■ REAL ESTATE
Japanese land prices rise
Japanese land prices rose at their fastest pace in at least 15 years last year, a government survey showed yesterday, suggesting that the problem of falling prices may be over. The National Tax Agency survey found the average price of land throughout Japan rose 8.6 percent last year, the second straight year of increase. The average price edged up 0.9 percent in 2005, the first gain in 14 years. The increase across last year was led by a jump in prices in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya, the country's three major urban areas.
BMW posts weak results
BMW unveiled weaker-than-expected second-quarter results yesterday as the negative effect of the strong euro became clear. The German luxury carmaker maintained its full-year forecast despite the results, which saw net profit fall 4 percent to 753 million euros (US$1.03 billion) compared with the same period last year. Pre-tax profit was down 11 percent at 1.06 billion euros on sales figures of 14.6 billion euros that were up 11 percent. Market analysts had foreseen net earnings of 754.9 million euros and pre-tax profit of 1.1 billion. BMW is particularly vulnerable to exchange rates because almost 20 percent of its production is sold in North America.
Samsung reworking unit
Samsung Electronics Co is restructuring its handset division to better cope with growing global competition, a media report said yesterday. Samsung is battling for second place in the global handset industry with US-based Motorola Inc, behind Finnish Nokia Corp. The South Korean company has recently hired a new marketing executive after setting up a global team in March to strengthen the division's overseas marketing and sales, Dow Jones Newswires reported, citing an unnamed company spokesman. The move is part of the company's reform plans aimed at finding new sources of revenue, realigning businesses, cutting costs and personnel reshuffles, the spokesman said.
Cadbury profits slide
Cadbury Schweppes, the world's biggest confectionery maker, reported a slide in half-year profits yesterday as a result of higher costs and said it may split off, rather than sell, its US drinks arm. In the six months to June 30, the group's net profit was reduced by four-and-a-half times to ?182 million (US$368 million), compared with the same period last year, an earnings statement said. Group revenue rose 1.3 percent to ?2.326 billion. "We expect continued good revenue growth in the second half," Cadbury Schweppes chief executive Todd Stitzer said. The group also said it was ready to split off Americas Beverages.
HMV sells Japanese unit
British music retail giant HMV Group is selling its business in Japan for US$144 million to concentrate on other markets, a company spokeswoman said yesterday. HMV Japan will be sold to Daiwa Securities SMBC, with the transaction due to go through at the end of this month, she said, confirming a deal first announced a day earlier in London. "HMV Group UK is planning to concentrate on other markets" outside Britain such as Hong Kong and Singapore, where it is No. 1, she said. HMV Japan was launched in 1990.