Sun, Dec 21, 2003 - Page 11 News List

Business Briefs

AGENCIES

■ BankingWaterland to bid for assets

Taiwan's Waterland Financial Holdings (國票金融控股公司) plans to bid for assets and liabilities of the failed Kaohsiung Business Bank (高雄企銀), a Chinese-language newspaper reported, citing Waterland Financial's board of directors. Waterland Financial will tomorrow bid for the remaining operations of Kaohsiung Business and fold them into a banking unit of its holding company, the report said. Rival bidder Taishin Financial Holdings Co may not bid for Kaohsiung Business because it's more interested in First Financial Holding Co, the report said. Dallas-based Lone Star Funds in June bought the bad loans of Kaohsiung Bank for NT$8.23 billion (US$240 million), leaving the lender's assets, including 60 branches and subsidiaries, and liabilities to other interested buyers.

■ Business law

HRW blasts sentence

Chinese courts are undermining the rule of law by using state secrecy legislation to protect powerful local business interests, a human rights group charged Friday. The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned a Shanghai appeals court ruling on Thursday that upheld a three-year jail term for property lawyer Zheng Enchong, convicted of passing state secrets to foreigners. The group called on Beijing to intervene. Zheng was sentenced in October on charges of "illegally providing state secrets to entities outside of China" after faxing two public documents to Human Rights in China that the Shanghai Secrets Bureau then designated as confidential. According to statistics cited by HRW, in Shanghai 850,000 households and 2.5 million residents have been relocated in the past decade. "Even the official Peoples Daily criticizes judicial mistreatment of evicted tenants and calls for their rights to be protected," said an HRW spokesperson. "Why is Mr Zheng in jail for saying the same thing?"

■ Toys

Taiwan becomes EU's No. 4

Taiwan has become the EU's fourth-largest source for toy imports, according to the latest statistics released Saturday by the EU Executive Commission. The tallies show that EU toy imports nearly doubled to 11.5 billion euros last year from 5.8 billion euros in 1995. According to the statistics, China was the EU's largest toy supplier, followed by Japan, the US and Taiwan, in that order. During the same five-year period, the EU's video game imports also increased from 540 million euros to 2.47 billion euros, with Japan as its largest supplier.

■ Luxury goods

Gucci heads to bow out

Domenico De Sole and Tom Ford, the men who rebuilt luxury goods group Gucci, are likely to bow out on a high note. The two men, respectively chief executive and top designer, are leaving the group in April, when Pinault-Printemps-Redoute takes control. The group revealed Friday that it had turned in a strong performance in the three months to the end of October and was expecting an "outstanding" fourth quarter. Gucci's chain-bit handbags and the autumn ready to wear collection have brought buyers back into the stores, with strong growth in the US, Europe and Asia. Along with its peers in the luxury goods sector, Gucci has suffered from the slowdown in international tourism caused by the SARS outbreak and the Iraq war, but yesterday De Sole said all the divisions had "performed extremely well."

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