Sun, Jul 18, 2004 - Page 11 News List

Business Briefs

AGENCIES

■ Surveys
Executives less upbeat

Global executives have become less upbeat about the economic outlook, but concerns are most pronounced in the developed Asia-Pacific economies, a survey showed yesterday. Across every region, confidence levels have fallen 6 per cent since the start of the year, according to the McKinsey Global Survey of Business Executives. Concern over the near term is greatest in Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. The majority of the 5,500 senior corporate and business leaders polled in May remain broadly positive with the confidence index above 50 for all regions, indicating positive responses outnumber negative ones. The Asia-Pacific has the lowest confidence index of 61, down from 64 previously. Less than half of the region's executives expect conditions in either their economies or industries to improve in the next six months.

■ Mobile phones

Chip spin-off moves ahead

Motorola Inc pressed ahead with the spin-off of part of its computer-chip subsidiary Friday, in spite of less than favorable market conditions. The troubled tech giant offered about 30 percent of the shares in Freescale Semiconductor, its Austin, Texas-based chip unit, at US$13 per share in an initial public offering managed by Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and JP Morgan. The offering price was well below the US$17.50 to US$19.50 per share envisioned by Motorola as recently as a month ago. At that price the IPO would have netted the Schaumburg, Illinois wireless tech giant at least US$2.13 billion. Motorola said the net benefit from Friday's IPO is more likely to be US$1 billion, according to the Chicago Tribune. The IPO comes at a tough time for tech stocks -- on the heels of disappointing results from Intel earlier this week and downgrades in the sector.

■ Banking

UFJ to get cash injection

Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial Group is likely to inject up to US$2.75 billion into UFJ to help it dispose of bad loans ahead of a merger between the two major Japanese banking groups next year, reports said yesterday. MTFG is likely to buy ¥200 billion to ¥300 billion (US$1.83 billion to US$2.75 billion) worth of new shares from UFJ Holdings possibly by the end of September, the mass-circulation Yomiuri Shimbun said without citing sources. MTFG and UFJ announced Friday they have agreed to work on a merger to create the world's biggest banking group by September next year. UFJ Holdings is struggling under a mountain of non-performing loans.

■ Computers

Global PC sales climb

Global sales of personal computers grew at a stronger-than-expected pace of 13 percent to 15 percent in the second quarter, two market research firms said. International Data Corp (IDC) said late Thursday its quarterly survey showed that strong demand in Europe and better-than-expected results in Canada and Latin America boosted shipments to 39.7 million, representing 15 percent growth. A separate survey by Gartner Inc. said its preliminary data showed worldwide PC shipments totaled 43 million units in the second quarter, a 13.3 percent increase over the same period last year. "Demand in Europe, supported by the strong euro and aggressive promotions, was the biggest driver of the quarter," said IDC's Loren Loverde. "Consumer demand and commercial replacements seem fairly steady across the major regions, with growth slightly slower than expected in Asia and faster in Europe, Canada and Latin America.

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