In Wednesday's Asia papers

25 April 2007 02:05  [Source: ICIS news]

Asahi Shimbun, Japan (online edition)

Front page


Father: No justice for daughter

For the father of Lucie Blackman, attending the trial of Joji Obara has been a "therapeutic process" to help him overcome the death of his daughter seven years ago.

But after hearing the Tokyo District Court on Tuesday give Obara a life sentence for the rapes of nine women but acquit him in Lucie's death, the 53-year-old Tim Blackman told reporters he felt let down.


Obara sentenced to life imprisonment, but acquitted in death of Lucie Blackman

A Tokyo court on Tuesday sentenced businessman Joji Obara to life in prison for drugging and raping nine women, including an Australian who died, but acquitted him in the death of Briton Lucie Blackman.

The Tokyo District Court said prosecutors failed to provide evidence that proves Obara, 54, was responsible for the death of the 21-year-old British hostess whose dismembered body was found in Kanagawa Prefecture in 2001.


Business & Industry


Chief of frozen food company quits over phony accounting

The founder and president of a frozen food company resigned Tuesday to take responsibility for a series of questionable transactions.

Yoshikazu Kato, president and chairman of Katokichi, said he was stepping down from the two posts effective Tuesday.


Cellphones planned that can read IC tags

In just a few years, shoppers will be able to use their cellphones to obtain information concerning their groceries, including production sites, ingredients, nutritional values and distribution channels.

That's according to a plan by the telecommunications ministry, which will pump hundreds of millions of yen into a project to make Japan the first nation with cellphones that can obtain information from integrated circuit (IC) tags.


China Daily, China (online edition)

Front page


9 Chinese workers killed at Ethiopia oilfield site

Nine Chinese workers were killed on Tuesday in an attack by armed men on an oil field in eastern Ethiopia, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said Tuesday in Beijing, strongly condemning the atrocity of armed attacks.

Liu Jianchao, the spokesman, said seven more Chinese workers were abducted in the attack, and one was slightly injured.


Wen offers full support to 2008 Games

Premier Wen Jiabao Tuesday declared his full support for the organizers of the Beijing Olympics during a speech at the opening ceremony of the 5th Sport Accord, being held in the capital.

Wen said the government will honour China's commitments as host nation, strengthen its cooperation with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and other international sports organizations, and give its total support to Beijing as it prepares to host next year's Games.


Business & Industry


China produces 46m tonnes of crude oil, 495m tonnes of raw coal

China's National Bureau of Statistics has released the nation's output of major industrial products in first quarter.

According to the bureau, the country produced 494.9m tonnes of raw coal between January and March, a growth of 14.8% year-on-year. The total included 177.8m tonnes produced in March, up 10.3%.


Stock index ends at record high

Chinese mainland stocks rose to a record for a second day. Power suppliers such as Shenergy gained after Goldman, Sachs & Co said it's "positive" on Chinese power producers.

"Power stocks still look attractive in valuation, compared with other sectors that have ramped up in line with the market," said Yan Ji, an investment manager at HSBC Jintrust Fund Management in Shanghai, which manages $517m. "Investors are now looking for some safe investments."


Taiwan News, Taiwan (online edition)

Front page


Ma not indicted over 'death' remark

Taipei prosecutors yesterday decided not to indict former Kuomintang Chairman Ma Ying-jeou over his statement, "President Chen Shui-bian would die a horrible death (if he did not step down)."

No evidence was provided to prove that Ma's statement goaded people to commit crimes or that it jeopardized public security even though the statement made by Ma was improper, the prosecutors said in their explanation as to why they chose not to indict Ma.


Simulation shows Taiwan weak against PRC attack, MND says

Computer-simulated war games conducted last week showed that Taiwan's weak anti-missile and anti-submarine capabilities were insufficient to deal with the threats from rival China's continuing military buildup, a Ministry of National Defense official said yesterday.

Lieutenant General Hsu Tai-sheng, MND Joint Operations Training and Doctrine Office chief and general director of the Han Kuang No 23 simulated war games, revealed the findings of the exercise at a press conference.


Business & Industry


Starbucks forges ahead amid branding issues

With a growing crowd of millions lining up for its fancy coffee drinks in the 1990s, Starbucks Corp was tantalized by seemingly endless opportunities to expand its brand.


Qantas bidder woos investors as deadline looms

The private equity consortium bidding to buy Australian national airline Qantas launched a fresh appeal yesterday for shareholders to accept an offer analysts said was looking increasingly shaky.

Airline Partners Australia (APA) urged shareholders "Accept now - the best Qantas share price ever," in advertisements posted in the country's major newspapers.


Korea Herald, South Korea (online edition)

Front page


Parties face off in by-elections

Political parties face off in today's by-elections which are seen as a barometer of public sentiment ahead of the December presidential vote.

The poll results will determine three National Assembly members, six chiefs of local administrations and 37 local councilors, nationwide.


Doctors' group embroiled in bribery scandal

Korea's largest medical doctors' lobbying group gave tens of millions of won to lawmakers to scuttle a proposed medical law revision, according to a recorded conversation among its leaders.

The scandal broke on Monday when the newspaper Hankook Ilbo unveiled the script of recorded remarks by Chang Dong-ik, president of the Korea Medical Association, during his meeting with local chapter leaders on 31 March.


Business & Industry


Morgan Stanley still bullish on commodities

Morgan Stanley remains bullish on commodities because of robust economic growth outside of the United States and the surging purchasing power of emerging markets, the brokerage's analysts said yesterday.

"Despite a sharp increase in income per capita in the developing world, a significant gap between them still exists and there is still substantial room for more growth," Hussein Allidina, a global commodity research strategist, said during a press briefing in Seoul.


