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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS
Steve Jobs Returns to Apple Stage after Liver Transplant; World Bank Ranks Best Countries to 'Do Business'
Aired September 9, 2009 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: The core of the Apple returns. Chief Executive Steve Jobs takes center stage at a product launch. EMI gets by with a little help from The Beatles. And the FTSE is flying, topping the 5,000 mark for the first time in almost a year.
I'm Richard Quest, it's a busy day, and yes, once, midweek, I mean business.
Good evening. It is the grandest of grand entrances for Steve Jobs, the man behind Apple. And he has returned to his showman role in the last hour, taking the stage at a product launch event for the first time since nearly six months' long medical leave of absence.
A standing ovation for Jobs who had a liver transplant this spring. He looked gaunt. He spoke softly. And he spoke of his recuperation and his journey back to health. In particular he referred to the donor who gave the liver -- who died and his liver was transplanted to him, and said he hoped others would follow on in that way.
Let's talk to Maggie Lake, who is in New York, about what happened and the extraordinary way in which he was received by the faithful -- Maggie.
MAGGIE LAKE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Richard. It was what everyone was hoping for. It was what the speculation was about. And Steve Jobs in fact delivered. You know, he may have been thin and been speaking softly, but boy, did he project a big presence for the people there in the room.
As you mentioned, standing ovation. His trademark black turtleneck, still sporting that. That standing ovation lasted almost a minute. It is hard to imagine another CEO coming out at what is basically a marketing event and receiving that kind of reception.
And Jobs really appeared to recognize that and understand it. He had a big smile on his face. And very interestingly for someone who was so reluctant to discuss his illness and what he was going through and sparked so much controversy because of the lack of disclosure, he started off addressing the audience in a very uncharacteristically personal and emotional way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE JOBS, CHMN. & CEO, APPLE: I'm very happy to be here today with you all. And as some of you may know, about five months ago I had a liver transplant. So I now have the liver of a mid-20s person who died in a car crash, and was generous to donate their organs. And I wouldn't be here without such generosity.
So I hope all of us can be as generous and elect to become organ donors.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAKE: The blogs and even the investment bank research notes really buzzing about how personal and forthcoming he is being about that.
Of course, it wasn't all that, also about business and iPhone products, iTunes products. Jobs did some of the disclosures about some upgrades to iTunes, some new bells and whistles. Also some of his other colleagues coming out, talking about the iPhone, 30 million sold, 1.8 million applications.
But this thing isn't over yet, Richard. And as you know with Apple, sometimes it's that "one more thing" that holds the real surprise. We're going to be keeping a close eye. And of course, Steve Jobs has returned, really trumping some of the products they've mentioned so far.
QUEST: I was about to say, I've been following the blogs on what has been announced so far. It seems that if you are a gamer, and you like that sort of stuff, there is lots to talk about. An iPhone application, I'm afraid to say, I'm not an iPhone user, at least not yet.
But so a lot of sort of nitty-gritty about that. But I can't see anything -- besides the welcome reappearance of Mr. Jobs, I can't see any great, if you like, quantum leap.
LAKE: That's right. And the quantum leap everybody wants to hear about really are two different things. One of them is The Beatles, if The Beatles are going to be on iTunes. They've been trying for so long. And with all of the other Beatles news out today, there was, you know, this hope and momentum building that maybe this would be the trifecta and they would announce it.
They've got a rock 'n' theme there, it should be noted, with the invitation. The other thing people are waiting for, no one expecting it today, is this tablet which a lot of people think is going to really push forward the whole mobility issue.
But like we said, Richard, sometimes it's that "one more thing." So we'll be waiting to hear. We don't want to call it over until they wrap the whole thing.
QUEST: OK. Now, I mean, we don't -- nor do we want to speculate about Steve Jobs's medical condition or his long-term longevity in that sense. But is there a feeling, Maggie, within the analyst community that you talk to regularly that Apple is maintaining, and that's the key word, maintaining the lead that it had both with Mac, then with all of its other products?
LAKE: You know, it's hard to find an analyst that is not really bullish on this company. And we should mention the stock has almost doubled this year. People really feel like they've got the lead by far on innovation, when it comes to these consumer products.
And again, there is -- you know, they think the iPhone is just getting going. There is this tablet hanging out there that they think could be the next great thing. Analysts very, very positive about the company.
The one sort of cloud is this issue of Jobs and how integral he is to the success of the company. They feel like there is a deep bench of engineers, but does anyone else in the company really have sort of the magic, the mojo that Steve Jobs has. He is very involved. He is iconic.
That is the one cloud that sort of hangings over the stock -- Richard.
QUEST: Maggie Lake, who is in New York. And we thank you, Maggie.
We will now consider some of the machines, if you like, that Steve Jobs and indeed Apple have perfected and made famous. Let's begin with, of course, the Apple Mac, the computer that started it all in the 1970s. While we -- many of us were still on PCs, others came along with the Mac.
Apple claims it reinvented the computer. This is its latest operating system, Snow Leopard, that you see there. Two-point-six million sold between April and June in fiscal Q3. Now you've got to then move to the other machine, the iPod. The iPod dominates the digital music playback.
That's a very posh and pompous way of saying, 10.2 million sold in the quarter, 7 percent down on previous years. That's recession-based and also new product-based. It's the first decline since 2001. Market for digital music players is in decline to some extent. But again, that could be more related to competition and the fact that most of us have got one.
