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Mon, Oct 09, 2006 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

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■ Malaysia

Sugar in short supply

The government has launched an all-out campaign to overcome a severe sugar shortage as it embarks on a long festive season kicked off by Ramadan, mobilizing the navy and opening a 24-hour hotline to contain public outrage. Store-imposed rationing, scrounging around shops for sugar and panic-buying have become familiar activities in Malaysia in recent months. To overcome the crisis, Malaysia is importing some 80,000 tonnes of raw sugar from China and Brazil, while local manufacturers have also stepped up production. Malaysians consume a monthly average of 85,000 to 87,000 tonnes of sugar, which spikes to over 100,000 tonnes during festive months.

■ Telecoms

Telstra chief upbeat

A transformation program would begin paying dividends in the first half of next year with increased earnings for the troubled Telstra, Sol Trujillo, chief executive of the Australian telecoms giant, said in an interview with Nine Network television ahead of the launch today of the prospectus for a multi-billion-dollar share sale. "In the second half of this current fiscal year you will see a dramatic increase in terms of earnings. The point is the transformation about earnings growth will begin and begin in a material way." The government, which owns 51.8 percent of Telstra shares, will from Oct. 23 sell A$8 billion (US$6.06 billion) worth in an offering known as "T3" because it is the third such public offering.

■ South Korea

Companies feel optimistic

Major South Korean companies expect business conditions to remain favorable for a second straight month this month, according to a business survey index issued yesterday by the Federation of Korean Industries. "Amid sustained unfavorable conditions such as high costs of oil and raw materials, the won's appreciation, and slower recovery in domestic demand, companies are expecting the economy to improve, helped by a short-term increase in sales ahead of the Chusok holiday and due to seasonal factors," the federation said. South Korea's Thanksgiving holiday, or Chusok, was celebrated from last Thursday to Saturday.

■ Aviation

AirAsia rules out long-hauls

The head of Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia yesterday ruled out establishing a budget long-haul airline and labeled as "preposterous" a report flagging the move. AirAsia's Group chief executive officer Tony Fernandes scotched a report of the Edge financial weekly that the carrier's management team was behind the new airline and would submit a business plan to the government. "It's a preposterous idea," he said. "I'm ruling it out, I don't see it happening, I don't believe in the model."

■ R&D

Firms establish think tank

Toyota Motor Corp and Canon Inc are among the Japanese companies setting up a think tank and may ask former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi to head it, the Mainichi Shimbun said. Toyota, Canon, Tokyo Electric Power Co and Nippon Steel Corp will invest ?100 million (US$847,000) each to set up the institute, the Mainichi reported. More than 20 other companies will put in between ?10 million and ?20 million each, the report said. The think tank will be independent from the government and issue policy proposals, the paper said.

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