A high-profile takeover bid for Australia's flag carrier failed and South Korea and the European Union launched free trade talks. Claudia Blume at VOA's Asia News Center in Hong Kong has more on these and other business stories from the region.

The private consortium that tried for months to buy Australia's national airline Qantas conceded that the nine billion dollar takeover bid had failed. Airline Partners Australia, a consortium led by Australia's Macquarie bank, missed a deadline for getting the 50 percent shareholder support it needed for the deal.

"This is a message from the shareholders that the majority of the shareholders didn't want to accept that offer, as it was put, within the time that they had to accept it," said Peter Costello, who is Australia's treasurer. "So I think the bidders have to accept the decision."

After admitting defeat, the bidding group said it was still considering making a fresh offer for Qantas.

Just one month after South Korea agreed to a landmark trade deal with the United States, the country has begun free trade talks with the European Union.

The EU is South Korea's second largest trading partner after China. Two-way trade totaled about $80 billion last year. South Korea already has free trade agreements with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Singapore and Chile. Last month's trade deal with the United States must still be ratified by the U.S. Congress.

Singapore's DBS bank and 22 investors from the Middle East have opened the country's first Islamic Bank. DBS will control 60 percent of the new bank, which will be called Islamic Bank of Asia and start operations in June.

DBS began its foray into Islamic finance last year, when the bank received approval to operate in Dubai. Islamic banks ban the earning of interest and do not invest in companies associated with alcohol, tobacco or gambling.

Automaker Toyota became the first Japanese company ever to post an operating profit of more than two trillion yen, which is more than $16 billion. The company's operating profit rose more than 19 percent in the fiscal year that ended in March, compared with a year earlier.

Growth was mainly boosted by strong overseas sales. In the first three months of this year, Toyota overtook U.S. company General Motors as the world's top selling automaker.

And India's largest tea producer Tata Tea signed a joint venture agreement with China's Zhejiang tea trading company to manufacture green tea extracts and other products. The new venture will be set up in Anji county in China's eastern Zhejiang province.