■ Taiwan Mobile sells Chunghwa
Taiwan Mobile Co (台灣大哥大), the nation's second-biggest mobile phone operator, said yesterday that it sold 10.3 million shares in competitor Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信) for NT$608 million (US$18.7 million). The company sold the shares between last Friday and Monday at an average price of NT$58.91 each, Taiwan Mobile said in a filing to the Taiwan Stock Exchange Corp. The Taipei-based company will book a NT$129.3 million profit from the disposal, it said. The company plans to unload 200 million shares, or about 2 percent, of Chunghwa Telecom this year, Taiwan Mobile president Harvey Chang (張孝威) announced on Jan. 22. Shares of Chunghwa Telecom on Monday climbed 0.2 percent to NT$59.30. Taiwan Mobile also added 0.2 percent, to NT$30. Taiwan's markets were closed yesterday for a national holiday.
■ Sony Ericsson eyes Q2 launch
Sony Ericsson Mobile Commun-ications Ltd, the world's fifth largest mobile-phone maker, will start selling camera phones with Sony's Cyber-shot brand and handsets with Google Inc blog and Web search functions. The company will start selling the K800 and K790 Cyber-shot handsets in the second quarter, according to a release yesterday from the London-based company. The company also introduced four other phones. Sony Ericsson, which sells music phones under the Walkman brand, is betting on the familiarity of Sony consumer products and the Google brand to fend off competitors. The company was overtaken by LG Electronics Inc last quarter and dropped to fifth place, according to researcher Gartner Inc.
■ CEPD sees end to Fed rate hikes
The US Federal Reserve is not expected to increase the federal funds rate sharply in the coming months and will likely halt the trend by mid-year after raising it to 4.5 percent at the end of January, the Council of Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) said yesterday. The council said that to stop the US economy from overheating and to curb inflation caused by soaring oil prices, the Fed continually raised its federal interest rates last year from 2.25 percent in January to 4.25 percent last December. The rate-hiking moves of the US affected central banks in Europe, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Thailand, who responded in kind to keep their consumer prices in check and in order to stabilize their economies. The council said a series of rate increases in the US has raised borrowing costs and stamped consumer spending, causing concerns that shrinking US domestic consumption could cut a dent in the global trade. The council quoted the Federal Reserve Board's Feb. 21 meeting records as saying the US interest rate has reached a certain level, beyond which the Fed may not raise the rate by a substantive margin. The council forecast the Fed would likely stop raising rates by the middle of this year.
■ Cathay Life unit opens branch
Cathay Life Insurance Corp (國泰人壽), Taiwan's largest life insurer, announced yesterday that its Chinese subsidiary based in Shanghai opened the first branch in Jiangsu Province. Jiangsu, which enjoys GDP per capital of US$3,000 and a leading insurance market scale, is a place to be for insurance companies, Cathay Life said in a statement. Cathay Life broke into China's insurance market by forming a joint venture with China Eastern Air Holding Co (中國東方航空) early last year. The life insurance joint venture created a first-year premium income of 180 million yuan (US$22.4 million) last year, and ranked 14th out of 22 life insurers in Shanghai, Cathay Life said last month.