■ Telecoms \nTelecom Italia ups stake \nTelecom Italia on Sunday was to proceed with its planned 21 billion euro (US$27.3 billion) takeover of Telecom Italia Mobile. With the shares acquired in the takeover, Telecom Italia, Italy's former phone monopoly, will increase its stake in Telecom Italia Mobile to 85 percent, from 56 percent. The 15 percent of Telecom Italia Mobile shares still publicly traded will be exchanged for newly created Telecom Italia shares as part of the merger. Telecom Italia is increasing its debt by almost 50 percent, to about 44 billion euros, to finance the deal so that it will control Telecom Italia Mobile's cash flow, which was 3.7 billion euros in 2003. Telecom Italia Mobile is one of Europe's most profitable cellphone operators and already accounts for 41 percent of Telecom Italia's sales and 55 percent of its operating profit. \n■ Telecoms \nNokia to use single TI chip \nNokia Oyj, the world's largest mobile-phone maker, will start making handsets that are run by a single chip made by Texas Instruments Inc to reduce costs. Nokia plans to initially start selling the phones based on the single chip in "entry-level" mobile phone markets such as India and China, the companies said in a joint e-mailed release. Finland-based Nokia, whose sales are sputtering as phone prices drop, is aiming to cut costs to boost profitability. "The cooperation will allow Nokia to offer more cost-effective advanced handsets," the firms said in the release. "Cost, size, power and performance optimizations are crucial, especially for high-volume entry-level mobile phones." The handsets will be "voice-centric," which means that they will be mostly used for talking. \n■ Telecoms \nNortel in joint venture \nCanada's Nortel Networks Corp signed an agreement yesterday with South Korea's LG Electronics Inc to set up a joint venture to make and market high quality telecommunications equipment. The preliminary agreement was announced in Seoul, and the two companies were expected to finalize the deal for the 50-50 joint venture in the second quarter of this year. Financial details of the deal were not immediately available. The companies said in a statement the joint venture, which will be based in South Korea, will produce high-end telecommunications equipment and networking solutions to South Korea and other markets. LG Electronics is South Korea's biggest maker of home appliances, and Nortel is a major supplier of 3G networks. \n■ Automobiles \nFiat in no hurry to sell to GM \nItalian industrial group Fiat said yesterday that it would wait until at least Feb. 2 to exercise its right to sell the troubled Fiat Auto division to US giant General Motors. Fiat said mediation talks with GM that began on Dec. 16 regarding their industrial partnership will end on Feb. 1. Consequently, Fiat said it postponed the right to exercise its put option -- which gives it the right to sell its 90 percent stake in the loss-making car business Fiat Auto to GM -- to Feb. 2. Fiat reiterated that the put option remains "valid and enforceable" despite GM's claims to the contrary after Fiat sold some assets and recapitalized Fiat Auto. Fiat chief executive Sergio Marchionne added that the evolution of the relationship with GM "will not negatively impact the group's ability to reach its financial targets for 2005, 2006 and 2007."
KEEP AWAY: People should wear a mask in places where they cannot follow social distancing rules, the CECC said, adding that it would publish detailed guidelines today The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday announced 16 new cases of COVID-19, including two domestic cases, as it urged people to practice social distancing in public spaces by keeping a distance of at least 1m when outdoors and 1.5m indoors. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that seven of the new cases tested positive upon their arrival at the airport, four were under home quarantine, one was under home isolation and two were under self-health management, while the two domestic cases sought treatment on their own. The domestic cases are a man in his
Taiwan will negotiate with the WHO about its participation without Beijing’s help and intervention as more countries, including Australia and Japan, are partnering with Taiwan to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a telephonic roundtable with reporters on Monday also supported Taiwan’s role in the WHO, saying the US Department of State would do its best to assist Taiwan’s “appropriate role” in the world’s highest health policy setting body, Voice of America reported. In a Japan Business Press report published on Sunday, Chinese Ambassador to Japan Kong Xuanyou (孔鉉佑) said
‘HEROIC’: A lack of personal protective equipment has led to high infection rates among health workers in places like Spain and Italy, a nurses’ association said More equipment is needed to protect the world’s nurses working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic to save lives, the head of the International Council of Nurses (ICN) said. “They are heroic. I think there is no other way to describe what they are doing at this moment,” said Howard Catton, a British nurse who is the council’s CEO. Infection rates of 9 percent and 12 to 14 percent have been reported among health workers in Italy and Spain respectively, he said, adding that nurses have died in the two nations, as well as Iran and Indonesia. “We have no doubt
Japan’s ruling party yesterday proposed the nation’s biggest-ever stimulus package of ￥60 trillion (US$554 billion) as the COVID-19 pandemic locks the economy in a recession. The sum includes ￥20 trillion in fiscal measures with private initiatives and other elements likely making up the rest, the proposal by the Liberal Democratic Party showed. More than ￥10 trillion, or the equivalent of a 5 percentage point cut in the sales tax rate, would be handed out to the public in a combination of cash, subsidies and coupons, the plan showed. The proposal puts an initial figure on a stimulus package that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo