Directors quit over asbestos
Three directors of building products company James Hardie, including its chairwoman, Meredith Hellicar, resigned yesterday after Australia's corporate watchdog launched legal action against the firm. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) accused James Hardie Industries earlier this month of allegedly misleading the stockmarket about its liabilities to asbestos disease victims. The ASIC action named 10 current and former executives and board members, including Hellicar. The two others who resigned were non-executive directors Michael Brown and Michael Gillfillan. ASIC chairman Jeffrey Lucy said the action would not affect the deal under which James Hardie agreed to pay US$1.55 billion into a compensation fund that will pay out an estimated US$4 billion over the next 40 years.
`Sex addict' vet sues IBM
A man who was fired by IBM for visiting an adult chat room during the workday is suing the computer company for US$5 million in White Plains, New York, claiming he is an Internet addict who deserves treatment and sympathy rather than dismissal. James Pacenza, 58, says he visits chat rooms as treatment for traumatic stress incurred in 1969 when he saw his best friend killed during an Army patrol in the Vietnam War. In papers filed in federal court in White Plains, Pacenza said the stress caused him to become "a sex addict, and with the development of the Internet, an Internet addict." He claimed protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Bombardier unveils new jet
Canadian aerospace firm Bombardier on Monday announced plans to build a 100-seat regional jet to compete with Brazilian rival Embraer. The CRJ1000 will be launched at the end of 2009, four years after Embraer introduced its 190 model, the Montreal-based company said. Bombardier said it has already received 38 firm orders for the aircraft from Air France subsidiary Brit Air, Italy's My Way Airlines and a third unnamed airline, worth about US$2 billion. Two of these airlines may opt to buy another 23 jets, the company said. Company president Pierre Beaudoin said the CRJ1000 would weigh 12.5 tonnes less than Embraer's 190, use smaller engines and cost 15 percent less to fly.
Virgin-Tabcorp tie-up fails
A proposed partnership between Britain's Virgin conglomerate and Australia's Tabcorp to open a casino in Macau has collapsed, a report said yesterday. "We can't see that partnership going anywhere," a source told the South China Morning Post English-language daily. Virgin boss Richard Branson had been tipped to join with Tabcorp on the US$3.0 billion project after he visited the city last month with the Australian gambling outfit's Matthew Slater.
Hyundai sets up Brazil plant
South Korea's top automaker, Hyundai Motor, is building a car plant in Brazil, its first in Latin America, the company said yesterday. The CAOA group, a distributor of Hyundai cars in Brazil, will foot the entire bill for the construction while the South Korean firm supplies it with auto parts, a Hyundai spokesman said. Maeil Business Newspaper said CAOA was investing US$250 million in building the plant at Anapolis south of Brasilia. The plant, expected to open in the first half of this year, will produce 50,000 vehicles a year by 2009, Hyundai said.
■ Memory chips
Elpida sells line to Cension
Elpida Memory Inc, Japan's sole memory chipmaker, will sell its 200mm wafer production line to a partner of China's Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC, 中芯) to focus on more advanced technology. Cension Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp, which is based in Sichuan, China, will buy the line in Japan for an undisclosed amount and make chips for Shanghai-based SMIC, Elpida said on Monday in a filing. "We are moving our resources from 200mm wafer lines to reinforce the 300mm wafer production line," Elpida said. "It's important for us to aggressively offer faster, less energy-consuming memory chips."
Firms fined for price rigging
South Korea's antitrust watchdog said yesterday that it had fined 10 local petrochemical companies a total of US$111 million for rigging the prices of plastic products. The Fair Trade Commission accused the companies of having held monthly price-fixing meetings since 1994 on their polypropylene and high-density polyethylene products, mostly used for plastic containers and bottles. The 10 companies were fined a total of 105.1 billion won (US$111.8 million), it said.
