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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS

Kim Jong-Il Dead of Heart Attack, His Son Takes Reigns; President of ECB Says Euro Will Survive

Aired December 19, 2011 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: North Korea after Kim Jong- Il, will the "Great Successor" bring greater success to the economy?

While the euro will survive, the head of the ECB warns tonight there will be drags on the economy.

We'll take a flying visit to Dublin to see one part of the economy taking off.

It's the start of a new week. I'm Richard Quest. I mean business.

Good evening.

His rule is over, yet the dynasty continues. Kim Jong-Il has died and North Korea now apparently belongs to his son. Tonight the rest of the world is looking at a future without Kim in power and optimism is scant. Anxiety and alerts are high, because whatever his legacy, Kim Jong-Il will be as difficult to replace as he was with which to negotiate and the unknown is always giving more grounds for worry and uncertainty.

Maybe because Kim's younger son has deemed to be next in line, to continue the dynasty. His father had more than a decade to learn how to lead and do the job. Kim Jong-Un has only just had a few years.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout now, a look at the young man already being called the "Great Successor".

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A little over a year ago North Koreans got their first glimpse of Kim Jung- Un, at a rare conference of the country's ruling party. The young man had been catapulted from obscurity only the day before, to the rank of four- star general in the Korean People's Army. The appearance cemented rumors circulating in and out of the secretive state for over a year, that the Kim dynasty would run to a third generation.

But unlike his father Kim Jong-Il, or his grandfather Kim Il-Sun, the founder of the country, whose lives are celebrated in great detail, everyday in the official media, Kim Jong-Un's early life is a blank for most North Koreans.

The youngest of three known sons of Kim Jong-Il, he was born into a life of privilege and luxury. While his compatriots endured famine and extreme poverty. His mother was a Japanese-born Korean and professional dancer. He studied as a teenager in an international school in Switzerland and reportedly speaks English and German. Hardly a typical North Korean childhood.

North Korean propaganda refers to none of this. Preferring to concentrate on the younger Kim's deeds of the last year, playing up his military connections, modern technological skills and his tireless support of his father. Kim Jong-Il was already a seasoned politician when he took over the family dictatorship in 1994, having served a 20 year apprenticeship at his father's side. But thought to be only 28 years old and with so little experience, Kim Jong-Un will have to rely on some powerful guardians. Chief among them, North Korea's power couple, his uncle, Jen Son Tet, vice chairman of the National Defense Commission; and his aunt, Kim Chung Wi, Kim Jong-Il's sister, and a four-star general.

Does his unconventional upbringing give hope for change? Or will his reliance on the vested interests of the old guard mean business as usual on the northern half of the Korean Peninsula? The world will be watching closely. Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

QUEST: North Korea now may face a struggle in its survival and at the cause and root of it all will be problems with the economy. Join me in the library and you'll see what I mean.

It is an economy that has been left behind. Never mind by the rest of the world, but by the rest of region. The GDP is just $40 billion. Now, that estimates at 36 times smaller than its southern neighbor, South Korea. And most of that, or a large part of it, goes into military with the resources just eating up for military purposes. Private industry is stagnating and even though there are industries of mining and fishing the country is reliant on foreign aid.

And when it comes to that foreign aid, China is the crucial trade partner. The Chinese have a saying, as close as lips and teeth. And in the case of these two countries that is certainly true; 50 percent of North Korea's exports go to China, and 40 percent come from there. So, the ability and the necessity of keeping Chinese support has been crucial during Kim Jong-Il's reign, or previous reign.

The struggle, of course, though is for the civilians. And despite all the government propaganda, the military parades, it is ordinary civilians- particularly outside the capital, Pyongyang, who have borne the brunt. Malnutrition, famine, one famine when Kim Jong-Il came to power estimated to kill more than a 1.5 million people. There are labor camps for political prisoners.

Needless to say, the authorities in North Korea deny all these issues, including one of human trafficking. But it is the economy that you and I need to talk about now. It is a closed society and some European and Chinese companies are allowed to do business there. Including the British- owned Koryo Tours. It has been operating in North Korea for 17 years. The general manager for Koryo Tours is Simon Cockerell.

Simon, thank you for staying up late. You are joining us live from Beijing, where it is the middle of the night.

But obviously, you have been to North Korea more than 100 times, so the developments of today, I need you to put into economic perspective for me.

