BUSINESS ROUNDUPROW OVER CELL PLANS Cellular licence conditions released by government this week have led to some international investors threatening to withdraw from consortiums lining up to bid, writes SHERILEE BRIDGE.
Black empowerment groups, bitter that requested "empowerment regulations have been completely ignored", say the conditions are not based on sound business principles that would make the new licences viable.
This has left them with little to peg interested foreign investors, among others Finland's telecommunications utility Sonera and Telecom Italia with whom negotiations have been started.
Technology and equipment suppliers Nokia, Motorola, Nortel and Qualcomm are also waiting in the wings.
Market watchers saw other warning signs. Analysts and researchers feel that the conditions encourage reinforcement of the existing duopoly, instead of freeing the market for competition.
Telecommunications and IT industry research group BMI-Techknowledge say that insisting on the new networks upgrading third-generation technology as soon as possible is a "gamble", and it encourages network sharing.
The group also says that since the new networks are bound to want to offer nationwide service from the start they will close deals with MTN and Vodacom to bide their time and reduce initial capital outlay.
STERN CLINTON SHRUGS IT OFF President Bill Clinton shrugged off impeachment hearings against him in Washington to deliver a stern message to Japan on Friday that it must do more and act faster to pull itself and Asia out of recession.
Wrapping up his visit to Tokyo, he warned of a protectionist backlash in the US if Japan failed to open its markets. He questioned whether Japan had done enough to end its downturn.
GERMAN RATES HOLD FIRM Bundesbank council member Klaus-Dieter Kuehbacher says European economic conditions do not at present necessitate adjustments in German interest rates. Speaking on Friday on the fringes of a European banking conference in Frankfurt, he said that the expected slowdown in European economic growth was no reason to panic.
IMF REMEDY 'NOT FOR ASIA' Steps prescribed by the International Monetary Fund for Asian nations for their economic turmoil since last year may not have been the best, says Japan's Economic Planning Agency.
Its annual White Paper on the world economy says that the IMF's urging of affected nations to follow a tight fiscal policy was effective for Mexico when it faced a crisis in 1994, but it is "questionable" whether it was "appropriate" for the Asian crisis.
PRODUCER PRICES EASE German producer prices fell 0.4% in October and were down 1.2% from the year-ago period, showing the biggest year-on-year decline since 1991.
The Federal Statistics Office says the decline in producer prices gained pace after a one percentage point fall in September and a 0.8% decline in August.
AMICABLE PARTING DAEWOO Motors and rally driver Sarel van der Merwe have reached an amicable financial agreement after the motor company's decision to withdraw from motorsport in South Africa, writes DON ROBERTSON.
The 11-time rally champion and colleague Enzo Kuun accordingly had their contracts terminated. In terms of the agreement, Daewoo has paid out Van der Merwe the outstanding amount on his two-year contract.
INVESTORS GO FOR GOLD Demand for gold as an investment increased during the third quarter as investors worldwide sought to preserve their wealth, according to the World Gold Council's quarterly survey Gold Demand Trends.
Total demand of 676 tons was just below the record third quarter of 1997. Jewellery was steady, and coin sales strong, especially in the US. The WGC's George Milling-Stanley says the coming festive periods are traditionally strong for gold: the Indian festival and wedding season, Christmas and the Chinese New Year. Gold edged towards $298/oz this week.