Spain improving: Moody’s
Moody’s raised its rating outlook for Spain to “stable” from “negative” on Wednesday, citing signs of real improvement in the economy and government finances. Moody’s left the overall rating for Spanish debt unchanged at “Baa3” — just above junk-bond level — but the change in the outlook reduced the likelihood of another downgrade as the country works to rebound from its financial crisis. Evidence that the economy is adjusting to new market conditions and improved growth prospects for the medium term “supports Moody’s view that Spain’s public finances are on a slowly improving trend,” it said.
Survey hints at US growth
A US Federal Reserve survey showed on Wednesday that the US economy continues to grow steadily, with gains in all regions and most industries. The Fed’s regular Beige Book report, which will feed into its policy meeting on Dec. 17 and Dec. 18, painted a generally good picture of the economy in the wake of October’s government shutdown. Even so, growth was described as still just “modest to moderate,” shy of the robust pace policymakers have been aiming for with their huge stimulus program.
Firms move on Russia
Japan Tobacco (JT) and Philip Morris will each buy a 20 percent stake in Russian distributor Megapolis for a total of more than US$1.5 billion, as the rivals move to tap the world’s second-biggest cigarette market. JT said it would pay US$750 million for its share in the firm, plus another US$100 million tied to the distributor’s “operational performance.” US giant Philip Morris separately announced a deal with similar terms. Megapolis has a 70 percent share of Russia’s distribution market, delivering more than 260 billion cigarettes last year, JT said.
French connection for China
Beijing has approved a long-awaited US$1.3 billion joint venture between French automaker Renault — the last of the global top 10 automakers without production in the world’s biggest market — and China’s Dongfeng (東風), the Chinese firm said yesterday. Renault and Dongfeng will each have a 50 percent share in the new company, which will produce 150,000 multipurpose vehicles and engines per year. The two will invest a total of 7.8 billion yuan (US$1.3 billion) in the joint venture, which will be based in Wuhan, Hubei Province, Dongfeng said.
‘SpongeBob’ made free
SpongeBob SquarePants and other Nickelodeon children’s programs will be dubbed into Mandarin and made available to watch free online in China over the next 12 months. The deal between popular Web portal Sohu.com (搜狐) and Viacom announced yesterday is the latest to give a foreign company more access to China’s viewing market. The companies say the deal will enable an estimated 389 million Chinese online video users to access free Nickelodeon programming on Sohu’s Web site.
Nokia takeover gets nod
The European Commission approved on Wednesday Microsoft Corp’s nearly 5.5 billion euro takeover of the mobile phone business of Finland’s Nokia which once dominated the global industry. The acquisition does “not raise any competition concerns, in particular because there are only modest overlaps between” the two companies, the Commission said in a statement.
Gogoro Inc (睿能創意) yesterday launched its first electric bicycle, the Gogoro Eeyo 1, in Taiwan, after unveiling the bike in New York in late May and in France on Tuesday. The company said it would also introduce the series in other European countries such as Germany and the Netherlands. The “Eeyo project” is the fourth of Gogoro’s eight projects that concentrate on smart transportation, which includes Gogoro’s electric scooter, battery swap system and electric scooter sharing service, company founder and chief executive officer Horace Luke (陸學森) told a media briefing in Taipei. “There are various types of city commuters. We will not
EXPERIMENTAL DRUG: While news about a COVID-19 vaccine is more eye-catching, developing a treatment would be more viable, the Senhwa boss said Senhwa Biosciences Inc (生華科) aims to raise NT$1.5 billion (US$50.57 million) by issuing 15 million new common shares in the third quarter of this year to fund the research of new drugs, including the experimental drug Silmitasertib for the treatment of COVID-19, the company said on Monday. That would be the firm’s largest fundraising effort after it raised more than NT$1.4 billion from an initial public offering on the Taipei Exchange (TPEX) in April 2017, chief financial officer Sarah Chang (張小萍) told the Taipei Times by telephone. The price of the new shares would depend on the firm’s average share price
NOT A PANACEA: Offering 5G services would not solve the problem of declining telecom incomes, chairman Sheih Chi-mau said, expecting a flat 5G telecom revenue Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信) yesterday became the nation’s first telecom to debut its 5G services, offering tiered tariffs that include a threshold of NT$599 and flat rates, as it aims to switch half of its subscribers to the 5G network within three years. Subscribers would have unlimited data transmission for monthly fees starting at NT$1,399 — the same flat rate as when the company launched its 4G service in 2014 — and they can subscribe to the highest-rate plan for NT$2,699 per month for faster data transmission speeds and larger bandwidth, the company said. Data transmission speeds would be within the range
ROW: A probe would determine if the rights of shareholders who were not allowed to vote yesterday had been violated, while the stock exchange also wants answers The election of board directors yesterday at Tatung Co (大同) sparked controversy after the company blocked some institutional and individual shareholders from participating in the general shareholders’ meeting, prompting the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) to announce that the vote would be investigated. Lin Kuo Wen-yen (林郭文艷) was re-elected as chairwoman of the household-appliance maker’s nine-member board, but prior to the vote she announced that several shareholders would not have voting rights. They were being denied a vote because they had contravened the Business Mergers and Acquisitions Act (企業併購法), and the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and