French chef to cook at Regent
Michelin-starred French chef Frederic Anton is to cook Taiwanese goodies on Nov. 2 and Nov. 4 at the invitation of Regent Taipei (台北晶華酒店). Anton has been dubbed the successor to late French chef Joel Robuchon and has won honors from the Michelin Guide. This would likely be Anton’s last overseas guest-chef event, as his restaurant at the Eiffel Tower in Paris is to start operations early next year and would occupy his full attention, the hotel said. The guest-chef event is to be held at Robin’s Grill on the hotel’s second floor with a lunch set at NT$8,800 per head and a dinner set at NT$12,800 per head.
Asia liquidity remains tight
The Asian liquidity stress indicator (Asian LSI) of Moody’s Investors Service weakened from 31.1 percent in August to 33.5 percent last month, registering its highest level since August 2016, the firm said in a statement yesterday. The Asian LSI measures the percentage of high-yield companies with Moody’s weakest speculative-grade liquidity score of SGL-4 as a proportion of high-yield corporate family ratings. The indicator increases when speculative-grade liquidity deteriorates. “The Asian LSI has remained above the 12-month average of 28.8 percent and is now approaching the record high of 34.2 percent set in April 2016,” Moody’s vice president and senior credit officer Brian Grieser said. Although refinancing risk has been manageable for most companies this year, liquidity remains tight across many sectors, highlighting the difficult market conditions, the statement said, adding that the primary driver for the weak liquidity trend is the increasing number of firms that rely heavily on uncommitted, short-term facilities from relationship banks.
Formosa group’s rating lifted
Taiwan Ratings Corp has raised its long-term issuer credit rating for the four core members of Formosa Plastics Group (台塑集團) from “twAA-” to “twAA” and affirmed a “twA-1+” short-term rating. The upgrade reflects the ratings agency’s view that improved profitability and cash flow could sustain the group’s financial leverage over the next one to two years, it said in a statement on Monday. This enhanced financial headroom should help absorb potential volatility in the petrochemical market over the long term, it said. Formosa Plastics Group could also fund the group’s core and potential non-core investments, as well as an upcoming large investment in the US, while still maintaining the group’s ratio of operational funds to debt consistently above 45 percent throughout the business cycle, it said.
Storms spike food costs
Consumer prices increased 2.5 percent last month from a year earlier, driven mainly by higher food prices. The pace of the increase was considerably faster than the 1.7 percent recorded in August. The price spike was mainly due to inclement weather conditions. Some regions that grow vegetables had storms, which disrupted supply conditions. As a result, vegetable and fruit prices surged 9.8 percent and 6.4 percent respectively, and together contributed 0.35 percentage points to the rise in the headline consumer price index year-on-year. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) said that China’s food prices might hold up, particularly as pork prices have been recovering, despite the swine fever outbreak since July. Still, overall inflation is within a supportive range and is not yet a major factor for policy decisions, ANZ 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