24 May 2007 02:00 [Source: ICIS news]
Asahi Shimbun, Japan (online edition) ?xml:namespace>
Checks skipped on 40% of roller coasters
About 40% of roller coasters and similar thrill rides in Japan have not been inspected annually for cracks and metal fatigue as required by the Japan Industrial Standards (JIS), a transport ministry survey showed Wednesday.
And 24% of the rides have never been checked since going into operation.
Pension snafu could again prove winner for Minshuto
Opposition Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan) has finally found an issue that might give it some much-needed momentum before the July Upper House election: the troubled pension system.
The party has successfully used this issue before, but now it wants to focus on the millions of pension accounts for whom the rightful beneficiary is unclear.
Business & Industry
Office rejects 11th try for 'Ina Bauer' patent
The Japan Patent Office has given the cold shoulder to Asahi Breweries .'s application to register "Ina Bauer" as a trademark for commercial use, sources said Tuesday.
The patent office has now rejected 11 of the applications since figure skater Shizuka Arakawa used the Ina Bauer move in her gold medal performance at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics, an official said.
Isetan line targets younger women
Department store chain operator Isetan said it plans to introduce a new line of youthful fashions in August aimed at the legions of daughters of baby boomers.
The Dolly Girl by Anna Sui brand was developed jointly with Onward Kashiyama, a major apparel company.
Wu Yi: Strategic talks are a complete success
China and the United States yesterday signed a slew of agreements at the conclusion of two days of high-level economic talks, which Vice-Premier Wu Yi described as "a complete success".
"We have reached broad consensus and realized positive results," Wu, who led the Chinese delegation to the China-US Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED), told reporters.
Talks on gas exploration set to begin
China and Japan will hold a new round of consultations to discuss the dispute over gas exploration rights in the East China Sea tomorrow in Beijing.
The talks, aimed at drawing up a joint development proposal by this autumn, are expected to give shape to the consensus reached by Premier Wen Jiabao and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe during the Chinese premier's ice-breaking trip to Japan last month.
Business & Industry
Lenovo back in the black in fiscal Q4
China's top personal computer vendor, Lenovo Group , struggling to improve its balance sheet since taking over IBM's PC arm, returned to profit in the fourth fiscal quarter.
The world's third-biggest PC maker posted a net profit of $161m for 2006-2007 fiscal year, a strong year-on-year increase of 625%. Full-year revenue was $14.6bn, up by 10%.
Economy fuels M&As in China
China remains Asia's top market for financial services mergers and acquisitions (M&A) because of underlying economic growth conditions, an annual survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) suggests.
The opening of the financial sector late last year has also contributed to the faster pace of restructuring among domestic financial institutions and has prompted foreign banks to acquire stakes in domestic firms to gain a foothold in the Chinese market, PwC analysts said.
Crime-busting Taipei County councilor shot dead in Xindian
A Taipei County councilor was shot dead yesterday, possibly by a professional hit man, the police said yesterday. He was pronounced dead at 1:08pm (05:08 GMT), approximately an hour and half after he was shot.
"We believe the assailant to be 175 centimetres tall and of slender build. He was last seen wearing a helmet, dark shades, white top, and dark pants," said police chief Lin Kuo-dung, noting that the man is believed to have escaped on a silver scooter heading towards Bitan after firing five shots at the councilman. The gunman acted alone, said the police.
Lee sentenced to life for murder scheme
Lee Tai-an was sentenced yesterday to life imprisonment for conspiring to murder his younger brother's Vietnamese wife by orchestrating a train derailment on 17 March last year in order to collect insurance on the woman's life.
According to the ruling, Lee Tai-an was believed to have concocted a scheme to destroy railway infrastructure, while the younger brother Lee Shuang-chuan purchased an New Taiwan dollar (NT$) 75m ($2.2m) insurance policy for his wife before taking her on a train ride and later injecting her with a fatal poison after the train derailed.
Business & Industry
Google puts $3.9m in firm of founder's wife
Fresh off her marriage to Google Inc co-founder Sergey Brin, biotechnology entrepreneur Anne Wojcicki is now wedded to the company too.
In Securities and Exchange Commission documents filed Tuesday, Google revealed that it invested $3.9m to obtain a minority stake in Wojcicki's biotech startup, 23andMe Inc.
Hitachi to help build nuclear plant
Japan's Hitachi said yesterday it will team up with General Electric to build a nuclear power plant with a next-generation reactor in the US state of Virginia.
US power utility Dominion Resources Inc. has asked the two companies to build the nuclear reactor at its North Anna Power Station in central Virginia, a Hitachi spokesman said.
GNP vows to block new press rules
Lawmakers and legal experts are moving to block new regulations that they claim would violate press freedom.
The majority Grand National Party pledged yesterday to nullify the plan during the June parliamentary session. The government plans to consolidate the 37 existing press rooms in administrative offices by August.
GNP rivals brace for primary debates
Rival presidential hopefuls in the Grand National Party are gearing up for upcoming primary debates as their nomination race kick-started yesterday with the inauguration of two party committees to handle the in-house polls.
Former Seoul Mayor Lee Myung-bak and former GNP chairwoman Park Geun-hye aim to seize the opportunity to appeal to voters nationwide during the run-up to the August primary race.
Business & Industry
Number of irregular workers on the rise
The proportion of irregular workers in the country's salaried workforce stood at 36.7% in March, up from 35.5% in August last year, the National Statistical Office said yesterday.
