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Tue, Sep 29, 2009 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■FOOD

Kraft to launch hostile bid

Kraft Foods Inc is poised to launch a hostile bid for British candy maker Cadbury PLC, the Observer said on Sunday, citing unnamed sources. Kraft earlier this month made a US$16.7 billion stock-and-cash proposal that was rebuffed by the UK confectionary company. Cadbury has repeatedly said it is not interested in a takeover, but the US food maker has said it remains focused on continuing negotiations. The London paper said Kraft is valuing Cadbury at £11 billion (US$17.45 billion). The UK takeover panel is expected to set a deadline soon for Kraft to put a firm offer on the table or walk away for at least six months. The company is reportedly putting the final touches on a financing package, which would enable it to offer about half the package in cash and half in stock.

■FINANCE

S Korea to buy HSBC office

South Korea’s National Pension Service, the nation’s biggest investor, said it is interested in buying HSBC Holdings PLC’s headquarters building in London. No “detailed” talks have taken place, Kim Ha-young, a spokesman for the Seoul-based agency, said yesterday by phone. A South Korean consortium is competing with a group of Malaysian investors to buy the building for as much as £800 million, the Financial Times reported on Saturday, citing a person familiar with the situation. The Korean fund’s interest in the headquarters comes as Europe’s biggest bank increases its focus on emerging markets like China, India and Brazil. The bank is moving chief executive officer Michael Geoghegan to Hong Kong from London, chairman Stephen Green said last week.

■PHARMACEUTICALS

J&J to buy stake in Crucell

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) agreed to purchase an 18 percent stake in Crucell NV for 301.8 million euros (US$441 million) as part of a plan to jointly develop influenza vaccines and treatments against other diseases. The companies will initially focus on the so-called flu-mAb antibody to treat and prevent flu, J&J and Crucell said in a statement yesterday. They will also research antibodies and vaccines directed at as many as three other targets for infectious and non-­infectious diseases. J&J joins Sanofi-Aventis SA, GlaxoSmithKline PLC and Novartis AG in the market for flu vaccines, which has been given a boost by the spread of swine flu across the globe. The agreement comes eight months after Wyeth ended talks to buy Crucell because the US drugmaker is being acquired by Pfizer Inc.

■AUTOMOTIVE

Spain intervenes for Opel

Spain has stepped up pressure on European regulators to intervene in the restructuring of car maker Opel amid fears of mass layoffs in plants across the continent, a report said yesterday. Spanish Industry Minister Miguel Sebastian has written to European commissioners, the Financial Times said. In a letter dated yesterday, Sebastian insists that any reorganization by Opel’s planned new owners, Canadian auto parts group Magna International, must “make best possible use of the company’s assets.” This is a veiled reference to Opel’s plant in Zaragoza, Spain, the newspaper said. Regulators are probing claims of a political carve-up in the Opel sale. Belgium, Spain, the UK and Poland have all raised concerns that the Opel sale to Magna would see them at a disadvantage compared with Germany, which has backed the deal with 4.5 billion euros in state aid.

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