Microsoft on top in UK
US software giant Microsoft retained its crown as Britain's top "superbrand" in a survey of more than 3,000 consumers released yesterday. It beat out soft drinks company Coca-Cola and Internet search engine Google, which finished second and third respectively. The highest-ranking British brand was the BBC at fourth, followed by energy company BP and airline British Airways, the survey conducted by polling company YouGov for the Superbrands Council showed. The council, made up of marketing, advertising and media experts, rated a list of nearly 1,500 brands according to their quality, reliability and distinctiveness.
Dubai World eyes China
State-owned Dubai World is on the prowl for more investments in Asia, especially in the fast growing economies of China and India, its chairman said yesterday. Dubai World already has an extensive presence in the region, especially in the port terminal business, but there remains scope to increase its portfolio given Asia's booming expanion, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem said. Port operator DP World, which is part of Dubai World, has terminals in parts of China, including in Tianjin under joint ventures. DP World became one of the world's top container port operators after its US$6.9 billion acquisition of Britain's Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co last year.
Growth faster than expected
China's economy grew even faster last year than previously reported and its export-fueled foreign reserves have risen to a new high of US$1.33 trillion, new government data indicated. The National Bureau of Statistics raised its estimate of last year's growth rate from 10.7 percent to 11.1 percent. It nudged up its estimate of total output to 21.1 trillion yuan (US$2.705 trillion), bringing China closer to overtaking Germany as the world's No. 3 economy.
■ INTEREST RATES
S Korea raises call rate
South Korea yesterday raised its key interest rate for the first time in almost a year in an apparent attempt to curb high liquidity growth. The Bank of Korea increased this month's target for the call rate by 0.25 percentage point to a six-year high of 4.75 percent. The call rate, the interest on overnight interbank loans, had been left at 4.5 percent since last September in an attempt to spur economic growth. "We took the view that a rate hike will be better for the broader economy," central bank Governor Lee Seong-tae said.
Thailand open to rivals
The Bank of Thailand will allow Citigroup Inc, JPMorgan Chase & Co and other foreign banks already in Thailand to open more branches to increase competition in the banking industry. The regulator will issue more banking licenses over the next five years, Paiboon Kittisrikangwan, director of the central bank's Financial Institutions Policy Group, told a press conference in Bangkok yesterday. The reforms are part of a second "master plan" for Thailand's banking reforms. "The plan will allow easy entry of newcomers and easy exits by uncompetitive financial institutions," he said. "Rising competition will force existing players to adjust themselves to increase their efficiency and productivity."