Monday, 17 September 2007

Virgin Race sponsored by Google

It is understood that VIRGIN may enter a race sponsored by Google to send the first privately financed mission to the moon. The Google Lunar X-Prize, which was announced last week in Los Angeles will give up to $30 million (£15 million) to the first company able to land a rover vehicle on the moon. It must be able to travel at least 500 meters, and send high-resolution video, still images and other data back home.

Virgin was part of the team that won the inaugural X-Prize three years ago. The $10m prize was awarded for the first privately funded suborbital space flight. Virgin’s Space Ship One who was built by aerospace engineer Burt Rutan secured the rights to commercialise the technology. Virgin Galactic plans to unveil its commercial space planes early next year. They will operate from a “spaceport” in New Mexico. Norman Foster, the acclaimed British architect, has won the competition to design the building. Groups of space tourists will be taken on the planes on short rides into space. (source: Timesonline)

Qatar's state investment fund is close to buying Nasdaq's 31% in the London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) for just over $5.6 billion (£2.78 billion), reports said on Sunday.

U.S. exchange Nasdaq has put its LSE stake on the market to boost its chances of buying Nordic exchange operator OMX. The Qatar Investment Authority's £2.8 billion bid is equivalent to a 1,400% share, as indicated by the Sunday Times. LSE shares closed at 1,397 pence on Friday.

The stake will be weakened to 22% of the LSE after the LSE completes its acquisition of Milan exchange group Borsa Italiana, the Wall Street Journal said. Qatar, for now, isn't looking to buy all of LSE, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a person familiar with the matter. The latter mentioned paper added that the Qatar fund may not make the purchase alone. (source: Reuters)

Almost 10% of Vodafone shareholders voted against the re-election of Arun Sarin as chief executive in the midst of slowing revenue growth and after a damaging boardroom dispute earlier this year.

About 9.5% of proxy votes were cast against Mr Sarin's re-election and 4.8% abstained giving Mr Sarin 85.7% support. Such opposition to the re-election of a chief executive is very rare among blue-chip companies. Large institutional investor Standard Life Investments was among those which voted against Sarin's re-election to the board.

Mr Sarin's leadership of Vodafone has come under intense scrutiny over the past year after three profit warnings and bitter recriminations at board level. (source: Telegraph)

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