Mon, Dec 08, 2008 - Page 12 News List

Companies cancel year-end parties to keep costs down

STAFF WRITER

In response to the slowing economy, eight financial holding companies have canceled their traditional year-end dinner parties this year, while around 14 securities firms have followed suit or are considering doing so, media reported last week.

Companies normally organize year-end parties before the Lunar New Year to thank their employees for their hard work over the past year.

It has not been unusual for companies in the financial and technology sectors host very large dinner parties, giving out valuable prizes and company shares to employees and inviting well-known entertainers to perform.

The Chinese-language United Evening News reported that seven or eight financial holding companies who had booked venues as early as October for their year-end parties had all canceled this month to cut costs amid the sluggish economy.

This year’s situation marks a contrast with last year, when Fubon Financial Holding Co (富邦金控), the nation’s second-largest financial group, set a record with dinner parties in Taipei and Tainan for 13,000 employees, with 1,134 tables.

This year, Fubon Group chairman Tsai Wan-tsai (蔡萬才) has called on employees to help the company reduce spending amid difficult times.

The nation’s largest brokerage, Yuanta Core Pacific Securities Co (元大京華證券), celebrated with 9,000 employees early this year to mark the company’s transformation into Yuanta Financial Holdings Co (元大金控) and offered a new car as the top prize in a draw.

Yuanta chairman Yen Ching-chang (顏慶章) said at the party that the company would give out 20 cars at this year’s year-end party if it met its profit target. But the poor stock market performance over the past few months has led the brokerage to scrap its plan and cancel the party altogether.

However, there are also exceptions, such as HTC Corp (宏達電), the world’s largest maker of handsets running on Microsoft Corp’s operating system, and Asustek Computer Inc (華碩電腦), the world’s largest maker of motherboards. Both have been largely unaffected by the economic downturn and are expected to spend more than NT$10 million (US$298,507) each on their year-end parties, media reported.

Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密), the nation’s top electronics component supplier, whose year-end parties have always attracted the most attention given the size of its bonuses, was reported to have considered canceling this year’s party, but the company dismissed the reports.

Hon Hai’s share price has fallen by 70 percent from NT$194.5 on Jan. 2 to close at NT$58.4 on the local bourse yesterday.

Meanwhile, five-star hotels said 30 percent of year-end party bookings had been cancelled during the past week and that the situation appeared to be getting worse, especially in Taipei. To counter the trend, hotel operators are offering an average discount of 20 percent, with some willing to do catering for no profit, as long as the price covers all costs.

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