■ AIG to double assets
American International Group (AIG), the world's largest insurer, is seeking to double the assets its Taiwan units manage to US$6 billion by helping companies such as Janus Capital Group Inc sell their products in Taiwan. "I would be disappointed if assets under management in the next three to five years haven't doubled," said Steven Guterman, senior managing director at AIG Global Investment Group. Janus Capital, a US manager of US$158 billion in assets, yesterday appointed AIG Global Investment as lead distributor of its 14 mutual funds in Taiwan. Guterman said the group is planning to line up with different firms to introduce more products.
■ Taishin wants Chang Hwa stock
Taishin Financial Holding Co (台新金控), the nation's second largest financial group by assets, said yesterday it planned to buy another 7.5 percent stake in Chang Hwa Bank (彰化銀行) on the open market within a year. The investment plan was subject to regulator approval, the company said. This could cost Taishin Financial up to NT$10.23 billion (US$322 million) based on Chang Hwa's closing share price of NT$22.2 on the local bourse. Taishin Financial currently holds a 22.5 percent stake and eight board seats in the state-controlled bank. The planned investment would boost its shareholding to 30 percent by the year end and enable Taishin's to take over Chang Hwa next year at the soonest, it said.
■ China United gets approval
Financial Supervisory Commission officials gave conditional approval yesterday for China United Trust and Investment Corp (中聯信託) to become a commercial bank. China United would become the nation's 46th bank if the transformation takes effect in the future. "We agreed to allow the company turn into a commercial bank when they are fully qualified," spokesman Lin Chung-cheng (林忠正) said at a press briefing. Requirements include a capital adequacy ratio at 8 percent, a minimum net worth of NT$5 billion and a non-performing loan ratio of less than 5 percent, Lin said. China United currently has a net worth of over NT$3 billion and is in talks with foreign investors regarding fundraising, the official said. According to the Trust Law (信託業法), the nation's three trust and investment firms were required to restructure their capital and convert into either commercial banks or professional trust companies by June last year.
■ Tourism co-op profitable
Eastern Multimedia Group (東森集團) and Cendant Corp, the world's biggest travel services company, said their collaboration in the local tourism industry was expected to generate an additional US$100 million in revenue in the first year. The cooperation includes Eastern Multimedia's Eastern Sunny Hill Spa and Resort joining Cendant's time-share vacation home program, said Frank Wu (吳岱勳), chief executive of the group's Eastern Leisure & Recreation Co, in a briefing yesterday. The resort has 294 units in northern Taiwan. Eastern Multimedia and Cendant signed an agreement in December to jointly operate a travel membership club in Taiwan.
■ Central Bank may intervene
The nation's central bank will enter the currency market to maintain order if needed, George Chou (周阿定), the bank's head of foreign exchange said yesterday. "We'll enter the market to make adjustments if there are abnormal expectations or seasonal factors affecting it," Chou said. "We'll monitor the market closely." The New Taiwan dollar fell NT$0.062 to close at NT$31.689 against its US counterpart on the Taipei foreign exchange market. Turnover was US$1.201 billion.