JAPAN

Internet Firm Wants TV Merger

Rakuten, Japan's biggest online shopping site, and its affiliates bought a 15.46 percent stake in Tokyo Broadcasting System for $770 million and is pursuing a merger.

TBS President Hiroshi Inoue, right, said he was taken aback by Rakuten's sudden move, which made the Internet company the network's biggest shareholder.

"I feel the acquisition of so many of our company's shares in such a short space of time, with no advance warning despite our ongoing business negotiations, is extremely abrupt," Inoue said. "But I can't deny this is a capitalist society, and that we are a free and publicly listed company. We'd like to carefully consider our response."

EUROPE

Regulator Wary of Hedge Fund Controls

Charlie McCreevy, the European Union's internal market commissioner, said he was wary of regulating hedge funds.

"Why interfere if something is going well?" McCreevy said after a speech in which he said the "significant untapped potential for growth in Europe" should be encouraged.

The leader of Germany's governing Social Democratic Party called for tougher controls on hedge funds this year.

Car Sales Up in September

New car sales in Europe rose 1.9 percent in September, the third gain in the past four months, as discounts attracted buyers in Germany and France. Volkswagen and Toyota increased their market shares.

Sales rose to 1.44 million cars, compared with 1.41 million in September 2004, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association said.

ITALY

Alitalia, Unions Agree on Cuts

Alitalia, Italy's largest airline, agreed with labor unions to cut $78 million in spending next year as it tries to return to profitability after five years of operating losses.

The saving, to start next year, will involve more efficient management for ground control staff and cabin crew, the company said.

Compiled from news service reports.