Thu, Jul 31, 2003 - Page 11 News List

Business briefs 

STAFF WRITER WITH AGENCIES

Exports to China rising

Exports to China are expected to resume double-digit growth in the coming months as cross-strait trade has begun to pick up steam since SARS was brought under control last month, the the Bureau of Foreign Trade under the Ministry of Economic Affairs said in a report yesterday.

Citing tallies from the ministry' Statistics Department, the report said Taiwan received US$3.17 billion-worth of export orders from China last month, including Hong Kong, up 14.2 percent from the year-earlier level and marking the first monthly rise since April.

Taiwan exported US$13.28 billion-worth of commodities and services to China in the first five months of this year, up 22 percent from the same period of last year.

Loans estimate adjusted

Taiwan Ratings Corp (中華信評), the local arm of Standard & Poor's, yesterday lowered its estimates of the nation's non-performing loan (NPL) ratio from 15 percent to 12 percent, but said the figure is still higher than 8 percent the government claims.

Mei Chiang (蔣梅香), director of Taiwan Ratings' financial service department, told reporters that the ratio will surge to 12 percent and it will be difficult for the nation's banks to generate profits since writing off of bad loans will take priority once the government adopts a stricter NPL definition -- in two years time -- to include loans that have gone sour for three months.

The Ministry of Finance on Tuesday said that the NPL ratio has declined to an all-time low of 8 percent, or NT$1.13 trillion.

Chi Mei turns profit

Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp (奇美電子) said it posted net income for the three months ended June 30, ending two straight quarters of losses.

Chi Mei had net income of NT$729 million (US$21 million) for the second quarter after reporting a loss of NT$628 million for the first quarter and NT$479 million for the fourth quarter, the company said in a statement to the Taiwan Stock Exchange Corp.

Second-quarter sales rose 9 percent to NT$12.5 billion from the first quarter.

Chi Mei said its gross profit margin widened to 15 percent from 6 percent in the previous quarter.

China Steel sale planned

The government plans to sell a 6 percent stake in China Steel Corp (中鋼) to domestic investors next week. The shares on offer, at yesterday's closing price at NT$24.6, would raise about NT$14 billion (US$408 million).

The Ministry of Economic Affairs will sell 570 million shares at the close of trading on Tuesday, the Taiwan Stock Exchange Corp said in a statement.

The ministry owns about 40 percent of China Steel.

Bank sheds dead weight

First Financial Holding Co (第一金控), the owner of the nation's fourth-largest bank by assets, changed its earnings forecast to a second year of losses as it writes off bad loans, it said.

Its First Commercial Bank (第一銀行) unit may sell NT$35 billion (US$1 billion) of bad loans this year, president Ray Dawn (董瑞彬) said.

First Financial raised US$515 million from the sale of 1 billion new shares to overseas investors this week.

First Commercial posted a NT$26.4 billion loss in the first nine months of last year after writing off NT$70 billion of bad loans for the whole of last year.

NT dollar dips

The New Taiwan dollar yesterday traded lower against its US counterpart, losing NT$0.020 to close at NT$34.40 on the Taipei foreign exchange market.

Turnover was US$414 million.

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