Thursday, June 14, 2012

SHANGHAI — Angry Birds is migrating to China.

Rovio, the Finnish gaming company behind Angry Birds, has opened its Shanghai office and outlined plans for activity parks and stores across China, one of its biggest markets.

Angry Birds, currently the second-most popular paid iPhone app, has a huge fan base in China, with much merchandise available in stores and online but most of it pirated.

The makers of the game, which features bubbly headed peevish birds attacking their enemies, the pigs, hopes it will be able to convert that popularity into legitimate sales.

“We expect to be more Chinese than the Chinese people, and we will add more and Chinese cultural elements to our products,” Peter Vesterbacka, founder of Angry Birds, said Thursday.

Rovio’s initiatives so far in China have included moon cakes for the Mid-Autumn Festival. It is opening stores in Shanghai and Beijing next month and is building an activity park in Shanghai’s Tongji University.

It also plans a theme park in the nearby city of Haining, similar to its Angry Birds Land at Finland’s Sarkanniemi Amusement Park.


Coke returns after six-decade absence

NEW YORK — The Coca-Cola Co. is preparing to sell its drinks in Myanmar for the first time in 60 years.

The world’s biggest maker of soft drinks said Thursday it will start doing business in the country as soon as the U.S. government issues a license allowing American companies to make such investments.

The U.S. announced last month that it was suspending restrictions on American investments in the Southeast Asian country, which is still easing toward democracy. Until last year, Myanmar had been led by an oppressive military junta.

Myanmar is one of three countries where Coca-Cola doesn’t do business. The other two are Cuba and North Korea.

Coca-Cola said its products will initially be imported from neighboring countries as it establishes local operations in Myanmar; the company notes that it has a history of quickly re-entering markets when possible.

In 1949, for instance, Coca-Cola and other foreign companies were expelled from China by the communist government. After full diplomatic relations were established with the country in 1979, Coca-Cola had 20,000 cases of its flagship drink trained into the country from Hong Kong, which was still a British territory at the time.

The Atlanta-based company also noted that Cuba was one of the first countries where it did business, opening operations in the nation in 1906. But after the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro’s government began seizing private assets and the company liquidated and exited the country in 1960. The company has never operated in North Korea.


Foxconn employee jumps to death from apartment

BEIJING — A Foxconn Technology Group employee jumped to his death Wednesday from a company-rented apartment building in southwest China’s Sichuan province, local police said.

At least a dozen Foxconn employees have jumped to their deaths or tried to do so since 2010, casting a spotlight on the world’s largest contract maker of electronics. The Taiwan-based company has been besieged with reports of poor working and living conditions for its workers at factories and dorms. The company installed nets in 2010 to prevent such deaths after the spate of suicides.

A public security bureau in Chengdu city announced the death Wednesday on the Sina Weibo microblogging site. The post identifies the employee only by the surname Xie and says the cause remains under investigation.

The official Xinhua News Agency said the man was 23.

In February, Foxconn, which employs about 1 million workers at its massive plants in China, said it had raised wages by up to 25 percent and that it was taking measures to limit workers’ total work hours.

The plants turn out iPhones, iPads, Xbox video game consoles, and Dell and Hewlett-Packard computers.


AOL shareholders re-elect all 8 board members

NEW YORK — AOL Inc. says shareholders voted at their annual meeting to re-elect all eight directors on the company’s board, fending off a takeover attempt by one of its largest investors.

New York-based investment firm Starboard Value LP, which owns about 5.3 percent of AOL’s outstanding shares, had nominated a trio of candidates, saying that the company wasn’t doing enough to make money off its hundreds of technology patents.

AOL says it still plans to add two independent directors to its board that it believes will add expertise and perspectives.

From wire dispatches and staff reports