Wed, Nov 09, 2005 - Page 10 News List

Chiang relishes new job

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fifteen months after he took the chairman position at China Airlines Ltd (華航), Chiang Yao-chung (江耀宗) said yesterday that he is happy to move to his new job at China Steel Corp (中鋼) and will try his best to meet the challenge.

The board of directors at China Steel, which is controlled by the government, will hold a provisional meeting next Monday to approve Chiang's appointment, according to the Kaohsiung-based company.

Chiang is also expected to chair the troubled Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp (KRTC, 高雄捷運公司), as China Steel is the largest shareholder in KRTC.

"I think it is a meaningful task," Chiang told reporters yesterday, adding that the first thing he will do after assuming the new position is to boost employees' morale.

China Steel was privatized in 1995 but the government still holds a controlling stake, around 24 percent, in the company.

On Monday night, the Cabinet appointed Chiang as the new head of China Steel, after chairman Lin Wen-yuan (林文淵) offered to step down amid mounting pressure from lawmakers to return his unreasonably high stock bonus valued at NT$44 million (US$1.31 million) to state coffers. Lin later donated the money to charity.

Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) praised Chiang's expertise in engineering and experience in management, which made him an appropriately qualified candidate for the China Steel position. Chiang is an associate of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), which is said to count in his favor.

Chiang said he may officially assume the new assignment in the middle of the month, depending on the decision of the board directors. He said he has no idea who will be his successor at China Airlines, the nation's largest carrier.

Responding to the plan that he also lead the scandal-ridden KRTC, Chiang said he hopes to complete Kaohsiung's MRT construction as soon as possible.

Holding a doctorate degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Chiang, 53, took up his current position in July last year. He is also a vice chairman of the Public Construction Commission.

Before joining China Airlines, Chiang was chief engineer of Taipei's MRT system from 1996 to 1997, when Chen was mayor of the city, and was later promoted to deputy director-general and then director-general of the city's Department of Rapid Transit Systems.

China Steel shares fell NT$0.75, or 2.8 percent, to close at NT$26.1 on the Taiwan Stock Exchange yesterday, after the company said its October pre-tax earnings slumped by 48 percent from a year ago to NT$3.024 billion, or NT$0.24 per share.

The share price was the lowest in the past two years, because of weak demand and rising material costs.

For the first 10 months of the year, China Steel posted pre-tax profit of NT$61.7 billion, or NT$5.83 per share, the company said on Monday.

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