It's rumored that one of the things we're going to hear today is that the iPod classic -- I think I've got it -- well, I have got an iPod classic, because I bought it about 10 years ago, is to be phased out.
But this was the one in many ways that actually sort of revolutionized -- gave it the latest impetus, the iPhone, 5.2 million sold from April to June, more 600 percent up on a year ago. It just announced a super-fast 3G S version.
And wherever the iPhone has been used or been taken on by a phone distributor such as the O2 network in the U.K., the iPhone has given it some considerable oomph in managing to -- if you like, managing to gain market share.
All in all, you cannot downplay the excitement that Apple devotees feel when this company unveils its new product lines. CNN's Jim Boulden traveled to the Apple Store on Regent Street in central London to talk to Jimmy Hayes of iCreate, a magazine for Mac users.
JIMMY HAYES, ICREATE: I think that Apple are one of those few companies that exist in the world where all of their customers genuinely believe that they're the greatest company in the world. When they make an announcement and they're going to do something, lots of people get online and start talking about it.
To the point now where it has gone so far to the extreme that even before announcements were made, people were talking about what might happen, might not, what might not happen, and who will be there and who will not be there.
JIM BOULDEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a bit of a sport almost, because people try to guess -- they have a big competition about it. You see people on the Web talking about it all of the time. Your site does a lot of predictions.
And then, there is a disappointment or there is, oh, I can't believe it, we didn't even expect that.
HAYES: Well, you know, another thing about the romance of being an Apple fan is that when you try to predict it, you're doing so in the hope that, one, you'll be right, and then if you're not, that it's something so far out of your imagination would happen, that that will happen, and then you'll be saying, wow, look at this amazing thing.
BOULDEN: Do you think Apple perpetuates this? Because all they do is make an announcement. They don't even leak. They don't hint. But that actually adds to the mythology around these announcements.
HAYES: Absolutely. The fact that they're so secretive makes it so much fun. But we -- I mean, I think that they must leak a certain amount in order to build up that kind of fevered (ph) anticipation. But definitely, definitely, the secrecy is the thing that makes it so exciting.
BOULDEN: And then there's something called a tablet. When will we probably see that?
HAYES: I think that will probably be later in the year, if not early next year. I think, again, they -- they really need to concentrate on who they're aiming at, although, it will be a great product and it would be one of those things that Mac fans would salivate over, it still needs to be something that they can drag people who aren't Apple fans into buying in order to make the money for them, like they did with the iPhone.
Not everyone that owns a Mac owns an iPhone. There are PCs users that own them, and again, they have to do the same thing with the tablet. They have to find the market for it, and then tell us that we need those people to buy it.
BOULDEN: I've been to the store before here, the one here on Regent Street behind us, and I've seen huge queues and people going in there and employees clapping, people running upstairs to get products.
We're not getting that this time around. When will we get something that's so spectacular that you'll see people launch -- lining up in front of these stores?
HAYES: I personally believe that at some point they'll do a revision to the iPhone, and at that point, it will be when exclusivity breaks, when they can sell it to everyone, and it will be so revolutionary that, again, we'll see the crowds.
I doubt so much we'll see that with the tablet because I doubt it will priced in the market that everyone will be able to afford one. But if and when they do decide to do a major revamp of the iPhone, I think that will be the time that we see the biggest crowds outside an Apple Store.
BOULDEN: Has Apple peaked in a way, or is it naive to say that they can't really build on the success -- I mean, very successful, but how can they build on that?
HAYES: I think everyone always thinks that Apple has peaked. They thought that with the iPod. They thought that with the MacBook Air. And each time Apple will go one step further. So you can never ever discount Apple from doing something incredible. I don't think it will (INAUDIBLE), I think we're talking early next year for something that will really blow our minds.
And hopefully it will be the tablet that does that.
BOULDEN: And in the meantime, there will be plenty of blogs and plenty of people guessing what that is and debating what that is, and using your site and other sites to say, let's talk about it, because that's what people love to do about Apple.
HAYES: That's right. I mean, at iCreate, you know, we have a core fan base of people that will come online and say to us, we think this is going to happen, and it's just a really good place for everyone to get together and say, you know, what if, what if?
QUEST: And Jim is with me now.
Jim, what a question to ask.
BOULDEN: What, if Apple has peaked?
QUEST: If Apple has peaked.
BOULDEN: Well, as he said there, you know, everyone thinks maybe it's over and then they come out with something fantastically new. We're still waiting to hear what today's announcement will about what is fantastically new.
QUEST: All right. What do we think -- but the big announcement that you were waiting for, and we asked the (INAUDIBLE), is what, concerning which?
BOULDEN: Is whether or not we're going to get downloads of Beatles on iTunes. And we're still waiting to hear -- most people think it will not, but the rumors are, and they would love that to be -- that big announcement today, a lot of the analysts say it's not going to be today.
QUEST: All right. You'll be back in a moment or two to tell us.
QUEST: . why it's so significant if we don't get that announcement. Jim, stay exactly where you are. We'll come back to you in just a moment.
Steve Jobs's appearance sent Apple shares up some 1 percent. The U.S. markets, let's take a look and see what they're doing at the moment, a third of a percent, 36 points, 9,533.
Investors in Europe were in a confident mood, in London the FTSE 100 added more than 1 percent to finish above 5,000. The FTSE has now risen more than 20 percent since its lows in July.
It was broad-based, and the FTSE was last at this level in October of last year. Airways was the biggest gainer, up 5 percent, that was on a brokerage note. Banking and mining shares also made strong gains. The Xetra DAX and Frankfurt up 1.5 percent, only four stocks closing in the red.
