Japanese invest in refinery
Qatar signed an agreement on Monday giving four Japanese companies a combined 29 percent stake in an US$800 million gas refinery described as one of the largest being built in the world. The condensate refinery, which is being built in Ras Laffan Industrial City, 80km north of Doha, will have the capacity to process 146,000 barrels per day of gas products. State-run Qatar Petroleum said in a statement it had signed an amended joint venture agreement bringing the four new shareholders -- Idemitsu, Cosmo, Mitsui and Marubeni -- into the Laffan refinery venture. The refinery is due to come on stream in 2008.
Vote ratifies WTO entry
The nation's legislature ratified the country's entry into the WTO yesterday, paving the way for Vietnam to become the global trade body's 150th member. Vietnam's membership will take effect on Dec. 28, 30 days after the National Assembly vote, opening the gates to increased foreign investment and trade in Southeast Asia's fastest-growing economy. The move was approved by a vote of 444-3, with two abstentions. Despite the overwhelming support, lawmakers urged the government to ease the challenges that globalization will pose to Vietnam. "Once the opportunities emerge, the weaknesses of the economy will also be exposed," legislator Vu Tien Loc said.
VW to set up India plant
Volkswagen AG plans to invest US$530 million to build its first plant in India, the German embassy said yesterday. The factory will be built near the city of Pune in the western state of Maharashtra, the embassy said in a statement. An agreement between Volkswagen and the government of Maharashtra state is to be signed today, it said. The plant will employ around 2,500 staff and is due to start production of a compact vehicle in the second half of 2009.
Low-cost airline to launch
A new low-cost tourist airline being created by Air France-KLM will be launched in June to compete with budget carriers flying to dozens of Mediterranean destinations, the company said on Monday. The new carrier, named Transavia.com France, will initially offer 67 weekly flights from Paris to 10 destinations and will add five more by the end of the year, Air France added. The main countries served will be Morocco, Tunisia, Spain, Italy and Egypt. The new airline would enable Air France to respond to the needs of travel operators such as Club Med as well as to compete with low-cost operators for popular destinations, Air France's commercial director Christian Boireau said.
Myojo evades takeover bid
Japanese Noodle maker Myojo Foods said yesterday that it had evaded a hostile takeover attempt by a US hedge fund thanks to a "white knight" counterbid from industry giant Nissin Food Products. The tender offer by Steel Partners Japan Strategic Fund, the Japanese arm of the US hedge fund, ended in failure after shareholders shunned the ¥700 (US$6.02) per share bid, Myojo said in a statement. The noodle maker urged its stakeholders to accept Nissin's offer of ¥870 per Myojo share that will close on Dec. 14, saying a business and capital tie-up between the firms would boost shareholder value.