SIMON COCKERELL, GENERAL MANAGER, KORYO TOURS: Well, it is very difficult to know much about what is going on there, Richard, because so little information comes out of there. And we send a lot of tourists there, year-round, except for the middle of December to the middle of January, and inconveniently that is right about now.

But as you point out the economic situation there is pretty bad, but there is so me private enterprise that goes on, or semi-private enterprise that is visible to tourists, especially in the capitol of Pyongyang.

QUEST: What is the discrepancy in economic activity between the capital and the rural centers or outside the capital? How different is the standard of life?

COCKERELL: Well, like in most developing countries, the political power and the economic power is centralized in the capital city. So, things are generally better there. You see a lot more variation in clothes people wear, the food which is available. But it is visibly different in second grade cities and in the countryside. It definitely works on a slant if you will, Pyongyang being the best place to live, and the largest cities on the coast, the industrial areas, being the next best place to live, all the way down to the countryside.

QUEST: So, if you had-so when your tourists go there, and you tell them about the economy, I just briefly said, mining, fisheries, some minor industrial production, of course, defense, and also agriculture. But it is on a very limited scale, isn't it?

COCKERELL: Yes, that is right. I mean, I don't have the figures to hand, but they are-as you mentioned, their GDP is not so big. GDP per capita, is not so big. When tourists go there they can see some industry going on, some steelworks, glass manufacturing, a lot of his with Chinese investment, or foreign investment.

There is even a car factory, but these are, you know, specific examples that you can give, which is not really enough for a whole country. The air is mysterious clean in Pyongyang, whereas if you compare it to that of Beijing or other large cities in the region, you know, you can't really breath so well there, which is really a sign of what industry is missing.

QUEST: So, what do you think? As we look to the "Great Successor" and Kim Jong-Un, what will be your fears for what might happen as the transition takes place there. Because you are better positioned than most, having never mind the pundits and the analysts, you have actually been there, I'd say, more than 100 times.

COCKERELL: Well, all we can do is really hope that whatever happens goes well for the average person there. I mean, it is a country of 24 million people and as is often reported on North Korea it really-reports focus on one or two people at the top and what is going on in the military. We tend to overlook the fact that it has a very high population for a small country like that.

So whatever happens, whether it be more of the same or some liberalization or moves towards reunification. Hopefully it would be to the benefit of the people at the bottom of the pyramid, really, because that is what is really needed. That is what we try and show people we take there, is that there is a plurality of life experience from comfortable middle class, which is very small, of course, to most people who have difficult lives in a difficult country.

QUEST: And do you imagine that for your tourists and for your business-just let's be completely about your business now-are you concerned that in whatever transition now takes place it might be more difficult for you to get more tourist in next year?

COCKERELL: It is a concern, sure. But because this news is new news, we really don't know to be honest. It is not entirely and unprecedented situation. Because, after all, the former leader Kim Il-Sung died in 1994. But at that time almost no tourists visited. Now we take 1,500 people in a year. So, we just don't know, to be honest. And I'm sure we won't know anything more until the end of this official mourning period, at the end of this year.

QUEST: Simon, good to talk to you tonight, and this morning your time. Again, many thanks, indeed. Simon Cockerell joining us live from Beijing.

As we continue, we must turn our attention once again to the euro. The new head of the ECB, Mario Draghi says the euro will survive. He has no doubt about the currencies permanence, but he does have other concerns. You'll hear what he had to say, in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: Strong, permanent and irreversible; Mario Draghi says he is sure the euro will survive. The ECB president was speaking after his comments to the "Financial Times" did suggest doubt was creeping in. When asked about countries leaving the Eurozone, President Draghi said, "When one starts with this, you never know" where it will really end."

Later, in front of the European parliament, he seemed much more sure of the zone's resilience.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARIO DRAGHI, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK: I have no doubt, whatsoever, about the strength of the euro, about its permanence, about its irreversibility. But you have a lot of people, especially outside the euro area, who are-who really spend a lot of time in what I think is morbid speculation. Namely, what happens if? What happens if?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUEST: Morbid speculation, Christine Lagarde is urging caution to developing economies. She was in Nigeria where the head of the IMF said the Eurozone was a risk for all economies in the world.

The IMF has approved another $3.8 billion in loans to Portugal. Another busy day in the Eurozone; Jim Boulden has been following the events for us.

Are you going to engage in a bit of morbid speculation?

