Wed, Jan 22, 2003 - Page 11 News List

Business briefs

BES takes over CKS link

Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Ling-san (林陵三) confirmed yesterday that BES Engineering Corp (中華工程) will take over the construction of a mass rapid transit system between CKS Airport and Taipei.

Lin told reporters that BES chairman Shen Ching-ching (沈慶京) phoned him Monday night to express his willingness to take over the plan from the highest bidder -- Evertransit International Co (長生開發) -- which lost its priority rights with the government late last month after having failed to raise NT$5 billion and gain a bank loan to finance the project.

Responding to a BES Engineering question of whether a 15-day period could be extended to allow it to thoroughly reassess the plan before formally replying to the ministry, Lin said the ministry's Bureau of Taiwan High Speed Rail is studying the possibility and added that a financial request raised by the company will also be decided by a task force according to regulations.

The blueprint put forth by BES Engineering six years ago was a 36.8km route built along the highway linking the airport and Taipei, with a total cost of more than NT$60 billion.

Fubon orders McDonald's ATMs

Fubon Financial Holding Co (富邦金控), Citigroup Inc's main partner in Taiwan, said it will install automated teller machines at McDonald's restaurants nationwide to expand its banking unit's retail network.

Fubon Bank (富邦銀行), the company's lending unit, has about 40 branches.

Teaming up with McDonald's, which has approximately 350 outlets nationwide, will help the lender expand its presence at a time when the government is restricting the issuance of new branch licenses in a bid to spur consolidation among the country's lenders.

President Securities scales back

President Securities Corp (統一證券), controlled by Uni-President Group (統一集團), plans to shut three of four Hong Kong branches after the city's exchange decided to scrap minimum share-trading commissions, a Chinese-language newspaper said, citing a company official.

President Securities, one of the nation's biggest brokerages, plans to focus on developing asset-management service.

The company, though, has no plan to fire people or exit the securities business in Hong Kong, the newspaper said, citing Hong Kong-based manager Ma Zhenhua.

Hong Kong's stock exchange had delayed scrapping minimum commissions for a year because of pressure from small brokers who are concerned the change would trigger a price war, causing some brokerages to fold.

Wan Hai hires Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley was hired by Wan Hai Lines Ltd (萬海航運) to sell US$143.75 million of bonds convertible into shares of the nation's largest shipping company which will help Asian route operations, the investment bank said in a statement.

The five-year, zero-coupon bonds can be converted into Wan Hai shares at NT$36.285 (US$1.05) each, a 23 percent premium to Monday's closing price. The bonds can be redeemed at par 18 months after the issue, the bank said.

The company originally planned to sell US$125 million in bonds and added US$18.75 million more on increased demand.

NT dollar falls against greenback

The New Taiwan dollar yesterday traded down against its US counterpart, dropping NT$0.195 to close at NT$34.680 on the Taipei foreign exchange market.

Turnover was US$834 million, compared with the previous day's US$377.5 million.

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