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Thu, Feb 19, 2009 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■REAL ESTATE

Victoria Peak prices plunge

Property prices at Hong Kong’s most prestigious location — Victoria Peak — plunged 41.4 percent in the last quarter, real estate consultant CB Richard Ellis said in a report yesterday. The percentage drop compared with the third quarter was the largest for any luxury residential areas on Hong Kong island, CB Richard Ellis said in its report. The plunge in prices at the scenic location, perched above the skyscrapers of Hong Kong and a favorite for the territory’s wealthy elite, was blamed on collapsing confidence during the economic downturn.

■BANKING

Proposal may help banks

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet approved a draft law yesterday that would allow Berlin to nationalize stricken banks to shore up the financial system, a government source said. The bill paves the way for the government to take control of Munich-based lender Hypo Real Estate and leaves open the possibility of an expropriation of its shareholders as a last resort. Hypo has received a total of 102 billion euros (US$128.7 billion) in guarantees from the state and fellow banks, but its financial condition remains shaky.

■FINANCE

Former executive indicted

A former Morgan Stanley vice president has been indicted on charges of embezzling more than US$2.5 million from the investment bank and spending it on high-end cars, expensive vacations and other personal luxuries. Richard Garaventa Jr of Manalapan, New Jersey, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday at his arraignment in Manhattan’s state Supreme Court on 43 counts that include grand larceny, possession of stolen property and falsifying business records. Garaventa, 36, was authorized to approve checks for corporate payments from the company’s in-house accounts, the prosecutors said.

■INTERNET

Rival sues Google

A would-be challenger to Google Inc said on Tuesday it was suing the Internet search leader for alleged abuses that include illegally rigging its prices to thwart potential competitive threats. In a 38-page page complaint, TradeComet.com LLC accused Google of manipulating its system for setting ad rates to make it too expensive for a specialty search engine called SourceTool to promote itself within Google’s vast online marketing network. Google said it hadn’t reviewed the allegations as of late Tuesday.

■AUTOMOBILES

Toyota may raise output

Toyota Motor Corp will boost domestic production in May after deep cuts in recent months to reduce a stockpile of cars left by the global economic crisis, an official said yesterday. Toyota, the world’s biggest automaker, plans “slightly higher” output in May because it has managed to reduce its inventories and also has new vehicle launches coming up, a company spokesman said.

■METALS

Xiao may join Cabinet

The general manager of China’s biggest aluminum producer has been named to a Cabinet post, news reports said yesterday, a week after his company helped secure access to foreign resources with a US$19.5 billion investment in miner Rio Tinto Group. The reported appointment of Xiao Yaqing (肖亞慶) of Aluminum Corp of China (中國鋁業) as the Cabinet deputy secretary-general reflects the close ties between the communist government and the nation’s major firms. The Cabinet press office did not immediately confirm the report.

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