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Shareholder Vote Ends Hong Kong Telecom Feud


An attempt by Asia's richest man Li Ka-shing to buy his son's shares in Hong Kong's leading telephone company has failed, and Japan shows strong industrial production figures. Claudia Blume at VOA's regional office in Hong Kong has more on these and other business stories from Asia.

Shareholders have blocked an attempt by Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing to buy a 23 percent stake in the territory's dominant phone company, PCCW, from his son Richard Li. The vote by minority shareholders of Singapore-based Pacific Century Regional Developments ended an extended business and family drama.

It started when PCCW chairman Richard Li began talks with foreign investors in June about selling some of the company's assets. This was effectively vetoed by Beijing, which has sovereignty over Hong Kong and wants PCCW to remain a locally owned company.

Li then agreed to sell his stake to an investor group led by Hong Kong financier Francis Leung. It later turned out that Leung's financial backers included Richard's father Li Ka-shing, and the younger Li opposed the deal. He was not allowed to vote on the transaction, however, because it involved his father.

Japan's industrial production grew by a stronger-than-expected 1.6 percent in October, compared with September. This has led to speculation that the Bank of Japan could raise interest rates as early as this month.

Koichi Haji, chief economist at the N.L.I. research institute in Tokyo, says an increase is possible soon. But he says the central bank will first wait for the release of other statistics such as the consumer price index.

"If these statistics are very strong then the Bank of Japan may try to raise their interest rates but if these statistics are not so strong they will wait until next month," said Haji.

German carmaker Volkswagen will invest more than $530 million to build its first plant in India. The factory will be built near the city of Pune in the western state of Maharashtra. The car plant will employ about 2,500 people and is set to start production in 2009.

Three Malaysian plantation companies will merge to create the world's largest listed palm oil business.

A new company called Synergy Drive will buy the assets and liabilities of palm oil producers Sime Darby, Golden Hope Plantations and Kumpulan Guthrie.

Analysts say the merger will boost Malaysia's status as the world's top palm oil producer.

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