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Sat, Feb 28, 2004 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Microsoft Japan

PC makers to assist probe

Japanese personal-computer (PC) makers will cooperate with the authorities in Japan investigating Microsoft Corp, the world's largest maker of personal computer software, for suspected violation of the country's anti-monopoly law. Japan's Fair Trade Commission on Thursday asked Sony Corp, Sharp Corp and other Japanese PC makers to help the watchdog organization in its investigation into whether licensing of Microsoft's Windows XP operating software violates the anti- monopoly law. The commission raided the Tokyo office of Microsoft on Thursday to obtain information regarding its licensing provisions.

■ Financial Sector

Prudential seals purchase

Prudential Financial said yesterday it had sealed the US$300 million purchase of South Korean investment trust company Hyundai Investment and Securities Co. The deal makes the US firm the largest foreign-owned asset manager in the country, the company said after it finalized the agreement signed in November to acquire an 80 percent stake in Hyundai Investment for 355.5 billion won (US$300 million). The firm said it had immediately assumed control of Hyundai Investment and its subsidiary Hyundai Investment Trust Management, whose names were changed respectively to Prudential Investment and Securities Co and Prudential Asset Management Co.

■ Japan

Industrial output rises

Japan's economy is gathering strength on the back of strong exports, especially to China, coupled with a rise in domestic consumption, government data showed yesterday. Industrial output in the world's second largest economy jumped 3.4 percent in January from December for the biggest increase since September last year, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said. China is Japan's second biggest export market, accounting for some 13 percent, after the US, which takes a quarter. In other data, the jobless rate in January edged up to 5 percent from 4.9 percent in December, marking the first rise in three months, but the actual number of people unemployed fell, said the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommun-ications.

■ Semiconductors

Fujitsu plans new plant

Fujitsu Ltd, Japan's second biggest maker of telecommunications equipment, is considering building a plant to make larger semiconductor wafers that cut production costs by up to 30 percent. Fujitsu is studying the size and location of a plant that will make chips on 12 inch wafers, the Tokyo-based company said in a faxed statement. Fujitsu will spend ?160 billion (US$1.5 billion) to build a chip plant in Mie Prefecture, western Japan, the Nihon Keizai newspaper reported earlier, without saying where it obtained the information. Fujitsu will make the chips on the larger wafers because they yield more than double the number of chips that can be made from standard eight-inch disks. The company joins other chipmaking companies such as United Microelectronics Corp (聯電) in building new plants as existing facilities run at capacity because of a rebound in demand for consumer electronics such as cell phones, computers and DVD players after a three-year slump.

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