Business & Finance

General Motors announced it will invest $3 billion in China over the next three years as it doubles production in the world's fastest-growing auto market. Vehicle sales jumped 75 percent in China last year, but foreign auto-makers have struggled to keep pace with demand. GM said its plan calls for the building of new facilities and an auto-financing venture with Chinese partners.

The airline industry will abandon paper ticketing in favor of electronic ticketing in 2007 in a cost-cutting measure announced in Singapore, site of the annual International Air Transport Association convention. The switch is expected to help save $3 billion annually for an industry confronted with soaring fuel and security costs.

Discount airline Virgin USA is expected to announce as early as Tuesday that it will base its operations in San Francisco when it opens for business next year. The carrier is partly owned by Virgin Group Ltd., the conglomerate that operates Virgin Atlantic. Reports said it anticipates hiring 1,800 employees as it gears up to compete with Jet Blue, Southwest, and other low-fare carriers.

Despite rising cigarette taxes and strict new antismoking laws, investors snapped up $2.2 billion worth of shares in state-owned Japan Tobacco Inc., that industry's third-largest company. The Tokyo government also is planning a share sale later this fiscal year in Electric Power Development Co. and in Inpex Corp., which explores for oil overseas, Bloomberg.com reported.

In an all-cash deal valued at just under $1 billion, satellite operator New Skies NV agreed Sunday to be acquired by the Blackstone Group, a major US private equity investor. New Skies, based in The Hague, transmits video, voice, and data over four satellites and is developing a fifth. The buyout comes less than two months after DirecTV sold controlling interest in PanAmSat Corp. to buyout giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts for $3.55 billion.

One thousand new jobs will be added to the payroll by year's end, the third-largest of Britain's commercial banks announced. Barclays PLC said all of the new hires will be tellers for its branches in a bid to reduce the time customers wait on line for service. But those jobs will be offset by the layoffs of 800 managers and support personnel.

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