Wed, Jan 19, 2005 - Page 11 News List

Business Briefs 

STAFF WRITER, WITH AGENCIES

CP to boost plant spending

Chinese Petroleum Corp (CP, 中油) said it plans to spend NT$63.5 billion (US$2 billion) over the next five years to almost triple its profit from refining oil into fuels.

Pretax profit from refining may rise to NT$48.9 billion from NT$17.1 billion last year once the company has built or expanded 13 plants before 2010, Chinese Petroleum president Chen Pao-lang (陳寶郎) said at a press conference in Taipei yesterday.

Refining accounted for 67 percent of the company's profit last year.

"These projects can help us cut costs and increase production value," Chen said.

The plants, including five new desulfurization units, will enable CP to process more crude with a higher sulfur content and produce more gasoline and other oil products that fetch higher prices than fuel oil.

The company imported about 200 million barrels of crude oil last year, with 22 percent being West African sweet crude oil with a lower sulfur content than oil from the Middle East, Chen said. After 2010, the company won't need sweet crude oil, which can cost US$10 more per barrel than Middle East oil, according to Chen.

Defaulters risk delisting

A financial regulator's proposal to delist penny stocks that show low transaction volumes over a specified period of time will be implemented sometime in the first half this year, a Chinese-language newspaper reported yesterday, quoting Jerry Huang (黃顯華), a member of Financial Supervisory Commission, as saying.

The newspaper said the delisting plan will offer one-and-a-half-year grace period for defaulting companies to think ways of turning themselves around first, before being ousted from the local bourses.

Huang said that both the Taiwan Stock Exchange Corp and GreTai Securities Market are drawing up a draft proposal for the delisting plan, and planning to submit the proposal to the commission for further discussion by the end of next month.

The delisting mechanism is expected to formally take effect in 2007 in an effort to enhance the management of publicly listed companies, the paper said, citing Huang.

The commission is considering to evaluate the defaulting companies basing on condition of share prices and market values, he said.

Bond sale to plug deficit

The Ministry of Finance plans to sell as much as NT$500 billion of bonds this year to help plug a near-record budget deficit this year.

The figure would exceed the NT$465 billion of bonds sold last year with maturities from two to 30 years.

The budget gap is projected at NT$292.9 billion this year, compared with an estimated record of NT$304 billion last year.

Liu Teng-cheng (劉燈城), the ministry's treasury chief, said at a New Year's briefing yesterday that the agency would sell NT$400 billion to NT$500 billion of bonds this year, with NT$30 billion to NT$40 billion earmarked for each month.

NT dollar slides

The New Taiwan dollar slipped NT$0.089, or 0.3 percent yesterday, to close at NT$31.893 against the US dollar on the Taipei foreign exchange market.

Turnover was US$605 million, up from US$552 million in the previous day.

The currency on Monday had its largest advance since Nov. 18 and strongest close since Oct. 12, 2000.

"The central bank may not want the NT dollar to rise too much or strengthen beyond NT$31.80," said Lo Chung, assistant treasury manager at Chinese Bank (中華銀行) in Taipei.

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