Venture firms lose clout on Kosdaq

Venture companies are steadily losing popularity on the tech-heavy Kosdaq market, according to new data from the Kosdaq Listed Companies Association.

The Kosdaq currently has 971 listed companies, of which venture firms account for 38.5%, according to the association. It is the first time the number has dropped below 40% since 1999.


Business Standard, India (online edition)

Front page


RBI spreads cheer by sparing interest rates

After five increases in the past year, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today kept the key signalling rates unchanged in its annual policy statement for 2007-08.

The central bank chose to encourage more foreign exchange outflows and stem the threat of inflows in its fight against inflation.


Vedanta pips A V Birla Group to bag Sesa Goa

Anil Agarwal-controlled Vedanta Resources today acquired Sesa Goa, the country’s second-largest iron ore producer, for Indian rupee (Rs) 40.86bn ($990.0m), outbidding the Aditya Birla Group’s closely-held entity, Essel Mining & Industries, and the world’s largest steel company, Arcelor Mittal.

Vedanta has agreed to pay Rs2,036 a share for Japan’s second biggest trading firm Mitsui & Co’s 51 % stake in Sesa Goa, a premium of 20% over today’s close of Rs1,698.55 on the Bombay Stock Exchange, to secure control over mines in Orissa, Karnataka, and Goa.


Economy & Policy


Petrol, diesel price hike likely in May, after UP polls

The government is likely to raise the prices of petrol and diesel in the first half of May. This has been necessitated by the high price of crude oil that Indian refiners buy, which has been hovering around $65 a barrel in April compared to an average $56 per barrel in the January-March quarter.

The quantum of hike had not yet been worked out, but it was likely to be Rs2 a litre for petrol and Rs1 a litre for diesel, said an official in the petroleum ministry, who did not want to be named.


PM approved trade policy: Commerce ministry officials

As uncertainty continues over service tax exemption to exports, announced in this year’s annual supplement to the Foreign Trade Policy, commerce ministry officials maintain that the measures in this year’s policy had been cleared by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Officials in the finance ministry have been maintaining that the commerce ministry had not consulted them regarding the exemption.


Business Times, Singapore (print edition)

Front page


S Korea's Q1 GDP up 0.9%

South Korea's economy grew a seasonally adjusted 0.9% in the first quarter from the previous quarter, in line with market forecasts, the central bank's advance estimates showed on Wednesday.

The median forecast from a poll was for gross domestic product in the January-March period to rise 0.9%, matching the pace of growth in the fourth quarter. GDP grew 1.2% in the third quarter of 2006.


Intel market share jumps in Q1

Intel Corp captured more than 80% of the computer chip market in the first quarter while rival AMD lost the headway it had made in all of 2006 and then some, industry data showed on Tuesday.

Intel's share of the $30bn market for x86 processors that power most personal computers was 80.5% in the first quarter, according to Mercury Research, a market tracking firm whose data are closely watched by the industry.


Business & Industry


IBM raises dividend, stock buyback

IBM said on Tuesday that it will raise its quarterly dividend by a third and its stock buyback program by $15bn, sending its shares up nearly 5%.

As a result of the higher share buyback, 2007 earnings per share growth - excluding any gain from the recently announced sale of its printer business - could be 12-14%, which is one to three points more than its previous estimates, IBM said.


US regulator sues ex-Apple lawyer over options

US regulators accused Apple Inc's former general counsel of fraudulently backdating stock options and settled a lawsuit against another former executive who said he had relied on CEO Steve Jobs' judgement in handling the questionable grants.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed charges on Tuesday against former general counsel Nancy Heinen, but said it would not pursue action against Apple after reaching a settlement with former chief financial officer Fred Anderson.


Bangkok Post, Thailand (online edition)

Front page


Junta backs call for state religion
CNS chairman Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, who is Muslim, said that recognising Buddhism as the national religion would have no impact on southern violence. "Whether or not the stipulation is added to the constitution, these thugs will continue their attacks," he said.

The head of the Council for National Security (CNS) yesterday agreed with a demand by Buddhist activists that Buddhism should be declared the national religion in the new charter. "We give priority to peace in the country," said Gen Sonthi Boonyarataklin.


Airline loses customers after moving airports

Thai Airways International's decision to move a large part of its domestic services to the old Don Muang airport has resulted in a loss of tens of thousands of passengers who require connecting flights.

The flag carrier could have lost as many as 70,000 foreign travellers, who were transferring from international flights to domestic destinations or travelling from domestic routes to overseas, since THAI started operating through the 93-year-old airport on 25 March, according to insiders.


Business & Industry


It's time to boost budget air traffic

Figures released upon the first anniversary of the terminals built purposefully for low-cost carriers (LCC) in Malaysia and Singapore provide good indications how the revolution in aviation business is taking place in this region. Kuala Lumpur's LCC Terminal processed a whopping 6.2m passengers in its first year of operation that began in March 2006, representing 26.6% of total passengers through Kuala Lumpur last year.

Singapore Changi Airport's Budget Terminal (BT) handled about 1.4m passengers during the period, constituting 4% of total passengers handled at Changi in 2006.


Abbott wrong to target Thailand

The latest offer by Abbott Laboratories to register second-line Aids drug Aluvia in Thailand if the government drops its compulsory licence is a step in the right direction. But the government should reject any offer that calls for dropping the compulsory licence, which is a right guaranteed in the World Trade Organisation's agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS). Indeed, the government's decision to issue a compulsory licence for Kaletra has already reaped benefits, and not just for Thailand. Although Abbott pulled registrations for Aluvia, a heat-stable form of Kaletra that does not require refrigeration, and six other new drugs in Thailand, the company did reduce the price of both Kaletra and Aluvia for 45 low- and middle-income countries to $1,000 per-patient per year from $2,200 previously.

By: Staff Reporter
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