Fri, Dec 24, 2004 - Page 11 News List

Business Briefs

STAFF WRITER, WITH AGENCIES

Evergreen promotes three

Chang Jung-fa (張榮發), chairman of the Evergreen Group (長榮集團), yesterday made a announcement to promote three high-level executives -- including his two sons -- in the group's transportation arms, according to a company statement.

Effective from Jan. 1, chairman of EVA Airways Corp (長榮航空), Chang Kuo-cheng (張國政), will serve as chairman of Evergreen Marine Corp (長榮海運).

Chang Kuo-cheng's current role will be taken over by EVA Airways' president Steve Lin (林寶水). EVA Airways vice president Chang Kuo-wei (張國煒) will be promoted to be president.

In a statement released yesterday, Evergreen Marine raised its full-year financial forecast of pre-tax profits from NT$8.2 billion (US$255 million) to NT$13 billion. It will reward its staff with an average year-end bonus of 10 months.

EVA Airways also expected to beat its pre-tax profit forecast of NT$3.1 billion for the year and will reward its staff with four-month bonuses on average.

TAIEX down slightly

Shares ended slightly lower yesterday, with construction stocks leading the decline on worries of a delay in the passage of a bill extending tax cuts on land sales, analysts said.

The TAIEX closed down 3.85 points, or 0.1 percent, at 5,997.67. Decliners well outnumbered gainers 507 to 183 with 160 stocks unchanged.

Trading value fell to NT$44.49 billion (US$1.38 billion) from NT$68.77 billion Wednesday.

The construction subindex fell 2.7 percent. But analysts said concerns over the tax cut would likely be short-lived.

"Most investors, particularly some mutual fund companies, are still betting on an uptrend in Taiwan's housing market, and a number of the nation's property companies are expected to report sharp gains in 2005," said Stanley Chou, an analyst at Barits International Securities (倍利證券).

Polaris buys stake in bank

Polaris Group (寶來集團), owner of one of the nation's biggest brokerages, said it bought a 22 percent stake in Bank of Overseas Chinese (華僑銀行) to become the largest single shareholder in the money-losing lender.

The company, which owns Polaris Securities Co (寶來證券), said it bought the shares in a Bank of Overseas Chinese rights offer yesterday. The bank offered 512 million common shares at NT$10 a share. Polaris Securities bought 69 million shares, the brokerage said in a statement to the Taiwan Stock Exchange.

With the support of strategic partners "we now control about 40 percent of the bank, enough for us to take management control," Polaris Spokesman Peter Huang said in a telephone interview.

The stake owned by Taiwan's government, previously the single largest shareholder, falls to below 10 percent, the Taipei-based newspaper said.

NT dollar closes high

The New Taiwan dollar had its highest close in more than two weeks on speculation international investors will increase purchases of the nation's stocks.

The NT dollar gained 0.2 percent to NT$32.228 against its US counterpart in Taipei. The local currency rose 5.4 percent this year, the third-best performer among the 15 Asia-Pacific currencies tracked by Bloomberg, after South Korea's won and the New Zealand dollar.

UBS AG in a Dec. 16 report recommended the currencies of Singapore and Taiwan among its favorites in Asia for next year.

"Taiwan continues to remain one of the top market picks for our equity strategy team," Bhanu Baweja, a senior currency strategist at UBS in Singapore, wrote. The Taiwan dollar may rise to NT$32 in three months, he said.

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