■ China Air hedges oil costs
China Airlines (CAL, 華航), Taiwan's largest air carrier, expects a bumper year and said its profits will reach a new high this year by controlling operation costs and oil costs through hedge policy, company chairman Chiang Yaw-tsung (江耀宗) said at CAL's shareholders conference yesterday. The carrier targets to post NT$105.56 billion in revenues and pre-tax earning of NT$4.4 billion, compared with its earnings of NT$96.18 billion and pre-tax earnings of NT$4 billion last year. For the first five months of the year, CAL saw revenues rise 13.84 percent NT$40.84 billion in a year. Despite oil prices still standing at high levels, Chiang said about 60 percent of fuel has been hedged at US$45 a barrel. With the peak summer holiday season coming up, the company target should not hard to accomplish, he said. At yesterday's meeting, CAL also announced that it will issue a NT$1 dividend and NT$0.2 in cash to its shareholders, which in total cost the company about NT$3.82 billion.
■ Visa reshuffles management
Visa International yesterday announced management reshuffles with increasing resources invested in important markets including Taiwan, as a part of the company's regional strategies to place more emphasis on Asia-Pacific markets. Marco Ma (麻少華), currently a member services manager for Greater China and the Philippines, will take over as the country manager in Taiwan, effective Aug. 1. Ma joined Visa more than eight years ago. After first working in Taipei as a member services manager, he relocated to Hong Kong to take on a larger sub-regional role two years ago. Christopher Clark, the incumbent country manager in Taiwan, will be promoted to be a general manager in charge of Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and the Philippines, due to his excellent performance in debit, commercial cards, acceptance and the deployment of new technologies. Clark will remain based in Taipei.
■ Chi Mei raises US$676m
Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp (奇美電子), Taiwan's second-largest maker of flat panel displays used in computers and televisions, raised US$676 million selling new shares, according to a term sheet sent to investors. The company sold 45 million global depositary receipts at US$15.02, representing a 4.9 percent discount to its closing price on Thursday. Morgan Stanley managed the sale. The company has the option to sell another 5 million global depositary receipts, which would bring the total amount raised to US$751 million.
■ Flower sector growing fast
The Council of Agriculture (COA) said Friday that it will continue to help local flower wholesalers to market their products overseas. The council is helping flower wholesalers in Changhua County, as well as in Taipei and Kaohsiung cities, to promote cut flowers such as chrysanthemums and potted plants such as money trees for export to Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore. Flower-growing areas in Taiwan cover about 12,000 hectares, with a production value of more than NT$11.1 billion (US$352.38 million). Currently, the flower sector in Taiwan is growing rapidly, with five flower wholesale markets set up in Taiwan. The council said that 76.21 million bouquets of flowers were sold in the wholesale market in 2004, accounting for 70 percent of the total cut flowers produced, while 5.95 million potted flowers were sold.