Wed, Dec 03, 2008 - Page 11 News List

[BUSINESS BRIEFS]

STAFF WRITER, WITH AGENCIES

Chipmakers limit costs

Semiconductor firms in Taiwan, especially the hard hit dynamic random access memory (DRAM) manufacturers who have suffered huge losses from oversupply, were asking their employees to take a longer-than-usual break to save costs amid falling demand.

Nanya Technology Corp (南亞科技) and Inotera Memories Inc (華亞科技) were the first among the nation’s big four DRAM companies to ask their employees to take three days off per week in October. ProMOS Technologies Inc (茂德科技) followed suit last month.

Unlike its rivals, Powerchip Semiconductor Corp (PSC, 力晶半導體), the nation’s largest computer memory chipmaker, implemented a different cost saving measure by cutting the monthly salaries of section chiefs and above by 10 percent to 20 percent.

Intel, Hitachi cooperate

Intel Corp, the world’s biggest chipmaker, agreed to develop flash-memory disk drives with Hitachi Ltd for servers, workstations and storage computers.

The solid-state drives should go on sale by early 2010, the companies said on Monday in a joint statement. Unlike conventional drives, which rely on spinning magnetic disks to store information, flash memory has no moving parts.

Prices of the benchmark flash-memory chip have fallen about 70 percent this year amid an industry oversupply, figures from Dramexchange Technology Inc (集邦科技), operator of Asia’s largest spot market for chips, showed. Solid-state drives would represent another market for Intel memory chips.

Banks announce writedowns

Mega Financial Holding Co (兆豐金控), Taiwan’s third-largest financial services company by market value, and Hua Nan Financial Holdings Co (華南金控) said their bank units had written down the value of overseas investments amid economic turmoil.

Mega International Commercial Bank (兆豐國際商銀) booked losses of US$6.5 million and 9.56 million euros (US$12 million), Mega Financial said in a Taiwan stock exchange statement on Monday. The company gave no further details on what the investments were.

Hua Nan Commercial Bank (華南銀行) recorded a loss of NT$1.09 billion (US$33 million) on Iceland-linked investments, its parent said in a separate stock exchange filing.

CPC lowers natural gas price

The state-run oil refiner CPC Corp, Taiwan (CPC, 台灣中油) announced yesterday it would cut domestic natural gas prices by 2.99 percent on average, retroactive to Monday, marking the largest natural gas price drop announced by CPC since it was authorized to do so.

The news came as a surprise as the firm had initially said it would not lower natural gas prices until next month.

CPC said its natural gas department had an accumulated loss of NT$35 billion this year, as imported liquefied natural gas prices were higher than its domestic prices in the first 11 months

NT dollar drops

The New Taiwan dollar fell to its lowest point in more than a week on concern that the global economic slowdown would erode profit in the nation’s economy.

The NT dollar declined a second day against the US dollar, down 0.4 percent to close at NT$33.489 on the Taipei Forex Inc. The local currency earlier touched NT$33.516, the lowest level since Nov. 21.

“The Taiwan stock exchange is heavily skewed toward corporates with large export components,” said Dwyfor Evans, a currency strategist at State Street Global Markets in Hong Kong. “There will be concern about capital outflows if we continue to see local corporates coming under pressure. There’s got to be some sort of managed depreciation in the currency.”

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