Two recent news reports indicate that Singapore Airlines and Temasek Holdings may have found themselves on the wrong side of the law.
In one development authorities in New Zealand are prosecuting SIA (together with two other airlines) for price-fixing in the air-cargo market.
In the other, Temasek has been accused of financing an Internet dancing game known for luring vistors by using sleazy images on its site. The Ministry of Culture in China says that popular online dancing game, 9 You’s Audition Online, uses “vulgar” and “immoral” sexual images to entice gamers.
NZ cartel charges filed against airlines – Cathay, Singapore, Aerolineas
New Zealand Herald, 16 Jul 08
The Commerce Commission is taking three international airlines to court alleging poor disclosure as it probes claims of a price-fixing cartel in the $400 million air cargo market.
The commission said it has filed criminal charges in Auckland District Court against Cathay Pacific Airways, Singapore Airlines and Aerolineas Argentinas.
The charges allege non-compliance with notices seeking documents and information issued under the Commerce Act in October 2007.
If the airlines are found to be in breach of section 103 of the Commerce Act they can be fined up to $30,000.
One of the airlines charged, Cathay Pacific, says it has been co-operating with the commission, but after taking legal advice had decided not to provide information about activities outside New Zealand’s legal jurisdiction.
The commission declined to comment on the air cargo market investigation but said if it concluded there was a breach of the Commerce Act proceedings would be filed in the High Court later this year.
The commission today defended the use of statutory notices.
“Any failure to comply with commission statutory notices that form part of a commission investigation is a serious enforcement issue,” said chairwoman Paula Rebstock.
“Cartels are insidious and cause extensive damage to the New Zealand economy. They are difficult to detect and extremely difficult to investigate because of their secretive nature.”
The commission is investigating allegations that certain airlines have colluded and reached agreements and understandings on the level of cargo rates, including fuel surcharges on international flights to and from New Zealand.
Airlines earn more than an estimated $400 million each year transporting air cargo to and from New Zealand. A number of airlines are cooperating with the commission’s investigation.
Overseas competition authorities are also investigating the air cargo market.
In the United States British Airways, Korean Air, Qantas and Japan Airlines have settled and agreed to pay record fines.
In total, the US courts have already awarded penalties of US$1.2 ($1.57) billion against airlines for participation in a cartel that has increased air cargo rates to and from the United States.
Companies or individuals who bring a cartel to the commission’s attention can gain immunity from prosecution through the commission’s leniency programme.
A response to the Commerce Commission was released by Cathay Pacific this afternoon, under the name of the airline’s country manager David Figgins.
“Cathay Pacific can confirm that it has received a notice of court proceedings from the Commerce Commission of New Zealand with regard to the Commission’s investigation of the airline’s air cargo operations in New Zealand. The Commission alleges that the airline has failed to provide full disclosure of information relating to these operations, as well as those outside of New Zealand.”
9You, Temasek make $100 million deal with IPO not far off
China Venture News
The Chinese Internet gaming and social network portal 9You has gotten a huge infusion of cash from Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, Temasek Holdings, Pearl Research reported on Friday.
Chris Morrison at Venture Beat describes 9You this way: 9You is something of a portal, offering games in every category (casual, hardcore and mobile) as well as some social networking tools and an assortment of unrelated services. It reports having over 120 million registered users, a bit under half of the country’s entire internet population.
The size of Temasek’s investment has lead to speculation about a 9You IPO not being far off. If so, it will not be 9You’s first try at an IPO.
9You looked set to launch an IPO in Osaka last year. A lawsuit over licensing fees for the online dance game Audition forced 9You to cancel its Osaka IPO in August. Korean game designer T3 Entertainment filed the suit. But 9You and T3 appear to have made up in September, according to a Gamasutra report.
The speculate is that 9You will again try to float an IPO, probably within a year or less.