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Wed, Oct 17, 2007 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ OIL

War talk rattles market

Oil prices rose to new intraday highs in Asia yesterday on fears Turkey would pursue Kurdish rebels into Iraq and disrupt oil supplies in the region. A weakening US dollar, low US crude inventories and increased buying by investment funds also supported prices, analysts said. Light, sweet crude for delivery next month rose US$0.51 to US$86.64 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange by midafternoon yesterday in Singapore. Despite the gains, oil is still below inflation-adjusted highs hit in early 1980.

■ SOFTWARE

Microsoft drops appeal

Microsoft Corp said yesterday it had submitted a request to withdraw an appeal against an antitrust ruling by the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC). "It is important to note that Microsoft remains committed to [South] Korea and continues to work closely with the FTC to ensure that [South] Korean consumers benefit from vibrant competition in the IT industry," Microsoft said in a statement. It also said that the company had submitted the withdrawal request to the Seoul High Court. It did not elaborate. In February of last year, the KFTC ruled that Microsoft had abused its dominant market position in Korea to tie certain software to its Windows operating system.

■ COTTON

WTO rules against US

The WTO has found that the US failed to scrap a series of illegal subsidies paid out to local cotton growers, a ruling that could open the door to billions of dollars' worth of Brazilian trade sanctions against the US, trade officials said on Monday. The result is a major victory for Brazil's cotton industry and for West African countries that have claimed to have been harmed by the US payments. The three-member WTO compliance panel upheld its findings from an interim report released in July, said Roberto Azevedo, the Brazilian foreign ministry's trade chief.

■ PACKAGING

Cardboard firm to pay fine

Australia's competition watchdog yesterday recommended a company headed by the country's third richest man, cardboard box billionaire Richard Pratt, pay a record fine for participating in a cartel. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission called for Pratt's company, Visy, to pay a A$36 million (US$32.4 million) fine for breaching anti-trust laws through a secret price-fixing deal struck with rival Amcor. The previous Australian record fine for cartel behavior was US$15 million. Pratt, whose personal wealth was estimated at A$5.4 billion in this year's Business Review Weekly rich list, admitted earlier this month that Visy's deal with Amcor breached Australian anti-trust laws.

■ FOOD

Danone pulls out of venture

French food giant Danone, which is embroiled in a long and bitter public feud with a Chinese partner, said yesterday it was backing out of another venture in China. Groupe Danone SA will sell its entire 20.01 percent stake in Shanghai-based Bright Dairy and Food for 955 million yuan (US$127 million), separate company statements said. Besides its partnership with Bright Dairy, Danone also has a troubled tie-up with China's top drinks company Wahaha Group. The two firms are in the midst of bitter disputes linked to their joint ventures and ownership of the Wahaha trademark.

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