■ LCD displaysFuji to build new plant
The world's number two film-maker Fuji Photo said yesterday that it will spend more than US$950 million to build a new factory in Japan to make parts for liquid crystal displays (LCDs). The company will spend more than ¥100 billion (US$950 million) for the factory, which will come on line by the end of 2006 in Kumamoto prefecture in southern Japan. "We have decided [to build the new plant] to deal with an expanding market for LCD televisions as computer monitors and laptop PCs become larger," the company said in a statement. The factory will produce parts related to polarizing sheet film, a core part of LCDs, the company said.
■ laptop computers
Toshiba to swap modules
Toshiba Corp said it will exchange defective memory modules in 650,000 of its laptop computers worldwide starting yesterday. The faulty modules, supplied by a third party, could cause blue screens, lockups or data corruption, although the probability of the problems was "extremely low," the major laptop maker said in a statement. An online program could be downloaded to detect which of the 25 models made since April 2002 had problems, it said. No computers are currently being made with the faulty parts, a spokeswoman said. The exchange program was free to customers and would end in April, it said. The company did not say how much it would spend on the program.
AirAsia sets issue price
Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia said yesterday it has set the issue price for the institutional portion of its initial public offering (IPO) at 1.25 ringgit (US$0.33) per share and the retail portion at 1.16 ringgit, well below the indicated price of 1.40 ringgit. The institutional portion comprised 560.41 million shares while the public portion of the IPO was 140.1 million shares. The institutional tranche was 3.5 times subscribed, with 392.3 million placement shares allocated to international institutions and 168.1 million allocated to domestic institutions, AirAsia said in a statement. It said the public portion represented the largest ever retail tranche for a Malaysian IPO and was 1.5 times subscribed. AirAsia said it raised 717.4 million ringgit from the IPO. It will list on Nov. 22. AirAsia, which has a fleet of 24 Boeing 737 aircraft, currently operates 322 flights a week from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to 22 destinations.
■ Auto industry
VW workers stage strike
Thousands of workers at German car maker Volkswagen began another series of warning strikes yesterday to coincide with a sixth round of wage talks. Around 3,500 employees stopped work at the Baunatal plant near Kassel yesterday morning, and similar stoppages were underway or planned at other western German plants. Some 600 Volkswagen night-shift workers stayed off the job at the company's Braunschweig plant. Their numbers were set to be swelled by day-shift workers in a stoppage set to last four hours. Workers planned similar limited stoppages at VW factories in Salzgitter, Emden and Wolfsburg. The warning strikes, which began on Friday, are to press union demands for higher wages and job guarantees. A sixth round of talks was due to begin later in the day in Hanover. Differences between the two sides had remained unresolved after a fifth round of talks Friday on a new wage deal for the firm's 103,000 VW workers.