■ ITRI wins award
The Industrial Technology Research Institute's (ITRI, 工研院) Incubator Center was awarded the 2006 Randall M. Whaley Incubator of the Year Award by the National Business Incubation Association, according to a statement released yesterday. ITRI is the first Asian institution to win the award at the asso-ciation's 20th International Conference on Business Incubation in St. Louis, the statement said. The award is the association's most prestigious honor that recognizes overall incubator excellence. Opened in Hsinchu in 1996, the ITRI Incubator Center offers clients nearly 13,000m2 of space, which they can use for offices or research facilities. It also provides expertise, networks and tools for entrepreneurs. Johnsee Lee (李鍾熙), president of ITRI, said the center had so far helped create 140 companies with a total investment of NT$47 billion. ITRI-assisted companies include Phison Electronics Corp (群聯電子), which in 2001 developed the Pen Drive, the world's first USB flash removable disk.
■ Macquarie allowed to buy TBC
Macquarie Media Group, Aus-tralia's biggest commercial radio operator, said it had obtained the approval from Taiwan's Investment Commission to acquire Taiwan Broadband Communications (台灣寬頻通訊), Taiwan's third-largest cable TV provider and a broadband provider, from Carlyle Group, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday. The A$1.19 billion (US$916 million) deal will be undertaken by a consortium made up of the group and one of its shareholders, Macquarie Bank Ltd, the report said. The acquisition is expected to be settled within the next week, it said. The group said it wants to increase the range of services it provides to its current 90,000 Internet and 650,000 cable TV subscribers. Carlyle, a US buyout firm, bought Taiwan Broadband in 1999 for about US$200 million.
■ Chipmakers ordering again
Taiwanese chipmakers that put off capacity increases last year are starting to order again, said Stephen Newberry, chief executive officer of Lam Research Corp. "The foundries are coming back," he said in an interview. "That's making for a wafer-fab equipment market that we expect will be up somewhere around 22 percent to 25 percent this year." Companies such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (台積電) and United Microelectronics Corp (聯電) spent last year finding work for new plants and equipment that they added the previous year, Newberry said. The worldwide market for chip equipment shrank 11 percent to US$33 billion last year.
■ Nanya Technology's margins up
Nanya Technology Corp (南亞科技), the nation's biggest memory-chip maker, said its gross margin in the second quarter will probably rise from the previous three months because of higher product prices. Gross margin rose to 24 percent in the first quarter from 18 percent in the final three months of last year, the company said on April 18. "The second quarter has been better than we expected," Nanya Technology vice president Pai Pei-lin (白培霖), said yesterday. "De-mand is improving for June and prices will in turn rise."
■ Citigroup hires `Mr. Taiwan'
Citigroup Inc has hired Peter Kurz from BNP Paribas SA to head its equity research in Taiwan. Kurz was dubbed "Mr. Taiwan" by local media while at Merrill Lynch & Co for his fluency in Mandarin and familiarity with the country. He often appears in the media as a commentator. Kurz, who will replace Kent Chan (陳衛斌), will start work in Taipei next month.