Tue, Dec 23, 2003 - Page 11 News List

Business Briefs

AGENCIES

■ Discount Chinese aircraft

The state-run Central Trust of China is to auction six used aircraft Tuesday at a 41 percent discount over its first attempt a year ago, a bank official said Monday.

The aircraft owned by the Civil Aeronautics Administration -- four Boeing 747-400s and one MD-11 passenger plane, and one Boeing 747-200F cargo plane -- will be auctioned at asking prices between US$22.6 million and US$48.3 million each, the official said.

It will be the fifth attempt by the government since last year to sell the planes after previous auctions failed to attract buyers, largely due to the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks in the US, he said.

The failed bids have forced Central Trust of China to slash the asking price for the aircraft, lowering the price tag from US$346 million in the first auction to 202 million.

"With the price now considerably lower, we hope there will be higher interest from airlines," said the official, who declined to name potential bidders.

■ Shin Kong raises forecast

Shin Kong Financial Holdings Co (新光金控), which owns Taiwan's No. 2 life insurer, raised it 2003 pretax profit forecast by about 130 percent, citing investment gains expected to be about NT$2.7 billion (US$79.3 million) more than originally forecast.

Shin Kong is expected to post an unaudited 2003 pretax profit of NT$4.84 billion, up from NT$2.11 billion, the company said in a statement to the Taiwan Stock Exchange.

Taiwan's economic recovery and the rise of the euro against the US dollar helped Shin Kong's insurance and securities units achieve better-than-expected investment gains, the statement said.

■ Kaohsiung Bank sale fails

Taiwan failed to sell the operations, assets and liabilities of bankrupt Kaohsiung Business Bank (高雄企銀) after bidding fell short of the reserve price. A new auction is scheduled for Thursday.

The Ministry of Finance's Central Deposit Insurance Corp (中央存保), which currently helps supervise the failed lender, said it received one bid for Kaohsiung Bank's assets, which include 60 branches and subsidiaries. The agency didn't identify the bidder or the reserve price.

Waterland Financial Holdings (國票金控), one of the nation's 14 financial holding companies, earlier yesterday said it is bidding for the assets of Kaohsiung Bank to expand its business.

In June, Dallas, Texas-based Lone Star Funds bought the bad loans of Kaohsiung Bank for NT$8.23 billion (US$242 million), paying less than two-fifths of the face value of the loans. Kaohsiung Bank has been in government custody since January 2002.

■ WTO a boon for produce

Taiwan's entry to the World Trade Organization (WTO) has helped open up export outlets for locally grown fruits and vegetables, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said Monday.

According to COA tallies, at least 17 kinds of Taiwan-grown fruits and vegetables have been exported to 12 countries or areas since Taiwan's WTO accession on Jan. 1, 2002.

Taiwan's fruits and vegetables were mainly for domestic consumption in the past, but the nation's WTO entry has offered easier access for its agricultural products into global markets.

Major export outlets include China, Japan, Hong Kong, the European Union, the US, Singapore, Canada, Australia, Brunei, Indonesia and Vietnam.

■ NT dollar weakens

The New Taiwan dollar yesterday traded lower against its US counterpart, declining NT$0.006 to close at NT$34.058 on the Taipei foreign exchange market.

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