Chinese firm buys Baccarat
French crystal maker Baccarat is changing hands 253 years after it was founded by royal decree of King Louis XV. Chinese investment firm Fortune Fountain Capital Ltd (灃沅弘集團) is buying a controlling stake from Baccarat’s private equity owners for about 164 million euros (US$184 million), it said in a statement yesterday. The deal ends more than a decade of ownership by Starwood Capital, which took over the brand from the Taittinger family in 2005. Baccarat is known for sets of champagne glasses that cost as much as US$990 and chandeliers that can cost thousands. Fortune Fountain agreed to buy an 88.8 percent stake from Starwood and L Catterton for 222.70 euros a share. The price is 14 percent less than Thursday’s closing share price for Baccarat, which has risen about 19 percent in the past two weeks on speculation of a possible takeover.
US car sales down in May
Automakers offered big discounts over the US Memorial Day holiday, but the response from car buyers last month was not enough to reverse months of sales declines. Monthly sales data showed the industry sold 6 percent fewer vehicles than in April and 1 percent fewer than in May last year, with a total of 1.5 million vehicles, according to Autodata. Total sales last month fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 16.58 million units, compared with 17.17 million a year ago, Autodata reported. General Motors Co saw its sales fall 1.3 percent last month compared with a year earlier, while the North American arm of Fiat Chrysler saw a 1 percent decline and Toyota Motor Corp sales fell 0.5 percent.
Metro buys UK mortgages
British lender Metro Bank PLC said it had bought a portfolio of UK mortgages from a company owned by Cerberus Capital Management LP for ￡596.7 million (US$768.2 million). Metro Bank, which offers retail, business and private banking, said all lending in the portfolio is secured on property and has a similar credit risk profile to its current mortgage book. The portfolio bought from Cerberus European Residential Holdings BV is made up primarily of buy-to-let mortgages, with the rest being owner-occupied. The acquisition of the mortgages is to be financed using cash from existing resources, Metro said.
First-quarter GDP up 1%
The government on Thursday said that GDP expanded 1 percent in the first quarter compared with the previous quarter. The result published by the statistics bureau prompted President Michel Temer to tweet that the nation’s worst recession in decades is over. The bureau said it was the first time in eight consecutive quarters that GDP has grown. It said record grain harvests boosted the economy in the first three months of the year, with GDP reaching about US$500 billion.
Blue Apron files for IPO
Meal-kit delivery company Blue Apron Holdings Inc filed for an initial public offering (IPO) in the US, after reportedly delaying listing plans while it worked on improving financials. The New York-based firm filed with an initial offering size of US$100 million, which is a placeholder used to calculate fees that will typically change, according to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday. The company plans to offer its Class A common stock and will have three classes of shares — two of them with voting rights — after the IPO.
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
STAYING AHEAD: TSMC expects its sales this year to grow 14 to 19 percent and could spend up to US$3.52 billion on research and development, leaving its rivals far behind Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) reported that the US last year approved 99 percent of its patent applications, which placed the tech giant among the top patent holders in the US. In its Corporate Social Responsibility Report, TSMC said it last year secured about 3,600 patents worldwide, including more than 2,300 in the US. As of the end of last year, TSMC owned more than 39,000 patents, the report said. The company last year filed almost 6,500 patent applications worldwide and ranked among the top 10 patent applicants in the US. In Taiwan, it was the largest patent applicant for the fourth