Tue, Nov 11, 2003 - Page 11 News List

【 Business Briefs 】

AGENCIES

Growth forecast confirmed

Goldman Sachs (Asia) yesterday reiterated its above-consensus GDP growth forecast for Taiwan of 3.3 percent this year and 5 percent next year.

The positive confirmation is based on the fact that the nation's exports are growing.

In a report released yesterday, Goldman said that Taiwan's impressive trade data for last month, together with South Korea's trade numbers released on Nov. 1, confirmed its bullish view on the region's export recovery.

The report said, "We expect more strength to come."

According to the report, Taiwan's trade numbers for last month again beat bullish consensus forecasts, with exports rising 14.2 percent year-on-year (YOY), while imports grew 6.9 percent YOY last month.

It said that most of the leading indicators for Asia's export performance are supportive of further strengthening in regional exports.

Such indicators include new US information-technology (IT) orders, which accelerated further in September, indicating that Asia's export prices have been picking up.

Domestic firms win orders

Fujitsu Ltd, NEC Corp and Toshiba Corp have started giving large chip-packaging orders to Taiwanese companies such as Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc (日月光), a Chinese-language newspaper reported, without saying where it obtained the information or giving the size of the orders.

The Japanese chipmakers haven't invested in packaging and testing equipment after an industry slump that's lasted almost three years and need to find outside suppliers after they started making more advanced chips, the report said.

The companies will increase orders with Advanced Semiconductor and ChipMOS Technologies (Bermuda) Ltd (南茂科技) next year, the report said.

Third-quarter profit at Advanced Semiconductor, the world's No. 2 packager of computer chips, almost doubled to NT$582.9 million (US$17.1 million), from NT$314.6 million a year earlier.

Bad-loan ratio falls

The bad-loan ratio at the nation's lenders fell to 7.87 percent as at Sept. 30, from 7.97 percent at the end of June, as the nation's banks attempted to clean up non-performing debts from their balance sheets.

About NT$1.12 trillion (US$32.9 billion) of loans were classed as non-performing and under surveillance, the central bank said in a statement. That compares with NT$1.13 trillion at the end of June.

Excluding loans at risk of default and under surveillance, the non-performing loan-ratio fell to 5.6 percent from 5.7 percent at the end of June, the central bank said.

Philips sells TSMC Stake

Royal Philips Electronics NV is selling a US$1.1 billion stake in Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), the world's largest supplier of made-to-order chips, bankers said.

Europe's largest consumer-electronics maker is selling 100 million American depository shares in TSMC, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"The bidding process has opened to investors now that regulatory approval has come in," Philips spokesman Jayson Otke said in an interview.

"The proceeds will be used to lower net debt and for general corporate purposes," he said.

The sale will cut Philips's stake in TSMC to as low as 19.1 percent from 21.5 percent, Otke said.

NT dollar gains ground

The New Taiwan yesterday traded higher against its US counterpart, rising NT$0.037 to close at NT$33.975 on the Taipei foreign exchange market.

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