Thu, Oct 17, 2002 - Page 10 News List

New face arrives at Taiwan Tobacco

AT THE HELM Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp got a new chairman yesterday and Hwang Ing-san said that he'd increase profit by 20 percent in his first year

By Angelia Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

State-run Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp (TTL,台灣菸酒公司) yesterday installed a business professor and the head of a farmer's bank to take on the mammoth task of competing in Taiwan's open markets.

The new two-man team -- Hwang Ing-san (黃營杉), director of National Taipei University's Business School and Thomas Lai, (賴木山), General Manager of the Farmers Bank of China (中國農民銀行) -- will serve as the recently incorporated company's chairman and president respectively.

Neither has much real market experience, with Hwang serving a stint in the electronics field and Lai reigning over a state-run bank that as of June had a 13.9 percent non-performing loan ratio.

A confident Hwang boasted that he has a plan to increase the company's profit by 20 percent in his first year.

His three-point strategy is to clear out the corporation's NT$17 billion inventory, extend the operating hours of the company's outlet stores in line with market standards, and begin producing OEM liquor for foreign businesses.

The 61-year-old Hwang is a native of Changhua County and has a doctorate in business management from National Cheng Chi University.

He has 32 years' experience teaching and 20 years' overlapping experience in the private sector.

Hwang was formally sworn in yesterday, taking over the chairmanship from acting TTL chairman, Vice Minister of Finance Sam Wang (王得山).

As the head of a government-controlled business with an estimated NT$64 billion in annual revenue, NT$121 billion in assets and 7,800 employees, Hwang vowed to improve profit margins and sales volumes in the competitive liquor and tobacco market by restructuring of the company.

Questioned over the company's inability to manufacture to match market demand, Hwang said that the TTL's NT$17 million inventory needed to be sold off as soon as possible.

As for operating hours, TTL outlets close at 3pm every day, hurting the competitiveness of the corporation.

Hwang vowed to extend operating hours -- "which are currently the same as for banks" -- for an undisclosed period of time.

In addition, TTL also plans to expand its international market by utilizing its manufacturing ability to custom-made liquor for foreign businesses who target other international markets rather than Taiwan.

Hwang said that, so far, the company has no plan to enter the China market because of the stronghold counterfeit liquor and tobacco has in the market there.

"We will enter the market only when we clearly understand the situation and then we will take advantage of the distribution channels of other international corporations to take a share in China's market," he said.

According to Hwang, privatization should stay on schedule for 2004 and the EPS will be set at NT$1.5.

He promised not to lay off any workers in the company's move toward privatization.

"If we can make our profit targets, it won't be necessary for us to lay off employees," he said.

"We have some 7,000 employees who will play a role as marketers to help us to achieve our goals," he said.

At the ceremony, Hwang said the main reason he decided to take up the position was because he owed it to the government.

"When I was young, I was too poor to study at a university. The government gave me a three-year scholarship and helped me with my college education," said a teary-eyed Hwang.

Hwang said that he was unable to pay back the government then and now it was time for him to give something back to the government.

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