(LAUGHTER)

Because if you are President Draghi, I'm sure, would take you to task.

JIM BOULDEN, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, he'll never do an interview with me if I say that, will he?

No, I'll tell you how the IMF is going to get money to do all these things. There was this-remember when you and I were in Brussels? They said they were going to give us 10 days to sort of work out how the IMF was going to get extra money from the Eurozone. Well, today is 10 days. And there has been a three and a half hour conference call. We don't have the official word yet, but it looks like leaked reports say they have come up with the money, the 17, which would be about $195 billion to go to the IMF. It is just about how you split it up, who pays what.

QUEST: Right, so this is the money that he IMF is paying to the- sorry, the Eurozone, is it zone or E-

BOULDEN: Just the zone for now.

QUEST: So, Eurozone is paying to the IMF to lend back to the EFSF?

BOULDEN: Well, we can't say that because you are not allowed to tell the IMF where to spend this money. So you have to loan the money to the IMF, and then the IMF will choose to loan it back. This is one of the things Britain is having some trouble with and so the other countries outside the Eurozone are still debating this.

QUEST: Is it a done deal?

BOULDEN: Yes, we knew this had to happen. It is technical, let's just say technical. They already agreed back in Brussels, but the idea is that Britain and some of the other countries actually want the G20 to be more involved. And they want to see money coming from the G20, that means the U.S., of course.

QUEST: Now, Portugal got more money.

BOULDEN: Yes.

QUEST: Ireland got a traunch a couple of days ago.

BOULDEN: Ireland, yes.

QUEST: Greece a couple of weeks ago. So all the money is being disbursed pretty much on track?

BOULDEN: On track, but Portugal and Ireland seem to have glowing press releases from the IMF. The one today, $3.8 billion; you're not seeing that every time Greece gets some money. Greece still looks like it is very much in trouble. And so every time you get close to one of these traunches, you see a lot of consternation going on, when you have the ECB, the euro, the EU, and of course, the IMF.

QUEST: Are we-has there been any developments in terms of the new treaty? Are they inching themselves towards-because when you've got Draghi saying the zone will survive.

BOULDEN: Yes.

QUEST: You have Lagarde saying that it is a risk for all economies for the world. We know this thing has to be negotiated, by March.

BOULDEN: Yes.

QUEST: And we still have Britain on the outside.

BOULDEN: I think was one of the good days, because Britain was involved in this three and a half hour teleconference. George Osborne was talking to them. So they needed that deadline. They need to get through whatever they are going to announce in the next few hours. And then they have to move on from there.

And it has been said over the last couple of day, after the spat that France and the U.K. had over downgrades of their economies. That Britain probably will be in discussions with the Eurozone, when it comes to these fiscal compacts. It doesn't mean Britain will sign up to it. It does look like if you get enough countries agreeing to it.

QUEST: And the two countries of contagion, Spain and Italy, at the moment.

BOULDEN: Yes, well, Spain, austerity measures coming from the new prime minister, who will be sworn in, in the next couple of days. He says he is going to cut spending, He will allow pensions to rise, so that might mean there won't be any strikes or less worries and strikes. And he did say that they will-once they get some ideas of exactly what the growth will be over the next couple of months. Then they can decide the more details in this new austerity package.

QUEST: Yes, but we have a bit of austerity here ourselves, it is called working Jim Boulden into the ground. If there is any left-I was going to say, life left in you old dog.

BOULDEN: Two more days until holiday.

QUEST: Two more days, but not before you've finished your duties. Many thanks, I think it s going to get quite now for the Euro.

BOULDEN: Let's hope in until about January (ph).

QUEST: That's mildly putting it, yes? But Jim has been busy, Jim Boulden, there. Because he is back landing new business in terms of Ireland's comeback.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOULDEN (On camera): Could a new business district here at Dublin Airport, help put Ireland back on the road to recovery? "Future Cities" after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: Ireland is pushing for jobs and regeneration. And, of course, as you are well aware is already the recipient of a large, restructuring and bailout package from the European Union, Eurozone.

Dublin Airport is flying high as the country's economic comeback gathers up speed. The Airport plans to transform itself into a money spinner, far and beyond mere mass transit. Jim Boulden has been to show us why the gateway to the Irish capital is helping to make Dublin a "Future City".

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BOULDEN (voice over): If first impressions are indeed lasting impressions, Dublin has a reason to be confident. With its spacious interior and space age design Dublin Airports Terminal II is the city's calling card.

