Foreign business news in brief

SYDNEY: Macquarie Bank Ltd has bought Zurich Capital Market’s international agricultural commodities business. The Australian investment bank did not give financial details, but said the purchase of the business, which has underlying transactions with a face value of US$44.5mil, would increase the value of its total agricultural derivatives book. -- Reuters 


Five groups bid for Bank Danamon stake  


JAKARTA: Five consortia have officially submitted bids to acquire 51% of PT Bank Danomon Indonesia, Bisnis Indonesia reported yesterday, quoting a top Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (Ibra) official. The official declined to name the bidders but the report, quoted unnamed government sources, identified the five potential investors as HSBC Holdings, the Deutsche Bank-Temasek Holdings consortium, the Bank Artha Graha-Gudang Garam consortium, the Bank Mega-Bhakti Capital consortium, and Bhakti Asset Management. -- AFX 


South Korea moves to support credit card companies 


SEOUL: The South Korea government is considering buying bad debt from struggling credit card companies in a bid to make their bonds more attractive and stabilise a debt market convulsed in the wake of a major accounting scandal. 

The move comes as cash-strapped investment trust companies, faced with massive redemption calls since the outbreak of a US$1.2bil SK group accounting scandal last week, are finding it difficult to offload large holdings of bonds issued by credit card firms. 

This has raised fears of a credit crunch as this overhang of bonds in the portfolios of investment trusts may make it harder for credit card companies to roll over their bonds as they mature, restricting their capacity to lend to consumers. “We will provide support for credit card firms in securing liquidity by softening regulations,” the regulatory Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) said in a statement after a meeting of top financial sector regulators. According to the FSS, the country’s 8 credit card companies are planning recapitalisation or subordinated bond issues worth 2 trillion won to beef up their financial position. -- Reuters 



TOKYO: Sumitomo Chemical Co Ltd plans to reorganise and expand its propylene oxide and propylene glycol operations, particularly in Asia and the Middle East, in conjunction with Lyondell Chemical Co of the US. Sumitomo Chemical said that it would increase its stake in Nihon Oxirane Co Ltd, currently a 50:50 joint venture with Lyondell, to 60% from March 31, and the two firms would both continue to provide technical assistance to the venture. -- AFX 



MUNICH: Volkswagen AG (VW) wants to build a new plant in China to help it achieve its goal of doubling production in the country to 1 million cars by 2007, according to the company's board member responsible for Asia, Robert Buechelhofer. He was quoted in an Automobil-woche article as saying that a decision on where to site the could be made this year. VW has said that it would spend about 3 billion euros over the next five years to increase its sales in the Asia-Pacific region, with five new models to be added to its production in China. -- AFX 

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