Wed, May 25, 2005 - Page 11 News List

Business Briefs

STAFF WRITER, WITH AGENCIES

NPL ratio edges up

The nation's non-performing loan (NPL) ratio, including loans under surveillance, nudged up to 3.67 percent as of the end of last month, up 0.01 percent from the end of March, Bureau of Monetary Affairs said yesterday.

The bad loans at the nation's 47 banks totaled NT$577.5 billion (US$18.35 billion) last month, up from NT$576.5 billion in March, said the bureau, which is under the Financial Supervisory Commission.

The ratio of the coverage of bad loans for local banks reached 40.13 percent last month, up from 40.07 percent in March, which indicated growing capabilities to bear the default loans. The coverage ratio is a measure of a bank's ability to absorb potential losses from NPLs.

The credit card NPL ratio, meanwhile, grew slightly to 0.56 percent at the end of last month from 0.53 percent in March, while the cash card NPL ratio also slightly increased to 0.919 percent from 0.876 percent.

China Steel most efficient

China Steel Express Corp (中鋼運通), Powerchip Semiconductor Corp (力晶半導體) and Novatek Microelectronics Corp (聯詠科技) were the top three local companies by operation efficiency last year, according to a report released by China Credit Information Service Ltd (中華徵信所) yesterday.

In the report, the credit tracking company said China Steel Express,a branch of state-run China Steel Corp (中鋼), has gained the top spot for the second year, boosted by the economic upturn and raise of freight fees. China Steel Express reported a record earnings of NT$17.21 billion last year, and revenue grew by 70.08 percent.

Powerchip, the nation's biggest computer memory chipmaker, posted earnings of NT$57.44 billion last year, a 1.5-fold jump from the previous year with profitability, return on asset (ROA) and return on equity (ROE) reaching new highs, the report said.

Macronix, IBM in joint research

Macronix International (旺宏), IBM of the US and Infineon Technologies of Germany yesterday announced a joint research initiative to explore a new form of computer memory technology called phase-change memory.

The technology stores data by changing the state of a special material from an amorphous to a crystalline structure, rather than storing data as an electrical charge, according to a joint statement.

The research work will be conducted at IBM's TJ Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York and the IBM Almaden Research Lab in San Jose, California.

China Steel may up production

China Steel Corp (中鋼), the nation's largest steelmaker, is considering boosting cold-rolled steel production capacity by 75 percent to meet demand from automobile and electronics makers.

"We're drawing up a plan to increase production," Chen Yuan-cheng (陳源成), China Steel executive vice president, said today. "We aren't producing enough of the product."

Demand for China Steel's products has been strong this quarter and there's no room for price cuts in the third quarter, Chen said.

Nan Ya to cut workforce

Nan Ya Plastics Corp (南亞塑膠), the nation's largest plastics maker, plans to cut 1,000 employees this year, 7.4 percent of its workforce, as it closes some unprofitable operations in Taiwan.

"The company keeps reviewing the size of its workforce," said Nan Ya Plastics Executive Vice President Wu Chia-chau (吳嘉昭).

NT dollar rises

The New Taiwan dollar gained ground against its US counterpart, rising NT$0.051 to close at NT$31.356 on the Taipei foreign exchange market.

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