Tue, Feb 18, 2003 - Page 11 News List

Business briefs


Chunghwa to sell 1% share first

The government will sell a 1 percent stake in state-run Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信) in the first quarter of this year, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said yesterday.

Previously, the ministry had said it was planning to sell up to 5.2 percent of Chunghwa Tele-com to retail investors at the end of this month or in early next month.

"We will sell the first 100 million shares to test the waters. If the market responds positively, we will continue to unload the rest," a ministry official said.

The official said no exact timetable for the sale has been set.

In December, the ministry auctioned off a 13.48 percent stake in the company to a consortium of eight local firms for nearly NT$65.39 billion (US$1.9 billion).

The ministry now holds an 81.5 percent stake in Chunghwa Telecom and has said it wants to privatize the leading telecoms operator by the end of this year.

Hon Hai plant doing well

Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密), the nation's largest privately owned manufacturer, has begun to see positive results from its production investment in the Czech Republic, which began three years ago, a corporate spokesman said yesterday.

The first-stage manufacturing lines in the Hon Hai Czech plant had reached nearly full capacity by the end of last year and are generating 20 percent of all production from all Hon Hai manufacturing plants worldwide, the spokesman said.

The Czech plant supplies products including flat-panel displays to customers in Western Europe.

The plant posted the largest gain in terms of revenue growth among all Hon Hai plants worldwide last year, contributing some NT$50 billion (US$1.45 billion) to the Hon Hai Group's total revenues last year, according to the spokesman.

More bad loans written off

Local banks made a combined NT$104.6 billion (US$3 billion) pretax loss last year as lenders stepped up efforts to write off bad loans, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.

In 2001, the banks had achieved a pretax profit of NT$57.6 billion dollars, the ministry said.

It was the first time the local banking sector reported a combined annual pretax loss since the ministry began compiling the statistics in 1994, the ministry said.

"The loss reflected the indus-try's efforts to get rid of bad loans last year," an official said.

Mutual funds' assets growing

Total assets of local mutual funds increased 22.47 percent to NT$2.18 trillion (US$62.6 billion) in 2002 from NT$1.78 trillion the previous year, the Securities Investment Trust & Consulting Association of the ROC (投信投顧公會) reported yesterday.

That increase in mutual funds -- led by bond funds -- was compared to a drop of 19.79 percent in the TAIEX and a fall of 30.72 percent in the over-the-counter index last year, as stock markets hit by the economic downturn, association chairman David Hsu (許立慶) said yesterday.

"The bond funds will continue to expand this year ... as they are viewed one of the safe-haven investments," Hsu said.

"But we hope the government to continue deregulate the market, allowing more products such as hedge funds, foreign currency bonds and pension funds in the future," he said.

NT dollar weakens

The New Taiwan dollar yesterday traded lower against its US counterpart, dropping NT$0.013 to close at NT$34.832 on the Taipei foreign exchange market.

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