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Asia Business News Highlights: China Foreign Currency Reserves and More


China's Foreign Currency Reserves Grow

China says the country's foreign currency reserves, the largest in the world, grew by $50 billion in the past two months, and foreign investors plan to bring green power to troubled East Timor.

China's foreign currency reserves rose to $925 billion at the end of May, growing by six percent over two months. China's rising foreign currency reserves are partly a result of its booming international trade and partly an attempt to control its currency. Japan holds the second largest foreign reserves in the world.

In the mainland's biggest public offering to date, Bank of China's shares made a strong showing in their debut on the Shanghai stock market. Shares surged as much as 29 percent above the 38 cent offer price, and closed at 47 cents on the first day. Bank of China first made shares available on the Hong Kong market in May, when it raised more than $11 billion.

Green Power Planned for East Timor

East Timor says that a group of Thai and British investors will proceed with an $80 million power supply project despite recent violence and political upheaval in the tiny country.

Project director Chainarong Luemsri says the environmentally friendly biomass gasification system will produce electricity using agricultural waste, and provide East Timorese with an alternative to the diesel-fueled generators most people now use. The process also yields a by-product Luemsri calls artificial diesel.

"The electricity will sell directly to Timor Leste government at the price cheaper than what they (are) spending now," says Luemsri. "For the diesel, we can distribute to Timor Leste community some of [it], and some of [it] will be exported."

Luemsri expects to provide more than 100 jobs and reduce pollution with the cleaner-burning artificial diesel. Luemsri said he is confident that recent unrest in East Timor will be settled soon and will not affect the energy project.

Honda Plans Doubling Car Production in India

Honda Motor Company will invest about $650 million in India over the next decade and double its car production capacity there by next year.

A company official said India's strong growth and democracy are a factor in Honda's view of the country as a more important market than China. Honda's joint venture with a local company is India's largest manufacturer of motorcycles, selling more than three and a half million bikes last year.

Krispy Kreme to Open in Japan

Krispy Kreme Doughnut says it will open its first store in Japan later this year.

The company, which has struggled to grow in the past few years, is looking to expand its international reach as part of a turnaround effort.

The Japanese franchise is a joint venture with turnaround specialist Revamp Corporation and Lotte Group, which operates Krispy Kreme stores in South Korea.