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    China's Business Climate Index, a main gauge of corporate performance, declined to 133.8 in the first quarter of this year, from a three-year high of 138 in the last quarter of 2010, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said.

    The retreat signals increasing concerns about the country's monetary tightening policy and interest rate rises.

    While the index declined by 4.2 points from the fourth quarter of 2010, based on a survey of 20,000 Chinese companies, it still showed signs of economic expansion, said a statement on the NBS website.


    Lashou raises $111m, plans expansion abroad

    Lashou.com, China's biggest group-buying website by market value, said it received $111 million (76.68 million euros) in a new round of funding and is planning to expand in the Southeast Asia market in the second half of this year.

    London-based Milestone Capital Partners LLP and two funds under the Swiss company Richemont SA led the latest financing, according to a statement issued by Lashou on April 11. The investment follows two rounds of funding last year, which collected $5 million and $50 million, respectively.

    The funds will be used for upgrading call centers, city logistics, and the setting up of Lashou outlets in more than 30 cities, according to the company.


    Siemens aims to get in sync with China

    Despite an anticipated slowdown in global revenue growth, Siemens AG, Europe's largest engineering company by sales revenue, is adopting a new expansion strategy.

    The new global approach also aims to be in sync with China's 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), as the company looks to ride the rapid growth of the industrial sector.

    "Our industry sector will witness its fastest growth in China over the next five years. That's as the growth of the industry market in the country will surpass 5 percent, on the back of the vast business opportunities brought by the country's 12th Five-Year Plan," said Siegfried Russwurm, CEO of Siemens' industry division.

    "We will increase our investment and deepen our presence in second- and third-tier cities and in western China," Russwurm said.

    Train maker to tap European market

    China CNR Corp, one of the nation's leading train manufacturers, aims to open factories in Australia and Eastern Europe to tap international opportunities, said Gao Zhi, CNR's vice-president and chief financial officer.

    Gao said CNR has formed a 50-50 joint-venture with Poland's PKP Cargo SA in Warsaw to manufacture trains for European markets.

    The company's overseas operations contributed 4.49 billion yuan (474.8 million euros) in sales in 2010, while its exports reached $1.39 billion (961.3 million euros).

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