Sun, Jul 16, 2006 - Page 11 News List

Business Briefs

STAFF WRITER WITH AGENCIES

■ Semiconductors
ASE, Powerchip ink pact

Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc (ASE, 日月光), the world's biggest semiconductor packaging and testing services provider, announced late on Friday that it had signed an agreement with Powerchip Semiconductor Corp (力晶半導體) to establish a joint venture for IC packaging and testing. In a filing made to the Taiwan Stock Exchange, ASE said the company will invest US$30 million in the US$50 million venture, Power ASE Technology Inc (日月鴻科技), while the nation's largest memory chipmaker Powerchip will contribute US$20 million. ASE said its chairman Jason Chang (張虔生) will lead Power ASE, which is expected to start commercial operations in the fourth quarter of this year on a 2,052 ping (6771.6m2) plant in Jhongli (中壢) in Taoyuan County, according to the filing.

■ Real estate

Malaysia luring expats

Malaysia hopes to persuade 100,000 expatriates to set up second homes in the Southeast Asian country by the end of next year, news reports said yesterday. The "Malaysia My Second Home" program has attracted 8,574 people from the UK, Australia, the US and across Asia since its launch in 1992. A participant must have 300,000 ringgit (US$81,800) to deposit in a Malaysian bank, up to 250,000 ringgit of which can be spent on housing, education or medical treatments. Successful applicants in the program are issued a renewable 10-year social visit pass.

■ Finance

Pair convicted for skimming

A pair of New York Stock Exchange specialists were convicted on Friday of securities fraud in a case where they were accused of stealing US$1 million apiece by skimming small amounts of money from stocks they were entrusted to oversee. Michael Hayward and Michael Stern, who worked for Van der Moolen Specialists USA LLC, were each convicted by a Manhattan federal jury of a single count of securities fraud. They now face up to 20 years in prison. In closing arguments one week ago, Assistant US Attorney Anthony Barkow said the two defendants repeatedly stole pennies until it added up to US$1 million apiece. The pair continued the practice from January 1999 to June 2003, Barkow said.

■ Labor

Singapore to lift worker levy

Singapore will raise the foreign-worker levy paid by employers in order to lower demand, the Ministry of Manpower said. The skilled foreign-worker levy will be raised to S$150 (US$94) a month from S$100 from Jan. 1, the ministry said in a statement on Friday. The levy was reduced during the Asian financial crisis in 1998 and 1999 to stimulate the then-struggling economy.

■ Oil

PDVSA changes plans

Venezuela's state oil company said it was downgrading plans to expand a refinery in Uruguay, and announced it will study boosting capacity at a Paraguayan facility. Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, signed a memorandum of understanding with Uruguay's Ancap to increase the capacity of the La Teja refinery by only 20 percent to 60,000 barrels a day, the company said in a statement late on Friday. PDVSA also announced on Friday that it would send technical experts soon to study the possibility of expanding Paraguay's Villa Elisa refinery. The company said it hopes to boost capacity from 7,000 barrels a day to as many as 12,000, and let it process heavy crude.

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