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Asia's Biggest Cruise Line Takes to the Skies


Asia's largest cruise line is expanding into air travel, while Hong Kong has vowed to list its controversial real estate investment trust.

The biggest cruise line in Asia has become the largest investor in one of the region's emerging budget carriers.

Star Cruises bought a 20 percent stake in Singapore's Valuair. About 130,000 tourists visit Singapore each year to go on Star Cruise holidays. Nilesh Pritam, a spokesman for Valuair, says nearly a third of these passengers come from markets the airline serves, such as Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Thailand.

"With this relationship, we're going boost the numbers significantly because it's going be so much easier for passengers to now take a plane to Singapore and then take a cruise elsewhere around the region," said Mr. Pritam.

After an embarrassing last minute decision to halt the $3 billion listing of part of its public housing assets, Hong Kong's government says it will work to get the deal back on track.

The city's chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa, vowed to push ahead with listing the Link Real Estate Investment Trust on the Hong Kong exchange. "But I want people to know that we are learning from this experience and we will do our best as quickly as possible to get it listed again," he said.

The listing was scrapped last week because of a lawsuit questioning its legality.

The construction unit of South Korea's largest steel maker, Posco, says it has won a contract to build two gas-fired power plants in Iran worth $600 million. The plants will supply up to 600 megawatts of electricity starting in 2008.

New Zealand posted its worst-ever quarterly trade deficit in the three months ending in September. Its imports exceed exports by $2.2 billion. The country's main exports are agricultural products such as dairy and meats, while it imports oil, machinery and cars.

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