Fri, Aug 25, 2006 - Page 11 News List

Business Briefs

STAFF WRITER WITH AGENCIES

■ Stocks close unchanged

Shares closed flat yesterday in thin trade as Wall Street's overnight losses dragged on a market already weighed down by local political uncertainties, dealers said.

They said US stocks fell after a report showed US home sales last month slumped to their lowest level since January 2004, raising fears of a slowdown in the world's largest economy.

The weighted index closed down 5.69 points at 6,550.64, off a low of 6,525.36 and a high of 6,570.62, on turnover of NT$58.42 billion (US$1.78 billion).

Bargain-hunting lost momentum over mounting political concerns as more than 1 million people have signed up for an indefinite sit-in protest to oust President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) over al-leged corruption, dealers said.

■ Union Bank to sell off bad loans

Union Bank (聯邦銀行) plans to sell NT$4.1 billion of bad credit to strengthen its balance sheet after acquiring a failed rival last year.

The auction will help trim non-performing loans to 2.8 percent of all credit, from 3.4 percent at the end of last month, the Taipei-based lender said in a statement to the Taiwan Stock Exchange yesterday without giving details.

Union Bank completed its NT$7.1 billion purchase of the loans, deposits and branch network of failed Chung Shing Bank (中興銀行) in March last year after outbidding rivals three months earlier.

■ Elitegroup-Uniwill deal approved

The Fair Trade Commission approved Elitegroup Computer Systems Co's (精英電腦) acquisition of Uniwill Computer Corp (志合電腦) yesterday, saying in a statement that the merger would not create a monopoly in the industry or cause unfair competition.

Both companies are Taiwanese second-tier computer makers. Last year, Elitegroup's market share in the notebook production was 0.01 percent, while Uniwill controlled 3.65 percent, the commission said.

On July 10, Elitegroup said it would take over Uniwill through a share swap with the release of 1.85 billion new shares. One of Elitegroup's shares will be exchanged for two of Uniwill's shares.

■ China Airlines profits plunge

China Airlines (華航), the nation's largest carrier, said that first-half profit fell 82 percent, as rising fuel costs wiped out sales gains.

Net income was NT$128 million, or NT$0.03 a share, in the six months to June 30, compared with NT$695 million, or a revised NT$0.18, a year earlier, the Taipei-based airline said in a filing to the Taiwan Stock Exchange yesterday.

Sales climbed 14 percent to NT$56.6 billion.

The price of jet fuel averaged US$80.66 a barrel in Singapore in the first half, 28 percent higher than a year earlier, according to Bloomberg data.

■ Europe-focused fund planned

National Investment Trust Co (建弘投信), the nation's fourth-largest mutual fund company, which manages US$3.7 billion in assets, plans to start a NT$8 billion fund to buy European stocks and bonds such as those of Siemens AG, LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, and Nokia Oyj, said Roger Chiao, who will manage the money.

"Europe has world class companies and brand names like Louis Vuitton and Gucci and we believe investors in Taiwan should be tapping their successes," Chiao said.

National Investment's product list curently includes assets in Asia and the US.

■ NT dollar declines

The New Taiwan dollar weakened against the US counterpart on the Taipei Foreign Exchange yesterday, declining NT$0.066 to close at NT$32.845 on turnover of US$858 million.

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