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Tue, Nov 01, 2005 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Electronics
Infineon to close plant

Semiconductor maker Infineon Technologies AG said yesterday it has agreed with a labor union to close an outdated memory-chip plant in southern Germany in 2007. Infineon said it struck the deal with the IG Metall union on the fate of its Perlach plant near Munich during overnight talks. The company said it had increased its compensation package for affected staff after IG Metall, which had threatened to call strikes, had stopped asking for the closure to be delayed and reduced demands for retraining. It didn't give details of the agreement, which still needs approval in a workers' vote. The company has said it plans to shift jobs from the 20-year-old plant, which employs about 800 people, to other factories to cut costs and because its equipment is not able to produce the new generation of chips.

■ Software

Microsoft to hire in Asia

US software giant Microsoft Corp plans to add 1,200 employees to its Asia-Pacific workforce over two years and make an aggressive push into the small and medium-sized enterprise market, the software giant's new regional head said in report published yesterday. "We're bullish about Asia and are excited to see Asian economies rise back to rapid growth," Eduardo Rosino told Singapore's Business Times. The world's largest software company currently has 6,000 employees in the region and operates its Asia-Pacific headquarters out of Singapore. "The PC [personal-computer] markets in India and Southeast Asia are growing very fast," Rosini, 38, was quoted as saying.

■ Electronics

Hitachi announces losses

Japanese electronics giant Hitachi said yesterday that it plunged into the red in the first half of its financial year and cut its full-year forecast, hit by a slump in sales of digital products. Hitachi incurred a net loss of ¥10.95 billion (US$94 million) for the six months to September, compared with a profit of ¥41.16 billion a year earlier. Pretax profit dropped 68.8 percent year-on-year to 21.2 billion yen on sales which grew 1.9 percent to ¥4.4 trillion. "The Electronic Devices segment saw revenues decrease as sales of LCDs [liquid crystal displays] declined due to stiffer competition," Hitachi said in a statement. "The digital media and consumer products segment recorded lower revenues due to falling prices," it said. Monitoring the dismal results for the first half, Hitachi downgraded its net profit forecast for the full year to March next year to ¥20 billion from its earlier estimate of ¥55 billion.

■ Consumer prices

London most expensive

London is the most expensive major European city, with the French capital Paris coming in second, according to the results of a new study published here yesterday. A standard basket of 250 goods and services bought in London cost 5.3 percent more than the average throughout the 12 countries which use the common euro currency, according to the Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein report. Paris came second, 1.3 percent above the eurozone average, followed by Frankfurt (+0.8 percent) and Brussels (-0.4 percent), according to the results which were published in yesterday's Financial Times daily. Madrid, which came in at 2.5 percent cheaper than the eurozone average, was pronounced the cheapest major European city.

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