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Asian Airlines Disappointed by Latest Airbus Delay

Several airlines in the Asia-Pacific region are reviewing their options after the latest delay in the delivery of the Airbus 380 and a U.S. investment bank has found a way into China's commercial banking business.

Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and Australia's Qantas Airways say they are disappointed about the latest delay in the delivery of the Airbus 380.

The France-based European Aeronautic Defense and Space Corporation has postponed the delivery of the new super-jumbos for the third time since June 2005 due to production problems.

Singapore Airlines will receive its first of 10 firmly ordered A-380s at the end of 2007, a year later than scheduled. Airbus deliveries to Malaysia Airlines and Qantas will be delayed by two years to 2008.

Qantas' chief financial officer Peter Gregg says the airline may revise its Airbus order and look at buying planes from U.S. rival Boeing instead.

"We always look at the alternatives to every aircraft type, and it's no secret that we have looked at 747 800. We have ordered the A 380, it would be a very significant event for us to cancel those orders. But we have to review all our options at this point of time," he said.

U.S. investment bank Morgan Stanley has established a foothold in China's commercial banking sector by buying tiny lender Nan Tung Bank in the southern city of Zhuhai.

Morgan Stanley bought the bank, which has just one branch, for an undisclosed sum from Bank of China, the country's second largest lender. The purchase allows the U.S. bank to provide products denominated in the local currency, the yuan, to corporate customers through Nan Tung Bank.

Normally, foreign banks have to operate for at least five years in China and obtain a commercial banking license before being able to conduct local currency-denominated corporate banking.

India's Tata Group will launch a national chain of mega-stores for consumer electrical appliances in alliance with Australian retailer Woolworths.

Woolworths will provide technical support and sourcing facilities for the new stores, which will be named "Croma". Tata plans to launch 30 "Croma" mega-stores across India within the next 18 months, the first in Mumbai.

London's famous black taxis will soon be driving on the streets of China. British specialist carmaker Manganese Bronze has signed a $100 million-joint-venture deal with Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely Holdings to produce the taxicabs in Shanghai. The new plant will be able to make up to 20,000 taxis a year.