Business Digest

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 March, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 March, 2005, 12:00am

China shipping set to buy four suezmax tankers

State-owned China Shipping Group's dedicated oil transport arm is close to announcing a US$290 million deal for four Suezmax crude tankers from mainland yard Bohai Shipbuilding Heavy Industry.

The deal would be the yard's first for the 150,000-deadweight-tonne class of vessel, the largest able to transit the Suez Canal. The ships are expected to be delivered by 2008, a source at brokerage Simpson Spence and Young said yesterday.

'No one knows the prices for the vessels,' the broker said. 'But the last similar order contracted from Japanese yards was for US$74 million per ship and it is believed Bohai cannot ask for that. We think a price around US$72 million makes sense.'

The group is expanding its fleet to service China's appetite for oil, which has reached 2.5 million barrels a day. Russell Barling

Lunar new year spree lifts advertising spending

Advertising spending last month reached $1.18 billion, up 11.21 per cent from a year ago, boosted by heavy spending on food during Lunar New Year, according to admanGo.

A total of $97.33 million was spent on food advertising last month, an increase of 38.05 per cent on the same period in 2003.

Snack retailer Aji Ichiban was the top advertiser overall with spending of $17.77 million, while McDonald's ranked No3 with expenditure of $12.29 million.

Sewame, which makes facial and cleansing products, came in second with $13.11 million.

Banks and investment-related services splashed out $79.2 million last month, while pharmaceuticals and healthcare products spent $77.04 million. Sidney Luk

China telecom to launch chain of internet cafes

China's top fixed-line phone operator, China Telecom, said yesterday it had won approval to open a nationwide chain of internet cafes, leveraging a fast-expanding broadband network to generate new growth.

China Telecom and its chief fixed-line rival, China Netcom Group, have aggressively built up their broadband networks over the past few years. Both are looking for new revenue sources amid growth in China's maturing telecoms market, the world's biggest. But despite intensive spending on broadband, the service is estimated to have drawn only 42.8 million users by the end of last year, according to official data. Reuters

wheelock seeks control of london joint venture

Wheelock Properties is seeking to tighten its grip on a London-based realty agency joint venture.

The property developer, through its Singapore-listed offshoot Wheelock Properties (Singapore), yesterday offered to acquire a maximum 68.45 per cent interest, or 7.66 million shares it does not own in the joint-venture Hamptons Group. At #3.12 per share, the Wheelock offer is worth #23 million ($345 million).

Wheelock has had a 32.4 per cent stake in Hamptons since 1997. Denise Tsang