Airbus to cut 10,000 jobs
Airbus' major restructuring strategy includes 10,000 job cuts, French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin announced yesterday, adding that his government would oppose any cutbacks in the form of layoffs. A day earlier, Airbus said an announcement on its long-awaited restructuring plan -- called the "Power8" turnaround strategy -- had been delayed. The European aircraft maker called off a works council meeting and news conference at which the strategy would have been unveiled yesterday. Villepin told RTL radio that French President Jacques Chirac would discuss the issue with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a meeting on Friday.
Rates pressure Prudential
Prudential Plc, the UK's second-biggest insurer, is coming under pressure to slash the value of its Taiwanese life business by as much as ?700 million (US$1.31 billion, NT$43.23 billion) when it reports full-year results next month, the Independent newspaper reported yesterday, without citing sources. The paper said Prudential would likely follow the lead set by Dutch rival ING in cutting the value of its business in Taiwan, where the UK firm has a large number of life insurance policies offering guaranteed returns of up to 7 percent. With local interest rates running at 2.75 percent, Prudential can no longer cover those guarantees by investing in government and local corporate bonds, the paper said.
■ State firms
Indonesia to cut holdings
Indonesia will reduce the number of state-owned companies from 139 to 69 by 2009 through privatization or liquidation, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said. "The target in 2009 is set at 69 state-owned companies. Some of them should be merged, privatised or liquidated," the official Antara news agency quoted him as saying late on Monday. Kalla said that number could be further cut to 25 by 2015. He said state firms' profit before tax was projected to grow 22.50 percent this year to reach 88.75 trillion rupiah (US$980 million), against a projected 72.44 trillion last year.
POOR INTERNAL CONTROLS: Insurance Bureau Director-General Shih Chiung-hwa said the company is expected to get back on track while its chairman is suspended The Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) yesterday fined Shin Kong Life Insurance Co (新光人壽) NT$27.6 million (US$939,415) for a reckless investment that endangered its solvency, and suspended its chairman Eugene Wu (吳東進) for poor supervision. The penalty is the second-highest in a single case after Nan Shan Life Insurance Co (南山人壽) was fined NT$30 million in September last year and its chairman Du Ying-tzyong (杜英宗) suspended for two years, the commission said. In three rounds of special and regular examinations conducted since last year, the commission found that Shin Kong Life had given too much power to an asset and liability management committee
HEAVY INVESTMENT: Moody’s affirmed the firm’s ‘Aa3’ rating with a ‘stable’ outlook due to its leading position in the industry and ability to match customer requirements Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co’s (TSMC, 台積電) revenue this year is expected to increase about 21 percent to NT$1.29 trillion (US$44.01 billion) from NT$1.07 trillion last year, driven by strong demand for advanced 5-nanometer and 7-nanometer chips mainly used in smartphones and high-performance computing devices, a Moody’s Investors Service report on Wednesday said. TSMC’s rate of revenue growth next year is to increase to 7.5 percent, the ratings agency said. The company, which supplies 5-nanometer chips for Apple Inc’s new iPad series, has introduced the advanced chips ahead of its competitors and gained a significant share of the market for the foundry industry’s
Sony Corp has cut its estimated Play Station 5 (PS5) production for this fiscal year by 4 million units, down to about 11 million, following production issues with its custom-designed system-on-chip (SOC) for the new console, people familiar with the matter said. The Tokyo-based electronics giant in July boosted orders with suppliers in anticipation of heightened demand for gaming in the holiday season and beyond, as people spend more time at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the company has come up against manufacturing issues, such as production yields as low as 50 percent for its SOC, which have cut into
O2O BICYCLE SHOW: The Taiwan Bicycle Show next year is to be online to offline, with forums, audio-visual conferences and livestreaming of the offline events Local bicycle makers expect demand to continue outpacing supply due to orders triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, with some companies seeing orders back up through next year. “Next year is all full in terms of orders. Our lead time on components is one year,” Giant Manufacturing Co Ltd (巨大機械) chairwoman Bonnie Tu (杜綉珍) told a news conference in Taipei organized by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) to announce next year’s Taipei Cycle Show. The pandemic has reduced bicycle supplies and increased demand around the world, Robert Wu (吳盈進), chairman of KMC (Kuei Meng) International Inc (桂盟國際), one of the world’s