Roche launches hostile bid
Swiss drugmaker Roche on Monday officially launched its US$42 billion hostile offer for Genentech Inc. As expected, Basil, Switzerland-based Roche said it would pay US$86.50 per share for all remaining publicly held shares of Genentech, developer of Avastin and other groundbreaking cancer treatments. Roche already holds a 56 percent stake in Genentech, which is based in San Francisco, California. Genentech’s board committee urged shareholders to take no action with respect to the tender offer at this time. The committee said it would take a formal position regarding the Roche offer within 10 business days and explain its position in an upcoming regulatory filing.
Sanyo to build solar cell fab
Sanyo Electric Co plans to build a new solar cell plant in Japan, with the aim of doubling production to meet growing demand for clean energy. The plant, to be built in Osaka Prefecture in western Japan, is scheduled to start operations by the end of next year, Sanyo spokeswoman Kumiko Makino said yesterday. The facility will produce solar cells with a higher power generation capacity than those made at another Sanyo plant in central Japan, she said. Sanyo also plans to build a joint factory for another type of solar cell with Nippon Oil Corp, aiming to sell the cheaper products to developing countries such as China, she said.
M&S admits ‘screw-up’
Marks and Spencer chairman Stuart Rose said the British retailer had made several “basic shopkeeping” mistakes in launching its first China store. Rose told the Financial Times, in an interview published yesterday, he was in Shanghai to put some urgency into efforts to solve the problems at the store, which has been dogged by poorly stocked shelves and a lack of smaller sizes since it opened in October. “We had a screw-up,” Rose said of the supply problems. The retailer’s China managing director, Richard Sweet, left the company last month, but Marks and Spencer insisted his departure had nothing to do with the Shanghai store’s difficulties, the Hong Kong-based China Retail News reported.
China overtakes US
China overtook the US as the largest auto market in the world last month, data published by Chinese state media showed yesterday. A total of 735,000 automobiles were sold in China last month, state television said, citing Dong Yang, deputy director of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. By contrast, 656,976 vehicles were sold in the US, according to preliminary estimates issued last week by market research firm Autodata. However, analysts said last month was an unusual month because the Lunar New Year boosted sales in China as the US saw a post-Christmas drop.
EU crisis summit called
An EU crisis summit at the end of the month has been called to address the danger of protectionism, the EU’s Czech presidency said yesterday. “The presidency thinks that the biggest risk at the moment is the risk of protectionism,” Czech Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek told journalists as he arrived for a meeting with fellow EU finance ministers in Brussels. “Some of the signals are so strong that the [Czech] PM has decided to organize a summit as soon as possible, so that heads of state and governments say a clear no to protectionism,” he said.