MOEA launches state-run name change campaign

CHINA BEGONE: The economics minister said that CPC and CSBC would soon change their names to include Taiwan, with other firms to follow soon

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

Sat, Feb 03, 2007 - Page 1

The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) said yesterday that state-run Chinese Petroleum Corp (CPC, 中國石油) and China Shipbuilding Corp (CSBC, 中國造船) would soon be renamed to include "Taiwan" in their company titles in accordance with government policy.

"Changing the names of state-run enterprises will help avoid confusion and increase Taiwan's international presence," Minister of Economic Affairs Steve Chen (陳瑞隆) said.

The nation's largest oil refiner plans to change its name to "CPC, Taiwan" (台灣中油). The company will hold a board meeting on Friday to discuss the issue, said Liao Tsang-long (廖滄龍), deputy director of CPC's public relations division.

After the name change, instead of immediately removing signs and trademarks bearing the old name from gas stations and equipment, CPC will replace the signs and equipment when they become too old or are damaged, the company said.

Costly scheme

The replacement scheme will cost the company NT$70 million (US$2.13 million), CPC said, without giving the figure incurred from other issues related to the change, such as renewing contracts with domestic and overseas customers, reprinting business cards and company documents and redesigning its trademark.

The costs will put a heavy burden on CPC, as the company already saw losses of NT$18.7 billion last year because of high oil prices.

CSBC would also be renamed Taiwan International Shipbuilding Corp (台灣國際造船), CSBC president Fan Kuang-nan (范光男) said in a telephone interview yesterday. The company is also scheduled to hold a board meeting on Friday to discuss the issue.

It was difficult to estimate how much it would cost CSBC to complete the name change, especially in contract renewals, as its clients, suppliers and business partners may have different requirements when carrying out the procedure, Fan said.

CSBC has built a considerable reputation internationally in the shipbuilding industry and was ranked No. 17 in the receiving and delivery of orders last year, Fan said.

Long history

With a long history of doing business internationally, the name CSBC has hardly ever caused confusion among customers, he said.

"But in Taiwan, political concerns are always put ahead of business," he said.

Another company that has been targeted in the name change campaign is China Airlines Ltd (CAL, 中華航空), but Chen did not address this yesterday.

CAL said earlier that its name was valuable in the greater China market.

Although previously well-known in the international community and with a large number of overseas branches, the state-controlled International Commercial Bank of China (ICBC, 中國國際商銀), is now called Mega International Commercial Bank (兆豐國際商銀) after merging with another state-run entity, Chiao Tung Bank (交通銀行).

"A company's title is a valuable asset that takes a lot of time and effort to establish ? any name change is bound to influence a company's reputation," Tung Shu-chi (董樹杞), assistant vice president of Mega's Ho Chi Minh City branch told the Taipei Times.

The issue of changing the name of state-run enterprises is part of the government's "name-rectification" policy, aimed at avoiding Taiwanese companies being mistaken for Chinese ones. The economics ministry is expected to announce other name changes next week.