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Brand Quest      (January 01, 2004)

The world of business and economics had its usual dose of winners, losers, opportunities, dead-ends and scandals in 2003. We at Brand Quest have tried to present some interesting facts on the newsmakers of the year through this quiz.

1) Hurt by piracy and falling sales of its products, the music industry found scope in the online pay-and-download format. Napster, in its new avatar as a division of Roxio, and Apple iTunes were the big names. Also in contention was RealNetworks' format, which was unveiled in May as a co-branded version of its digital music subscription service. That service bears a name whose dictionary meaning goes thus: "A usually instrumental composition of irregular form that often incorporates improvisation." Which is it?

2) It calls itself the only `six-star' hotel in Australia, and all its receptionists go by the name Lois Lane. Nearly a decade back, it failed in its attempt to tap the capital markets. In '03, however, there were no hassles, as it became the first in its category to be publicly traded. Its listing was marked by the appearance of Hollywood's Heidi Fleiss. Want to guess the hotel's name? Okay, here's another clue: Superman might not mind working here, at least for its name!

3) There were numerous controversies in the US over the awarding of contracts for rebuilding war-torn Iraq. But this one has a Jordanian angle, and is not about business contracts. It's about an Iraqi, a prominent Opposition leader, who hadn't lived in his country for 45 years until after the ouster of Saddam Hussein. He was a mathematics professor at the American University in Beirut till '77, and then co-founded the Petra Bank. In 1992, he was charged with committing illegal financial transactions, which led to the bank going bust, and awarded a 22-year prison sentence in absentia by a Jordan court. With the West slotting him favourably in the scheme of things for Iraq, the Jordanian scam came back into spotlight. Who is he?

4) The year wasn't great for Boeing. It faced one of the worst corporate scandals. Also, for the first time, its rival Airbus delivered more new jets than Boeing. Toward the end of the year, however, the aircraft maker confirmed moves to build its first new jet model in 13 years, after failed attempts to develop 747 and build the Sonic Cruiser. What's the model called? Clue: The middle letter in the model's name, according to the company, "can stand for efficiency. It can mean environmentally friendly or even just exceptional. But most important, it will mean e-enable."

5) The auction was such a draw that Christie's, which conducted it, had to install video links and additional telephone lines to accommodate the swelling crowds. The $4 million raised that day was given to children's charities. An anonymous French bidder got the `nose' for $5,00,000 though it was valued at below $15,000. A Moroccan, nostalgic about the "end of an era", bought two antennae, valued at about $80, for $5,300. What did the auction sell?

6) The last of its kind: It was in a baby blue version and marked No. 21,529,464. It's not for sale — it has made a German museum its home. The final piece of this brand was adorned with a Mexican flag made of flowers, and accompanied by a band playing El Rey or The King. Which product, brand?

7) Tourism's big in this Mexican city. But the industry has also created an economic divide, as tourists don't consume local products, preferring what their hotels dish out. The city was once considered a paradise but is no longer so, thank to an increasing flow of illegal immigrants. Add to this, the threat of an ecological disaster. The city's underground septic tanks are on the brink of overflowing. On the other hand, the city has played host to numerous conferences, conventions and exhibitions. One such mega meet brought the city to international spotlight this year. Can you name the city?

8) What `connects' Expert, Dana Spicer Europe, RPG Aventis and Carl Dan Peddinghaus?

The concluding part of this special quiz will be featured along with the answers next week.

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