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Citigroup Wins Controlling Stake in Japan's Nikko Cordial

U.S. banking giant Citigroup has won control of a leading Japanese brokerage firm, and Japanese carmaker Toyota has become the world's top seller of vehicles. Claudia Blume at our Asia News Center in Hong Kong has more on these and other business stories from the region.

Citigroup became the majority shareholder of Japan's third-largest brokerage firm, Nikko Cordial, raising its stake in the firm from five to more than 60 percent. The deal, valued at $7.7 billion, is the biggest foreign buyout in history of a Japanese company.

The acquisition will give Citigroup a stronger presence in the Japanese market. In turn, the association with Citigroup should help Nikko Cordial regain credibility, after an accounting scandal at the end of last year that almost cost the brokerage its stock listing.

Japanese automaker Toyota became the world's top seller of vehicles in the first quarter of this year, beating U.S. rival General Motors for the first time.

Toyota sold 2.35 million cars and trucks worldwide in the three months until the end of March, 90,000 more than GM did in the same period.

In other news from Japan, fourth-quarter net profits of electronics manufacturer Toshiba fell 37 percent compared to a year earlier. Toshiba's executive vice president Fumio Muraoka said results were hurt by higher taxes and falling prices of so-called NAND memory chips during much of the last fiscal year.

"Looking at the semiconductor business, the price declined in NAND flash memories, especially this was significant in he second half of the year," said Muraoka.

CITIC Bank, China's seventh-largest lender, raised $5.4 billion in the world's biggest initial stock offering so far this year. The bank made a successful trading debut on both the Shanghai and the Hong Kong Stock Exchanges last Friday.

China Telecom gave Google, the world's leading Internet search engine, the right to sell advertising on 400 Web sites owned by the firm. China's biggest Internet provider and U.S.-based Google signed an agreement to share revenue from the online ads.

Google wants to strengthen its position in China, the world's second-biggest Internet market, which is currently dominated by the local search engine

And Australia's national airline Qantas signed an agreement to buy a 30-percent stake in Vietnam's low-cost carrier, Pacific Airlines. Qantas says the purchase will help it compete against other budget airlines in the region.