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British Bank Buys South Korean Bank

The British bank Standard Chartered is expanding its presence in Asia.

The bank says it is buying Korea First Bank for $3 billion.

Standard Chartered chief executive Melvyn Davies explained the move,

saying "it's a key decision to acquire a powerful position in the

Republic of Korea - one of the most vibrant economies in our core

geography of Asia."

Korea First Bank is South Korea's seventh largest bank with a market

share of six percent. It will account for 22 percent of Standard

Chartered's assets, making South Korea the bank's second largest market

after Hong Kong.

Also in South Korea, profit for the world's biggest memory chipmaker -

Samsung Electronics -jumped 81 percent to $10 billion in 2004. This

comes despite a stronger Korean currency that makes Samsung's products

more expensive overseas. The company expects sales of semiconductors,

mobile phones and liquid crystal display monitors to increase this year.

Remittances from overseas Filipino workers rose 11 percent to $7.7

billion in the first 11 months of 2004 compared to the same period a

year ago. The Philippine economy relies strongly on these remittances

for foreign exchange.

China says it will spend $12 billion on railway construction this year,

almost double the amount of last year. With its rapidly growing economy,

China needs to improve its transportation infrastructure to ferry goods

throughout the vast country. The government is already building new

airports, highways and ports to help meet demand.

In Indonesia, car sales are at a record high. Political stability, the

availability of car financing and the arrival of new models on the

market helped sell 480,000 units in 2004, up 36 percent from a year