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Buying Security, Merging Trucks
United Technology, the maker of Otis elevators, bids on voting-machine firm Diebold, to make a security business powerhouse. VW buys a majority stake in Swedish truck maker Scania. And if Japan can
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EWS AT A GLANCE

United Technology bids on Diebold

United Technology Corp. offered to buy Diebold Inc. for $2.63 billion, in a move to shore up its security business and presence in China. United Technology owns Otis elevator, Sikorsky Aircraft, and jet engine maker Pratt & Whitney; Diebold makes ATMs, voting machines, and business security systems. (AP in Yahoo! Finance) The unsolicited bid comes after two years of fruitless negotiations. United Technology’s $40-a-share offer is 66 percent higher than Diebold’s closing price Friday. “It’s a very generous premium,” said Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Gil Luria. “It’s likely their offer will be accepted.” (Bloomberg)

VW buys control of truck maker Scania

Volkswagen AG bought a majority stake in Swedish truck builder Scania for at least $2.85 billion, in a deal that could clear the way for a three-way merger with German truck maker MAN AG. VW will have a 68.6 percent voting share in Scania and own 37.7 percent of its capital. (AP in International Herald Tribune) MAN withdrew a hostile bid for Scania early last year, after VW, already Scania’s largest shareholder, turned it down; VW then bought a 30 percent stake in MAN. A combined VW-Scania-MAN would be Europe’s largest truck maker. “This is a great thing for Volkswagen,” said analyst Jose Asumendi at WestLB in London. “Scania is really the crown jewel of truck manufacturers.” (Bloomberg)

HSBC earnings up on emerging markets lending

HSBC, Europe’s largest bank by market share, reported a 17 percent rise in profits for the second half of 2007, earning a better-than-forecast $8.24 trillion. Healthy lending in emerging markets, especially Hong Kong, mainland China, and India, helped HSBC overcome $17.2 billion in loan-impairment charges mostly tied to U.S. housing woes. “The U.S. is worse than expected, and everywhere else is pretty much better than expected,” said MF Global Securities analyst Simon Maughan. (Bloomberg) For the full year, HSBC’s net profit rose 21 percent, to $19.13 billion. (MarketWatch) Its shares were higher in early London trading. (Reuters)

Building a better workforce

Japan is facing a declining birthrate and an aging workforce, and it’s looking to robots to fix those problems. Already in Japan, robots make sushi, plant and harvest rice, work as receptionists, serve tea, and spoon-feed the elderly. As a bonus, they work hard and don’t need pensions or even wages. And unlike in the Western sci-fi tradition, where they are often violent or rebellious, Japanese culture looks on robots as friendly helpers. Still, there is the open question of “whether people really want robots running around their homes,” said Macquarie Bank analyst Damian Thong. “Then again, Japan’s the only country in the world where everyone has an electric toilet.” (AP in Los Angeles Times)

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