■ InsuranceSanyo cuts premium costs
Sanyo Electric Co will cut its total insurance premium costs by about 20 percent by setting up a subsidiary in Hawaii to handle insurance for the company's 160 units, the Nihon Keizai newspaper reported. Osaka-based Sanyo is the world's biggest maker of digital cameras. The company's affiliates and subsidiaries currently use different insurers and take out policies separately. The insurance subsidiary will handle about ¥200 million (US$1.89 million) of insurance policies in its first year, the paper said.
Postal service boosted
Japan may pump ¥1 trillion yen (US$9.5 billion) into the state-run postal service planned for privatization in April 2007 to short up its capital, the Nihon Keizai newspaper reported. The Japanese government and the ruling coalition parties began discussions on the plan aimed at helping Japan Post, whose liabilities exceed assets by more than ¥500 billion, the paper said, citing sources it didn't identify. While the plan is aimed at strengthening the financial base of Japan Post after privatization, financial institutions including banks may oppose it, insisting it will hinder private-sector businesses, the paper said.
■ Legal issues
South Korea's antitrust watchdog said yesterday it has expanded an investigation into Microsoft Corp, after local competitors accused the company of using its dominant position to unfairly shut out rivals. "RealNetworks has raised a complaint against the US headquarters and the Korean unit of Microsoft for the alleged violation of antitrust laws," the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) said in a statement. The antitrust watchdog aims to complete the investigation into Microsoft Korea by Dec-ember, an FTC official said. The FTC has already been conducting a probe into allegations raised by South Korea's Internet portal, Daum Communications Corp, in September 2001 that Microsoft breached antitrust laws by selling a version of the Windows system that incorporated its instant-messaging software. The move to expand the investigation comes after European regulators had fined Microsoft a record US$611 million in March for breaking antitrust law and ordered it to strip Windows Media Player software from its operating system.
Warnings of collapse
Former Cabinet officials yesterday issued an open letter to President Gloria Arroyo, calling for emergency measures to avoid an economic collapse. The measures suggested include politically-risky moves such as raising some taxes, imposing a three percent surcharge on imports and withholding about 10 percent of revenue allotted to local govern-ments. Among those who signed the letter carried in the Philippine Star newspaper were former finance secretaries Jose Isidro Camacho, Vicente Jayme, Ramon del Rosario, Ernest Leung and Jesus Estanislao and former central bank governor Jose Cuisia. They praised Arroyo for admitting in August that the country was in a fiscal crisis and for taking measures to raise revenues and cut expenditures. But the letter warned that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had found the government's efforts to be "insufficiently ambitious," while credit rating agencies were considering down-grading the Philippines.