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Bank of Thailand Cuts Interest Rate

Thailand's central bank has cut its key interest rate for a third time this year and Japan's Toshiba company says it wants to boost overseas sales. Claudia Blume at VOA's Asia News Center in Hong Kong has more on these and other business stories from the region.

The Bank of Thailand cut its key interest rate by a half point to four percent. The widely expected rate cut was introduced to spur economic growth. It was the third time the central bank cut interest rates this year, in an effort to counter a sluggish economy and a slowdown in private consumption.

Japanese technology company Toshiba says it wants to spur growth by increasing overseas sales. Speaking through an interpreter, Toshiba's president Atsutoshi Nishida said the company aims to make more than half of its sales outside Japan within three years.

"During [2006] '06, overseas sales represented 49 percent, but we wish to increase this to 56 percent during the fiscal year '09," said Nishida. "And operating profit for overseas business was 35 percent but we wish to increase this to 50 percent. In other words: half of the profit comes from overseas - this is our plan."

India's largest private airline Jet Airways agreed to take over domestic rival Air Sahara for about $340 million.

Nine months ago, Jet Airways backed out of an earlier takeover deal. The agreement collapsed partly because the airline judged the initial asking price of $500 million for Air Sahara too high.

Citibank, the largest U.S. lender, will buy Taiwan's Bank of Overseas Chinese for more than $420 million.

The deal will make Citibank Taiwan's largest foreign bank. The Bank of Overseas Chinese operates 55 branches in Taiwan and serves more than one million customers.

South Korea's largest steelmaker Posco reported a 38-percent jump in first-quarter net profit compared with the same period a year earlier. The steel company earned more than $1 billion in the first three months of this year. Posco said the better-than-expected result was due to rising global and domestic demand and cost-cutting efforts.