World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

Wed, Jan 27, 2010 - Page 10

■MINING

BHP, Rio to work with EC

Mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto said yesterday they would cooperate with European regulators probing their proposed iron ore joint venture, which has also raised concerns in China. The European Commission (EC) said on Monday it would investigate the Anglo-Australian companies’ plans to jointly produce iron ore at their West Australian Pilbara operations. “We aim to convince them of the benefits of the joint venture structure and why it will not raise competition concerns,” a BHP Billiton spokeswoman said. The EC said it had opened a formal antitrust investigation into the proposal to combine BHP and Rio’s western Australian operations to produce iron ore — a key ingredient in steel production.

■DEVELOPMENT

EBRD to boost its capital

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) plans to boost its capital by 50 percent by 2015, its president said on Monday. Thomas Mirow said he hoped the next annual EBRD meeting of shareholder countries, in Zagreb in May, would approve increasing capital from its current level of 20 billion euros (US$28 billion) to 30 billion euros. The bank, which focuses on the former Soviet bloc, also wanted to increase its annual investment from 8.5 billion euros to 9 billion euros between 2010 and 2015, Mirow said. Last week, the EBRD raised its GDP growth forecast for the former Soviet bloc countries in which it invests — which were badly hit by the economic crisis — from 2.5 percent to 3.3 percent.

■INTERNET

AOL acquires StudioNow

AOL said on Monday it paid US$36.5 million for StudioNow, a Tennessee-based firm that creates and distributes online video for companies. AOL, which recently regained its independence from media and entertainment giant Time Warner after their disastrous 2001 merger, said the stock-and-cash acquisition of StudioNow closed last week. “The integration of StudioNow into Seed.com will enable us to increase our video content [and] offerings significantly,” AOL chairman and chief executive Tim Armstrong said in a statement. Seed.com is AOL’s newly launched content management system. StudioNow, which is based in Nashville, Tennessee, and was founded in 2007, has a stable of more than 3,000 freelance filmmakers, editors and other talent. StudioNow creates content for commercial companies and syndicates it to online video channels and portals. AOL, citing eMarketer, said US online video advertising spending is projected to increase from US$734 million in 2008 to US$5.2 billion by 2014.

■ECONOMICS

Blair strikes gold with talks

Former British prime minister Tony Blair will give a number of private talks to executives at Lansdowne Partners in London, in a deal that media said could net the former leader as much as £2,000 (US$3,250) a minute. It is the latest engagement for Blair, who already works as an adviser to US investment bank JP Morgan and Zurich Insurance. Lansdowne is best known for making millions of pounds betting on the collapse of Northern Rock and the fall of Barclays amid the worst economic crisis since World War II, British media reported. The Guardian newspaper said he charges up to £180,000 for 90 minutes for his thoughts on geopolitical matters.