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Wed, Aug 01, 2007 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ FINANCE

ABN Amro to sell two units

ABN Amro Holding NV, the target in the world's biggest banking takeover battle, agreed to sell two Dutch consumer finance businesses for an undisclosed amount to a Credit Agricole SA unit. Credit Agricole's Sofinco will acquire the total capital of Interbank NV and DMC Groep NV, Amsterdam-based ABN Amro said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. Interbank had 2 billion euros (US$2.74 billion) outstanding by the end of next year, the Dutch lender said. Paris-based Credit Agricole is France's second-biggest bank by assets.

■ JAPAN

Jobless rate drops

Japan's jobless rate fell to its lowest in more than nine years and household spending inched up in June, the government said yesterday, a pair of numbers that could help the Bank of Japan make the case for raising interest rates next month. The unemployment rate dropped to 3.7 percent in June from 3.8 percent in May, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said. That's the lowest since 3.6 percent in February 1998. Separately, the ministry said overall household spending in the world's No. 2 economy rose 0.1 percent in June in real terms from a year earlier, suggesting consumer spending is slowly but steadily increasing.

■ INFRASTRUCTURE

CitySpring to buy sea cable

A Singapore infrastructure investor said yesterday that it would buy a sub-sea electricity cable in Australia for A$1.175 billion (US$1 billion). Singapore's CitySpring Infrastructure Trust, which is backed by state-owned investment company Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd, will buy the Basslink cable from British utility National Grid Transco PLC, CitySpring's Chief Executive Fai Au Yeung said. It will fund the purchase through a combination of 75 percent debt and 25 percent equity, Au Yeung said. "Whether that's through a placement or rights offering, we're still looking at it," he said. The 370km Basslink cable is the world's longest underwater power cable.

■ BUYOUTS

Goldman Sachs wins suit

Goldman Sachs Group Inc won a negligence lawsuit brought by Belgian investment company IFE Fund SA, which claimed the bank misrepresented the financial state of the bankrupt Finelist Group Plc. The Court of Appeal in London today dismissed IFE's lawsuit over the financing. Finelist collapsed a few months after the takeover. A group of buyout firms sought to expand the UK auto parts distributor by combining its operations with French rival Autodis SA. Instead, the company was placed into administration less than six months later amid allegations of extensive "check kiting," where checks were passed between units to distort account balances.

■ TELECOMS

Alcatel-Lucent posts loss

Alcatel-Lucent, a French-US telecommunications equipment maker, yesterday reported a second quarter net loss, accompanied by a sales slump, but maintained its yearly projections. The company said it sustained a net loss of 336 million euros (US$460 million) in the April to June period compared with a profit of 302 million euros in the same quarter last year. Second quarter sales fell 4.0 percent to 4.32 billion euros, consistent with market expectations.

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