At a cost of 600 million euros, TII wasn't cheap, but some believe the airport's makeover has helped change how Dublin is perceived.

DECLAN COLLIERS, CEO, DUBLIN AIRPORT AUTHORITY: The impression we were creating of the country, poor infrastructure facilities. This was not a gateway that companies would want to, you know, come into a country through and invest in that country.

What TII has done is completely and radically change that. The opening of TII has been a massive enabler for the next generation of foreign direct investment.

BOULDEN: The hope is TII will help Dublin land new business. And soon the airport itself could be the site of major investment. Dublin's Airport Authority owns nearly 3,000 acres of land, most of which is not in use; a rare commodity.

Airport and city hope to transform this area into a business district, specifically for clean technology companies. It would be part of a Green Way, an economic corridor of green businesses, linking the city's center with the airport.

RONAN FURLONG, THE GREEN WAY: The Green Way is all about jobs and economic regeneration. We are trying as a nation to reorient out country and our economic fortunes away from some of the past endeavors towards these high tech areas.

We would expect to see the next Googles, the next Twitters, in the clean tech space, coming from East Asia, and setting up European headquarter operations in and around Dublin Airport.

BOULDEN: For multinationals organized around time zones, connectivity is a big factor. Dublin Airport has a lot going for it. For one, it is the only capital city in Europe with border free clearance for the United States.

(On camera): Going through U.S. Immigration, here, at the TII, means avoiding the long queues on the other side of the Atlantic.

(Voice over): A big selling point when time is money.

Another big plus, the land set aside for the business district is extremely close to the terminal.

COLLIERS: We can base those teams right on the campus, so when they want to go out and spread the word, when they want to go out and actually take hold of this commercial opportunity, and the rest of Europe, they are just moments away from the check in terminal. And away they go.

BOULDEN: Finding the funding to make the project a reality, is the biggest hurdle. But Dublin is taking bold steps. Glitzy events like the Global Clean Tech Cluster Awards, held in Dublin this year, brings together the biggest industry names.

It's a chance for Dublin to raise a glass to possible investors, and raise interest in the Green Way. Barry O'Leary is the man with the task of pulling big names.

BARRY O'LEARY, CEO, INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY, IRELAND: When the multinationals come and visit here many of them may not be too familiar with Ireland. Whereas there is an awful lot happening in the clean tech space, and we have already seen some of the world's biggest corporations, like, IBM, and United Technologies, and Vestar (ph).

BOULDEN: IBM's decision to open one of 11 centers around the world, in Dublin, was a big success for the city. This cutting edge research and development site aims to make cities more efficient.

LISA AMINI, IBM: Having the one as a hub, bringing in these other clean tech companies, it is fantastic. Because collaboration is huge; its' great go be able to bring the different ideas together because that is how we advance.

BOULDEN: Dublin is creating a new pillar to stabilize the economy. The airport is at the heart of the city's plans. While investments are hard to come by in times of economic turbulence, Dublin is confident its plans will take off.

With a futuristic new terminal and acres of land for development, the sky is the limit for Dublin Airport.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

QUEST: When we come back, in a moment, what will happen to North Korea's already fragile economy? A closer look at the future of the so- called hermit kingdom, in a moment, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, good evening.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

QUEST: And so, the dear leader remains as secretive in death as he was in life.

CNN's John Vause now looking back at the life of Kim Jong-il.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With the bouffant hair, platform shoes, oversized sunglasses and trademark jumpsuit, Kim Jong-il looked every bit the nutty tyrant.

RICHARD BUSH, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: The appearance made it a little bit more difficult to treat him seriously, at least at first.

VAUSE: He was the diminutive dictator with a reputation for indulging in fine wine, cognac and foreign prostitutes, who held total power over a failing state, developed nuclear weapons and forced the U.S. To negotiate.

DAVID SATTERWHITE, FULBRIGHT ASIA ANALYST: That is not necessarily the work of a womanizing, booze-swilling individual, drunk during the day.

VAUSE: Inside North Korea, it was all about Kim, betrayed by his propaganda machine as a political, military, technological, artistic and cinematic genius, a Renaissance man who's flown in fighter jets, been in operas and shot 11 holes in one at his first try at golf.

His public appearances were breathlessly reported on state media. He was hailed as "the central brain" and "the morning star."

