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The Philippines may buy 200,000 tons of rice from Vietnam through a government-to-government transaction, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala told reporters in Manila on Wednesday.

Cathay Century Insurance Co.'s Vietnam unit has received approval from Vietnam's Ministry of Finance to set up a branch in Hanoi, its parent company said in a statement to the Taiwan stock exchange on Tuesday.

Car sales in Vietnam in February increased 55.6 percent from a year ago to 7,899 units, according to the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers' Association. In January, car sales rose for the first time in seven months, jumping 48 percent from the same period last year.

Ball Corporation announced on Tuesday it has entered into an agreement with its joint venture partner Thai Beverage Can Limited to build a beverage can manufacturing plant in Vietnam. The plant will be located in Binh Duong Province and is expected to begin production in the first half of 2012.

"¢  Habubank will use the VND1.05-trillion (US$50.3 million) proceeds from its 2010 issue of convertible bonds to raise its registered capital by 35 percent to VND4.05 trillion this year, the bank said in a proposal to its annual shareholders' meeting later this month.

"¢  Interest rates could drop late in the second quarter or early in the third when Vietnam's macroeconomic fundamentals improve and the money market stabilizes, chairman Tran Bac Ha of state-run lender BIDV said.

Dinh Co liquefied petroleum gas plant has increased its LPG supply via auctions for domestic firms to 75 percent of its output from 50 percent to help reduce imports. The remaining output is distributed in the domestic retail market via units of state-owned oil and gas group PetroVietnam.

 The Finance Ministry has proposed to stop car purchases for state offices as a measure to contain inflation. Vietnam now has 29,524 such vehicles, worth VND13.3 trillion ($637.2 million), accounting for 30 percent of the country's total, the Hanoi Moi newspaper cited the ministry's Public Property Management Department as saying.

"¢  Malaysian conglomerate The Lion Group has blamed problems at Vietnam's scandal-hit shipbuilder Vinashin for the failure of a multi-billion-dollar joint venture. The $9.8 billion project by Vinashin and Lion would have included a steel mill, power plants and a sea port in the south-central province of Ninh Thuan. Vietnamese officials said last month that the project's investment licence had been revoked because investors did not fulfil their commitments.

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