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Xerox is seeking shareholder approval to issue as many as 700 million more common shares, for a total of 1.75 billion, the copiermaker said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Wednesday. The increase could further damage share prices, which have fallen by one-third since late June, but the Stamford, Conn.-based company said it needed more funds to pay off debts. A vote would come Sept. 9 at Xerox's annual meeting, delayed due to an SEC investigation that resulted in a $10 million fine and last week's $1.9 billion revenue restatement for fiscal 1997-2001.

Royal/Dutch Shell and two partners agreed to a contract with the government of China for an energy project whose scope and value ($18 billion to $20 billion) will be topped only by the massive $25 billion Three Gorges Dam. The deal calls for drilling for and extracting natural gas from China's northwest desert region, building a 2,500-mile pipeline to transport it to the east coast metropolis of Shanghai, and selling it for distribution to residential and commercial users. PetroChina and Sinopec, the state-owned energy and petrochemical giants, respectively, will own 55 percent of the project. Shell, ExxonMobil of the US, and Russia's Gazprom, will divide 45 percent. The project is aimed at increasing the use of gas from 2.5 percent of China's energy mix to 6 percent by 2005.

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