■ Sangyang to buy Kinetic shares
Kinetic Motor Co, an Indian scooter maker, will sell an 11.1 percent stake in the company to Taiwan's Sangyang Industrial Co (三陽工業) for 136.3 million rupees (US$3.1 million) to raise money and expand. Sangyang will buy 2.065 million shares at 66 rupees per share, Kinetic said in a statement yesterday. Kinetic's board has approved the plan, it said. Along with the stake sale, Kinetic has entered into an agreement to manufacture the Taiwanese company's models in India, it said.
■ Cathay Financial posts losses
Cathay Financial Holding Co (國泰金控), Taiwan's biggest financial services company, posted a loss of NT$5.56 billion (US$174 million) in the fourth quarter of last year. For the whole of last year, profit was NT$21.7 billion, based on unaudited figures, the company said in a statement. That compares with NT$29.8 billion posted in 2004. Cathay Financial's banking unit, Cathay United Bank (國泰世華銀行), on Dec. 29 set aside NT$9 billion as provisions for bad loans to prepare for possible losses in consumer banking, the parent company said in a statement to the Taiwan Stock Exchange that day. Cathay Financial executive vice president Lee Chang-ken (李長庚) said on Oct. 31 that fourth-quarter profit growth will be slower than the third quarter's, which was boosted by stock dividends and the sale of a trust fund. The company posted net income of NT$16.6 billion in the third quarter.
■ Customs lifts select tariffs
Goods imported from 50 least developed countries are to enjoy preferential tariff-free treatment, effective immediately, the Directorate General of Customs said yesterday. Officials said that Taiwan's guidelines in defining which economies are underdeveloped are based on the UN's standards and existing list of underdeveloped countries and areas. The UN defines an underdeveloped country by measuring the latter's per capita income, scarcity of manpower resources and economic vulnerability. The 50 countries qualified to the tariff-free treatment include Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, Burkina Faso and Cambodia.
■ Xbox to sell for US$380
Microsoft Corp will sell its Xbox 360 video game console with a hard disk drive and wireless controller for US$380 in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore from March 2, similar to the prices in the US market. Another version of the console, which has a wired controller and doesn't include the hard-disk drive that allows users to store files and games, will sell for US$300, Microsoft said in a statement. The prices are in line with the US debut on Nov. 22, where the consoles cost US$399 and US$299, Julie Leong, a Hong Kong-based spokeswoman, said yesterday. Microsoft has already started selling its Xbox 360 in the US, Europe and Japan, giving it as much as a six-month head start on Sony Corp's PlayStation 3. Microsoft hasn't changed its target to ship 3 million units of the Xbox 360 globally within the first three months of the US launch and at least 4.5 million units by June, Leong said. The game consoles in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea have 15 games available, costing an average US$38 each, according to the statement.
■ NT dollar falls
The New Taiwan dollar lost ground against the US dollar on the Taipei Foreign Exchange yesterday, falling NT$0.069 to close at NT$32.021. Turnover totalled US$752 million yesterday.