SBI in Saudi Arabia


State Bank of India (SBI), the country’s largest commercial bank, may soon get the green signal to start its financial operations in Saudi Arabia, according to a Saudi government official. Public sector SBI’s proposal to start offering full-fledged banking services in Saudi Arabia has been pending with the authorities there since mid-2003. “The proposal of State Bank of India for opening a branch in Saudi Arabia is being processed by the authorities there,” said Saleh Mohd Al Ghamdi, Saudi Arabia’s envoy to India. — HNS

Capital flight in Russia


The flow of capital out of Russia grew last year, reaching $7.8 billion (5.9 billion euros) compared to $1.9 billion in 2003, according to central bank statistics released on Thursday. The bank did not comment on the figure, although analysts have pointed to a poorer investment climate in Russia in part linked to the Yukos oil saga that shadowed over the markets and spooked investors in 2004. —AP

Samsung profit at $10b


Samsung Electronics Co said on Friday its net profit topped $10 billion last year, reaching a new landmark in its 35-year history of rising from a Third World television maker to the world’s No 1 producer of memory chips and flat panel screens. Samsung exited last year on a weak note, with its fourth-quarter net profit falling 2 per cent from a year earlier to 1.83 trillion won ($1.76 billion; euro1.34 billion) because of squeezed margins for its mobile handsets and weaker prices for liquid crystal displays.

China, Taiwan air links


China will hold talks with Taiwan on plans to allow direct flights between mainland China and the island over the Chinese New Year holidays. “The delegation of the Taipei Airlines Association Chairman Lo Ta-hsin and Pu’s delegation will hold negotiations on January 15 in Macau over technical and business issues of the 2005 Spring Festival charter flights,” said sources.— AFP