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World Business Quick Take



S Korea to set up fund

The South Korean government said yesterday it would set up a 40 trillion won (US$27 billion) fund to buy bad loans from financial firms and purchase assets from ailing companies. The finance ministry disclosed details of a restructuring fund that was announced last month amid growing jitters about the global economic downturn. State-run Korea Asset Management Corp will issue government-guaranteed bonds to buy bad loans from financial firms and assets from ailing firms that will be restructured by creditors, the ministry said. It said the government would seek approval from parliament next month to revise related laws.


Citi says capital enough

Citigroup Inc chairman Richard Parsons said on Thursday that the bank did not need any more capital injections from the government and expressed confidence that Citi would remain in private hands. Asked in an interview whether Citigroup needed additional government capital injections, Parsons said: “No, I think actually, particularly with the latest conversion ... Citi is actually one of the better capitalized banks in the world.” Parsons was speaking on the sidelines of a Business Roundtable event where US President Barack Obama addressed business executives. He also brushed aside any prospect of the US government nationalizing the giant bank. “I don’t think the administration is heading in that direction,” Parsons said. “But I have a lot of confidence in the future viability and strength of a privately held Citi.”


Google offers transcription

Internet search giant Google on Thursday expanded its push into the telephone market, offering a service that provides a single number for home, work and cellphones and turns voicemail into e-mail. Google Voice automatically transcribes voicemail messages into e-mail or SMS text messages and provides a transcript in a user’s e-mail inbox on their mobile phone or computer. “When you receive a voicemail Google Voice will automatically transcribe it into text so you can read what the voicemail is about,” Google said in an instructional video on the company blog. It warned, however, that since the transcripts are “fully automated” through voice recognition technology, they “may include mistakes.”


Toyota plans cheap hybrid

Toyota plans a low-cost hybrid to challenge Honda’s success with the cheapest model on the market — a move that could spark a price war over the fuel-efficient cars, the Nikkei Shimbun said yesterday. Toyota’s new gas and electric-powered hybrid will have a price tag of below ¥2 million (US$20,500) — about 20 percent to 30 percent cheaper than its Prius, the world’s first mass-produced hybrid, the daily said. Toyota will initially launch the vehicle in Japan as early as 2011 with a smaller engine than the 1.5-liter Prius, it said without naming its sources. Toyota refused to comment on the report.


New iPhone OS next week

Apple plans to give the world a peek next week at its next-generation operating system for iPhones. The company on Thursday invited news reporters to a “town hall” event at its headquarters in Cupertino, California, and promised a “sneak peek” at the upcoming iPhone 3.0 operating system. It said the event would center on a new software developers kit for its popular multi-purpose mobile devices.

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