■ Hitachi to boost production
Hitachi Ltd, Japan's second-biggest plasma-display maker, will speed up by about one year its plan to raise production capacity for flat panels to meet demand for large-screen televisions. The company will have the monthly capacity to make 300,000 plasma panels measuring 42 inches by the end of next year, compared with the end of 2008 as announced last month, Tokyo-based spokesman Atsushi Konno said yesterday. Hitachi currently makes 100,000 panels a month at its factory in Miyazaki prefecture, southwestern Japan, and will double capacity to 200,000 screens when it starts up another factory at the site in October. Better production yield due to the bigger capacity may help Hitachi turn around its flat-panel TV business, which had an operating loss in the fiscal first half.
Ford's China sales boom
Ford Motor Co said yesterday that sales of its name-branded vehicles in China jumped 46 percent to a record 82,225 units, as the company performed well above industry expectations. "For Ford Motor Company in China, 2005 represented a record year of sales increase," Ford Motor China chief executive Cheng Meiwei (程美瑋) said in a statement. Changan Ford Automobile Co Ltd, Ford's flagship joint venture with Changan Automotive Group (長安汽車集團), saw annual sales last year jump 41 percent to 61,013 units. Ford currently has four locally produced models in China -- the Focus, Fiesta and Mondeo are all made by Changan Ford, while the Transit is produced by Jiangling Motors (江鈴汽車). Sales of all its affiliated brands in China, which include brands such as Volvo and Mazda topped 220,000 units last year, it said.
Top brewer eyes Vietnam
SABMiller, the world's second-biggest brewer, is to invest in a US$45 million brewery in Vietnam through a joint venture with local dairy products group Vinamilk. In a posting on its Web site, British-based SABMiller said it and Vietnam Dairy Products will each hold 50 percent of the southern Binh Duong province brewery. Once operational next year, the plant will have capacity of 500 hectoliters of beer, to be later increased to one million hectoliters, the company said. "We are delighted to have reached agreement with Vinamilk to enter the high growth Vietnamese beer market. We believe that the combination of both parties' expertise will result in a very successful venture," said Andre Parker, SABMillers Africa and Asia managing director in the statement.
China plans new exchange
China is planning a new exchange in Shanghai to trade financial derivatives as part of a broader plan to overhaul its rickety financial system, state press reported yesterday. The China Business News quoted unidentified sources as saying that the five major exchanges in the country -- the Shanghai Stock Exchange, the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, the Shanghai Futures Exchange, Dalian Commodity Exchange and Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange -- could jointly launch the new exchange. The exchange would trade stock index futures, warrants, options and interest rate futures. A time frame for its establishment, likely to be in Shanghai, was not provided, but the project had already won approval from the State Council.