World Business Quick Take


Mon, Dec 22, 2003 - Page 12

■ Petroleum

Insurgents attack oil depot

Insurgents attacked pipelines and a petrol storage depot in three different parts of Iraq, setting fires that blazed for hours and lost millions of liters of oil, officials and media reported yesterday as the country confronts a critical fuel shortage. Rebels firing RPG rockets hit storage tanks in southern Baghdad on Saturday, creating fires that burned about 10 million liters of gasoline, said Issam Jihad, a spokesman for the Oil Ministry. He said Iraqi police were investigating the attack. Also Saturday, a pipeline exploded in the al-Mashahda area 25km north of Baghdad, in what Jihad called "an act of sabotage." "The explosion led to the destruction of [part of] the pipeline and to the leakage of vast quantities of oil products," Jihad said. He said he had no immediate information about another reported attack on oil pipelines in northern Iraq.

■ Automobiles

Ssangyong deal endorsed

Creditors of Ssangyong Motors have endorsed a Chinese firm as preferred bidder to take over the South Korean corporation, which specializes in sports utility and recreational vehicles, reports said Sunday. In a vote last week, 90 percent of the creditors confirmed China National Bluestar Group as a favored bidder for Ssangyong, Yonhap news agency said. Chohung Bank, a key creditor, will hold a ceremony Monday to sign a memorandum of understanding allowing Bluestar to launch a three-week due diligence study on Ssangyong, it said. The vote was not affected by news reports that Shanghai Automotive Industry was the only Chinese firm cleared for the deal, Yonhap said. Bluestar has denied it lacks Beijing's approval for the deal.

■ Public Relations

Banks, insurers top hate list

Banks and insurance companies top a consumer hate list for the first time, the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) reported yesterday. They were the target of 1,915 complaints between January and last month, edging out timeshare companies, which received 1,228 blasts and motor vehicle shops with 1,027. Renovation companies were the recipients of 963 complaints and 710 were aimed at electrical and electronics shops, according to the list in The Sunday Times. Complaints about banks and insurance companies started mounting about three years ago and peaked this year, said CASE. "Banks are becoming more aggressive," CASE executive director Seah Seng Choon was quoted as saying.