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World Business Quick Take



Prices drop in Asian trade

Oil prices fell in Asian trade yesterday on demand concerns after the US economy performed below expectations in the fourth quarter, dealers said. New York’s main futures contract, light sweet crude for delivery next month fell US$0.8 to US$43.96 a barrel. Brent North Sea crude for next month shed US$0.75 to US$45.6 per barrel. “The momentum of economic data is looking down ... the GDP numbers brought the reality that the [US] economy is weak,” said Tony Nunan, assistant general manager of the risk management office at Mitsubishi Corp in Tokyo. Oil prices had surged last week in reaction to rising US gasoline stocks and indications of output cuts by OPEC members.


RIL merging subsidiary

India’s largest private sector firm, Reliance Industries (RIL), said yesterday it would buy out its subsidiary, Reliance Petroleum, and create a crude refining giant in the country’s biggest-ever merger. The share-swap merger will create the world’s sixth-biggest refiner and signal “a significant step in our goal to be among the world’s largest global corporations,” RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani said. The merger will create a refining behemoth, giving RIL total crude refining capacity of 1.24 million barrels of crude a day. It will have the largest single refining capacity at any single location in the world at its complex in Jamnagar in western India. Under the merger, Reliance Petroleum shareholders will receive one RIL share for every 16 Reliance Petroleum shares.


Fairfax raises US$318m

Fairfax Media Ltd, Australia’s second-largest newspaper owner, has raised A$500 million (US$318 million) by selling stock to institutional shareholders to cut debt. The company, which owns the Australian Financial Review and the Sydney Morning Herald, is seeking to raise more through an offer to retail shareholders that opens tomorrow, Fairfax said in a statement yesterday. The proceeds from the retail offer won’t be known until early next month, it said.


Telkom gets refinancing

PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Telkom), the nation’s biggest telephone company, agreed to borrow about 5 trillion rupiah (US$417 million) from a group of banks to repay maturing debt and to fund expansion. PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia and PT Bank Negara Indonesia are among the lenders, Telkom president and director Rinaldi Firmansyah said in an interview Jakarta yesterday, declining to be more specific. Telkom will use 3 trillion rupiah in loans from 15 banks to fund acquisitions, including an Iranian telecommunications company, Bisnis Indonesia reported yesterday, citing Finance Director Sudiro Asno.


Japanese car sales dip

Sales of new cars in Japan plunged last month, industry figures showed yesterday, underlining the sector’s deepening woes as the economic downturn causes a slump in consumer spending. The decline, for a seventh straight month, comes as Asia’s biggest economy endures its worst recession in decades. Vehicle sales dropped 32.4 percent last month from a year earlier to 218,212 vehicles, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association reported. Sales of mini-vehicles dropped 9.8 percent to 162,370 vehicles, a separate association said.

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