Fri, Nov 30, 2007 - Page 11 News List

Business Briefs

STAFF WRITER, WITH AGENCIES

Shares rise as investors cheer

Shares closed 2.06 percent higher yesterday as investors cheered two days of solid gains on Wall Street and hints that the US may cut interest rates next month, dealers said.

A pullback in oil prices also lifted investor sentiment, encouraging buying of large-caps and conglomerates, they said.

The TAIEX closed up 170.77 points at 8,447.03, after moving in the range of 8,376.09 and 8,481.45, on turnover of NT$120.99 billion (US$3.75 billion).

Risers led decliners 1,394 to 660, with 390 stocks unchanged. A total of 22 stocks closed limit-up, while 30 were limit-down.

On the foreign exchange market, the New Taiwan dollar ended the day's session at NT$32.300 to the US dollar, up NT$0.026 from the previous close.

NPL ratio steady

The local banking sector's asset quality was little changed after its non-performing loans (NPL) ratio maintained its level at 2.16 percent last month, Financial Supervisory Commission statistics showed yesterday.

The nation's 39 banks had a total of NT$380.9 billion (US$11.79 billion) in bad loans by the end of last month -- a fall of NT$900 million from September, the data showed.

The NPL ratio for unsecured credit card and cash card loans also fluctuated slightly. The nation's 42 credit card issuers had a total of NT$120.1 billion in consumer lending, 2.13 percent of which turned sour last month -- up from September's 2.11 percent.

The bad loan ratio of cash card lending further declined by 0.26 percent from the previous month to 6.53 percent last month, the commission said.

RBC ratio limit set at 200%

Beginning from January, the nation's insurance companies will be required to maintain a benchmarked risk-based capital (RBC) ratio of above 200 percent or face a penalty, the Financial Supervisory Commission said yesterday.

Empowered by revisions to the Insurance Law (保險法), the financial regulator will be entitled to suspend sales of insurance products by insurers, life or non-life, whose RBC ratios fall within the 200 percent to 150 percent level, or restrict their management from collecting salaries or bonuses.

Board members of insurers whose RBC ratio drops below 150 percent will be relieved from their posts until improvements are made, the commission said.

The worst that can happen to insurers is the regulator stepping in to take over debt-ridden companies if RBC ratios fall to a single digit percentage figure, although the commission has yet to earmark a standard level at which insurers exit the market.

Novatek to acquire Cheertek

Novatek Microelectronics Corp (聯詠), Taiwan's biggest maker of chips for liquid-crystal displays, will acquire Cheertek Inc (其樂達) through a share swap valued at NT$3.58 billion (US$111 million).

Novatek will issue new shares and trade one for every 3.75 of Cheertek's stock, the companies said in a statement yesterday.

The swap ratio is equivalent to a 29 percent premium of Cheertek's closing price yesterday at NT$27.50. Novatek ended trading unchanged at NT$133.

The takeover will be effective from June 30, the companies said in the statement.

Merrill Lynch now hiring

Merrill Lynch & Co said it will hire at least 60 people for its private banking unit in Taiwan by the end of next year.

"The potential for wealth management is so high that we plan to start our private client services in the first quarter of next year," company spokesman Albert Lee (李玉秋) said in an interview in Taipei yesterday.

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