Proton sells stake in Italian company
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia
Malaysia's national carmaker Proton Holdings Bhd. said Tuesday it is selling its controlling stake in debt-ridden Italian motorcycle manufacturer MV Agusta SPA for a nominal 1 euro (US$1.19) in cash.
The buyer, Italian investment holding company Gevi SPA, will assume Agusta's 106.9 million euros (US$126.8 million) debt and 32.5 million euros (US$38.5 million) working capital requirements, Proton said in a statement.
Proton said it paid 70 million euros (US$59.32 million) for its 57.8 percent stake in Agusta in 2004, adding that the sale of the stake was "consistent with Proton's direction of divesting noncore assets."
Oil prices down
Crude futures fell yesterday in thin post-Christmas trading, after U.S. forecasts of milder weather in the week ahead raised traders' expectations of lower demand for heating fuels.
Prices fell despite the latest figures showing a drop in heating oil stocks.
Light, sweet crude for February delivery slipped US$0.64 to US$57.79 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange by midday in Europe. The contract on Friday rose 15 cents to settle at US$58.43 a barrel. On Monday, the market was closed for the Christmas holiday.
Brent crude was down US$0.59 at US$56.10 on the ICE Futures exchange.
NAND flash supply
SEOUL, South Korea
Samsung Electronics Co., the world's largest memory chip maker, confirmed Monday that it is in talks with Sony Corp. to supply NAND flash memory chips.
"We are talking to major companies including Sony to supply our NAND flash chips, but no details have been decided yet," Samsung spokeswoman Lee Eun-Hee said.
Earlier Monday, the Korea Economic Daily reported that the chip maker is negotiating with Sony to provide its NAND flash chips on a long-term basis, citing an unnamed company official.
Sony is seeking to secure NAND flash chips of eight gigabytes or higher, and the order amount is expected to be more than a fifth of Samsung's total NAND flash output from next year, according to the report.
The two sides are expected to sign a contract in the first half of 2006, the paper said.
Japanese tiremaker Bridgestone said yesterday it will invest about US$100 million to build a new synthetic rubber factory in China to meet rising demand.
Bridgestone, the world's second largest tire maker, said the plant in Huizhou, Guandong province will start operation in the first half of 2008 with an annual production capacity of 50,000 tons of styrene-butadiene rubber.
"The aim of the move is to meet growing global demand for synthetic rubber used in tires," Bridgestone said, adding that it planned to hire 210 people at the factory.
The rubber will mainly go to Bridgestone's tire plants in China as well as other areas in Asia, the statement said.
InBev names CEO
Brewer InBev NV, the world's largest brewery by volume, yesterday announced a new leadership team aimed at further boosting its worldwide presence with a more direct appeal for consumers to drink their global brands.
Brazilian Carlos Brito, 45, was tapped to replace John Brock as chief executive after his three-year contract was not renewed. German Peter Harf will become chairman.
A company which has its roots in the European Middle Ages, Inbev now has to battle for consumers throughout the globalized world. It is pushing Brazil' Brahma brand in Belgium's deep-rooted traditional beer market and selling Belgium's Stella Artois in Brazil.