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World Business Quick Take



Rio Tinto trial to begin

Australian Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu (胡士泰) will face trial in China next week accused of industrial espionage and receiving bribes, the government in Canberra said yesterday. Australia said it was pleased that the case of Hu was moving to trial, eight months after he and three other employees of the Anglo-Australian miner were arrested in Shanghai during fraught iron ore contract negotiations. “Mr Hu and the other defendants will be tried by the Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court, commencing on Monday 22 March,” an Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman said.


Facebook surpasses Google

Social-networking Web site Facebook surpassed Google to become the most visited Web site in the US for the first time last week, industry analysts showed. Facebook’s homepage finished the week ending last Saturday as the most visited site in the country, industry tracker Hitwise said. The “important milestone,” as described by Hitwise director of research Heather Dougherty, came as the Facebook home page enjoyed a massive 185 percent increase in visits in the same period, compared with the same week last year. By comparison, visits to search engine home Google.com increased only 9 percent over the same time period.


BMW expects higher profits

The world’s leading luxury car maker, BMW, said yesterday it expected a “notable” increase in net profit this year after managing to end last year in the black despite a global sector crisis. BMW boss Norbert Reithofer told a press conference that BMW hoped to sell more than 1.3 million vehicles, up from 1.29 million last year, and thus remain ahead of German rivals Audi and Daimler, the maker of the Mercedes-Benz range of automobiles. The company stood by last year’s net profit of US$290 million, a drop of 36.4 percent from the previous year, on sales that slipped by 4.7 percent.


Reliance eyes gasfield

Indian conglomerate Reliance is in late-stage talks to buy a big stake in a US natural gasfield, a report said yesterday, after suffering several recent setbacks in overseas investments. Reliance is nearing a deal to invest between US$1 billion and US$1.5 billion in a joint venture with Atlas Energy, which controls part of a huge gasfield in the northeast of the US, the Wall Street Journal said. While Reliance is “the prime player” in the discussions, the Journal said, citing unnamed sources, other parties such as San Diego-based Sempra Energy are also negotiating to be part of the deal.


Siemens joins rail bid

The German industrial group Siemens has teamed up with a Chinese public consortium to bid for a big Saudi Arabian rail contract, the Financial Times said on Tuesday, citing sources close to the matter. Siemens decided to join forces with the state-owned China South Locomotive and Rolling Stock Corp (中國南車), which could win the US$7 billion tender, a sign of growing Chinese strength in the rail sector, the newspaper said. The Haramain rail project is designed to link the Saudi holy cities of Mecca and Medina with a high-speed train service, the report said.

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