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Fri, Feb 29, 2008 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ ENERGY

China mum on Iran deal

China's CNOOC kept silent yesterday on reports it had clinched a US$16 billion agreement to develop Iran's North Pars gas field, a deal the US said it would scrutinize for possible violations of UN sanctions. The Iranian oil ministry's official Shana Web site said the the agreement calls for CNOOC to invest US$5 billion in upstream gas field projects and US$11 billion in downstream liquefied natural gas plants. The deal was first announced in 2006. If the deal goes through, it will be the second big oil and gas deal with Iran for China in just a few months, following a US$2 billion agreement by Sinopec to develop the Yadavaran oil field.

■ FINANCE

EU suggests ethics pledge

The European Commission urged state-run investment funds to sign up to a voluntary code of conduct, stopping short of proposing to regulate the emerging financial powerhouses in Europe. "The establishment of a code of conduct for sovereign wealth funds [SWF] is a good thing to increase confidence among recipients on how sovereign wealth funds adopt decisions," EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told reporters in Brussels. The commission said SWFs now hold US$1.5 trillion to US$2.5 trillion in assets worldwide, with one estimate suggesting that could rise to US$12 trillion by 2015.

■ BANKING

UBS approves capital hike

Embattled UBS chairman Marcel Ospel breathed a sigh of relief on Wednesday after the bank's shareholders approved a controversial capital hike aimed at making good billions of dollars in US subprime home loan losses. Under the deal, Singapore's state investment arm GIC will inject 11 billion Swiss francs (US$10.13 billion), giving it a stake of approximately 9 percent and making it the largest single shareholder, and SF2 billion will come from an unnamed Middle East investor.

■ SOFTWARE

Fine for Microsoft upheld

The European antitrust regulator imposed a record US$1.35 billion fine against Microsoft on Wednesday in a ruling intended to send a clear message to the world's largest software maker of the dangers of flouting Europe's competition rulings. The commission in 2004 ruled that the market dominance of Microsoft's Windows software was abusive. The ruling was upheld in September by one of the highest European courts. "Microsoft was the first company in 50 years of EU competition policy that the commission has had to fine for failure to comply with an antitrust decision," the commission's antitrust regulator Neelie Kroes said in a statement.

■ ENERGY

Germany warns of blackouts

Germany and the rest of Europe could suffer power cuts lasting several days this summer owing to a lack of power stations, the head of one of Europe's biggest generating firms was quoted as saying on Wednesday. "Power is growing short all over Europe because there are not enough power stations," Juergen Grossmann, head of German power giant RWE, told the Bild daily in comments following a massive blackout that caused chaos in Florida. "Right now, all we need is the combination of a hot, dry summer and the shutdown of more power stations for maintenance for power security to be endangered," he said.

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