World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

Thu, Dec 07, 2006 - Page 10

■ Australia
Economic growth slows

The economy slowed more than expected in the last quarter and its worst drought in a 100 years was likely to keep the pressure on, official figures showed yesterday. GDP for the three months to September grew a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent -- or 2.2 percent annually -- after an upwardly revised 0.5 percent in the second quarter, originally given as 0.3 percent. Economists had forecast 0.4 percent growth, but latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed the impact of the country's "big dry" had hampered a robust rise in exports. Treasurer Peter Costello said that while the figures showed solid growth, the severe drought was likely to eat into future gains.

■ China

Nation targets 8% growth

The nation has set an official economic growth target for next year of about 8 percent despite expectations the expansion will be much faster, a senior government economist said yesterday. "The central government set the annual target at about 8 percent," said Zheng Xinli (鄭新立), vice director of the economic policy research office under the politburo. Zhen was speaking to reporters after attending the ongoing annual closed-door Central Economic Work Conference where the ruling Communist Party's leaders were meeting to identify the key economic issues for the next year.

■ Tires

Bridgestone buys Bandag

Tire maker Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc has agreed to buy Bandag Inc, a maker of retread tires, for US$1 billion in cash, the companies announced on Tuesday. Bridgestone Americas, a subsidiary of Japan-based Bridgestone Corp, will pay US$50.75 per share for Bandag, a 13 percent premium to the company's closing stock price on Monday. The Bandag board of directors approved the sale, which is expected to close by the second quarter of next year. The deal is subject to regulatory and shareholder approval. The Iowa-based Bandag has a global network of more than 900 franchised dealers.

■ Retail

Tesco buys Malaysia stores

Tesco Plc, Britain's biggest retailer, bought eight Makro Cash & Carry stores in Malaysia to almost double its selling space in the Southeast Asian country. The company will "move close to becoming market leader" in Malaysia as a result of the purchase, Tesco said Wednesday in a Regulatory News Service statement. It didn't disclose the price. Tesco won a bid to buy the Makro stores, the Business Times reported Dec. 1, citing people it didn't identify. The UK company beat bidders including Carrefour SA, Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Costco Wholesale Group of the US and Metro AG of Germany, the Malaysian newspaper said.

■ Finance

Mitsubishi faces discipline

US authorities are expected to discipline Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc for alleged lax monitoring of suspected money laundering activities, a report said yesterday. US officials have visited Japan and held final discussions with the banking group, the world's largest by assets, about the terms of the penalties, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun said without naming sources. The US Federal Reserve Board and other US authorities could announce punitive measures decision as early as in the middle of December if Mitsubishi signs an agreement, the business daily reported.