Low oil prices cause deficit
Lower oil prices have pushed the country into a rare budget deficit, ending 16 straight years of surpluses, Minister of Finance Anas al-Saleh said. The government recorded a budget shortfall of 4.6 billion dinars (US$15.23 billion) in the fiscal year that ended on March 31, al-Saleh said in a statement. It was the first shortfall since the fiscal year to March 1999. Revenue dropped by 45 percent to US$45.2 billion, while spending was cut by 14.8 percent to US$60.5 billion, the minister said. Oil income was US$40.1 billion, a slump of 46.3 percent from the previous year, he said. Oil accounted for 89 percent of total revenue, down from 95 percent in previous years.
Trade surplus falloff slows
The country’s trade surplus beat expectations to shrink only slightly in June after a return to growth in exports, official figures showed yesterday. The trade surplus is watched closely as a gauge of an economy’s strength, and had shrunk unexpectedly in May as the country sold less abroad. The nation in June sold 21.7 billion euros (US$24.1 billion) more in goods than it bought abroad, a slight decrease from May’s 22.2 billion euros, the Federal Statistical Office reported. Analysts had expected the surplus to shrink much more quickly to 17.5 billion euros. Compared with the previous month, exports grew by 0.3 percent to 99.8 billion euros in seasonally-adjusted terms in June. Meanwhile, imports grew faster, by 1 percent, to 78.2 billion euros as Germans bought more from abroad.
Oracle confirms Micros hack
US business software giant Oracle Corp on Monday confirmed that hackers infected software in Micros credit card scanners used at hotels and restaurants around the world. “Oracle Security has detected and addressed malicious code in certain legacy Micros systems,” Oracle said in a letter to customers. “Oracle is requiring Micros customers to change the passwords for all Micros accounts.” Oracle bought Micros Systems Inc two years ago in a deal valued at US$5.3 billion. At the time of the acquisition, Micros technology was used in more than 330,000 restaurants, shops and hotels in about 180 countries. Oracle did not reveal the extent or severity of the attack, which computer assault news Web site KrebsOnSecurity.com attributed to a Russian organized crime group with a reputation for hacking banks and shops. Oracle said in the letter that its internal systems and other cloud services were not breached.
Randstad to buy Monster
Randstad Holding NV agreed to buy US jobs Web site Monster Worldwide Inc for US$429 million, extending the Dutch staffing provider’s online reach in the US. Randstad is to pay US$3.40 per share in cash for Weston, Massachusetts-based Monster, the companies said in a statement yesterday. That was 23 percent more than Monster’s closing price on Monday. The purchase is to bolster Amsterdam-based Randstad’s position in the US. Monster will continue to operate as a separate entity under the Monster name, according to the statement. The acquisition will immediately add to Randstad’s earnings per share. The buyer plans to begin a tender offer, and aims to complete the transaction in the fourth quarter of this year. Randstad’s acquisitions over the past nine months will add about 2 billion euros on an annualized basis to revenue, the company said, adding that it will now slow the pace of purchases to focus on integration.
NOTABLE SHIFT: By 2030, 50% of all laptops would be assembled in Southeast Asia, while Taiwan would still mostly focus on research and development, a report said Global laptop and desktop computer supply chains are expected to shift significantly away from China in the next 10 years, a Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute (MIC, 產業情報研究所) report said. By 2030, only 40 percent of global laptop production would remain in China, said the report, which was released on Thursday. “The reshuffling of the global supply chain will be one of the most important trends in the next 10 years,” the institute said in the report. “In the long run, key component makers will follow laptop assemblers in moving out of China.” The Taipei-based institute predicted most key component makers
Merck Group Taiwan yesterday said that it plans to invest substantially on expanding its fab in Kaohsiung’s Lujhu District (路竹) to better serve its local customers, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電). The company said it plans to expand its production space by 50 percent in the next five years and its workforce by about 40 percent, Merck Group Taiwan managing director Dick Hsieh (謝志宏) told a media briefing in Taipei. Hsieh declined to disclose investment details, but said that the latest investment would exceed the total amount Merck has invested in Taiwan over the past few years. Those investments would be
INVEST IN TAIWAN: A metal components casting firm and the world’s largest maker of aluminum bicycle rims also obtained approvals to join the program Solar Applied Materials Technology Co (SOLAR, 光洋應用材料), a part of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co’s (TSMC, 台積電) “green supply chain,” has pledged to invest NT$1 billion (US$34.1 million) to build a new plant at the Tainan Technology Industrial Park (台南科技工業區), the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday. SOLAR has been collaborating with TSMC to extract precious metals from waste and reuse them as “sputtering target” material in high-end semiconductor manufacturing, a TSMC press release issued in May said. Established in 1978, SOLAR also offers key materials and integrated services to customers in the optoelectronics, information and communications technology, petrochemicals and consumer electronics industries,
‘SWARM TECH’: Joint venture FARobot is to develop autonomous mobile robots that would first be deployed in Hon Hai’s factories to optimize production efficiency Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) and Adlink Technology Inc (凌華科技) have formed a robotic venture that aims to use “swarm technology” to create robots that can communicate with one another on the factory floor to optimize production efficiency. Hon Hai is Apple Inc’s leading iPhone assembler and the world’s largest contract electronics maker, while Adlink supplies industrial computers and Internet of Things solutions. Through a subsidiary, Hyield Venture Capital Co (鴻揚創投), Hon Hai holds a 51 percent stake in autonomous mobile robot (AMR) developer FARobot (法博智能移動), while Adlink owns the remaining 49 percent. Together, the two companies put up NT$200