■ Real estate Malaysia eases restrictions \n \nMalaysia will ease procedures for foreigners to buy property and major stakes in local companies as part of efforts to boost the country's competitiveness, reports said yesterday. The move follows a series of reform initiatives by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to cut red tape and increase government transparency since taking over as premier from Mahathir Mohamad last year, the New Straits Times said. From August, rules for property transactions as well as acquisitions of interests, mergers and takeovers of local companies for foreign investors under the Foreign Investment Committee (FIC) will be simplified to cut down the current two months' processing time, the newspaper said. Investors will be required only to make a declaration in a prescribed format that they have or will fulfill the conditions stipulated, it said. \n \n■ Defense industry \nLockheed rethinks takeover \n \nThe planned takeover of the San Diego-based military supplier Titan Corp by Lockheed Martin Corp for US$1.66 billion might collapse if Titan cannot meet a Friday deadline for resolving bribery allegations. Titan said it was unlikely it could reach a plea agreement in the US Justice Department's inquiry into the company's alleged bribery of foreign advisers, according to US media reports. Lockheed refused Thursday to extend its deadline, something it has already done twice. In September, both firms tied the deal to the resolution of the bribery inquiry, which focuses on Titan's business practices in Benin and Saudi Arabia. Titan president Gene Ray said it was too soon to say the deal had collapsed but said his firm is also a strong company on its own, US media reported. Ray, a former Pentagon physicist, founded the company in 1981. \n \n■ Macroeconomics \nRussia's GDP to grow: IMF \n \nRussia's GDP should grow by 7.25 percent this year, matching last year's economic growth, the IMF said in a report late Friday after carrying out a mission in Moscow. Russian output growth should then slow down slightly and reach 6.5 percent next year, the IMF added in its report. "The mission believes that real GDP will grow by 7.25 percent in 2004, as in 2003, slowing only marginally to 6.5 percent in 2005, mainly owing to somewhat lower oil prices," said the report, posted on the IMF's Web site. Russia's GDP grew 7.4 percent in the first quarter of this year, compared to the first three months of last year, the state statistics committee reported last week. \n \n■ Technology \nItochu forms space venture \n \nJapanese trading house Itochu Corp, satellite communication firm Jsat Corp and three other firms plan to jointly launch earth observation (EO) satellites as soon as 2008, becoming the first in Asia to do so, a news report said yesterday. The group, which also includes NTT Data Corp, Imageone Co and NEC Toshiba Space Systems Ltd, seeks to gain a foothold in the commercial satellite imaging market, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun said. The five firms will establish a jointly held company in August, with plans to launch two satellites in 2008 or later, it said. The new entity will have an initial capital base of ?200 million (US$1.8 million). The low-altitude remote sensing satellites to be used will orbit the earth at about 500 to 1,000km. They will employ the most advanced commercial-satellite-compatible cameras, enabling them to provide images of objects smaller than 1m across. The satellites will cover nearly all points on earth, the newspaper said.
NOT ALL GOOD: Analysts warned that other data for last month might be less rosy due to the virus and analysts expect the PMI to contract again next month Chinese factory activity saw surprise growth last month as businesses went back to work following a lengthy shutdown, but analysts said that the economy faces a challenging recovery as external demand has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, while the World Bank said that growth could screech to a halt. China is slowly returning to life after months of tough restrictions aimed at containing the virus, which put millions of people into virtual house arrest and brought economic activity to a near standstill. The strict measures saw a closely watched gauge of manufacturing plunge to its lowest level on record in February,
The output of the global smartphone industry this year is to contract by 7.8 percent on an annual basis as the COVID-19 pandemic ushers in a global recession, Taipei-based market researcher TrendForce Corp (集邦科技) said in a report on Monday. The global production of smartphones is expected to fall to 1.29 billion units, as the pandemic dampens demand for consumer electronics, leading to a decline in shipments across Europe and North America, TrendForce said. With consumers delaying smartphone purchases and thereby lengthening the device replacement cycle, overall prices would suffer a setback that is expected to negatively affect the profitability of smartphone
ELECTRONICS Lite-On delays sale of unit Lite-On Technology Corp (光寶科技) yesterday said it would postpone the sale of its solid-state drives (SSD) business to Kioxia Holdings Corp, formerly known as Toshiba Memory Holdings Corp, due to disruptions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, the Taiwan-based electronics components supplier struck the deal with the Japanese firm, agreeing to sell the unit for US$165 million. Citing unfinished integration work due to the pandemic, Lite-On has deferred today’s closing date until further notice, adding that the delay would not have a negative effect on the unit’s operations. AUTO PARTS Hiroca approves dividend Automotive interior parts supplier Hiroca
ALL ABOUT STRATEGY: The company is optimistic, saying that its gross margin should increase year-on-year, but it is scaling back on its plans to expand capacity Quang Viet Enterprise Co (QVE, 廣越), which makes down jackets and garments for sportswear and outdoor brands including Adidas AG, yesterday said that revenue might drop 5 to 10 percent annually this year as some customers trimmed orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. That would mark its first revenue decline since 2016. Quang Viet posted record-high revenue of NT$16.26 billion (US$537.45 million) last year, up 22 percent from 2018. Down jackets made up 40 percent of it revenue last year. North Face Inc and Patagonia Inc are this year likely to reduce orders by 20 to 30 percent from a