Fri, Jan 10, 2003 - Page 11 News List

Business briefs

FTC rejects Microsoft offer

The Fair Trade Commission said that it could not accept the settlement conditions proposed by Microsoft Corp regarding the US software giant's trade practices in Taiwan, Chen Chi-yuan (陳紀元), commission's deputy chairman, said yesterday.

But since Microsoft has proposed to cut prices -- by up to 10 percent on products sold locally -- the commission said that move signals room for further negotiation and hopes to discuss the matter in more detail with the international corporation next week, the CNA report said.

Last year several legislators complained that Microsoft's Office software dominates Taiwan's operational software market and demanded the commission to conduct an investigation over Microsoft's pricing practices.

Chen said the commission will form a special task force to negotiate with Microsoft over the settlement conditions. The task force is scheduled to submit a final report to the committee by Feb. 27, he said.

Chunghwa may beat target

Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信), Taiwan's largest phone company, probably exceeded its 2002 earnings per share target of NT$4.28 because of cost cuts, the company said.

The company posted earnings per share of NT$4.41 in the first 11 months of last year, spokeswoman Shen Fufu (沈馥馥) said.

"Cost reductions were the main reason for our improvement," she said. The company cut excess capacity for high-speed Internet services and marketing expenses, she said, without giving details.

December sales rose 3 percent to NT$15 billion (US$434 million) from NT$14.6 billion a year earlier. Sales also rose from NT$14.7 billion in November.

Interest rates may soon drop

The central bank may lower interest rates by 25 basis points around the Lunar New Year holiday that begins at the end of this month, a local newspaper reported, citing unidentified people.

Taiwan's overnight interbank rate fell to a new low of 1.368 percent yesterday, below the central bank's key rediscount rate of 1.625 percent, indicating market participants expect the central bank to lower rates, the report said.

The central bank reduced rates by 312.5 basis points from 4.75 percent in December. The government is targetting 3.38 percent economic growth forecast for this year.

SEC questions stock bonuses

Taiwan will require listed companies to provide information on stock bonuses and rewards for top management in their annual reports, starting this year, a local Chinese-language newspaper reported, citing Securities and Exchange Commission Vice Chairman Wu Tang-chieh (吳當傑).

Taiwan companies, which have raised three times as much money from overseas share sales compared with those at home, need to be more transparent to ensure that foreign investors' interests are met, the report said.

Companies will need to report how much their listed shares have been diluted by stock bonuses as well as who their major shareholders are, the report said.

Chipmakers say they need to provide bonuses to attract employees. United Microelectronics Corp (聯電) said stock bonuses account for 5.1 percent of its outstanding shares, and the loss they cause investors is less than the impact of a bad one-day drop in the shares' market price.

NT dollar rises against dollar

The New Taiwan dollar traded higher against its US counterpart yesterday, rising NT$0.083 to close at NT$34.559 on the Taipei foreign exchange market. Turnover was US$570 million, compared with the previous day's US$518 million.

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