Monday, 3 September 2007

News of the Weekend

Delta Two, the Qatari-backed investment fund trying to acquire Sainsbury’s, could beef up its £10.6 billion approach to the supermarket chain as early as this week. The Qatari-backed investment fund is considering improving its proposal by a further £500 million, after talks with the Sainsbury’s board last week. The board has been concerned that loading the company up with debt would harm its ability to compete with rivals. The talks between the two groups have remained confidential, with sources playing down speculation that Sainsbury’s had demanded that Delta Two make its best and final offer or walk away. A source said: “There’s progress being made and I don’t think they’re in that kind of position yet. The mood is still friendly.” Negotiations are expected to continue this week, with sources saying that there were a number of details to be hammered out.

Singapore Airlines announced a deal yesterday that will sharpen substantially its focus on the Chinese market and that industry insiders say could prompt the sale of its 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic this year. Singapore Airlines announced that along with Singapore’s “sovereign fund” Temasek Holdings, it would buy a 24% stake in China’s third-largest carrier, China Eastern Airlines. Singapore’s deal will give it greater access to China; an air-travel market that analysts believe could expand by 500% over the next two decades and is expected already to represent 185 million passenger journeys this year. Singapore Airlines’ new stake in China Eastern Airlines with the agreed payment of about $918 million (£455 million), will give it limited control of one of the few loss-making airlines serving the booming Chinese market. Investors have criticised China Eastern heavily for its failure to turn a profit in the world’s fastest-growing air-travel market. The loss in China Eastern Airlines amount to about 3.31 billion yuan (£218 million).

Apple is expected to unveil a revamp of its iPod line on Wednesday with the launch of a long-expected full or wide-screen, touch control version of the digital music player. European journalists have been summoned by the California-based company to attend a briefing at the. Reporters summoned by the California-based company to attend a briefing at the BBC’s headquarters in London are to view a live broadcast of a presentation given by Steve Jobs, Apples chief executive. Mr Bailey an analyst with Goldman Sachs believes that “a new line of iPods will boost demand for the gadget from Goldman’s present forecast of about 19.8 million units for Apple’s key first quarter - the reporting period that covers Christmas.”

The founder of Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, is to launch a new search engine in December 2007. Jimmy Wales, who set up Wikipedia in 2003, believes that his new Wikia Search will rival top search engines, including the mighty Google, within three years. Unlike the algorithms used by other search engines to rank websites covering a particular topic based on the number of links that they have, users of Wikia Search will help to rank websites. Mr Wales said that “if you consider one of the basic tasks of a search engine, it is to make a decision: ‘This page is good, this page sucks.’ Computers are notoriously bad at making such judgment, so algorithmic search has to go about it in a roundabout way. But we have a really great method of doing it ourselves. We just look at the page. It usually only takes a second to figure out if the page is good, so the key here is building a community of trust that can do that.” Wikia Search will be set out to make profits, whilst Wikipedia with 8.2 million articles are free. Mr Wales has received backing from a number of business partners, including the Omidya Network, an organisation set up by Pierre Omidya, the founder of eBay. Profits will be made on advertising featured on the search pages.

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