Apple’s market value soars
Apple, maker of the Macintosh computer, the iPod, iPhone and iPad, surpassed Chinese oil giant PetroChina (中石油) during trading on Thursday to become the world’s second-largest company in terms of market value. Apple shares hit a record US$292.76 during trading on Wall Street, giving the California gadget-maker a market capitalization of US$266 billion, more than PetroChina’s US$265 billion. Apple shares eventually closed at US$288.92, putting PetroChina back on top at the end of the day. ExxonMobile is the largest company in the world with a market capitalization of US$310 billion.
Branson eyeing hotels
After venturing into space tourism, British billionaire Richard Branson is seeking to expand his Virgin Group into the luxury hotel sector in North America. Already established as one of the world’s leaders in services ranging from mobile phones and music to air transportation, Branson now wants to enter the highly competitive hotel market. According to its Web site, Virgin Hotels aims to acquire up to US$500 million in properties in a number of key US cities, including New York, Las Vegas and Miami, over the next three years.
Olam, Louis Dreyfus in talks
Singapore-based commodities trader Olam International said yesterday it held “preliminary confidential discussions” with French rival Louis Dreyfus Commodities that could lead to a merger. In a statement to the Singapore Exchange where it is listed, Olam said the talks were still in their preliminary stage. Olam told shareholders that “it had engaged in preliminary confidential discussions with Louis Dreyfus Commodities in relation to a possible business collaboration which may take the form of, among others, a merger.” It emphazised, however, that the talks “are still preliminary and that no definitive agreements in relation to the possible collaboration have been entered into as at the date of this announcement.”
KNOC’s Dana bid picks up
South Korea’s state oil firm said yesterday its takeover bid for British oil explorer Dana Petroleum had won support from 64 percent of its shareholders. Korea National Oil Corp (KNOC), which plans to secure at least 75 percent so it can delist the Aberdeen-based company, said in a statement its £18-a-share offer is now wholly unconditional. The Korean firm made its first approach to Dana in July, but the two companies’ management could not agree on a price. On Aug. 20 KNOC went straight to the shareholders with a £1.87 billion (US$2.9 billion) bid.
Business confidence up: Ifo
A closely watched survey showed that German business confidence has improved slightly this month — its fourth consecutive monthly increase. The Ifo institute said yesterday that its business confidence index edged up to 106.8 points this month from 106.7 last month. The index is a key indicator for the German economy, Europe’s biggest. Ifo said companies were increasingly positive about their current situation, but were more skeptical about the outlook for the coming six months. Strong exports helped the German economy grow 2.2 percent in the April-June period compared with the previous quarter. However, that pace is expected to slow in the year’s second half.
INCREASED RISK: The Omicron BA.2.75 subvariant has higher immune evasive capacity, but the CECC is more concerned about newer subvariants such as XBB and BQ.1 With the peak season for infectious respiratory diseases coming to an end, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that details of the next phase of lifting COVID-19 masking rules — removing the mask requirement in most indoor settings — are to be announced this week. Discussions on lifting other COVID-19 restrictions are also being held, including further easing border control measures, home isolation requirements and revising the definition for reporting cases, while also downgrading COVID-19 to a lower category of notifiable communicable disease, said Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Victor Wang (王必勝), who heads the CECC. As the daily
GUT FEELING: In the leaked memo, US Air Force General Mike Minihan urged mobile command personnel to go to a firing range, shoot at a target and ‘aim for the head’ A four-star US Air Force general has warned of a conflict with China as early as 2025 — most likely over Taiwan — and urged his commanders to push their units to achieve maximum operational battle readiness this year. In an internal memorandum that first emerged on social media on Friday, and was later confirmed as genuine by the Pentagon, Air Mobility Command Commander General Mike Minihan said that the main goal should be to deter “and, if required, defeat” China. “I hope I am wrong. My gut tells me we will fight in 2025,” Minihan said. Minihan said that Taiwan’s presidential election
PEACE AND STABILITY: The two nations called for the peaceful resolution of cross-Taiwan Strait issues through dialogue without the threat or use of force or coercion The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday thanked France and Australia for voicing their support for Taiwan, saying that peace across the Taiwan Strait is crucial to the stability and prosperity of international society. France and Australia on Monday pledged to deepen ties with Taiwan and reiterated their support for its participation in international organizations at this year’s Foreign and Defense Ministerial Consultations in Paris. The meeting between French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna, French Minister of the Armed Forces Sebastien Lecornu, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong (黃英賢) and Australian Minister for Defence Richard Marles was the second
DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM: Czech president-elect Petr Pavel said his nation stands firmly on the side of democracy and would boost cooperation with Taipei in all aspects Czech president-elect Petr Pavel spoke by telephone with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday, a highly unusual move given the lack of formal ties and a diplomatic coup for Taipei. Tsai spoke with Pavel for 15 minutes in a harmonious atmosphere, Presidential Office spokeswoman Lin Yu-chan (林聿禪) said, adding that Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) was also present during the conversation. Lin quoted Pavel as telling Tsai that Taiwan is a trustworthy partner, adding that the Czech Republic stands firmly on the side of democracy and supports Taiwan in maintaining a lively democratic system free from authoritarian coercion. The Czech Republic would