(singing)

VAUSE: He was a crazed ruler who loved to make people dance, a million of them all at once and all in step. He presided over a nation more cult than country.

(singing)

VAUSE: "You chase away fierce storms and give us faith," they sing. His official biography says he was born in a log cabin on a sacred Korean mountain under rainbows of stars. Western scholars say it was probably in Siberia at a Soviet camp where his father was training to fight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN CONNERY, ACTOR: Bond.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: He loved movies. James Bond was apparently among his favorites. But he reportedly was unhappy with North Korean's portrayal in "Die Another Day." No word on what he thought about "Team America."

(singing)

VAUSE: In the late 1970s, it's believed he personally ordered the kidnapping of a South Korean actress and her director husband and for eight years, until they escaped, forced them to make propaganda films.

Kim did apologize for North Korea's kidnapping of 13 Japanese and allegedly approved the bombing of a Korean Airlines flight which killed more than 100 people. The apparent motive was to disrupt the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul.

But U.S. officials dubbed North Korea the Soprano State for its role in organized crime, including the production and distribution of heroin and methamphetamines.

BUSH: His legacy will be that he actually made some pretty bad choices for his country.

VAUSE: He was the man who, every day, it seemed, had a bad hair day, who starved his people, threatened South Korea with the fourth-largest military in the world, and built missiles that could reach Japan and possibly beyond.

(music)

VAUSE: The certainty of his brutality is gone. In its place, the terrifying uncertainty of what comes next.

John Vause, CNN, Beijing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

QUEST: In a world where you and I communicate with each other, whether it's by e-mail or Facebook or Twitter, when we talk about North Korea, we are really in a different league.

(COUGHING)

QUEST: Excuse me.

Join me at the super screen and you'll see what I mean.

This is North Korea and the way in which, for the privileged and top government officials who have limited access to the country's various internal, inter and Internet. It means they can send things to each other.

Let's look and see the various different ways in which modern technology is used, start with Web sites. When it comes to Web sites, there are only really 10 main Web sites in North Korea and as you can see from these, they are mainly -- well, not mainly, they are all official. They are the propaganda of what's happening within the country, the news of the country, and, of course, for now, the -- the departed dear leader. So very, very limited.

The airline, Air Koyo, has as its Web site -- not really. It has a Facebook page. And I can honestly tell you we can't confirm whether this is actually genuine or not. It's a Facebook page which may or may not be operated by the airline itself. The actual airline has old Russian airliners that it uses for its fleet.

In terms of trending today, well, in terms of looking at outside of what's happening, the North Korea has an pretty much communication within themselves, North Korea has an intranet, so lots of communication within the country, or at least not lots of, but virtually no Internet with links outside, except for the ones I already showed you.

And if you look at the trending, the words that are being picked up on Twitter at the moment through the hash tags, that's what it looks like around the world. And that gives you an idea pretty much everywhere around the world, even on Twitter, if you look at South Korea and the Southern Peninsula, you see what's there. But go into North Korea and you see virtually nothing at all -- well, not virtually. There is nothing at all for what is being spoken of there.

So now let's look at what may be ahead for the economy and the way in which it is going to function.

Marcus Noland is the deputy director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

He joins me from Washington.

Marcus, I -- I've just shown, you know, you've just heard me show rather graphically the discrepancy between what's happening in North Korea technically, economically, and the rest of the world.

So what happens now, do you think, to North Korea?

MARCUS NOLAND, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, PETERSON INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS: Well, I think North Korea is going to go through a period of great uncertainty. This is -- this is only the second political transition the country has experienced in its 60 year history. And this transition is clearly more problematic than the preceding one.

When Kim Jung-il came to power, he had been groomed for power for 20 years and had been effectively running the country on a day to day basis as the prime minister for 10.

In contrast, Kim Jong-un is going through a much more telescoped process. He's -- he's an inexperienced leader. He's not had as much time to establish contacts and -- and put loyalists throughout the government and party. And it may be a more collective leadership functioned around or organized around something called the National Defense Commission. Indeed, it will be hard for us to tell if he's really ruling or if he's merely reigning.

So it's a period of uncertainty. And -- and I think, really, the risks over the next months and years are on the down side rather than in terms of up side potential. And they emanate from his weakness, not from his strength.

QUEST: All right, but Kim Jong-Un, is it feasible or likely -- and I know we've moved into the realms of rampant speculation -- is it feasible that there is a wholesale regime change and that the Kim Jungs of this world no longer rule at all and somebody else comes out of the woodwork?

