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World Business News Quick Take



JAL looks to biofuel

Japan Airlines Corp (JAL) is planning to fly a biofuel-powered airliner by the end of next March to help speed up research on alternatives to kerosene-based jet fuel. JAL plans to fly a Boeing 747 for an hour using the alternative fuel, it said in a statement yesterday. One of the plane’s four engines, built by United Technologies Corp’s Pratt & Whitney unit, will run on biofuel, the company said. Japan Air follows Air New Zealand Ltd in teaming up with Boeing to plan a test flight using biofuel. JAL said a decision on what type of biofuel to use has not been made.


Daiwa to invest in China

Daiwa Securities Group Inc, Japan’s second-largest brokerage, said it will invest US$100 million in a private equity fund that plans to buy stakes in government-owned and privately held Chinese companies. Daiwa and its Daiwa Securities SMBC Co investment banking unit will seek more cross-border transactions between Japan and China through the investment in the US$2.5 billion fund, the brokerage said in a statement to the Tokyo Stock Exchange yesterday. The company aims to expand abroad after tumbling commissions for arranging stock sales in Japan led to a fourth-quarter loss of ¥12.9 billion (US$120 million). Daiwa plans to invest about ¥200 billion of its own money in the coming year to restore profit, it said in February. Daiwa SMBC will lift principal investments to about ¥600 billion from ¥408 billion as of Dec. 31, president Shin Yoshidome said in a Feb. 8 interview. The Tokyo-based firm will mainly buy stakes in unlisted Chinese companies, he said.


British prices cooling

Asking prices for homes in England and Wales stood 0.1 percent higher on a year ago this month, with the rate of annual price growth cooling from 2.2 percent last month, a survey showed yesterday. Property Web site Rightmove said average asking prices fell 1.2 percent this month after a 1.2 percent gain last month. That put the average asking price at £239,564 (US$473,000). The figures, which are not adjusted to take seasonal factors in the market into account, are less gloomy than some other surveys but reinforce the view that Britain’s once-red hot housing market is feeling the impact of the credit crunch. Miles Shipside, Rightmove’s commercial director, said home sellers’ expectations had fallen. “The adjustment is belated but in some ways welcome as it makes homes affordable for buyers,” he said. “Thankfully, new sellers are now taking some proactive steps to price more realistic from the outset to attract increasingly hard-pressed buyers.”


Bunge buying Corn Products

Bunge Ltd, the world’s largest oilseed processor, agreed to buy Corn Products International Inc for US$56 a share in stock. The takeover offer has a value of US$4.8 billion including US$414 million of Corn Products debt, White Plains, New York-based Bunge said yesterday in a statement distributed by PR Newswire.


DoCoMo looking to buy

Japan’s top mobile telephone operator NTT DoCoMo Inc is on the prowl for overseas acquisitions to drive growth, new president Ryuji Yamada said yesterday. The increased focus on overseas business comes amid fierce competition between the top players in Japan’s saturated mobile telephone market. “We are going to look into opportunities outside of Japan aggressively,” Yamada told a press conference.

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