Accessibility links

Malaysia's Proton Halts Alliance Talks With Foreign Automakers

Malaysia's national carmaker Proton has halted talks about strategic tie-ups with two potential foreign partners, and Hong Kong has taken the first step into the lucrative world of Islamic finance. Claudia Blume reports from VOA's Asia News Center in Hong Kong.

Shares in Malaysian carmaker Proton went down almost 20 percent after the company announced it had ended talks about cooperation with U.S. automaker General Motors and Germany's Volkswagen. Talks about a partnership had begun in 2004, and were aimed at revitalizing the struggling Malaysian company.

Vincent Khoo, research head of Malaysian investment bank Aseambankers, says the Malaysian government thinks there is no longer any need for a strategic partnership, as Proton's fortunes have turned around in recent months.

"The official reason given was that Proton has made a good turnaround for itself under the present management - with the various tie-ups Proton has made, particularly with Chinese parties, to strengthen the exports-base for Proton," Khoo said.

Hong Kong's regulators have given the green light to the city's first Islamic investment fund. Hong Kong is trying to catch up with Singapore and Malaysia, which have become regional hubs for Muslim investment in recent years. Islamic financial assets are estimated to be worth more than $400 billion worldwide.

Islamic funds do not invest in businesses that trade in alcohol, tobacco or gambling. They also ban the earning of interest.

The famous Michelin gastronomy guide has unofficially crowned Tokyo as the world's culinary capital. In its first Asian edition, the Michelin Guide awarded 191 stars to 150 restaurants in the Japanese capital, the most stars awarded in any city worldwide, including Paris.

Eight restaurants received the highest Michelin award of three stars.

"In the past year, the inspectors and I have been surprised by the quality of the cuisine here - not only French, prepared by Japanese chefs, but also Japanese," said Jean-Luc Naret, the director of the Michelin Guides.

And Chinese state broadcaster CCTV made more than $10 billion from an auction for advertising in 2008, when the country hosts the Olympic summer games. CCTV has the exclusive rights to air the games in China next August.