■ TSMC board prefers cash
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufac-turing Co (TSMC, 台積電) said its board proposed a revised dividend policy, calling for future dividend distribution to be made preferably by way of cash. Its stock dividends won't exceed 50 percent of total distribution, TSMC said in a statement. The revision is expected to allow the company more flexibility in planning cash dividend distributions and to better manage the build-up and flow of its capital, it said. The board also approved its employee stock option plan for this year and the issuance of no more than 11 million stocks options to the employees of WaterTech, an overseas subsidiary of TSMC. Each unit of stock option will be entitled to purchase one TSMC common share, the statement said. TSMC will hold a special shareholders' meeting on Dec. 21 to review these proposals.
■ ICBC, Taisalt issue card
International Commercial Bank of China (ICBC, 國際商銀) launched a co-branded credit card with Tai-wan Salt Co (Taisalt, 台鹽) yesterday, giving cardholders benefits at the former state-run entity. ICBC general manager Mckinney Tsai (蔡友才) told guests at a launch ceremony that the bank estimates that 200,000 cards will be issued next year while an estimated 30,000 card may be released by the year's end. Taisalt co-brand cardholders are eligible for a 10 percent discount at the company's 200 stores nationwide, which sell an array of bio-tech products including cos-metics and nutriments, as well as six to 12 installment payments for their purchases, according to Tsai. First 500 applicants will be given a 40 percent discount for Taisalt's NT$7,480-worth cosmetic package, he said.
■ TFASC picks new president
Taiwan Financial Asset Service Corp (TFASC, 台灣金服) yesterday appointed 55-year-old Wu Ying-hua (吳英花) as its new president, replacing Cheng Nai-jen (鄭乃仁), who has retired. Wu has worked for Chiao Tung Bank (交通銀行), the Bankers' Association of the ROC (銀行公會) and Securities Investment Trust & Consulting Association (證券信託公會) as a legal expert. The company said in a statement that it hopes to take advantage of Wu's legal expertise in accelerating the write-off of the nation's non-performing collaterals. TFASC acts as an independent third-party organization to help auction off non-performing collaterals including properties and securities. The company is a joint venture formed by 34 domestic banks in October 2002. With NT$1.7 billion in net assets, the company is a specially designated entity authorized by the Ministry of Finance to help local courts hold auctions to clean up banks' non-performing collaterals.
■ Central Trust may be listed
The government plans to sell 25 percent of state-owned Central Trust of China (中央信託局) and list the company on the Taiwan Stock Exchange next year, said bank chairman Shea Jia-dong (許嘉棟). Shea also said the government plans to make Central Trust a private company in 2006 by merging it with an unidentified private financial holding company. The plan has been submitted to the Ministry of Finance and needs further approval from the Cabinet's Council for Economic Planning and Development, Shea said. Central Trust, in addition to banking and insurance, is involved in trade and warehousing. It is 100 percent owned by the government.
■ NT dollar dips
The New Taiwan dollar traded lower against its US counterpart yesterday, edging down NT$0.022 to close at NT$33.482 on the Taipei foreign exchange market. Turnover was US$607 million.