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International business in brief

Published:Thursday | August 13, 2015 | 10:35 AM

New Cuban vaccine for hepatitis B

The new Cuban vaccine for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B is currently undergoing clinical trials in Cuba and eight Asian countries, with the cooperation of the French company Abivax.

Researchers say the new product - HeberNasvac - developed by researchers of the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, has proved to be more effective and safer than the rest of those existing in the world against the illness.

Studies of clinical evaluation have been approved by regulatory authorities in Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand.

According to the World Health Organization, chronic liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus is one of the main causes of liver cancer, liver cirrhosis, and other complications such as esophageal varicose veins. Each year, about one million deaths have been attributed to infection by the virus.

Pearson sells stake in Economist

magazine publisher

Pearson has agreed to sell its 50 per cent stake in the publisher of the Economist magazine for £469 million (US$731 million) as it sheds media holdings to focus on its core education business.

Italian investment group Exor S.p.A. has agreed to pay £287 million for 27.8 per cent of the Economist Group, plus so-called 'B' shares that give it the right to appoint six of the 13 board members. The Economist Group itself will pay £182 million for the remainder of the Pearson stake.

Exor, controlled by the Agnelli family, already owned just under five per cent of the Economist Group. The Agnellis founded Italian automaker Fiat, which recently bought Chrysler.

Pearson Plc announced last month it had sold its other journalism jewel, The Financial Times, to Japan's Nikkei.

Cemex sells Austria, Hungary

operations to Rohrdorfer

Mexican cement giant Cemex SA says it's agreed to sell its operations in Austria and Hungary to the Germany's Rohrdorfer Group for about €160.1 million (US$179 million).

The Austrian operations include 24 gravel quarries and 34 cement plants with sales of about US$241 million in 2014.

In Hungary, the operations include five gravel quarries and 34 ready-mix plants with sales of about US$47 million in 2014.

Cemex said Wednesday that "proceeds obtained from this transaction will be used mainly for debt reduction".

Cemex went on an acquisition spree in the 2000s that left it heavily indebted and has since been divesting itself of properties.