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Tue, Jun 29, 2004 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Semiconductors

Equipment orders up

Global orders for Japanese semiconductor-making equipment rose 56 percent last month from a year earlier, the Semiconductor Equipment Association of Japan said in a release. Orders rose to ?154.3 billion (US$1.43 billion), according to figures released by the industry group, whose 96 members include Advantest Corp and Tokyo Electron Ltd, Japan's two biggest chip-making equipment makers. Sales of the equipment, which lag orders by about three to six months, more than doubled last month to ?124.7 billion, from ?47.8 billion a year earlier. The book-to-bill ratio, which is a three-month average of the ratio of orders to actual sales, rose for the second straight month to 1.00 compared with 0.91 in April.

■ Scandals

SK Group head sentenced

The chairman of SK Group, South Korea's third-largest conglomerate, was sentenced yesterday to three years in prison for violating political fund laws and evading taxes, a report said. Son Kil-Seung was arrested in January. Prosecutors accused him of dodging taxes and embezzling company funds, as well as giving 10 billion won (US$8.7 million) in illicit campaign funds to the main opposition Grand National Party and US$956,000 to an aide of President Roh Moo-hyun ahead of the 2002 presidential poll. Son was found guilty of channeling illegal funds ahead of the election and of evading more than 38 billion won (US$33 million) in corporate taxes, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported. The Seoul Central District Court postponed a ruling on whether to issue a 40 billion won (US$34.8 million) fine against Son, as requested by prosecutors, Yonhap said.

■ Automobiles

Fuso to hold inspections

Scandal-hit Japanese truck maker Mitsubishi Fuso said yesterday it will conduct emergency inspections of its vehicles as a stop-gap measure ahead of full-scale recalls after a number of accidents. The company was responding to an order from the transport ministry, which said Mitsubishi's slow pace of filing promised recall notices has left too many hazardous vehicles on the road. The truckmaker, an affiliate of Japan's fourth-largest carmaker Mitsubishi Motors, said earlier this month it would recall some 450,000 vehicles in Japan in connection with 47 defects by October. Mitsubishi Fuso will replace defective parts with new ones at no charge domestically starting July 1, even before design flaws are fixed. It will have to recall the affected vehicles again once the faulty parts are redesigned.

■ Technology

Microsoft signs China deal

Microsoft has signed an agreement with China's leading television and home appliance products maker to develop digital multimedia products, state media said yesterday. The official Shanghai Securities News said Sichuan Changhong Electric was aiming to gain a stronger foothold in China's growing digital multimedia market through Microsoft's technological expertise. Changhong would receive advanced IT technology and software from Microsoft to develop digital TV sets and other high-technology products in return for helping Microsoft develop its business in China. No financial terms were given. Microsoft has had a hard time penetrating the Chinese market because pirated copies of its software products are widely available for just over one US dollar a CD-ROM.

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