PRC forms investment firm
China's government is creating an investment company to make more effective use of its US$1 trillion in foreign reserves, the finance minister said yesterday. The company will report directly to the Chinese Cabinet, Finance Minister Jin Renqing (金人慶) said at a news conference. He gave no timetable for the creation of the company or details of how it might invest the reserves. China's foreign reserves, the world's largest, are managed by the central bank, which is believed to keep most of them in safe but low-yielding US Treasuries.
Absolut draws top bidders
Three of the world's top spirits makers -- Pernod Ricard SA, Bacardi Ltd and Diageo PLC -- have told the Swedish government they are interested in buying the state-owned liquor group that makes Absolut vodka, a spokeswoman said on Thursday. The center-right government presented plans last week to sell the V&S Vin & Sprit AB liquor group as part of wider privatization plans. V&S owns several brands of liquor and wine, with Absolut its biggest moneymaker. Analysts said they expected V&S to sell for about 40 billion krona (US$5.7 billion). It was not clear, however, if the government would opt for a direct sale or a stock market listing.
Top US lender struggles
Subprime lender New Century Financial Corp said on Thursday it had stopped accepting all new loan applications as it struggled to obtain financing amid market speculation that the company could file for bankruptcy. In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, New Century said it was only able to fund some of its loans this week, and its capacity to fund new loans was "substantially limited" because of problems obtaining financing from lenders. The US' second-largest subprime lender provides loans to people with bad credit. Amid a slowdown in housing markets nationwide, the subprime industry has come under the microscope in the past month.
Royal prank on eBay
Norway's royal palace ran the risk of being sold cheap on the auction Web site eBay when a hoax advertisement offered it for one dollar, media reported on Thursday. "Cheap! The royal palace of a young monarchy, just 102 years old, is on sale," the offer read and it had already managed to attract a bid of US$99,999,999 before being taken down on Thursday morning. "At the moment, the castle is in Norway but it can be moved to another country whenever. The King and Queen are not included in the price, but I am sure that they would move with the Royal Palace," the offer said. The Norwegian royal palace is the residence and workplace of King Harald and Queen Sonja.
Thai capital rules remain
Thailand's new finance minister said yesterday he would keep controversial currency rules, dashing market speculation that the government would soon lift the measures aimed at curbing the Thai baht's rise. New finance minister Chalongphob Sussangkarn said the capital rules were needed to control the Thai unit, which has risen nearly 12 percent against the US dollar over the past year. "At the moment, appropriate measures [to replace the capital rules] have not been found," he said.