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.
WHEELING AND DEALING? Hou You-yi, Ko Wen-je, Eric Chu and Ma Ying-jeou are under investigation for allegedly offering bribes for the other side to drop out of the race Taipei prosecutors have started an investigation into allegations that four top politicians involved in attempts to form a “blue-white” presidential ticket have contravened election regulations. Listed as defendants are Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫), former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the KMT and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲). The case stemmed from judicial complaints filed last month with the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office alleging that the KMT (blue) and the TPP (white) had engaged in bribery by offering money or other enticements
COUNTER DISINFORMATION: More engagement and media literacy are needed to push back against misinformation and claims that the US is an unreliable partner, the AIT director said The US is “confident” that Taiwan does not face an imminent threat of a Chinese invasion, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Sandra Oudkirk told a US public radio show, adding that Washington remains committed to defensively arming the nation. She made the comment during an interview on All Things Considered, broadcast on Friday on US-based National Public Radio. “There is an important distinction between making plans and training troops, and getting ready to do something,” Oudkirk said, on whether she thinks Beijing plans to attack Taiwan in the near future. Chinese officials have told Washington that “their preference is for peaceful reunification,
EXPOSED: Some Taipei wardens reported joining the trips out of peer pressure, while others said they were relieved it was made public so they could refuse, a city councilor said Nearly 30 percent of Taipei borough wardens have joined group tours to China that were partially funded by the Chinese government, leading prosecutors probing potential Chinese interference in January’s elections to question local officials, an investigation showed. Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City councilors Chien Shu-pei (簡舒培) and Chen E-jun (陳怡君) have reported cases of Taipei borough wardens inviting residents to join inexpensive privately organized group tours to China that were partially funded by the Chinese government. The six-day trips reportedly cost NT$10,000 to NT$15,000, the councilors said. An investigation by the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) showed that nearly 30 percent
ELIGIBLE FOR JANUARY: All presidential candidates and their running mates meet the requirements to run for office, and none hold dual citizenship, the CEC said Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Legislator and vice presidential candidate Cynthia Wu (吳欣盈) is working with the Central Election Commission (CEC) to resolve issues with her financial disclosure statement, a spokesman for the candidate said yesterday, after the commission published the statements of all three presidential candidates and their running mates, while confirming their eligibility to run in the Jan. 13 election. Wu’s office spokesman, Chen Yu-cheng (陳宥丞), said the candidate encountered unforeseen difficulties disclosing her husband’s finances due to being suddenly thrust into the campaign. She is also the first vice presidential nominee to have a foreign spouse, complicating the reporting of