Welcome to ESL Business News for April 16, 2007. ESL Business News gives you a podcast and script of international business news every week in slow, clear English. Find us on the web at eslbusinessnews.com, where you can follow along with the podcast script as you listen.
Japan and China are getting friendlier. Several announcements about increased cooperation were made around the time of a visit by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to Tokyo, where he gave a speech to Japan's parliament. The two countries signed an agreement ending China's four-year ban on Japanese rice; China will now accept rice from Japanese plants that have been reviewed by Chinese inspectors. To reduce military tensions between the countries, each will let a warship from the other country visit one of their ports. The Nippon Oil Corporation and the China National Petroleum Corporation also signed an agreement to cooperate on oil and natural gas development projects in the future.
The United States and China have not been as friendly this week. The US has announced plans to file two complaints with the World Trade Organization that accuse China of unfair trade practices. After encouraging China for some time to crack down on illegal copying of American music, movies, and software, the US claims that the Chinese have not done enough. The US is also unhappy with trade barriers that make it difficult to sell legitimate copies of these goods to Chinese consumers. The Chinese government was not happy with the announcemement—according to Commerce Ministry spokesman Wang Xinpin, "It will seriously undermine the cooperative relations the two nations have established in the field and will adversely affect bilateral economic and trade ties."
European leaders are pressuring Paul Wolfowitz to resign his position as Wold Bank president. Wolfowitz, who has withheld World Bank loans from several countries until they show greater progress in fighting corruption, recently arranged for his girlfriend Shaha Riza to get a transfer to the US State Department and more than double the raise she was allowed under the rules of the World Bank, which pays her tax-free salary. Wolfowitz has apologized, but many feel that he has damaged the bank's reputation. According to international newspaper the Financial Times, "In the interests of the bank itself, he should resign. If he does not, the board must ask him to go."
A chocolate company is buying a baby food company from a drug company. Swiss company Nestle is the world's biggest food and drink company; they're known primarily in the United States for the brand of chocolate with the company's name on it. They have a large market share of infant nutritional products in the developing world, but none in the US. They're paying $5.5 billion to Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis for Gerber Products, which has a 79% share of the US baby food market. Nestle tried to buy Gerber in 1994, losing to pharmaceutical company Sandoz, which later merged with Ciba-Geigy to form Novartis. Novartis is selling their baby food business to focus on health care products.
Search engine Google has made the biggest deal in their history, outbidding Microsoft to pay $3.1 billion for web ad supplier DoubleClick. Until now, Google's advertising business has focused on small advertisers, but DoubleClick's relationships with big online ad agencies and publishers will bring much bigger advertisers to Google such as MTV Networks, the magazine Sports Illustrated, and the Friendster social networking site. While some estimated two weeks ago that DoubleClick would sell for $2 billion, Google may have paid extra in order to prevent Microsoft from acquiring the company. The biggest winners are San Francisco private equity firm Hellman and Friedman, who paid $335 million for DoubleClick in 2005.
Thanks for listening to this week's summary of international business news. What kinds of stories and businesses do you like to hear about in our weekly report? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know your name and where you're writing from. Watch for a summary of next week's news on eslbusinessnews.com on Monday, April 23rd.
Copyright 2007 ESL Business News.