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India's Tata Steel Wins Bid for European Steelmaker Corus


India's Tata Steel has bought a European steel maker, and Japan's Sony Corporation has raised its net profit forecast. Claudia Blume in Hong Kong has more on these and other stories in our weekly summary of Asian business news.

India's Tata Steel outbid a Brazilian rival to take over London-based steelmaker Corus for about $12 billion.

The acquisition, which was the biggest ever by an Indian firm, could help Tata Steel become the world's fifth-largest steelmaker, with a potential output of 25 million tons a year. The Indian company is currently ranked 56th in the world in terms of steel output.

Japan's Sony Corporation raised this fiscal year's net profit forecast by 38 percent. The electronics and entertainment company said it expects a profit of about $900 million, compared with a previous forecast of $650 million.

The increase is mainly due to a recovery of the company's electronics business, which saw strong sales of flat-screen TVs and digital cameras during the Christmas season.

Revenue in Sony's movie division rose 47 percent in the third quarter, due to strong ticket sales for the latest James Bond movie, "Casino Royale", and healthy sales of its movies on DVD. The company's game segment, however, posted a loss - largely due to the costs related to the launch of the company's Playstation 3 Video game console.

Nobuyuki Oneda is Sony's chief financial officer and is speaking through an interpreter.

"Even though there was a significant increase in operating income in [the] electronic segment and a considerable improvement in the picture segments, overall operating income decreased due to loss in game segment," Oneda says.

Third-quarter profit in another Japanese company, carmaker Honda, climbed almost nine percent compared with the same period a year earlier. While domestic sales were weak, sales of Honda's cars grew in other Asian countries, as well as in Europe and North America.

Chinese computer maker Lenovo posted a 23 percent increase in third-quarter profits, mainly due to strong sales in China. This was the best earnings growth for the Beijing-based company since it bought the personal computer unit of U.S. company IBM in 2005. Lenovo, now the world's third-largest PC maker, is trying to become a major competitor outside China.

In other news from China, the country's main state-run television network says advertisers are not allowed to use images of pigs in ads during the upcoming Year of the Pig, which begins February 18.

CCTV officials say the ban is intended to show respect for Islam, which forbids the eating of pork. There are about 20 million Muslims among China's 1.3 billion people. One advertising client, food producer Nestle, has already canceled plans for a New Year ad featuring a cartoon pig.

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