Asia

Myanmar's financial system and economy are largely cut off from the outside world -- but not the global economic crisis, The Wall Street Journal reported. As the country's military junta wraps up its trial of dissident Aung San Suu Kyi, conditions in the capital and rural areas illustrate the effects of the slowdown on this isolated nation's already-tenuous economy. Key sectors such as agriculture and tourism are reeling, and business in the commercial center of Yangon has dwindled, residents and economists say.
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From his secret hideaway, BTA Bank’s former Chairman Mukhtar Ablyazov says Kazakhstan’s government caused the default of the nation’s largest lender. Kazakh prosecutors want him for allegedly embezzling the bank’s money, Bloomberg reported. The biggest losers in the dispute may be investors who poured into the former Soviet state as crude oil rose to a record and the economy grew 10 percent annually for eight years.
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General Motors Corp. said Wednesday its operations in Thailand and Southeast Asia are unaffected by its ongoing restructuring, Dow Jones Newswires reported. "Operations in Thailand and the ASEAN region will remain unaffected by GM Corp.'s situation in the U.S., even in the event GM Corp. files for Chapter 11. This is because GM Thailand, including Chevrolet Sales Thailand, and other operations in ASEAN are locally-incorporated entities which accords them the ability to operate independently from its parent company in the US," General Motors said in a statement.
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Bidders for German carmaker Opel are being pressed to make last-minute changes to their offers ahead of a meeting on Wednesday that could narrow the field of potential investors in the General Motors unit, Reuters reported. German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government has been considering offers for Opel from Italy's Fiat, Canadian auto parts company Magna International and Belgium-listed industrial holding RHJ International.
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Court-appointed administrators overseeing Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.'s global bankruptcy proceedings have signed a multilateral agreement allowing them to share information and coordinate the insolvency process as the financial services firm wends its way through more than 75 distinct bankruptcy filings, Bankruptcy Law360 reported.
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The global financial crisis has tarnished the dollar and will prompt reserve managers to diversify, but the U.S. currency will retain its dominant international role, a senior Chinese official said in remarks published on Wednesday, Reuters reported. Guan Tao from the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, which invests China's $1.95 trillion in currency reserves, likened the risk of U.S. inflation and dollar depreciation to "blocked dams" that threatened the stability of the global monetary system in the medium term.
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Ailing carmaker Ssangyong Motor on Monday it will proceed with restructuring plans and push for an early sales of idle assets to secure enough funds to operate factories, launch new cars and boost liquidity, The Chosun Ilbo reported. Ssangyong will seek an additional mortgage of W330 billion (US$1=W1,251) from the Korea Development Bank and relocate the Seoul Office from Posteel Tower to the Poongrim Building nearby to save over W1 billion in rent a year.
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Credit-ratings firm Fitch Ratings says China's banks are showing early signs of asset-quality deterioration amid a torrent of lending to help fund government stimulus projects, The Wall Street Journal reported. New loans totaling 5.17 trillion yuan, or $757.5 billion, in the first four months of this year have already exceeded the 4.91 trillion yuan in loans made in all of 2008. Amid the credit surge, government officials have warned of rising risks.
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Taiwan's economy contracted by a record 10.24% in the first quarter from a year earlier as Western consumers refrained from buying the island's exports, prompting the government to revise down its growth forecast for 2009, The Wall Street Journal reported. The first-quarter decline in gross domestic product--the third consecutive quarterly retreat for the export-oriented economy--exceeded the 9.05% fall expected and followed the island's revised 8.61% contraction in the fourth quarter of 2008. Taiwan, home to technology-goods producers like Acer Inc.
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Sony, which has 2,500 suppliers of components and materials, is to cut the number by half in a “life-changing” effort to streamline its cumbersome procurement network and cut costs by about 500 billion yen (£3.3 billion), the Times Online reported. The move by the entertainment and electronics group marks another shift in the Japanese business environment which, over the past six months, has undergone more radical changes than at any other time in the past 20 years.
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