S’pore’s growth rises

SINGAPORE: Southeast Asia’s most advanced economy grew 5.9 per cent year-on-year in the fourth quarter and 7.7 per cent during 2006, the Singapore government said Monday, helping to power the stock market to a record New Year’s opening. “The Singapore economy continued to grow at a healthy pace,” the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said, releasing its advance fourth-quarter estimates which are based largely on October-November data. The estimated 5.9 per cent expansion in gross domestic product (GDP) for the fourth quarter, compared with the same period a year earlier, followed 7.0 per cent in the third quarter, 8.0 per cent in the second and 10.3 per cent in the first three months of 2006, MTI said.—AFP

Iran, Europe power tie

TEHRAN: Iran is assessing a plan to establish an electricity distribution network with Europe via Turkey and Russia, an official of the Iran Grid Management Company (IGMC) said. IGMC managing director Masud Hojjat stated that connection to Russia is possible through Azerbaijan and Georgia, the semi-official Mehr News agency Tuesday said. The task is costly and requires a comprehensive development plan across Iran’s power transmission and distribution centres, Hojjat said. Iran Power Development Company (IPDC) managing director Mohammad Behzad said that the country has already been exchanging electricity with some of its neighbours.—HNS

Siemens’ mega buy

FRANKFURT: Siemens AG said on Wednesday it has completed its euro4.2 billion ($5.57 billion) takeover of the diagnostics division of Bayer AG’s health care business. Munich-based Siemens said the purchase, announced in June 2006, was part of its strategy to expand its health care equipment and services business. In a statement, Siemens said it would fold the unit into its Tarrytown, New York-based Siemens Medical Solutions Diagnostics unit.—AP

Newer budget flights

KUALA LUMPUR: Fly Asian Express, a Malaysian airline partly owned by budget carrier tycoon Tony Fernandes, plans to offer long-haul flights to the U.K. and China at cut-rate fares, an executive said on Wednesday. The plan will be unveiled at a news conference on Friday, the executive told Dow Jones Newswires on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to reveal details beforehand. He said the local media had wrongly reported that the long-haul budget flights would be operated by AirAsia, the regional no-frills carrier founded by Fernandes.—AP

City Homes AGM held

KATHMANDU: City Homes Ltd held its first annual general meeting yesterday under the chairmanship of Bahadur Krishna Tamrakar, the company’s chairman. The meeting decided to float 150,000 units of ordinary shares with a face value of Rs 100 each within this fiscal year. City Homes made an operating profit of Rs 5.73 million during the operation of the first six months of the current fiscal year, states a press release issued today. The company is promoted by I.D Group, ID Bank, Lovely Awas and Property Management Associates for the planned housing projects. —HNS

‘Sanima Dev Bank’

KATHMANDU: Sanima Development Financial Institute has changed its name into Sanima Development Bank Ltd from January 2. The company registrar office on Tuesday decided to change the name of the company, states a press release issued today. — HNS

Tea estate reopens

ILAM: Kanyam Tea Estate, which remained closed for the past three months, has resumed after an understanding was reached between representatives of seven political parties, tea workers, and management on Tuesday. In the first week of September, tea workers staged a protest against the management alleging that it neglected their 21-point demand, which also included increase in their pay as well as other facilities. The management padlocked the tea-estate after tea workers locked up the office of the manager and other staff. The negotiations held at an initiative of parliamentarian Benup Raj Prasai, agreed that wage of tea workers will be increased from Rs 74 to Rs 80. — RSS

France’s budget deficit

PARIS: France’s budget deficit for 2006 was significantly smaller than official forecasts had predicted thanks to higher tax revenues, junior budget minister Jean-Francois Cope said on Wednesday. The deficit is now estimated at 38 to 39 billion euros and certainly “below 40 billion”, he told France 2 state television, adding it was a little early to give precise figures. —AP