Commerzbank, look, there's a gain at 12 percent. A lot of this is because of economic thoughts -- CAC 40 added 1 percent with auto stocks driving the gains there. Zurich closed practically flat.
Now the news headlines and Becky Anderson joins us from the CNN news desk.
Good evening to you, Becky.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Richard, thank you for that.
The search for flood survivors is under way in Turkey where at least 28 people have been killed. Military helicopters are flying over Istanbul, scouring roads for motorists stranded by flash floods, two meters of water, inundated highways, homes, and businesses in part of Istanbul. West of the city, the force of the water has swept 200 cars out to sea.
Well, New York Times reporter Stephen Farrell is safe, but his Afghan journalist that he worked with, and a British soldier were killed during a British military raid to free him. Also among the dead, a Taliban commander and two civilians. Farrell and his interpreter were kidnapped on Saturday while covering an air strike on hijacked fuel tankers in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz.
Israel's military rejects a report by a rights group claiming more than half of Palestinian deaths in the Gaza offensive were non-combatants. It says a study by B'Tselem is, quote, "not based on facts or accurate statistics." The IDF says its own numbers show the majority of those killed in Operation Cast Lead were Hamas operatives.
Australian police have launched a war crimes probe into 1975 deaths of five journalists in East Timor. In 2007, a coroner ruled the so-called "Balibo Five" were killed to cover up Indonesia's invasion of East Timor. Families of the five men have long demanded the Indonesian commanders face legal proceedings. Indonesia says the case is now closed.
And for the time being, those are the headlines. Back to you, Richard, in the studio.
BOULDEN: Thank you, Becky Anderson. We will see you in about five -- or about 15 minutes from now with more CNN news.
In just a moment, new records and gains for long lines and hot sales. It is Beatlemania all over the world, all over again. "Long and Winding Road," it's mono to digital, a new remastered box set has been burning up the pop sales charts.
QUEST: Welcome back. CNN, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS tonight. We didn't get the announcement on The Beatles we thought we might today. You still can't download their tracks on iTunes.
QUEST: . the bloggers who are blogging at the moment live from the Apple event. They seem to be suggesting that Jobs has finished. He's saying thanks for coming, and that really is it. So perhaps no Beatles announcement. But if you do still want to hear the Beatles, and you have got the money to go and buy it, in-shop CDs in the shops. The Beatles are back, 40 years after they broke up.
All the albums are on the shelves after some extensive digital tweaking. There is also an interactive video game so you can play at being the fifth, sixth, or seventh Beatle, whatever next. With the industry in need of some help, they'll be hoping the fans thinks it's great.
Now Jim Boulden has been looking at what it all means for EMI music, which is behind the CD album release. And Jim is with me.
BOULDEN: EMI, of course, has had a terrible last couple of years. Bought by private equity, by Guy Hands in 2007. He has written a lot of that off already, gotten rid of a lot of employees, shake-up. They lost The Rolling Stones, what do they have in that basement? They've got this. They've got The Beatles. Digitally remastering them, putting them out again.
QUEST: It's desperate. It's desperate.
BOULDEN: They've shipped 5 million units. And you could spend up to $320 on one box of this stuff. It has a potential to do very well. But EMI has got a huge amount of debt, owes a lot of money to Citibank. Analysts are saying this isn't going to solve EMI's problems, but it's a good start to a very critical quarter.
QUEST: Tell me what this is really -- I'm confused.
QUEST: I'm confused.
BOULDEN: Tell me.
QUEST: Is this a story about The Beatles or is it a story about EMI, or both?
BOULDEN: EMI is not the backer of this deal. This idea came from others. But EMI is -- it's very important for them to get this right. They're going to have these remasters out there. People are going to buy them.
But they've also got to get Robbie Williams, a successful album out in a few weeks. They've got to get Norah Jones. Something called Alice in Chains, I don't know what that is. But they say it's very important, coming out in a few weeks -- or months.
It's critical they get this right.
QUEST: They wouldn't be on your gramophone.
BOULDEN: No, no, it won't.
BOULDEN: But it's critical to get this right. So this isn't -- The Beatles have plenty of money, it's not about them at all. The rock band isn't about them, you know, it wasn't their idea. The theory is, is that it's a great way to get this business into this century.
QUEST: Right. But is it a sign of desperation that they're reverting to digitally remastering something 40-odd years old, maybe 45 to 50 years old, that, frankly, isn't that different, whether it's digitally remastered?
BOULDEN: It is different for those who care about these things.
QUEST: Do you?
QUEST: Thank you.
BOULDEN: No, you take out a little bit of dust, you take out a little bit of cuts here and there. But they hope a new generation will be interested. But they've been doing this for four-and-a-half years. They've been doing this since before Terra Firma bought EMI. So this isn't a Terra Firma, the private equity group's idea.
This is an idea coming from those people inside of Abbey Road, and inside of Apple Corps who love this stuff and wanted to bring it into the next century. So now we have these digital remasters, they're ready to go, they could be downloaded if some day they get that deal.
QUEST: Why do I feel -- look, I come from Liverpool. I was a Beatles fan first time around, but why do I feel it's all just spinning away?
BOULDEN: Well, they don't make new records. They don't have new songs.
QUEST: Well, clearly not.
BOULDEN: They have to find ways to do it again and again and again.
QUEST: Did you buy them? Did you listen to it, first of all? Did you hear the digitally remastering?
BOULDEN: We heard some a couple of weeks ago at Abbey Road, not today.
