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Sat, Sep 02, 2006 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Aeronautics
Lockheed to build `Orion'

NASA picked Lockheed Martin Corp on Thursday as the prime contractor to build the Orion spaceship, which will replace the aging shuttle fleet and take astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972. The contract's initial phase, valued at US$3.9 billion, would get the US space agency one ship made to carry crew and another for cargo; people are expected to fly on the new vessel by 2014. The first lunar voyage should happen by 2020. The Orion space vessel is a departure from the shuttle's winged design, and looks more like the capsules that carried Apollo astronauts to lunar orbit in the 1960s and 1970s.

■ Automobiles

Strike at Kia ends

South Korea's Kia Motors Corp said it resumed normal operations yesterday after reaching a tentative agreement with its labor union over a wage increase. The management and the union agreed yesterday on a 5.7 percent increase in basic salary and various incentives. The tentative agreement will be put to vote on Tuesday. The union had been on partial strike since July, demanding a 7.1 percent wage increase and better working conditions. Kia, an affiliate of Hyundai Motor Co, said its production losses amounted to nearly 48,000 vehicles during the strike.

■ Automobiles

Asahi Tec eyes Metaldyne

Japanese auto parts maker Asahi Tec's shares surged 20 percent yesterday on news that it plans to buy US rival Metaldyne Corp. Asahi Tec plans to purchase Michigan-based Metaldyne Corp, said Mari Mori, but she could not immediately comment on how much the firm plans to spend for the purchase. Japanese business daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported the company plans to acquire Metaldyne for an estimated ¥100 billion (US$850 million) to ¥150 billion. Metaldyne officials were not immediately available for comment.

■ Telecoms

Nokia buying gate5

Nokia Ojy said on Thursday it will buy gate5, a German designer of navigation software, allowing the world's largest cellphone maker to offer maps on its mobile devices. "Maps and navigation are natural elements to be offered in mobile devices, but this area hasn't developed as fast as expected by the market," said Anssi Vanjoki, Nokia's general manager for multimedia. "Acquiring gate5 enables Nokia to offer consumers the world-leading mobile location applications, such as maps, routing and navigation at an accelerated speed." Nokia said the deal should be completed by the end of the year but did not disclose financial details. Founded in 1999, gate5 is headquartered in Berlin and has about 70 employees.

■ Asia

Official tackles growth risks

High oil prices, a slowing US economy and financial market volatility are the key risks to Asia's robust economic growth, IMF managing director Rodrigo Rato said. Oil prices are unlikely to fall back dramatically, he said, urging countries to learn to cope with soaring fuel costs. Asia faces similar risks as the rest of the world but the region is "particularly sensitive" to growth in the US and oil prices, which are currently above US$70 a barrel, Rato said. "In addition, while the region has shown resilience to the financial market volatility in May and June, further volatility in global financial markets could affect capital flows, growth and inflation," he said.

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