Sun, Sep 25, 2005 - Page 11 News List

Business Briefs


■ Trade
Frogs' legs to hop into EU

Gourmets will be able to sample additional supplies of frogs' legs and snails when it becomes easier to import the typical French delicacies into the EU next year. New EU food hygiene rules will allow non-EU countries exporting frog's legs to fill out one common health certificate to sell produce to the 25-nation bloc. Demand outstrips supply in Europe so frogs' legs are imported from Albania, Egypt and Indonesia. "It will be easier for customs," a senior European Commission official told a briefing on Friday, adding that food safety would also be improved under the new rules. Frogs' legs can contain salmonella, a potentially fatal disease in humans. Snail imports into the EU will also be covered by the new rules which come into force on Jan. 1 next year.

■ Macroeconomics

Local salaries weaken

Taiwanese workers' salaries posted negative growth of 0.9 percent in real terms for the first seven months of this year, the largest decline of its kind in the country's history, according to government statistics. Taiwanese employees' monthly salaries averaged NT$35,517 (US$1,077) during the January-July period, for a year-on-year increase of 0.96 percent, but the consumer price index rose by 1.92 percent during the same period, resulting in negative growth of 0.9 percent in worker salaries in real terms -- the second such decline on record, tallies compiled by the Cabinet-level Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics show. Taiwanese workers in the industrial and service sectors worked an average of 181.7 hours in July, down by 5.6 hours from June and down by 8.4 hours from the year-earlier level.

■ Banking

Chang Hwa sale approved

Chang Hwa Commercial Bank (彰化銀行) said its shareholders yesterday approved a plan to sell 1.4 billion new preferred shares to rival Taishin Financial Holding Co (台新金控), paving the way for a combination of the two lenders. The approval will give Taishin Financial, owner of the nation's second-largest credit-card issuer, a 22 percent stake in Chang Hwa, Taiwan's sixth-largest bank by assets, Chang Hwa said in a statement late Friday. Taishin Financial on July 22 won a bid and agreed to pay NT$36.6 billion (US$1.1 billion) for the stake and management control of Chang Hwa. A combination of the two banks will create the nation's second-largest banking group in terms of assets. The government, which owns an 18 percent stake in Chang Hwa, has said it favors selling shares it owns in Chang Hwa to the winning bidder, giving Taishin a 40 percent stake.

■ Telecoms

Executive accused of fraud

A budding entrepreneur once hailed as the poster boy among Singapore's financial circles has been charged with padding repair bills to mobile phone-maker Nokia, a report said yesterday. Businessman Victor Tan, 34, founder of mobile phone service firm Accord Customer Care Solutions (ACCS), faces 43 counts of conspiring to prepare "fictitious warranty repair claims of Nokia mobile telephones," the Straits Times said. The charges center on monthly bills totalling some S$4.3 million (US$2.56 million) that were sent to Finnish-based Nokia last year for repairs of phones under warranty. Many of the repairs were allegedly never carried out. Similar charges were levelled against 11 other members of his firm on Friday.

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