QUEST: Right. What did you think?
BOULDEN: If you put on the headsets, listen to it in a beautiful room, it makes an extraordinary difference. I think if you listen to it on a car radio, eeh (ph).
QUEST: Eeh. Yes. Thanks, Jim.
An "eeh" from Jim Boulden just about says it all.
All right. QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, it is the midweek day version of the program. In just a moment, the past year's financial crisis has led to a sea change in business practices, everything from Wall Street bonuses to the way banks around the globe manage their books. Is it filtering down to the developing economies? The author of the new World Bank report on business practices joins me.
Rwanda, now there is a name you don't often hear as being a darling of reformers, we'll talk about that in a moment. Stay with us.
QUEST: Welcome back. Around the world many countries are changing the way their citizens conduct business. The World Bank says a record 131 economies reformed the rules of the game in the past year, 70 percent of all of those that the bank looked at. This is very interesting.
Most of the reforms were carried out by low- and middle-income countries. This, of course, comes from the 2010 report by the World Bank. The top reformer was Rwanda. The first time a sub-Saharan African country has come in first.
Rwanda has made it easier to start businesses, registering property deals, protect investors, trade across borders, and crucially, to access credit. The World Bank says better regulation can help firms cope with tough times and take advantage of new opportunities when they arise.
But a change in regulation, of course, can also mean there can be difficulties in the future. Silvia Solf is the lead author of that World Bank report, "Doing Business in 2010." Silvia joins me now from Washington.
Good evening to you, Sylvia. Many thanks for talking to us tonight. It is interesting, isn't it, that at a time of great recession that they are deciding, these countries, rather than protectionism, but to reform. Why do you think that is?
SILVIA SOLF, "DOING BUSINESS 2010," WORLD BANK: Well, as you mentioned, this is actually quite exciting news as you see that against the backdrop of the economic and global and financial crisis, we saw such a large number of reforms, actually 20 percent more than the previous years and more than ever before.
And it goes to show these kinds of reforms actually support the small business owners, support SMEs (ph) around the world. And those are the main job creators. And if you think about it that way, the crisis is also a crisis of unemployment, of jobs missing, and companies closing down.
So it's really encouraging to see that so many economies are focusing on reforms to help and support lawful (ph).
QUEST: Right, right.
SOLF: . business owners in the way they run and start a business.
QUEST: The danger is, is it not, the danger is that these countries don't have the -- some of the best-developed countries, the infrastructure to monitor and to regulate a deregulated economy, or a more market-oriented economy.
Now for goodness sake, if Bernie Madoff could run off with $50 billion in the United States in the most -- and the SEC manages to fail to do it, what happens in sub-Saharan Africa?
SOLF: Actually, as you mention, you need regulation. And it's not about more or less regulation, it's really about the right regulation, the smart regulation in what area you look at.
And it's encouraging to see that in developing countries now, not only do they simplify some of the just simple administrative processes, starting a business, property registration, but they're also actually strengthening (INAUDIBLE) provisions to protect property rights and to protect minority shareholder rights which are the necessary protections that you need.
So they're setting the groundwork for future development of the market.
QUEST: These are admirable moves in the right direction. So what comes next? Because the danger, of course, is, that as recovery gets under way, so there is a backsliding on the need to reform.
SOLF: Actually, what we see there, the majority of reforms this year, they don't happen overnight. These are really several years' efforts there to (INAUDIBLE) in a country, to improve the competitiveness.
And we see that globally, even at the top you see the number one- ranked economy, Singapore, Hong Kong number three, also the United Kingdom, they all continue to reform. So it really -- countries are starting to learn from each other how to make life easier for the local businesses, and at the same time, as I mentioned, make sure that there are the necessary legal protections in place to protect property rights.
QUEST: Yes. Finally, let's talk about the other end of the list, because Rwanda was a surprise at one end. But let's go up to the other end, which was, as you say, Singapore, Hong Kong, the United States, the United Kingdom, the countries you would expect. The very countries whose regulatory and reform mechanisms failed spectacularly in the great recession of 2008-2009.
That is a slight worry, isn't it?
SOLF: Well, we have to be very clear about what we are talking about and what the "Doing Business" project is about. It's about the day-to-day firm (ph) level regulation, starting a business, registering property, getting a license or permit.
I think when you look at kind of what happened over the past year, you have to look at financial market regulation, the larger macroeconomic conditions of the country. And these are all relevant factors. And actually, the crisis showed that in some of those areas, you might need different types of regulations.
So I think, at least (INAUDIBLE) on the firm level that come out of the report, and I think there is a lot more areas to explore, to learn more about what has to be regulated and in what way.
QUEST: And I think that is something, Sylvia, that hopefully you'll come back on the program in the future and we'll talk more about it. Very kind, indeed. Sylvia Solf joining me from Washington. Many thanks, indeed, for joining me.
It may just draw some drawings and a big hunk of plastic for now, this plane mock-up is a big deal. We'll take you on a field trip to Hong Kong and Asia's biggest commercial air show. Plans to build its own jumbo jets have Boeing and Airbus worried about the future of (INAUDIBLE).
QUEST: Glad you're with me here on CNN. And apparently you can't -- see if I can try this one over here, it might actually assist matters a little bit more. Hopefully that's a little bit better.
Let me start out again, welcome back. It's QUEST MEANS BUSINSS on CNN, having one or two minor problems. Susan Lisovicz is at the New York Stock Exchange for us this evening. Joins me now to hopefully be able to - - hopefully Susan can hear me.