NOLAND: Oh, I see -- I think it's certainly possible. I'm not sure if it's likely or not. But definitely possible.

You have a situation in which a man who we think is about 28 years old, give or take a year, is essentially being made the leader of the country. Presumably, there are generals in the army, as well as senior people in the party, who are resentful about having to take orders from a - - an unproven young man...

QUEST: Right.

NOLAND: -- who, to use the -- the old joke about George Bush, the only fair race he ever won was to the egg.

So I -- I think it's possible that we could see challenges to his authority. And, indeed, I think the real risk, in the short-run, is that he will do provocations, things like another nuclear test...

QUEST: Right.

NOLAND: -- precisely to burnish his credentials internally and -- and to establish himself as a strong leader.

QUEST: OK. In that scenario, Marcus, the economy and how it plays into it, because as you just said -- and as we understand -- the economy is teetering on the brink of collapse. It hasn't quite collapsed, because China continues to offer a large element of support.

But what would it take for the economy to become the dominant issue in how this thing plays out?

NOLAND: That's a really good question, because North Korea is an increasingly corrupt and unequal country. There is a group, primarily elites centered in Pyongyang, the capital, who've actually done quite well, if not quite well, they've done better. If you compare their lifestyles today to 10 years ago or 20 years ago, they're better off. They have a wider range of consumer goods and services. They have cell phones. They've done OK.

But the bulk of the population in the hinterland beyond the capital live pretty grim existence. And right now, it appears there's simply not enough food in the country. If you do a quantity calculation, if you look at the patterns of prices, prices of -- for food have continued to rise even after the harvests...

QUEST: All right.

NOLAND: -- the price of corn, a less desirable grain, is rising relative to rice. So the -- so the bulk of the population live a pretty grim existence.

But we also don't observe any kind of civil society institutions capable of channeling that mass discontent into effective political action.

If there is large scale political change, for good or for bad, it is likely to come from within the elite.

QUEST: Marcus Noland, many thanks, indeed, for joining us from Washington.

Now, as we were just talking and as I showed you a moment ago, just look at this. This shows you the breadth and extreme range that Twitter currently enjoys. It's the Kim Jung-il, Kim Jung-il Twitter -- hash tags and how it's been trending. It's a huge operation now, Twitter, and 140 characters. Now it's getting $300 million. A Saudi prince is betting on the micro blogging Web site.

Can Prince al-Talal really make money from Twitter, in a moment?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: The Saudi prince, Walid bin Talal, has taken a major stake in Twitter for $300 million. It's a strategic investment through the kingdom holding company, KHC. They say social media will fundamentally change the media landscape. Twitter will capture and monetize this trend.

I wonder if he made the offer in 140 characters or less?

Maybe that's how -- anyway, we -- we can talk about that another day.

Three hundred million is a great deal of money. But it's not when you look at the prince's portfolio, where he has stakes in News Corp -- that's Rupert Murdoch's company; Apple; Time Warner, which, of course, is the parent company of CNN and pays my wages, too.

Twitter is most definitely looking to expand. The tech (INAUDIBLE) is planning or just launched IPOs include, for example, Facebook and Zynga. One hundred new members of staff were added last week. They're active users. And the rough valuation is $8 billion. So that puts it into perspective.

Three hundred million is a -- it's a -- it's a chunk of change from the prince who usually knows when he's buying something that it will have a good return in the future. And Prince al-Talal also made a very good strategic stake in Citigroup, which reaped huge dividends in the past.

Speaking of Twitter, it is a good opportunity for us to check some of the most influential people taking to the social media, the Tweets from the Top that we like to scour the Internet and bring to your attention.

Steve Forbes, a friend of this program, president and CEO of Forbes, has Tweeted today about the death of Vaclav Havel: "President Havel and Kim Jong-il died this weekend. Absolutely stark differences between goodness and evil."

One can always rely on Steve Forbes to come up with something interesting and an interesting connection on the news of the day.

Dan Alpert, the managing partner of Westwood Capital, has Tweeted today: "Draghi in a nutshell -- there no markets, ratings or added bank reserves, little real money as backstop. There is releveraging and treaties."

A very thoughtful -- I really would have to count that up. I was sure it was just about 140 characters.

