CHINA: Coca Cola’s bid to buy Huiyuan juice was turned down because China feared the soft drinks giant could abuse its position, an official said. Ministry of Commerce spokesman Yao Jian said in an interview with the People’s Daily that Coca-Cola was so big it could deter competition.

“Potential competitors would find it very difficult to enter this market and grow into substantive competitors against Coca-Cola and thereby eradicate or restrict the possibility of Coca-Cola engaging in abusive conduct,” he said. “If mergers and acquisitions lead to multinational companies gaining or enhancing dominant status, this will hinder economic development.”

US: Plans to charge retailers in New York up to $5,000 (£3,423) a year to sell cigarettes have come under attack from politicians from across the political spectrum, who have branded it “absurd”. New York Governor David Patterson has announced plans to raise an extra $18m (£12.3m) by raising the $100 annual registration fee to between $1,000 (£684) and $5,000 (£3,423) depending on sales.

“It’s an absurd proposal, particularly in hard times,” said Democratic assemblyman Micah Kellner.

GERMANY: Metro Group has announced plans to enter and rapidly expand in China with a chain of electronics stores. Metro Group has joined forced with Foxconn Technology Group, the largest non-government-affiliated company in China and will open the first Media Markt store in China in 2010. It then plans rapid expansion with the potential for hundreds of stores.

“It is our vision that Media Markt, with the new consumer electronics retail joint venture, will bring enhanced consumer delight to China, which is the fastest-growing large economy in the world,” said Eckhard Cordes, chief executive of Metro Group. Metro’s full-year results for 2008 show pre-tax profits up 7.1% to €2.2bn (£2.02bn) on sales up 5.8% to €68bn (£62.7bn).

RUSSIA: X5 Retail Group is cutting prices and reducing the ranges in some stores to draw in hard-up Russian shoppers. Chief executive Lev Khasis said X5 would lower prices at its Pyatyorochka discount stores and reduce ranges by about 20% by the end of 2009 in order to save money. He said the price cuts would be offset by higher volumes of customers in the stores. The company was also looking to expand through buying franchisees in regions, as well as rival discounters, said Khasis.

FRANCE: Carrefour has brought forward its plans to convert all its Champion branded stores to the Carrefour banner. The group’s chief executive Lars Olofsson said all the stores would be changed by October.

“The convergence of stores under the Carrefour banner is a good initiative, but we have to move faster, so we plan to complete the conversion of all Champion stores five months earlier than initially planned,” he said.