Sat, Nov 20, 2004 - Page 11 News List

Business Briefs 

STAFF WRITER, WITH AGENCIES

MasterCard: business booming

MasterCard International announced yesterday that it has seen a continued strength in both credit and offline debit businesses in the third quarter, showing double-digit growth globally from a year earlier.

Cardholders worldwide using MasterCard-branded cards generated a gross dollar volume of US$365.9 billion for the three months ending Sept. 30, an increase of 10 percent over the same period last year, it said in a statement.

In Taiwan alone, the transaction volumes topped NT$355.4 billion (US$11 billion) in the July-to-September period, jumping by 20.5 percent from a year earlier, MasterCard added.

"Even as macroeconomic factors such as higher fuel prices and sporadic job growth have dampened consumer spending, we continue to see strong purchase activity across our global network," Robert Selander, MasterCard President and CEO, said in the statement.

China investment doubles

Taiwan's corporate investment in China more than doubled last month from the same period last year, the Investment Commission said on its Web site.

Approved investment rose to US$636 million from US$304 million a year earlier. In the first 10 months of this year, the government-approved investment by Taiwanese companies in China rose 52 percent to US$5.4 billion from US$3.56 billion a year ago.

Foreign direct investment in Taiwan rose 25 percent to US$339 million last month from US$270 million a year earlier. In the first 10 months, foreign direct investment rose 19 percent to US$2.93 billion from US$2.46 billion a year ago.

Current-account surplus shrinks

The nation's current-account surplus fell 22 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier to US$5.3 billion, the central bank said in a statement.

The surplus reached an all-time high of US$8 billion in the final quarter of last year.

The financial account, which measures investment flows, had an outflow of US$6.3 billion, widening from a revised outflow of US$868 million in the previous quarter, it said.

Direct investment and portfolio investment showed a net outflow of US$793 million and US$1.1 billion, respectively, in the third quarter, the report said.

Citigroup sells Fubon stake

Fubon Financial Holding Co (富邦金控) said shareholder Citigroup Inc sold half its stake in the form of global depositary receipts (GDRs), raising US$399.6 million.

The stake was sold in the form of 40 million global depositary receipts for US$9.99 a unit, Fubon said in a statement to the Taiwan Stock Exchange. Each GDR, equal to 10 common shares, would trade in London.

Citigroup, the world's largest financial services company, said in June it's exiting Fubon to pursue its own strategy in Taiwan. The company paid NT$23 billion (US$708 million) in 2000 for a 15 percent stake in the former Fubon Group, which became a holding company in 2001.

NT dollar ends strong week

The New Taiwan dollar Friday lost NT$0.134 to close at NT$32.554 against the US dollar on the Taipei foreign exchange market, with turnover of US$1.078 billion. The local unit rose 1.3 percent against the greenback this week.

George Chou (周阿定), director general of the central bank's foreign-exchange department, said that the NT dollar's 4.3 percent gain this year hasn't had a "significant impact" on exports due to advances in other Asian currencies.

"Asian currencies are appreciating at the same time. It's the US dollar's weakness, not that the NT dollar is strong," he told reporters yesterday.

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