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Fri, May 30, 2008 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ AVIATION

Qantas strike blocks flights

A temporary strike yesterday by Qantas engineers disrupted some domestic and international flights as their union held meetings over a wage dispute. The engineers are asking for a 5 percent annual pay raise. Qantas has offered them 3 percent. To press their demand, about 100 engineers in Sydney refused to certify aircraft for four hours in the morning; about 100 more in Brisbane were striking for four hours in the evening. Their colleagues in Melbourne will strike today. Qantas prepared for the strike ahead of time by canceling some of its flights for yesterday and today.

■ FINANCE

Temasek eyes Latin America

Singapore’s state-linked investment firm Temasek Holdings will increase its focus on opportunities in Latin America with the appointment of two top executives to look after the region, the firm said. “We believe the Latin American region holds long term potential and offers attractive investment prospects,” Tow Heng Tan, Temasek’s senior managing director and chief investment officer, said in a statement on Wednesday. Tow said that the firm expected to increase its portfolio exposure in Brazil, Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America. “We will look seriously at opportunities that may arise, but we also do not seek to target any specific investment amount of capital within any given time frame,” he said.

■ FINANCE

Gallagher buys Norilsk stake

The Gallagher investment firm of billionaire Russian Alisher Usmanov plans to buy up to 10 percent of Norilsk Nickel in an asset swap with Interros, Gallagher said in a statement with Interros on Wednesday. In view of the growth potential of Norilsk, the world’s largest nickel and palladium producer, “Gallagher expresses its intention to acquire up to 10 percent of the shares in this company,” the statement said. It said that Interros could buy up to 25 percent plus one share of Usmanov’s holding company, Metalloinvest, and intended to present such a proposal to Russian anti-monopoly authorities. The two sides plan investment of US$50 billion to US$60 billion in the combined concern, the statement said.

■ VIETNAM

Fitch lowers outlook

Credit risk evaluator Fitch Ratings yesterday lowered its outlook on the country’s BB-minus sovereign rating from stable to negative, calling double-digit inflation “a serious concern.” The state-run General Statistics Office this week estimated that consumer prices shot up by 25 percent in May year-on-year in the country of 86 million, driven mainly by surging prices of food, energy and construction materials. The Fitch report said that government responses to inflation, including price controls and higher interest rates, had not produced results.

■ COMMODITIES

Food prices to stay high

Food prices will remain high over the next decade even if they fall from current records, meaning millions more risk further hardship or hunger, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization said in a report released yesterday. The report said food prices would remain high in the decade ahead. Beef and pork prices would probably stay around 20 percent higher than the last 10 years, while wheat would likely command 40 percent to 60 percent more in the 10 years ahead, in nominal terms, it said.

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