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: I was going to get a megaphone to hear you, Richard.
QUEST: I beg your pardon, Susan. You're over there now. Susan Lisovicz, it is an interesting day on the market. My understanding of what is happening is that the rally that we've seen in Europe has been widespread and broad-based. What are you seeing in New York?
LISOVICZ: Well, we're seeing a rally here as well. And certainly what we're seeing in Europe is influencing that. But, you know, even though the S&P 500 is at its highs for the year. I mean, we're not talking about big gains here, we're talking about the best gains coming from the tech sector, obviously there is a lot of action in that area today.
So the NASDAQ is the best of the three major averages, but not a whole lot of -- not a whole lot in terms of point moves -- Richard.
QUEST: The point move may be minor, but I've just been in Germany, I've now been here in the U.K. What we are seeing is a resurgence of economic growth. We've seen it in the U.S. Tim Geithner was talking about it again today. The totality of the picture suggests things are getting better, albeit at a slow pace.
LISOVICZ: Well, you know, at the top of the hour, just 30 minutes ago, we got the Federal Reserve's Beige Book, which looks at the regional conditions across the country. And yet, this is yet another piece in the puzzle that shows things are either stabilizing, getting a little bit better, or the declines are slowing down.
So, you know, it all leads to the same thing, that the worst is behind us. At least so far, the worst is behind us. So that's very reassuring.
You know, consumer spending remains very weak. Credit remains tight. These are big problems in terms of recovery. If you take away the -- you know, the punch bowl with what's happening with the Federal Reserve with all the stimulus and the monetary easing, that can create some real headwinds. But so far, you know, there's nothing obviously that's really jolted the stock market and we're seeing a fourth day rally here -- Richard.
QUEST: Susan Lisovicz with the market up just a quarter of a percent. The points may be low, but it's the direction that's right.
All right, Susan, many thanks.
QUEST: Talk to you again tomorrow and hopefully we won't need a megaphone and we'll have paid the electricity bill and things will be working.
Becky Anderson is at the CNN News Desk -- and, Becky, I assure you, we have paid the bill.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have right on back.
And the headlines are these, Richard.
The search for flash flood survivors continues in Turkey. Motorists were stranded on top of their vehicles as waters as high as two meters rushed through parts of Istanbul. At least 31 people were killed when the floodwaters overwhelmed highways, homes and businesses. But west of the city, officials say the force of the water swept 200 cars out to sea.
Well, Iraqi police say a 2-year-old is the only survivor of a car bombing that killed eight members of an Iraqi family. The blast was outside the house of a leader of an Awakening Council in Kirkuk. He was among those killed. Awakening Councils are led by former Sunni insurgents who turned against al Qaeda in Iraq.
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi invites dying Lockerbie bomber Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi to meet African parliamentarians. The group applauded the recently freed man when he was wheeled on the stage at the hospital in Tripoli. He's being treated for cancer. He coughed through his surgical mask during his brief appearance.
And Chinese couples brave long lines to register their marriages on a particularly auspicious date. The ninth day of the ninth month of 2009. The Chinese favor nine because it sounds similar to long lasting. Ten thousand couples signed up in Beijing alone. Besides the triple nine factor, this year is also the Year of the Ox, also seen as a good time to join in marriage.
And these lovely models had better hope there's no bridal shower. Any water would dissolve their dresses right off their backs. Look carefully. They are made with toilet paper. A manufacturer asked a group of Israeli dress designers to make gowns from their products and, of course just rip off a piece of it to fix any last minute makeup missteps or tears of joy.
And those are your headlines -- Richard, back to you.
QUEST: I think the only worst thing would be if it had been used toilet paper, but that's not a thought that is just way beyond this time of the evening.
QUEST: QUEST MEANS BUSINESS giving you the confident competitive edge in just a moment.
I'll be back in a second or two.
QUEST: The West is eyeing opportunities in China in the hope of lifting the industry out of the doldrums. One investor with his eye on the prize is the oracle of Omaha, otherwise known as the sage of Omaha. (INAUDIBLE) any sage, anything you like that suggests that Warren Buffett knows what he's doing.
He's placing his bets on electric cars in China.
Poppy Harlow now joins me from New York from CNNMoney.com.
Now, least of all (ph), it's canny, to say the very least.
Is this being electrically canny?
POPPY HARLOW, ANCHOR, CNNMONEY.COM: That's a good way to put it, Richard.
Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway bought a 10 percent stake in that electric car company out of China, BYD, last year, as you know, Richard. That was a $230 million investment. Now there is a lot of talk -- rumors swirling about whether he's going to up his stake.
The chairman of BYD suggested at the end of last week that that was exactly what was going to happen. That sent shares of the Chinese company just soaring.
I called Buffett on Tuesday morning. He sort of chuckled, Richard, and said, ah, I can't tell you either way what I'm going to do. You should leave it up to the chairman of BYD to do that.
However, Richard, signs are pointing to possibly an increased investment by Buffett, because last year when he got that 10 percent stake in BYD, he actually wanted to buy 25 percent of the carmaker, but they weren't willing to sell even him that much at the time, Richard.
So there's a lot of eyes on this right now...
QUEST: BYD -- I mean it's not lost on people that that's "bid" in one respect, or "buyed." But obviously, not a company that we see right at the top of the Dow Jones 30 or, indeed, anywhere close to that -- so -- so, Poppy, I need to -- and I have to say, it's a company I'm not familiar with. I need to know a bit more about it.
