Starbucks eyes tea drinkers
Starbucks Corp plans to increase its global tea business to US$3 billion over the next five years as it starts selling its new line of drinks, Teavana, across the Asia-Pacific region following the products’ debut in China last week. China is Starbucks’ fastest-growing market and the Seattle-based coffee chain is opening 500 stores per year in the world’s most populous nation, aiming for a total of 3,400 stores by 2019. The company is looking to China for growth momentum, honing in on China’s 63.2 billion yuan (US$9.5 billion) tea fixation, which is almost 10 times bigger than the nation’s coffee market. Starbucks’ new tea products might also align with Chinese consumers’ growing demand for products aimed at promoting a healthy lifestyle, it said.
Oil-industry losses rise
Norway’s financial regulator said that banks exposed to oil-industry losses face a rise in impairments that would erode profits as the full effect of the slump in crude oil prices runs its course. However, banks will not see “a dramatic impairment of their solvency,” Norwegian Financial Supervisory Authority Director-General Morten Baltzersen said in Oslo. Norwegian banks have doubled their loan losses over the past year, writing down 0.34 percent of gross loans at the end of June. At DNB ASA, Norway’s biggest bank, SpareBank 1 SR-Bank ASA and SpareBank 1 SMN aggregate loan losses rose almost three-fold over the same period, according to Moody’s. Baltzersen said the watchdog has “emphasized” to the banks it oversees the necessity of building adequate capital buffers to absorb losses on risky exposures.
Barroso to be investigated
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has opened a probe into whether his predecessor, Jose Manuel Barroso, breached EU ethics guidelines by joining US investment bank Goldman Sachs, where he is to advise on Britain leaving the EU. In a letter to the EU’s official watchdog, Juncker also said that Barroso would now be received at the commission as a lobbyist rather than as a former president. Juncker said his team would send Barroso “a letter asking him to provide clarification on his new responsibilities and the terms of reference of his contract, on which I will seek the advice of the Ad Hoc Ethical Committee.” Barroso’s appointment to the role as non-executive chairman and adviser at the US investment bank has caused a furore in the EU, with French President Francois Hollande deeming it “morally unacceptable.”
US solar installations soar
US solar installations surged 43 percent in the second quarter largely because of a wave of utility-scale projects going into service to take advantage of a tax credit that was due to expire. Developers added 2,051 megawatts in the quarter, up from 1,436 megawatts a year earlier, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). With an additional 7.8 gigawatts under construction, more solar capacity is on pace to be connected in the second half of this year than has ever come online in a single year, the Washington-based industry group said yesterday in a report produced with GTM Research. The biggest reason for the strong second-quarter growth was that utility-scale developers had scheduled record numbers of projects this year in anticipation of the federal investment tax credit expiring in December, SEIA vice president of markets and research Justin Baca said.
NO VIRUS BLUES: A SEMI Taiwan official said that the virus does not slow down the global semiconductor industry’s investment in manufacturing equipment The production value of the nation’s semiconductor industry is expected to grow 16.7 percent this year from last year, outpacing the global industry’s 3.3 percent growth, industry association SEMI said yesterday. That would help Taiwan safeguard its second spot in the global semiconductor market with a production value of more than NT$3 trillion (US$102.73 billion), SEMI Taiwan president Terry Tsao (曹世綸) told a media briefing in Taipei for the Semicon Taiwan trade show beginning today. The global semiconductor industry’s production value is expected to increase to US$426 billion this year, SEMI said. In terms of semiconductor equipment investment, equipment billings from Taiwanese firms
Intel Corp has received licenses from US authorities to continue supplying certain products to Huawei Technologies Co (華為), a company spokesman said yesterday. Washington has been pushing governments around to world to squeeze out Huawei, saying that the telecom giant would hand data to Beijing for espionage. From Monday last week, new curbs have barred US companies from supplying or servicing Huawei. This week, the state-backed China Securities Journal reported that Intel had received permission to supply Huawei. China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC, 中芯國際), which uses US-origin equipment to make chips for Huawei and other companies, last week confirmed that it had sought
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