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Fri, Feb 15, 2008 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take


■ finance

Morgan Stanley cutting jobs

Morgan Stanley said on Wednesday it would cut 1,000 jobs as the second-largest US investment bank trims its residential mortgage operations amid the continued deterioration of the mortgage markets. The firm said it would shutter its UK business that issues home loans and significantly scale back its mortgage business in the US. "Given the continued dislocation in the mortgage markets, we have restructured our residential mortgage business to ensure we are appropriately positioned for the environment going forward," Anthony Meola, chief operating officer of the US residential business, said in a statement.

■ electronics

Prosecutors raid Samsung

Special prosecutors raided Samsung Electronics Co, a company official said yesterday, as part of a widening investigation into a slush fund scandal at the conglomerate. Two officials from a special investigation team came to the headquarters of Samsung Electronics in Suwon, 45km south of Seoul, said James Chung, a spokesman for Samsung Electronics. He did not elaborate. The probe started last month after Kim Yong-chul, a former top legal affairs official at Samsung, alleged that the company created a 200 billion won (US$211 million) slush fund to bribe government officials, judges and prosecutors and purchase works of art.

■ oil

Prices up on low US stock

World oil prices were higher in Asian trade yesterday after US crude inventories climbed at a slower-than-expected pace last week, dealers said. A dispute that resulted in Venezuela cutting oil supplies to US energy giant ExxonMobil continued to spook the market, they said. In early afternoon trade, New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery next month was up US$0.09 to US$93.36 a barrel after closing up US$0.49 at US$93.27 during floor trading on Wednesday at the New York Mercantile Exchange. The US Department of Energy said on Wednesday that crude stockpiles rose 1.1 million barrels to 301.1 million in the week ended Feb. 8, smaller than the gain of 2.38 million barrels forecast by analysts.

■ real estate

California home sales fall

Home sales in a six-county region of southern California plunged last month to the slowest pace for any month in more than 20 years, the latest sign would-be buyers remain reluctant to enter a housing market still mired in a steep slump and hobbled by mortgage lending constraints. A total of 9,983 homes were sold in Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties last month, a drop of nearly 50 percent from the same month last year and nearly 25 percent from December, DataQuick Information Systems said on Wednesday. Median home prices fell in all the counties, driving down the region's median price to US$415,000 -- the lowest since January 2005, it said.

■ banking

SocGen acquires Rosbank

French bank Societe Generale (SocGen) said on Wednesday it had finalized its acquisition of a majority stake in the Russian retail bank Rosbank. SocGen -- reeling from a massive trading scandal it said cost it nearly 5 billion euros (US$7 billion) -- said in a statement it now holds 50 percent plus one share in Rosbank. The acquisition makes SocGen one of Russia's leading banks, the statement said.

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