HARLOW: Right. Well, it's -- it, actually, Richard, stands for Build Your Dreams. It's a very interesting company. It actually was one of the largest cell phone makers -- cell phone battery makers in the world. Then they went and bought a tiny bankrupt car company that -- so they could transfer that technology to advanced battery technology for cars. And they already have an electric gas basically hybrid out in China right now.
But they're planning to launch an all electric vehicle in the United States next year that can go, they say, 249 miles on a single charge. The timing of this, Richard, is significant. This is going to hit the U.S. market around the same time as General Motors' Chevy Volt is going to come out and also electric cars in the U.S. from Nissan and also from Chrysler.
So more competition in the United States on the electric car market from, where else, Richard, from China. It looks like Buffett is backing China on this one -- Richard.
QUEST: Right. Now, Warren Buffett, you're -- you're -- you correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think I am on this one, you're talking to him, aren't you, soon?
HARLOW: Yes. We are. We're speaking next week. We're sitting down with him for an interview on Tuesday. What's different about this interview is we want to bring your questions. We'll ask a few of ours, but we have viewers submitting their questions. So you can go to CNNMoney.com/buffet or you can go right here, Fortune.com/buffett. Let us know your questions. We're going to go through all of them, Richard. We might let you weigh and choose one or two of them and we'll bring them to Warren Buffett so he can answer your questions.
And we're getting quite the gamut of wild and interesting questions, as well -- Richard.
QUEST: I will also -- you can also send e-mails to -- to me, quest@CNN.com. I won't answer them, but I'll certainly pass them on to you Poppy.
I see he's (INAUDIBLE)...
HARLOW: Thank you.
QUEST: I think that to your left, he's speaking at "Fortune's" Most Powerful Women's Summit on September -- is that the event?
HARLOW: Yes. And he -- he is -- yes, it is. And, you know, Richard...
QUEST: And you're one of them.
HARLOW: -- again this year...
QUEST: You're one of them, aren't you?
HARLOW: He was there last year.
QUEST: You're one of them. You're one of them. You're one of the most powerful.
HARLOW: No, I -- I'm not. I'm not. But he's -- he's one of the only men invited, of course, Warren Buffett. He's proven himself...
HARLOW: -- to be quite a savvy investor, so.
QUEST: All right, Poppy Harlow, who, I think, probably is one of the most powerful women. Well, I'm frightened of her, anyway.
Many thanks, Poppy.
We'll move on.
China is also hoping its aviation industry will take up after unveiling the design of a new commercial plane. Now, if you're a regular viewer of this program, you know the mere mention of a new plane gets one of those from me. Code named C919, it's the largest jetliner ever built in China. A single aisle plane, so a narrow bodied. It can accommodate up to 190 seats. The aircraft ready for test flights in about five years time. The new plane one of the attractions at the Asian Aerospace Expo in Hong Kong, as our Asian business editor, Eunice Yoon, explains.
EUNICE YOON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With Asia leading global growth, business here is taking off. And for the plane manufacturer, Bombardier, that means more demand for corporate jets, like this one.
DAVID DIXON, BOMBADIER: Five people could sit around this table. Here this seat rotates.
YOON (on camera): So it's mainly for entertainment?
DIXON: And some for work. It's a working machine.
YOON (voice-over): The Canadian company is showcasing four of these planes at this year's Asian Aerospace Show in Hong Kong, as a aircraft industry looks for customers outside traditional markets.
ROB LAIRD, BOEING: There are brand names that you would never have heard of 10 years ago and there are companies now working in Africa and Europe. And they're moving out from this part of the world and they need to have airplanes.
YOON (on camera): So Asia is a promising market for private jets.
But what about commercial aircraft?
(on camera): Big names like Boeing and Airbus are showing off their models, too, despite a down economy.
CHRIS BUCKLEY, AIRBUS: The Asian market is growing so quickly. We've got the -- the Indian economy, the Chinese economy that are really the engines that are driving this -- this growth. In the next decade, it will be the largest and most important market for aviation in the world.
YOON: Garnering the most attention at this air show, a new competitor from China. State-owned COMAC plans to roll out its first jumbo jet in 2016 -- paving the way for nation's aviation sector to compete against established players like Airbus.
BUCKLEY: We have no doubt that COMAC will be very capable of producing, in the years to come, you know, a new competitive aircraft, which will compete against us, will compete against Boeing, as well. However, it's a very long road.
YOON: COMAC declined to speak to CNN.
Despite the fanfare, the Expo has been hit by the economic crisis. It's a third smaller than the previous one two years ago. Fewer customers are attending, as well. The economic downturn isn't the only thing weighing on plane manufacturers. Boeing of the U.S. is struggling with delays to its new 787 Dreamliner jet. Airbus is awaiting a World Trade Organization ruling over allegations that it's received illegal government subsidies. The European company says the ruling won't impact its Asia growth plans.
BUCKLEY: We're hopeful (ph) with Airbus. We're just not concerned. We think this is something that will be resolved at a given time, but it's not going to in any way change our business.
YOON: No matter what the aircraft makers do, they rely heavily on the beleaguered airline industry.
ANDREW HERDMAN, ASSOCIATION OF ASIA PACIFIC AIRLINES: The airlines are losing about $10 billion a year and it's going to be some time before we pull out of that and -- and see a, you know, a return to health.
YOON: Until then, the plane makers are targeting new, up and coming customers.
