Tue, Jul 20, 2004 - Page 11 News List

Taipower chief to lead Taisugar

REVOLVING DOORS The economic affairs minister said Lin Neng-pai's management experience will be helpful, but the appointee's words disagree with his track record

STAFF WRITER WITH CNA

Minister of Economic Affairs Ho Mei-yueh (何美玥) yesterday appointed Lin Neng-pai (林能白), chairman of Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電), to head the Taiwan Sugar Corp (Taisugar, 台糖).

Lin's vacancy at Taipower will be filled by Taipower president Lin Ching-chi (林清吉).

Lin Neng-pai, 51, holds a management doctorate from Ohio State University. He was appointed to replace Lin Wen-yuan (林文淵) at the helm of the nation's biggest power company in 2002 after the latter was forced to resign because of a bungled power-rationing program affecting hundreds of high-tech companies.

Lin Neng-pai's new appointment this time is to take the position left by Kong Jaw-sheng (龔照勝), who became chairman of the newly established Financial Supervisory Commission early this month.

The appointment has "taken into consideration the views of the Presidential Office, the Executive Yuan and the Ministry of Economic Affairs," Ho said.

Lin Neng-pai said that during his more than two years at Tai-power, he has seen profits almost double the amount required by law.

He added that he was confident that he could do the same at Taisugar and help boost the morale of workers at the state-owned enterprise.

Yet contrary to his statements, under Lin Neng-pai's leadership Taipower reported NT$484 million of pre-tax income for the first four months of the year, which is NT$1.96 billion short of the goal set by the government, according to statistics provided by the ministry's Commission of National Corporations.

Taisugar, 96.6 percent owned by the government, has been losing money in its main businesses of sugar, gas stations and convenience stores, but its annual financial reports still look good because of land sales from its massive holdings. The state-run company is the nation's largest landowner, with 54,657 hectares.

"Taisugar dominated the domestic sugar market in 2003, controlling a 70 percent market share," the Taiwan Ratings Corp (中華信評) said in a recent report. "Nevertheless, the company's market position is expected to shrink once the restriction on sugar imports is fully removed in 2005 in line with Taiwan's commitments to the World Trade Organization."

The company's core sugar business suffered a loss of NT$3.5 billion last year, mainly because of high personnel costs and subsidies paid to farmers. But for the year's first quarter, Taisugar reported a pre-tax profit of NT$2.16 billion, which it attributed to brisk property sales. Taiwan Ratings is a local arm of Standard & Poor's Ratings Service.

Ho said Taisugar has the dual missions of improving land use and transforming its operations from an agriculture orientation to focus on biotechnology. "Lin's speciality in management will be very helpful in this respect," she added.

The government has consistently purchased land from Taisugar for industrial development. The government's proposed reservoir plan included in the 10 New Major Construction Projects will also rely on released Taisugar lands, according to Ho.

The development of the high-tech industry will also require large plots of land, and Taisugar will also play a major role in supplying them, she added.

Ho dismissed reports that Lin's transfer is related to his asking for an additional budget for the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, which is still under construction in Kungliao, Taipei County, despite the fact that it runs counter to the Cabinet's goal of establishing a "nuclear-free homeland."

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