Chirac, Merkel tackle EADS
Troubles at EADS and its plane-making subsidiary Airbus were high on the agenda as French President Jacques Chirac hosted German Chancellor Angela Merkel for a Franco-German summit in Paris yesterday. Chirac signaled support for Airbus restructuring ahead of the summit, where ministers from both countries were to discuss politically sensitive job cuts at the crisis-hit European aircraft maker. The French leader, amid growing concern that an Airbus shake-up could cause friction between the two countries, also sought to reduce investor fears of heavy-handed political intervention in Airbus and its parent company, EADS Co.
■ Real Estate
Asia ripe for REIT, S&P says
Asia is ripe for an "explosion" in real estate investment trusts (REIT) as China, Pakistan, Dubai and Saudi Arabia consider legislative reforms to boost the market, Standard & Poor's said yesterday. In the third quarter to last month, an index compiled by S&P and Citigroup showed the Asia-Pacific property market rose 7.46 percent from a year earlier, less than the 12.44 percent growth in Europe and 9.75 percent in the US. The Asia-Pacific REITs market expanded 8.32 percent in the third quarter, compared with 16.59 percent in Europe and 9.68 percent in the US. "The region is ripe for a REIT explosion," the report said.
Thailand to ban booze ads
Thailand will ban alcohol advertisements from local television, magazines and other forms of media under a proposed law aimed at curbing underage drinking, an official said yesterday. Health Minister Mongkol Na Songkhla said the law is expected to take effect immediately after it goes before the Cabinet next week for formal approval. The new ban would apply only to domestic media and would not cover advertisements that run during live international broadcasts, such as sporting events, Mongkol said.
BellSouth bid approved
The US Justice Department approved AT&T's proposal to take over BellSouth on Wednesday, clearing one of the last hurdles in a deal that would create the largest US telecommunications firm. The department's antitrust chief, Thomas Barnett, said it had concluded that the deal was "not likely to reduce competition substantially" because of emerging technologies changing the competitive landscape. The US$67 billion merger, which still needs approval by the US Federal Communications Commission, would give AT&T full control of Cingular Wireless, the largest US mobile operator, which it currently owns jointly with BellSouth.
Australian law clears hurdle
New laws that would allow more foreign investment and mergers in Australia's media industry cleared their final hurdle yesterday when the Senate approved them by a vote of 36-32. The House of Representatives has yet to pass the legislation but the center-right government's clear majority in the second parliamentary chamber has ensured that the ruling coalition's legislative agenda has never been rejected there in the decade it has been in power. Current media laws bar foreign companies from controlling more than 15 percent of a television company and more than 25 percent of a newspaper publisher.