Eunice Yoon, CNN, Hong Kong.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
QUEST: Oh, boy, have I got a little treat for you on our Facebook page. Not only pictures from -- from yesterday in Berlin, where, of course, the dear Heidi Helzer (ph) nearly removed half the car park along with -- I've got to tell you, I never thought I was going to -- I've never seen my life flash before me so fast as when I was driving around that car park with that woman at the wheel. There she is. Oh, dear Heidi Helzer (ph).
Anyway, but we've got another -- another great secret for you concerning the producer, which, of course, we'll be talking to later.
Now, you'll need to know where you can find it. It's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. That's where you search on Facebook.
Back in London, unfortunately, the weather is not back with me -- Guillermo, I guess I ran out of luck today.
GUILLERMO ARDUINO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, I think it's going to turn good. It's going to turn for the better. We're going to see this high pressure prevailing and gradually, especially in Scandinavia.
I want to show you what's going on in Britain, especially. But remember this -- this is the system that is responsible for this -- actually, two systems, the twin highs. And to the south, this low pressure center is promising more rain into Istanbul. And that's where we have significant floods -- a really, really bad story coming from Turkey.
Look at the forecast. Paris with some rain, so it seems it's affecting the south, still clearing there. Amsterdam with some clouds.
But we don't have much here for Britain for the next 48 hours. And again, the north, we may see some clouds. But here it's clearing a little bit and then it's going to stay OK.
Even if we see the radar, these are the systems that are responsible for the rain. And it's not a significant -- it's not a remarkable system from the point of view of weather. So we saw some rain showers and that's about it.
But the long-term forecast looks pretty good, especially for Germany and Munich; in Frankfurt, we may see a little bit of a -- a rain shower there -- here or there and that's it. Zurich with some foggy conditions. Rome, again, is calling for some rain.
This is the main feature that we have right now, with the floods in Turkey. Not only am I talking about Istanbul, also on the Aegean side, we see some more rain. The low persists over there. And as I was pointing out yesterday, we -- look at this. Badidimay (ph), check this out. This is the city that we showed before. And the average a month is 40 millimeters in the city. We've got 128. Istanbul, look at the difference, 30 and we've got 211.
So this is going to clear. Northern Germany is where we will see some bad weather. In Poland, the same thing. Temperatures are very comfortable, indeed -- 22 in London; 20 in Paris. The warm air continues here, but look at what happens in the southeast -- 24 in Istanbul; 27 in Athens; and 26 in Bucharest.
So, Richard, it is gradually turning for the cool weather pattern in general all over, except for Spain -- back to you.
QUEST: We thank you for that, Guillermo.
And tomorrow, I'll need an early forecast from you for, of course, a strong forecast for what the weather is going to be like for Middle East Weekend and for Northern European weekend.
ARDUINO: I'll give it to you then.
ARDUINO: Thank you.
QUEST: Thank you very much.
Guillermo at the World Weather Center.
Talking of Gulf regions, petrodollars are paying for a lot of pricey real estate deals right here in the United Kingdom. Middle Eastern investors have found a buyers market here in London. It's not surprising, of course, with the way prices have fallen about 50 percent and beyond.
Leone Lakhani now looks at who owns what and, crucially, what's being spent.
LEONE LAKHANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Savoy Hotel on The Strand, the site of the army barracks in Chelsea and Canary Wharf in London's Financial District -- some of the city's most iconic properties and all owned, at least in part, by Middle East investors.
(on camera): This is Barclay's Square. This is one of the prime areas in Central London. Now, it's estimated that about 70 percent of the properties here are owned by Abu Dhabi investors.
(voice-over): Property prices around the world have fallen because of the credit crunch. This city is no exception. But real estate consultant Cushman and Wakefield says Central London has seen a surge in property sales of more than 200 percent between the first and second quarters of this year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've seen over 60 to 65 percent of money coming into London from overseas. And I really think it's the fact of property prices falling. Investors today coming from overseas are also finding that sterling is 25 percent cheaper than it was two years ago...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the final factor is that we are in environments of very low interest rates.
LAKHANI (voice-over): Buyers from the Middle East are among the top bidders. This year's single biggest purchase was by an Omani fund for an office block worth over $700 million.
There are also reports that a major Gulf investor is looking at the site of the U.S. Embassy in London when its staff relocates. And it's not just commercial buildings. Cliff Gardner is a search agent who acts on behalf of a number of high profile Middle East investors. The properties he looks at are in London's most affluent areas, some of which cost more than $5 million.
(on camera): So this is an example of a residential property that a Middle East buyer got?
CLIFF GARDNER, THE BUYING SOLUTION: Yes. This traded for 8.5 million pounds last year.
LAKHANI: So that's about $30 million?
GARDNER: Yes, I think there's a finite supply of property here, which always keeps prices up. Now, this is where everyone wants to be. And -- and there's hardly anything to buy. So when supply and demand are that far apart, then the prices definitely remain strong.
LAKHANI: But are the price tags still too high in London?
GARDNER: If it's special, they'll pay a special price for it.
Well, they want true, sensible investments, so they also want something unique and special. They want something that's interesting and character full and something that represents London, something that they can't buy in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. LAKHANI (voice-over): Unique investments, perhaps; but whether they're really good investments, buyers would only be able to gauge in the long run.
Leone Lakhani, CNN, London.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
QUEST: Anybody who knows anything about me and my breakfast habits knows that I always enjoy a nice boiled egg. The prospect of having a Faberge egg, now that's something else. We'll hear from the chief executive, after the break.