Finally, Christine Lagarde is on her first trip to Africa as the managing director of the IMF and praising economic efforts in Nigeria. Mrs. -- Miss. Lagarde has Tweeted: "Very good discussions with President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja."

And, of course, as we know, the president's finance minister, Ngozi Iweala, is also a good friend of this program.

If you want enough, you can find all my Tweets during the course of the day @richardquest. That's where we can -- you and I can have the discussion and debate together.

So to the weather forecast.

It has been a fairly shocking day in large parts of Europe.

Karen Maginnis is at the World Weather Center for us this evening -- Karen, I'm not doing your job for you, but I tell you I -- I came into land today at Heathrow, whoa, it was a bit jumpy.

KAREN MAGINNIS, ATS METEOROLOGIST: I bet it was. Yes. Yes. The winds have been fairly gusty. We've seen these back to back storm systems. But believe it or not, Richard, thing are going to be warming up just a bit. So I think you might enjoy that.

We are watching the situation across the Philippines, just a few tropical showers. That's about it. Also, the coastal sections of Vietnam picking up some tropical storms there, as well.

But, yes, Richard, I'm sure it was a fairly bumping approach going into Heathrow and Gatwick for just about everyone. One weather system moves away, another one is moving on in.

But on the southern edge of this, you'll start to see kind of an influx of a little bit warmer air. But there is a weather system right across the east-central portions of the Mediterranean. Yesterday, I saw some rainfall totals across West Turkey, but now it looks like from Macedonia, Albania and into Greece, we could see some showers or some thunderstorms. I just saw a report of the thunderstorm right around Palermo.

But into Northern Italy, take a look at this core of cold air. We saw that cold air dive toward the south, as a result, into the alps, that had been doing without the snowfall for quite some time, well, they have definitely made up for some lost time.

If you're wondering about some of the airport delays, if you're a business traveler, for Frankfurt and for Munich, those seem to be the most significant delays over the next 12 to 24 hours. We could see an hour to as much as two hours. I saw a report out of Stuttgart that did have some snowfall there and reduced visibility. and breezy in Glasgow and Amsterdam, also in Manchester. Overcast skies and a little brisk for London, with delays expected there between 30 minutes and maybe as much as an hour in places like Glasgow and in Amsterdam, as well.

Well, for Dublin, overcast skies and breezy weather conditions in Copenhagen, as we have seen some gusty conditions across Denmark. Some snowfall in Sofia and Marseille is looking at breezy weather conditions. But delays on the order of about 30 minutes to 45 minutes.

Well, in Tokyo, the temperature is now at the freezing mark, at zero. Look at Beijing -- minus eight degrees; Taipei, 17. Hong Kong is also reporting 17 degrees right now. Manila is 26.

What about the delays?

Well, for Jakarta, it looks like the lengthiest delays expected there, with the typical rounds of thunderstorms expected overnight. And for Hong Kong, some cloud cover. But overall, from Taipei to Seoul to Hong Kong, delays are not going to be zany significant -- and, Richard, I landed in Salt Lake City not so long ago and boy, it was a bumpy landing, too. I was holding on.

QUEST: Ah. Yes, well (INAUDIBLE).

MAGINNIS: A fun time.

QUEST: Karen, many thanks, indeed.

More bumpy landings to come.

Many thanks.

Karen Maginnis joining us from the CNN World Weather Center.

Now, it's that time of the year when pretty much our e-mail boxes get stuffed with those corporate ecards. Companies think it's pretty clever to send them again and again and again. And many people use them as justification instead of sending a real Christmas card. I still think I prefer and want something in the post.

Send me the sort of corporate ecards you have received and we'll have a look at some of the worst and some of the best and try and analyze what they say about our companies.

If your company has sent an ecard -- cheapskate -- then send it to me. If you've received an ecard and you think it's either good, bad or indifferent, sent it to me, quest@CNN.com. The Twitter address is also @richardquest.

Between now and Christmas on Friday, we are in search of the best, the worst, the most miserable ecards that anyone has ever seen. And we'll take out the company name if we have to.

It takes a lot of hard work to reach the dizzying heights of Disney. When we come back on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, we'll meet a woman who thinks her job is just the bee's knees. World At Work is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: I'm sure some of you are going to say this next comment of mine borders on the sexist, but let's go there anyway. Many little girls dream of being a Disney princess. Not many dream of being a Disney bee. Stevenie Fu is a parade dancer at Hong Kong's Disneyland. Now, she thinks her job is just the bee's knees. You get the idea where this is going.