The semi-annual report, which analyzes the country's economically active population according to employment type, also showed that irregular workers were paid about two-thirds of what regular workers earned and spent shorter periods working at a single workplace in comparison to regular workers.
Korea's efforts in Mideast hit pay dirt
Years of working in the desert are paying off for Korean building contractors as they reap record orders from the Middle East.
Hyundai Engineering & Construction, Korea's largest general contractor, and its domestic rivals have won more than $6.6bn in new business from the Mideast so far this year. That's more than double the total at the same point last year and halfway to matching a record set in 1981, according to the International Contractors Association of Korea.
Volvo, Ford join hands in India
Volvo will cater to the high-end market, while Ford will feed the mid-size segment.
Europe’s top-end car maker Volvo is planning an onslaught on the Indian market on the back of Ford India . Ford India’s parent, the US-based Ford Motor, owns Volvo’s car business.
Curbs likely on VC funds for realty
The government is reviewing norms for investments by foreign venture capital funds in real estate, after the Reserve Bank of India coming round to the view that such funding is helping create an asset bubble in the sector.
There is a view in the government that such funding in the sector should be stopped completely, sources close to the development said.
Economy & Policy
Pharma regulator cracks whip
The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) plans to issue showcause notices to drug companies for increasing the maximum retail prices of 331 drug packs beyond the permissible limit. Dr Reddy’s, Emcure, Torrent and Cadilla are among the major drug companies whose products figure in the list.
While 279 notices are of preliminary nature seeking explanation from the companies on the apparently abnormal price rise, 52 are of serious nature where the NPPA is not satisfied with the initial replies from the companies.
Developed nations tardy on Doha talks, says India
India has blamed the developed countries for the slow pace of negotiations in the Doha Round of World Trade talks.
Speaking at the World Trade Organisation’s Trade Policy Review for India, in Geneva today, Commerce Secretary Gopal K Pillai also conveyed the country’s concern about the non-tariff barriers imposed by the developed countries. The non-tariff barriers are being seen as a deterrent to the growth of the developing nations.
SGX plans major listing rule revamp
The Singapore Exchange (SGX) yesterday proposed changes to listing rules aimed at giving companies distinct platforms to access the capital market, while offering investors the assurance of good quality or growth companies.
SGX's new focus for the mainboard is to attract larger companies and maintain the quality of listed companies. Those that do not come up to a certain size or quality will be put on a watch-list - and will be de-listed if they fail to turn around within two years.
Eng Wah in reverse takeover deal
Cinema operator Eng Wah Organisation has entered into a multi-million-dollar reverse takeover deal that could turn it into a biotech firm when the exercise is completed.
In a statement yesterday, Eng Wah said that it is buying the business of Tokyo-based Transcutaneous Technologies Inc (TTI) for a price of Singapore dollar (S$) 675m ($441.7m) - to be satisfied through an issue of 1.61bn new shares to TTI's stockholders. TTI is in the business of developing painless and 'non-invasive' drug delivery systems.
Business & Industry
En bloc deals hit S$6.38bn - nearly topping all of last year's
A total of 39 collective sale sites have been sold for some S$6.38bn since the start of this year, up to 15 May - just 18% shy of the $7.75bn record achieved last year, show latest figures from Jones Lang LaSalle.
The property consulting firm's regional director and head of investments, Lui Seng Fatt, expects the momentum of en bloc sales to continue for the rest of this year, predicting a S$10bn figure being hit for the full year, assuming prices hold.
Keeping one's cool in a hot property market
The last time the government asked the Real Estate Developers' Association of Singapore (Redas) for help to cool the property market, sweeping anti-speculation measures followed.
So it's not surprising that the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) announcement on Tuesday that it has asked Redas to help make property pricing more transparent has an ominous ring to it.
Central bank cuts rates again
The Bank of Thailand cut its benchmark interest rate for the fourth time in five months to try to revive spending, as consumer and business confidence hovers near a five-year low.
The central bank lowered its one-day bond repurchase rate to 3.5% from 4%. The decision was widely expected.
Analysis: Thai politics is no party
The Constitutional Tribunal may dissolve the two biggest political parties on 30 May, and if the first draft of the new constitution holds up, the party system could lose most of the clout gained under 10 years of a democratic charter.
Unpredictability has characterised Thai politics for decades, but this year's host of uncertainties has got even the most seasoned political analysts scratching their heads.
Business & Industry
MPC cuts key rate 50 basis points
The Bank of Thailand yesterday cut interest rates by half a percentage point as the economy continues to slow due to weak investor and consumer confidence. The move by the central bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), the fourth reduction this year, brought its one-day repurchase rate down to 3.5%.
But the markets mostly ignored the decision as it had been widely anticipated. The Stock Exchange of Thailand index fell 0.21% while bond yields rose slightly as investors considered comments by the central bank that further rate cuts should not be taken as a given.
PTT plans to invest Bt10bn to help turn Map Ta Phut green
PTT Plc, the state-owned energy conglomerate, plans to invest more than baht (Bt) 10bn ($304.9m) to address pollution problems at Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate in Rayong, according to president Prasert Bunsumpun. Briefing Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont, who visited Map Ta Phut yesterday, Mr Prasert said PTT and its subsidiaries that operate many pollution-prone industries in the area pledged to tackle the problems seriously.
Mr Prasert also boasted of PTT's measures to control pollution at several chemical plants in Map Ta Phut, saying they exceeded international requirements. The company also has continuously looked after the quality of life in local communities, he said.
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