Wed, Jul 16, 2003 - Page 11 News List

Business briefs 

STAFF WRITER WITH AGENCIES

Shin Kong to sell securities

Shin Kong Life Insurance Co (新光人壽), the country's No. 2 life insurer, is considering selling bonds backed by properties it owns as early as next year, helping it meet policy payments and tougher capital requirements.

Shin Kong Life, which owns the Shinkong tower in Taipei, has invested about NT$82 billion (US$2.4 billion) in more than 200 properties. Those worth more than NT$3 billion apiece will be used as security in any debt sale, said Hsu Shun-yun, accounting manager at Taipei-based Shin Kong Life.

Shin Kong Life is taking advantage of a new rule allowing companies to sell securities backed by property assets, helping it meet payments on policies after interest rates fell and lowered investment returns on fixed-interest securities.

Tourism figures fall short

Local tour operators yesterday estimated this year's tourist arrivals to reach about 2.02 million, falling short of the government's projected target of 2.1 million.

The forecast is based on a combination of factors, including lingering restrictions on tapping new tourist sources and a lack of incentives to expand original tourist markets, travel agents said.

In the wake of SARS, the Cabinet's Tourism Development and Promotion Committee lowered the annual tourist arrival target to 2.1 million from the original goal of 3 million.

As the government still bans Chinese tourists and also opposes visa-free entry of Southeast Asian nationals with US citizenship, travel agents said, they have had a hard time exploring new tourist sources.

YahooKimo tops Web sites

YahooKimo is the most visited Web site in Taiwan, followed by PCHome Online and Hinet, according to a report released yesterday by InsightXpolorer (創市際), a Taipei-based online research firm.

The report which surveyed around 20,000 Internet users last month, showed the most popular online news providers are udn.com (聯合新聞網), ETtoday (東森新聞報) and Chinatimes.com (中時電子報).

"The time online users spend on news Web sites is increasing," said Stephanie Chu (朱怡靜), general manager of InsighXpolorer said at a press conference. "Based on our study, the habit of reading online news is here to stay."

Natural-gas price rises

Chinese Petroleum Corp (中油), Taiwan's state oil refiner, raised domestic prices for natural gas by an average 2.92 percent to reflect an increase in the cost of imported liquefied natural gas.

The company raised prices to between NT$8.16 per cubic meter and NT$10.59 per cubic meter. The increase was based on an import price for LNG of NT$6.73 per cubic meter, Chinese Petroleum said in a statement.

The new prices will apply to all customers, including industrial users, power generators and households. The increase took effect July 12, the company said.

Media firm raises stakes

Tom.com Ltd, the media and advertising company owned by billionaire Li Ka-shing (李嘉誠), said it spent HK$49 million ($6.2 million) to increase its stake in a Taiwan publishing venture to more than four-fifths.

Tom.com sold new shares to finance the increase of its stake in Cite Publishing Holdings Ltd (城邦出版) to 83.45 percent from 77.32 percent, according to Tom.com's statement in Hong Kong. Cite last year had the right to publish more than 5,000 titles in Taiwan.

NT dollar stays level

The New Taiwan dollar yesterday maintained its strength against its US counterpart, up NT$0.012 to close at NT$34.364 on the Taipei foreign exchange market.

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