It's the latest look at the World At Work.

We take you behind the glitz into the magic kingdom.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEVENIE FU, HONG KONG DISNEYLAND PERFORMER: I'm Queen Bee today, which is, we are dancing on a bungee. You -- you never have a chance to do this kind of stuff in Hong Kong and this is like the only place that I -- I had this opportunity.

The training is quite tough, but it's been a year, so we totally get used to it and we so enjoy doing it right now.

Focusing on abs, arms and the back, because this is the most we use after warm-ups, then we go to the float and practice the synchronizing with other bees. It's not just one person works, it's four of us being together. So I think the hardest part is that, to work together.

You just need to keep healthy, keep early, eat better, just keep your -- just keep your condition ready for the job.

Every role, we have different makeup, so we have to learn a different kind of makeup. And for Swing Bee, basically we do something that matches with the costumes. So we basically put on purple and black. And, also, we have that like special eyelashes. It's fine. It's blocking a little the view of your eyesight, but once you get used to it, it's fine. It's just kind of heavy.

So this is the suit that we wear underneath. And then we have this little piece on top of it and our shoes. And, also, we have a butt.

In the summer, the first show, we -- we wet ourselves so that we cool down first. We have ice packs before shows. Just be calm. You're seeing the guests being happy. You just don't care about the time. It's wet a lot. It's really tiring after the show, but it's worth it.

It's hard. The job, the bungee job, it's hard. And at the same time, you -- you do so many things, like cooperating, controlling. But we don't want the guests to know that, oh, this is hard. We want -- I want to put my smile on my face and tell them, this is easy. It's just -- it's just priceless when you can do your job and at the same time, you bring happiness to the guests. And sometimes they will give you a thumbs up or like clap. And you just feel proud.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUEST: Views are completely different here. Some people saying that set looks like a great way to earn a living, bouncing up and down. Other people are saying it, you know, we need your job is difficult, just imagine, you don't have to get up in a bee costume and jump up and down on a bungee cord.

You pays your money, you takes your choice. It's all part of the World At Work.

Talking of World At Work, let's have a look at the Dow Jones Industrials.

On queue, down 50 points, under 12000 just -- that's where things are at the moment. And not surprisingly, Europe also a low key mixed sort of market -- two down, two up, neither great in either direction. Largely, things were just pretty much stable.

And I'm guessing -- and I might be wrong -- that that's what it's going to be like for the rest of the week.

The owners of Sweden's troubled car maker, Saab, have flied for bankruptcy -- a sad story, this -- after failing to secure vital funding to stay afloat. The debt owner has spent the past nine months trying to cement a rescue plan with Chinese investors. The deal fell through at the weekend after a possible deal was again blocked by General Motors, which parts owns the firm.

Now, what does it mean for Saab?

Probably the end of the road. It's been building cars for almost a quarter of a century. The end of Saab.

When we come back in just a moment, A Profitable Moment that not only looks at the role of Twitter in our society today, but answers the question that you have been beating me up about during the course of the day -- was I driving on that autobahn in Germany earlier today?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: Tonight's Profitable Moment.

Social media is a wonderful thing, as you know, because you follow us @richardquest. We use it everyday and you do, too. Though anyone who got burned in the dot-com bubble we'll tell you there's not always money to be made. I've certainly got investments that I bought during the bubble and the burst and I keep them as a reminder of hubris.

Prince al-Whaled does think that there's money to be made with his $300 million bet on Twitter. He's backed winners before -- Apple, News Corp, for example. His belief is that Twitter can do what its predecessors have failed to do and monetize the advantage.

If he's right, it's a landmark moment for a new generation of tech companies. The shadows of Groupon, LinkedIn and now Zynga with their underwhelming IPOs perhaps warning enough.

Now, it just shows how much Twitter is part of you and me and our everyday life. To those of you who were worried about my Tweets this morning from the autobahn near Frankfurt, don't worry. I'm not so reckless to be Tweeting behind the wheel. My faithful cameraman, Simon, was driving and I have documentary evidence to prove it, although some of you are still so cynical and skeptical, you believe that I actually kept that in my BlackBerry just to Tweet.

He's the responsible driver. I'm the responsible Tweeter.

And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight.

I'm Richard Quest.

Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, I hope it's profitable.

I'll see you tomorrow.

END