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China's Top Offshore Oil Producer Sees Profits Soar


China's biggest offshore oil producer and the country's second-largest bank have reported soaring profits.

China's top offshore oil and gas producer, CNOOC, has posted a 38 percent jump in earnings for the first half of the year. The better-than-expected results were driven by soaring energy prices and higher output.

Oil and gas production at the state-owned company increased by more than seven percent in the first six months of 2006 compared to a year earlier.

CNOOC's chairman Fu Chengyu says the company achieved breakthroughs in its overseas business development. Fu says CNOOC completed the acquisition of a 45 percent stake in a Nigerian oil block and also extended its exploration activities to Equatorial Guinea, Australia and Kenya.

China's second-largest lender, the Bank of China, also posted positive interim results. Higher lending in the booming Chinese economy was the main driver behind the bank's 28 percent rise in first-half earnings.

In other banking news, the Bangladesh government has agreed to sell control of the country's fourth largest bank to a Saudi prince. Prince Bandar Bin Mohammad Bin Abdul Rahman offered $330 million for a 67 percent stake in state-owned Rupali Bank. The bank has almost 500 branches across Bangladesh.

And the consumer finance unit of U.S. company General Electrics has bought a 25 percent stake in Thailand's Bank of Ayudhya. G.E. Money will pay close to $600 million for the shares. Bank of Ayudhya is Thailand's sixth largest bank