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Bank of China's Hong Kong Profit Rises


The Hong Kong branch of a Chinese banking giant and Australia's biggest airline both post strong growth, while the Thai national carrier hits financial turbulence.

Bank of China's branch in Hong Kong said its profit jumped nearly 17 percent, to $833 million, in the six months to June.

He Guangbei, the bank's chief executive in Hong Kong, credited the territory's economic upturn for the higher-than-expected results.

"The growth momentum of the Hong Kong economy continued into the first half of 2005, creating a more favorable operating environment for the business sector as a whole. The property market remained active. There was higher demand for loans and other financial services," he said.

In Australia, the country's biggest airline, Qantas, said profit rose 18 percent, to $587 million, for the fiscal year ending in June, despite increased competition and high oil prices.

The company has cut two hundred management jobs in the past two months. Chief executive Geoff Dixon says soaring fuel costs remain the airline's greatest concern.

"We believe fuel will stay at current high levels for quite some period of time, and we must compensate for that," said Mr. Dixon.

At the same time, Thailand's national carrier, Thai Airways International, lost $117 million in the quarter ending in June because of high oil prices and increased personnel expenses. Its president was suspended last week, reportedly because of the company's financial problems.

South Korea's LG Electronics and Canada's Nortel Networks have formed a $295 million joint venture to develop telecommunications and networking equipment.

Nortel supplies wireless communications equipment worldwide, while LG is the one of the world's largest mobile telephone handset makers.

Finally, Malaysia's state investment arm, Khazanah Nasional, and Telekom Malaysia will together buy a 12 percent stake in Singapore's mobile operator, Mobile One, for some $158 million. The deal will increase Telekom's stake in Mobile One to 17 percent from the current five percent.

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