S&P lowers BNP Paribas
Standard and Poor’s (S&P) on Friday lowered the rating of French bank BNP Paribas one notch to “AA-,” citing funding and liquidity concerns, but held the ratings of the country’s other top banks steady. The ratings for Credit Agricole, Societe Generale, BPCe, Credit Mutuel, Caisse Central and the Federal Bank of Credit Mutuel were held at the lower rating of “A+.” S&P lowered the stand-alone credit profiles of these banks, but increased its estimate of the government support they would likely receive in case of difficulty. S&P said the tighter funding conditions would weigh on European banks’ earnings and were pushing the banks to reduce their balance sheets.
Qantas to cut 400 flights
Qantas Airways Ltd, Australia’s biggest carrier, said it would cut almost 400 domestic flights affecting 60,000 passengers for the next month as a result of labor union strikes. Bans on overtime by engineers caused a backlog of maintenance and forced the grounding of five aircraft from next week, Sydney-based Qantas said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. While a planned four-hour strike in Adelaide and one-hour stoppages in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide have been postponed for two weeks, this “will not help get these five grounded aircraft back up in the air,” said Olivia Wirth, a spokeswoman for Qantas. Workers from the airline’s engineering, long-haul pilots and ground crew unions have held strikes, used public address systems to criticize Qantas and banned overtime as they seek higher pay and job security clauses in contracts.
China panel duties mulled
The US must take action against unfairly subsidized solar panel imports from China and other suppliers that threaten the future of US producers, a US lawmaker said on Friday. The US solar industry has been hit hard by competition from China and other countries, which offer cheap financing and other forms of subsidies to support the sector. US Representative Sander Levin, who met with solar industry representatives earlier on Friday, said that without government intervention there could be no US-made solar panels within five years. Levin, a senior Democrat in the US House of Representatives, told reporters one option would be to impose “safeguard” tariffs on Chinese-made solar panels, similar to duties US President Barack Obama placed on Chinese-made tires. However, Levin said he was also concerned about government subsidies South Korea and other producers receive, which suggests a broader approach could be required.
Google Buzz to end
Google is getting ready to press the mute button on Buzz, an online social networking service that turned into a massive faux pas. Buzz will be shut down within the next few weeks, according to a Friday post on Google Inc’s blog. The 20-month-old service probably won’t be missed. If anything, Buzz is destined to be remembered as Google’s botched attempt to build a social network to rival Facebook’s online hangout. Google is now focusing its social networking efforts on Plus, a three-and-a-half-month-old service that has been catching on quickly. Plus already has more than 40 million users and Google CEO Larry Page seems confident it will become an effective weapon for fighting the threat posed by Facebook and its audience of 800 million users.
PLANNED OUT: The government is lifting sale and export restrictions on 60% of the 20 million masks made daily, but people can still make purchases using their NHI cards Twenty thousand boxes of 50 masks each would be on sale at FamilyMart convenience stores starting tomorrow, Taiwan FamilyMart Co Ltd (全家便利商店) said yesterday. A box of 50 masks would cost NT$249 for those with FamilyMart memberships and NT$299 for those without, with no limits placed on how many boxes a person can buy, the company said. Convenience store chain operator Hi-Life International Co Ltd (萊爾富) said that it would also start selling masks from tomorrow. It has yet to announce details about prices and quantity. Hypermarket chain operator Carrefour Taiwan (家樂福) said that it would start selling packs of five
BOOSTING BUYING: A source said that the idea of pre-ordering vouchers online is being considered, but the preliminary plan is for people to buy them at post offices A stimulus voucher program to be rolled out next month to boost consumption would be available not only to Taiwanese, but also foreign nationals and Chinese spouses who hold residency permits, a source familiar with the matter said yesterday. The government is fine-tuning the details of the program, which involves issuing vouchers for in-store purchases to revive buying amid the COVID-19 pandemic. During a radio interview on Monday last week, National Development Council (NDC) Minister Kung Ming-hsin (龔明鑫) said that the plan is to allow anyone, regardless of age or income level, to buy NT$3,000 (US$99.89) worth of vouchers for
Delta Electronics Inc (台達電), the nation’s leading power management solutions provider, has signed an agreement to acquire Canadian software firm Trihedral Engineering Ltd to bolster its smart production efforts, it said on Saturday. Delta said in a statement that it would acquire Trihedral for C$45 million (US$32.68 million) through its 100 percent-owned subsidiary Delta Electronics (Netherlands) BV. Trihedral specializes in supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and industrial Internet of Things software, which would strengthen Delta’s hardware offerings in fast-growing areas such as automation, artificial intelligence and data analytics, it said. “The collection, monitoring and analyzing of data are critical to Delta’s two
‘ONE-STOP SHOP’: A Miaoli official said that the factory in the Jhunan section of the Hsinchu Science Park would create more than 1,000 jobs and boost prosperity A new high-end IC packaging and testing plant planned by contract chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) in Miaoli County is expected to start operations in the middle of next year, Miaoli County Commissioner Hsu Yao-chang (徐耀昌) said. Hsu wrote on Facebook that TSMC, the world’s largest pure wafer foundry operator, would invest NT$303.2 billion (US$10.1 billion) to build the plant, the largest-ever single investment in Taiwan. However, TSMC declined to disclose the financial terms of the deal, while a company board meeting on May 12 approved a spending plan worth NT$168.2 billion as part of its investment plans. Construction of the