World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

Thu, Aug 20, 2009 - Page 10

■CHINA

SOHO to buy property

Property developer SOHO China said it has agreed to buy a top Shanghai office building from US investment bank Morgan Stanley for around 2.45 billion yuan (US$358.7 million). The 52-story office and retail complex, Dong Hai Plaza, is located on downtown Shanghai’s Nanjing Road, one of the world’s busiest shopping streets, SOHO China said in a statement late on Tuesday. The deal came as office vacancy in China’s financial hub hovers at record high levels as cost-conscious companies remain reluctant to rent more space due to ongoing global economic uncertainty.

■AVIATION

Air France drops CSA bid

Air France-KLM Group, Europe’s largest airline, said it’s pulling out of the bidding for Ceske Aerolinie AS (CSA), the Czech Republic’s state-controlled carrier. In the current economic environment, Air France “believes that CSA might focus on developing and implementing a stand-alone recovery plan aimed at restoring its profitability,” the Paris-based carrier said in a statement yesterday. The Czech finance ministry received four bids in March for a majority stake in CSA, including from OAO Aeroflot’s Darofan AS, as well as Air France. The ministry said then that the only criterion in a second round of bidding would be price. The Czech government estimated that its 91.5 percent stake would fetch between 3 billion koruna (US$165 million) and 5 billion koruna.

■RUSSIA

Mirax assets frozen

A Moscow court yesterday froze the assets of major developer Mirax, including a landmark skyscraper being built in the main business district, over the company’s failure to repay a US$242 million loan to Alfa Bank. Dmitry Tafintsev, spokesman for the Moscow Arbitration Court, said the court froze several assets of Mirax in the Moscow City business district, including the massive Federation Tower. Federation Tower, to be one of the symbols of Moscow City, is to be completed next year and host the offices of Russia’s largest private bank VTB. VTB says it has no immediate plans to move to the new offices.

■FINANCE

Sentiment improves

Financial services executives believe business conditions will bottom this year before a recovery in the sector and broader economy occurs next year, a new study from KPMG LLP showed. About 70 percent of the 130 executives polled believe revenue and profitability in the financial services sector will improve next year, according to the business climate survey conducted by the audit, tax and advisory firm. However, respondents were split about whether a recovery among financial firms will lead or lag a rebound in the broader US economy. More than half of the executives surveyed said the downturn made it more difficult to raise capital or receive financing to operate businesses.

■TOBACCO

BAT appoints Burrows

British American Tobacco (BAT), the world’s second-biggest cigarette maker, said yesterday it had appointed Richard Burrows, who resigned as head of ailing Bank of Ireland Group, as its new chairman. The Irishman succeeds Jan du Plessis, who leaves BAT to become chairman of Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto. Burrows takes up his new post on Nov. 1, the maker of Lucky Strike and Dunhill cigarettes said in a statement.