Foreign business news in brief

BEIJING: China's foreign exchange reserves, the world's second largest after Japan's, climbed to US$415.72bil at the end of January despite a monthly trade deficit, the central bank said yesterday.  

Forex reserves stood at US$403.25bil at the end of 2003. 

China injected US$45bil in foreign exchange into two big state-banks late last year in a bailout of the debt-ridden industry, a major step towards strengthening the Achilles' heel of fast-growing economy. 

China posted a trade deficit of about US$20mil in January, the first monthly deficit in 10 months, driven by a cut in tax rebates. Foreign direct investment in China was US$4.1bil in January. – Reuters

For Another perspective from the China Daily, a partner of Asia News Network, click here


LONDON: Canadian conglomerate Brascan set out in detail its US$3.03bil bid for British property firm Canary Wharf, triggering deadlines for both rival bidder Morgan Stanley and the company's directors. 

The firm said in documents sent to shareholders that it could sell buildings to pay off debt, adding that it saw Canary Wharf as a long-term investment. Canary Wharf took the once derelict docks on the banks of the Thames River and refashioned them into London's second financial district. 

Canary Wharf's independent directors now have 14 days to give shareholders a recommendation on the Brascan bid. – Reuters 

LOS ANGELES: Walt Disney Co chief executive Michael Eisner's leadership was thrown into question on Wednesday when an independent shareholder adviser and the country's largest public pension fund blasted his record and came out in opposition to his re-election to the board. 

The announcements by adviser Glass Lewis and pension fund CalPERS marked a low point in investor confidence in Eisner, who faces a re-election vote on March 3. 

Disney dismissed the criticism as unfair given the company's expected growth under Eisner and recent reforms. – Reuters 

SHANGHAI: General Motors Corp, the world's largest vehicle maker, said it has signed an agreement with its main Chinese partner Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp to set up their fourth car production base in the country. 

GM, Shanghai Auto and their existing 50:50 venture Shanghai GM will buy out a 50% stake held by four other Chinese firms in the troubled Jinbei GM plant in the northeastern city of Shenyang. GM now owns half of Jinbei GM. – Reuters

For Another perspective from the China Daily, a partner of Asia News Network, click here


SINGAPORE: The city-state's manufacturing output rose a surprising 18.1% in January from December, boosted by drug makers and offsetting slower factory activity elsewhere due to the Lunar New Year, the government said. 

Singapore is set for its strongest economic growth in four years this year, after faster-than-expected growth between October and December, on a surge in production of microchips and drugs. 

Encouraged by rising factory capacity and strong demand for exports, the government earlier yesterday raised its economic forecast for 2004 to a range of 3.5% to 5.5% growth from 3–5%. – Reuters

For another perspective from The Straits Times, a partner of Asia News Network, click here.


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