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Thu, Dec 14, 2006 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Aviation
A380 receives certification

The Airbus A380 received certification from European and US aviation authorities on Tuesday, clearing its last official hurdle before the first 555-seater superjumbo is scheduled to be delivered to Singapore Airlines Ltd next October. Officials from the European Aviation Safety Agency and US Federal Aviation Administration signed airworthiness certificates for the much-delayed plane at a ceremony at Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, southern France. The A380's clearance for commercial takeoff offered some much-needed good news for Airbus -- which has fallen behind rival Boeing Co on orders this year.

■ Internet

Winny inventor convicted

A Japanese court yesterday convicted the inventor of popular file-swapping software for copyright violations but refused to jail the programmer, who has become a cyberspace icon. Isamu Kaneko, 36, created the "peer-to-peer" Winny software, which lets users exchange files such as computer games and movies over the Internet for free. Kaneko, who was a research assistant at Tokyo University until his arrest in 2004, was ordered to pay a ?1.5 million (US$13,000) fine in Japan's first ruling on file-sharing software. But the Kyoto District Court turned down a call from prosecutors for a one-year prison sentence for Kaneko, who pleaded not guilty.

■ Insurance

Hannover to sell Praetorian

Germany's Hannover Re AG said yesterday it is selling its US-based specialty insurer Praetorian Financial Group Inc to Australia's QBE Insurance Group Ltd for US$800 million. "This successful sale demonstrates that it was the right decision to carve out our US primary specialty business into Praetorian," Hannover chief executive Wilhlem Zeller said. The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, and expected to be completed by June, is part of the Hanover-based reinsurer's commitment to focus on its core markets. Praetorian provides insurance on what the industry calls niche products, such as art collections, cell phones, jewelry businesses and even pet insurance.

■ Automobiles

Court acquits executives

A Japanese court yesterday acquitted three former executives of Mitsubishi Motors Corp in a fatal crash that prosecutors said was caused by a design flaw, Kyodo News agency reported. The Yokohama Summary Court also found the company not guilty over a 2002 accident in which a tire fell off a Mitsubishi truck, killing a 29-year-old woman, Kyodo said. The victim's two children were also injured. Prosecutors accused the three executives -- Takashi Usami, 66, Akio Hanawa, 65, and Tadashi Koshikawa, 64 -- of falsifying defect reports on its truck wheel parts, and failed to take measures to avoid vehicle recalls.

■ Economy

Fed keeps rates unchanged

The Federal Reserve kept interest rates unchanged on Tuesday for the fourth straight time as worries about inflation continued to trump concerns about the slowing economy. At its final meeting for the year, the central bank left its target for the federal funds rate at 5.25 percent. The funds rate, the interest that banks charge each other, has been at that level since June, when the Fed raised rates for the 17th time in a two-year effort to combat rising inflation. The decision means that banks' prime lending rate will remain at 8.25 percent.

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