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Tue, Oct 03, 2006 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Entertainment
Harrah's stock on the rise

Shares of Harrah's Entertainment Inc, the world's largest casino operator, rose after the Wall Street Journal said a group of private equity firms is close to an agreement to buy the company. Harrah's stock was up US$3.30, or 5 percent, to US$69.73 at 10:45am in Frankfurt. The shares rose 0.9 percent to US$66.43 in New York last Friday, giving the company a market value of about US$12.3 billion. Texas Pacific Group and Colony Capital are among "a number of" buyout firms which have been involved in the talks, the Journal said on its Web site yesterday, citing an unidentified person familiar with the matter. An agreement could come as early as this week, the paper reported. Details are incomplete and it's possible that no transaction will take place, the paper said.

■ Utilities

Britain's AWG bought

A consortium headed by venture capitalists 3i Group PLC has won agreement to take over AWG PLC, a British water utility, in a ?2.2 billion (US$4.1 billion) deal, the companies said yesterday. The Osprey consortium offered 1,555 pence cash per AWG share, or a loan alternative. The offer price is 14.2 percent higher than AWG's share price of Sept. 13, the business day before AWG announced it had received an approach, the announcement said. AWG owns Anglian Water, which covers the largest geographical area of any water company in Britain. In addition to 3i, the firms involved in the takeover are CPP Investment Board of Toronto; Colonial First State of Sydney, a division of Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Industry Funds Management of Melbourne, Australia. Peter Hickson, chairman of AWG, said the board unanimously recommended the offer, saying it "represents an attractive opportunity for shareholders to crystallize value."

■ Manufacturing

US expansion slows

The US manufacturing sector expanded at the slowest pace in over a year last month amid weaker auto sales and a slumping housing market, a trade group said yesterday. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM), based in Tempe, Arizona, said its manufacturing index registered 52.9 last month, below August's reading of 54.5 and the lowest reading since May last year. Analysts had been expecting a reading of 53.5. A reading of 50 or more indicates expansion, while below 50 shows contraction. The figure for last month represented the 40th consecutive month of growth.

■ Automobiles

S Koreans report top sales

Five South Korean automakers yesterday reported record sales for last month after strikes ended and demand grew at home and abroad. Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors, GM Daewoo Auto and Technology Co, Ssangyong Motor Co and Renault Samsung Motor Co sold a combined 547,371 vehicles last month, up 43.2 percent from September last year. Hyundai Motor posted the highest monthly sales of 264,014 vehicles, up 52.3 percent from a year earlier. Domestic sales jumped 47.1 percent to 56,093, with exports amounting to 207,921 vehicles, Hyundai said. Exports of vehicles produced in South Korea rose 75 percent while car sales from overseas plants grew 29.9 percent. "Sales greatly improved as the labor union ended its strike in late July, normalizing operations on all our production lines," Hyundai said.

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