IBM shifts buying center
IBM Corp said on Thursday it was transferring its chief purchasing operations to China, a move that highlights Asia's growing importance in the global supply chain. The decision to transfer its chief procurement office from New York to Shenzhen marks the first time the headquarters of a global IBM division has been located outside the US, the company said in a statement. IBM began shifting its Asia-Pacific headquarters from Tokyo to Shanghai in 2004. The addition of its global procurement office to Shenzhen is aimed at reshaping the company's supply base in the region, IBM said.
Microsoft buying Colloquis
Microsoft Corp announced a deal on Thursday to buy Colloquis Inc, a privately held firm specializing in virtual service agents programmed to answer questions online. Microsoft said it would use the technology to host a Windows Live Service Agent business for clients and put the Colloquis software to work in its own divisions, beginning with the Xbox video game group. The software recognizes questions or statements sent via instant messaging and then responds as though one were "chatting with a customer service agent," according to Microsoft.
Daiei, Aeon in talks
The top shareholder in Japan's troubled retailer Daiei Inc agreed yesterday to start talks with leading supermarket operator Aeon Co on a capital tie-up to rehabilitate the ailing rival. Trading house Marubeni Corp, which owns 44.6 percent of Daiei, said in a statement that it would consider selling a 15 percent stake to Aeon as part of a wider tie-up to turn around Daiei. US retail giant Wal-Mart has also reportedly been in talks with Marubeni about a possible tie-up with Daiei, but the trading house apparently concluded that Aeon was the best partner to help get the retailer back on its feet.
■ Internet Games
Sportingbet dumps US biz
Sportingbet PLC, the British online gambling company, said yesterday it had dumped its US operations following legislation to ban Internet gambling in that country. Sportingbet sold its US sports-betting and casino business and its US poker operations to Antigua-based Jazette Enterprises Ltd for US$1, offloading US$13.2 million of debt. The firm said the sale saved it US$14 million in cost of closing down the operations. The companies have 500 employees. If US President George W. Bush decides to veto the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, Sportingbet said it would reclaim its US operations from Jazette for a payment of US$500,000.
Sharp, Fujitsu plan recall
Japan's Sharp and Fujitsu yesterday announced plans to recall laptop batteries made by Sony, adding to an already massive global recall. Sharp said that it was recalling 28,000 Sony-made battery packs for seven laptop models and separately sold batteries, all for domestic use, according to company spokesman Hiroshi Takenami. Fujitsu said that it was recalling more laptop batteries by Sony following an initial recall earlier this month. Kyodo News agency said that Fujitsu's recall concerned 51,000 Sony-made batteries. Fujitsu said a total 11 models were to be recalled because they may contain defective batteries.