Thu, Aug 05, 2004 - Page 11 News List

Business Briefs

STAFF WRITER WITH AGENCIES

■ Unfazed by high oil prices

Ministry of Economic Affairs officials were optimistic yesterday about the nation's economic growth, despite a sharp rise in US oil prices, which have soared 23 percent to US$44 per barrel since late last year. Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Steve Chen (陳瑞隆) said he expects little impact from the soaring oil prices on the economy, as the dependence of the country's gross domestic product on the petrochemical industry is declining every year. The government's low-oil-price policy has also helped moderate the impact, Chen said. Compared with the 23 percent hike in US oil prices, local prices have only risen 9 percent during the same period, he said. "Oil prices in Taiwan are the lowest among the four Asian dragons," Chen said, pointing out that gasoline prices per liter are NT$2.3 (US$0.067) lower than those of South Korea, while diesel is NT$3 cheaper.

■ Nokia tapped for 3G network

Nokia Oyj, the world's largest mobile phone maker, said yesterday it had contracted with Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信) to build the second phase of its next-generation 3G mobile phone network in Taiwan. No financial details were disclosed, but Helsinki-based telecom analysts said that the deal was likely to be worth around 100 million euros (US$120 million). Chunghwa has already set up its 3G network in the nation's core areas, and the new equipment from Nokia will allow it to expand its next-generation WCDMA network to the most populated areas on the east and west coasts, the Finnish group said. Included in the deal are indoor and outdoor base stations, connecting handsets through radio transmissions to the network's fixed parts, as well as core infrastructure elements routing calls on the net, Nokia said.

■ VIA, MediaTek bury hatchet

VIA Technologies Inc (威盛電子) and its subsidiary VIA Optical Inc (威騰光電) have settled legal disputes with rival MediaTek Inc (聯發科技), VIA Technologies said in a statement issued on Tuesday. MediaTek filed lawsuits against both VIA Technologies and VIA Optical six years ago in both this country and the US over a series of patent, copyright and trade secret disputes relating to chipsets and firmware for optical storage devices. Under the terms of settlement, VIA agreed to pay MediaTek a royalty of US$25 million upon execution and US$5 million per year in each of the following five years. In return, MediaTek agreed to grant VIA a perpetual license to any of its copyrights and trade secrets as well as a five-year license to any of its existing intellectual property that is currently implemented in a VIA storage product, according to the statement.

■ Tatung to invest in wafers

Tatung Co (大同), one of the nation's largest home appliance makers, said yesterday that it plans to invest NT$250 million to get a slice of the world's US$2 billion solar-grade silicon wafer market. Green Energy Inc (綠能科技), a fully-owned unit of Tatung, is scheduled to produce such wafers starting in the second quarter of next year, with technology support from GT Equipment Technologies Inc of the US, the company said in a statement released yesterday. The investment in the new business will increase to a total of NT$1 billion in 2006, said Hurlon Lin (林和龍), a Tatung public relations executive. The chips are mostly used in solar generators.

■ NT dollar down

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