Connors departs Microsoft
Microsoft Corp chief finan-cial officer John Connors is leaving to join venture capi-tal firm Ignition Partners LLC. Microsoft has yet to name a replacement, the company said in a statement on Tuesday. Connors, a 16-year Microsoft veteran and finance chief for five years, orchestrated last year's US$75 billion payment to shareholders through a one-time payment, stock buy-backs and a higher divi-dend. On his watch, annual sales almost doubled to US$36.8 billion in the year ended in June and cash and short-term investments surged to US$64.4 billion.
HK floats sales tax idea
Hong Kong's government plans to propose a new sales tax in the next few months as a way to raise revenues to help plug its budget deficit, the Hong Kong Economic Journal newspaper reported yes-terday. Financial Secretary Henry Tang (唐英年) will reveal details of the new tax in his March budget and the government will begin consulting the public in April or May, the paper said. Last fiscal year, the territory recorded a budget deficit of HK$40.1 billion (US$5.2 billion). Activists and small businesses have already voiced opposition to a new sales tax, which they said would mostly affect the poor and drive up costs.
Web-site operators cleared
A South Korean appeals court yesterday acquitted the operators of a Korean-language Web site that allows users to share songs free of charge. Yang Jung-hwan, 31, and his bother, Il-hwan, 35, created Soribada, South Korea's most popular music-swapping Web site, in 2000. Prosecutors indicted them in 2001 on charges of aiding and condoning copy-right violations, a crime punishable by up to five years in jail. An appeals panel at the Seoul Central District Court said those who download songs through Web sites such as Soribada violate copy rights but the Yangs should not be held responsible for copy right infringements that took place on Soribada.
Chinese audit finds errors
An official audit of 181 Chinese state-owned enter-prises (SOEs) found that 120 submitted incomplete financial information, while 13 falsified records outright, state press reported yester-day. "The key trouble-makers are financial intermediaries," Xinhua news quoted Meng Jianmin, an official with the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Com-mission, as saying. "The 181 SOEs have hired more than 300 such institutions to operate their financial busi-nesses and a great propor-tion of these intermediaries are actually not [meeting] their duties," Meng said at a recent accountancy asso-ciation meeting. "Some are even helping the SOEs to conceal facts."
Disney eyes video games
Walt Disney Co said it's considering an expansion in the video-game business. "A growth business we need to look at is video games," Dis-ney president Robert Iger said on Tuesday at a confer-ence in Phoenix. Disney is developing games that carry Disney, ESPN and non-Disney brands for current game consoles. It's also targeting portable handheld devices and online games, he said. "I'm not suggesting a major acquisition of a publisher is imminent," Iger said. "But we're looking at a variety of opportunities, primarily at the developer level."