EE warns over spectrum cap
BT Group PLC’s EE Ltd threatened the British Office of Communications (Ofcom) with a High Court challenge yesterday, over its planned auction of mobile spectrum. Ofcom last month capped the maximum spectrum a company could win as it set new rules for the auction of mobile spectrum to safeguard competition. The auction, which is expected to take place later this year, would limit the amount of spectrum companies, such as BT and EE, could win to 85MHz in the 3.4GHz band, restricting the companies’ overall share of mobile spectrum. However, smaller rival Three, owned by Hong Kong’s CK Hutchison Holdings (長江和記實業), says the proposals needed to go further. “Three has already begun the legal process and our challenge doesn’t mean further delay,” EE spokesman said. “Tomorrow we will send a Letter Before Action to Ofcom, challenging their decision on the upcoming auction.”
TBC profit jumps in Q2
TBC Bank Group PLC, Georgia’s largest retail bank, yesterday reported a 37.2 percent jump in second-quarter underlying net profit, as economic growth and a stable currency boosted lending. Net interest margin was 6.8 percent in the quarter, down 1.1 percentage points from a year earlier, said TBC, which became Georgia’s largest bank by loans and deposits after buying JSC Bank Republic from France’s Societe Generale and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Underlying net profit rose to 86.3 million laris (US$36.2 million) in the quarter ended June, from 62.9 million laris a year earlier.
Oakbay to sell media stakes
South Africa’s Oakbay Investments, a company owned by business friends of President Jacob Zuma, yesterday said it would sell its holdings in two media groups, including news channel ANN7 for 450 million rand (US$34.06 million). Oakbay is owned by the Gupta family, which has been accused by senior members of the ruling African National Congress party of using links with Zuma to wield influence and win business. Zuma and the Guptas deny any wrongdoing.
Rosneft, partners buy Essar
Rosneft PJSC and partners, including Trafigura Group Pte, have finalized their US$12.9 billion purchase of India’s Essar Oil Ltd. The purchase gives Russia’s biggest oil producer and one of the world’s largest commodity traders access to a global demand center in Asia, while helping Essar Group reduce its debt by about US$11 billion and shift focus to its struggling steel business. Essar Group sold 49 percent of Essar Oil each to Rosneft and a consortium of Trafigura and United Capital Partners, it said in a statement.
Yields dip on Fitch upgrade
Greek government bond yields dipped early yesterday after Fitch became the second ratings agency to upgrade it to “Single B” status, marking another milestone in the debt-laden state’s slow journey away from default territory. Fitch upgraded Greece’s long-term foreign-currency issuer default ratings to “B-” from “CCC” late on Friday, citing reduced political risk and sustained economic growth. Short-dated Greek government bond yields hit 3.25 percent at one stage, close to its lowest since 2009, a level hit earlier this month. “Greece is still a credit that is risky and volatile, but at least it’s now not one step away from default but two steps away,” DZ Bank strategist Daniel Lenz said.
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