yesterday. The poll, conducted for recruitment firm Office Angels, found 67 percent of 1,500 respondents considered so-called "micro-gadgets" like Blackberrys, laptop memory sticks and small mobile phones to be the ultimate status symbols. Office Angels dubbbed survey respondents GOSSIPS (Gadget Obsessed Status Symbol Infatuated Professionals).

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