What's new in business news: September 4, 2013

Microsoft buys Nokia & plans shift to mobile devices, Central Group to develop 30 malls in 3 countries & proposal for higher retirement age.

An architect's drawing of CentralPlaza i-City Malls Malaysia.

TECHNOLOGY

Microsoft buys Nokia as part of shift to mobile devices and services 

AFP News agency

After missing out on the tech sector's shift to mobile, Microsoft is making a bold, risky bet to gain market share in the smartphone market by purchasing Nokia.

The deal worth $7.2 billion (5.44 billion euros) gives Microsoft Nokia's mobile phone operations along with an array of patents and licenses to help compete with rival platforms from Google and Apple, and manufacturers such as Samsung.

Windows-based smartphones saw a 78 percent jump in the past year, but still held just 3.7 percent of the global market. Google's Android has 79.3 percent of the global market and Apple has 13.2 percent.

Microsoft is aiming to increase their market share to 15 percent and on July 11 the company unveiled a reorganization plan to concentrate on devices and services.

Microsoft and Nokia already have a partnership. The acquisition could help create a more unified marketing effort and also by integrating Nokia, Microsoft will have everything from hardware to software to applications to services under one roof.

The deal also moves Nokia chief executive Stephen Elop, who was hired from Microsoft in 2010 to turn the company around, back to his former firm, and makes him a likely candidate to succeed Ballmer when he retires.

[Read full story here ]

RETAIL 

Central Group to develop 30 malls in 3 countries

Central Pattana Plc (CPN), the SET-listed property arm of Central Group, has earmarked 120 billion baht to develop 30 shopping centres in Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam over the next 15 years (2014-28).

The move is part of plans to become a regional retail developer ahead of two major regional rivals - CapitaMalls Asia Ltd in Singapore and SM Prime Holdings Inc in the Philippines.

For its first regional mall, the company will start construction on a CentralPlaza shopping complex in Malaysia next year for a 2016 opening, targeting middle- and upper-class customers. CPN will own 60% and its Malaysian partner the rest. 

Malaysia has higher purchasing power than Thailand, with a per capita income (332,800 baht) almost twice as high as  Thailand's (at 176,000  baht) and is on track to achieve developed-country status by 2020. 

[Read full story here ]

LABOUR

Higher retirement age receives chamber of commerce backing

The labour shortage is becoming more severe in Thailand, prompting businesses to call on the government to extend the mandatory retirement age to 65 years from 60. A study of the proposal is expected to take six months before being tabled for government consideration.

Thailand's unemployment rate is very low, at 0.4% in June, a rate we could almost call full employment and Thailand is estimated to be short of 1 million workers. There were 289,491 unemployed working age Thais out of a total workforce of 39.5 million.

The construction industry is the hardest hit sector for unskilled labour, followed by fisheries. Skilled labour is in short supply in the automobile, tourism and service sectors.

[Read full story here ]

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Writer: Jon Fernquest
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