QUEST: Now, when it comes to living the good life, Adrian Finighan knows a thing or two about that. He flew in style on Wednesday, taken by a fleet of helicopters to a stately home in Southern England. He was there to witness the rebirth of the iconic jeweler, Faberge. The luxury company is known for its jewel-encrusted Easter eggs, which it designed for Russian czars in centuries gone past. Just look at those.
The queen, apparently -- Her Majesty, the Queen, Elizabeth, has got quite a few of them.
Now it's launching its first collection of high jewelry pieces since 1917, the Russian Revolution, through an innovative online portal. If you're keen, get out your checkbook. The starting price -- the starting price, $58,000, with expensive pieces $10 million. And that is for -- well, a bracelet.
Mark Dunhill is the CEO of Faberge.
He told Adrian the rebirth of the Faberge brand and the company is starting in the middle of a recession. Even so, he's smiling.
MARK DUNHILL, CEO, FABERGE (voice-over): We have -- investors saw that Faberge was, if you like, an unloved asset. They -- they sensed its huge potential. They had the wherewithal to acquire the business from its previous owners at the end of 2006 and then hired me -- hired me and (INAUDIBLE) to get a team together to -- to fulfill that -- that vision, to restore it to its former glory.
And we are -- we've spent a year -- and a year-and-a-half putting together a strategy and preparing for today. Our shareholders are fully backing the strategy and I'm fully funded to implement it over -- over the years ahead.
So I'm in a -- in a very happy position today.
ADRIAN FINIGHAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So you're operating at the high end of the luxury market.
Just -- just who is your customer?
DUNHILL: Let -- let me perhaps respond to that by just telling you in a little bit more detail what it is that we are unveiling today. It is a collection of one of a kind, unique pieces of jewelry that have been handcrafted in our Paris affiliate (ph) by our artists (INAUDIBLE). The pieces will sell from anything up -- anything from $40,000 right up to $7 million and will be, we believe, heirlooms of the future.
And, therefore, we believe the customers for those will be discerning, affluent people who are -- who have an eye for heritage and who have an eye for beautiful, extraordinary crafted objects. And they will be buying them for the pleasure that they derive from owning them today, but also with a view to their lifetime value and a view of the pleasure that they have -- descendants will have owning them in the years to come.
FINIGHAN: Now, but you don't have a High Street presence.
DUNHILL: We don't have a conventional High Street presence, no. But we will -- we will have a physical salon in Geneva, where our customers can come and meet us.
FINIGHAN: And -- and why Geneva?
DUNHILL: Geneva is a -- is a relatively small city, but it happens to be the global hub of the watch and jewelry industry. There are more private planes parked in Geneva airport at any -- at any one time than in any other airport in the world. And it's a city that you can get to the center of from the airport in about 10 or 15 minutes. And it's a city, because of the banking industry, is a typical hub for wealthy people as they travel in and out of Europe from either the States, the Middle East, Russia or Asia.
FINIGHAN: If the client can't get to Geneva, you'll go to them?
DUNHILL: We'll go to them, quite happily. And this -- our philosophy is all about delivering the ultimate convenience to our customer and putting the customer in the driving seat so he can determine how this relationship evolves. And if he wants us to come to him, we'll come to him with a piece.
FINIGHAN: So what attracted you to the -- to the job of breathing new life into Faberge and what's your vision for the brand?
DUNHILL: Well, I mean the -- for me, this is one of the most extraordinary opportunities for the revival of a wonderful name in what we call the luxury sphere that I can certainly remember. And to have the opportunity to be entrusted with that opportunity is -- is -- is something that I found completely irresistible.
Couple to that the fact that we have the opportunity to reunite Faberge with its heritage by bringing the family back into the business for the first time since 1917 -- Tatiana Faberge could be called Faberge's great granddaughter, is a shareholder and on our heritage committee -- gives me a platform of legitimacy from which to reassert our credentials as the one, true Faberge.
On top of that, I have a clean slate. And this clean slate is partly the accidental byproduct of the fact that the brand has been taken off the market for so long. And that means that while I am not encumbered today with legacy business structures and relationships which would typically constrain other businesses in their ability to reposition and embrace the opportunities that -- that exist today, that are offered particularly by technology, to do things differently.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
QUEST: Absolutely fascinating, Faberge. If you've ever seen a Faberge egg in -- in the flesh, if you like, they are truly exquisite.
Now, finally, talking of exquisite and profitable times, tonight's Profitable Moment. People who are interested in money are usually born that way, or at least they show great potential from a very early age.
I want to show you this letter: "Dear Fairies, I have lost my tooth on the floor or down the plug hole. Can I have my money? From Gail (ph)."
It was written to the Tooth Fairy by the QUEST MEANS BUSINESS producer Gail. Hah.
Now, we can tell that this was a woman who was meant to be in charge. This was a woman, like many of us, who took an early interest in money and what it can buy. If you read this, she shows a single-mindedness of purpose. Never mind that the rules say the Tooth Fairy only pays out upon receipt of a tooth. Gail is seeking parental bailout.
Why do I show you these pictures, other than to embarrass the poor woman?
Because if we all look back at our histories, we can see at some time, we have shown an interest in the world of money, whether it was doing a paper round, in my case; running a lemonade stall, in your case; or simply being the first to open a savings account or try and catch some money.
Gail's mom hasn't told us whether she actually paid out on the basis of this letter.
But that is tonight's program.
I'm Richard Quest, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
The International Desk is next.
Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, I hope it's more profitable than it was for Gail.
See you tomorrow.