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Sat, Feb 04, 2006 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Telecoms
NTT profits plummet

Japanese telecom giant Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp (NTT) said yesterday its profit fell by almost one-third in the nine months to December as revenue slackened amid intense competition. Group net profit for the period dropped 31.6 percent from a year earlier to ¥477.77 billion (US$4.0 billion), with pretax profit falling 31.1 percent to ¥1.13 trillion. Revenue slipped 0.9 percent to ¥7.92 trillion. In fixed-line phone services revenue dropped 6.1 percent to ¥164.8 billion due to price cuts while income from mobile phone services shrank 2.3 percent to ¥56.6 billion owing to discount packages, it said. Revenue was also hit by reduced sales of mobile handsets. NTT left its net-profit forecast for the full year to March unchanged at ¥525 billion and pretax profit of ¥1.26 trillion on sales of ¥10.71 trillion.

■ Airline industry

US, EU certify Worldliner

US and European authorities have certified the Boeing Co's longest-range jetliner to begin flying airline passengers worldwide, the company said on Thursday. The announcement came after the US Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency formally recognized that the 777-200LR successfully completed testing and safety requirements during its six-month flight-test program. The Worldliner, as Boeing calls its latest 777, broke the world record last November for the longest nonstop flight by a commercial jet. It flew 21,596km from Hong Kong to London, a flight that took 22 hours and 43 minutes. The twin-aisle jet is designed to carry 301 passengers up to 17,441km. Boeing has received 36 orders for the 777-200LR from five airlines, including Taiwanese carrier EVA Airways (長榮航空), Emirates Airlines, Air Canada and Air India.

■ Investment

Icahn eyes KT&G Corp

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn is seeking to put directors on the board at KT&G Corp, South Korea's biggest tobacco company, to influence management after teaming up with Warren Lichtenstein, who pioneered hostile takeover bids in Japan. Funds controlled by Icahn and Lichtenstein hold 6.6 percent of Seoul-based KT&G, Icahn Partners Master Fund LP said in a filing to regulators yesterday. Lichtenstein's Steel Partners LP will nominate directors at KT&G's annual shareholder meeting with support from Icahn's funds, the filing said. Icahn, who raised US$1.6 billion for two hedge funds last year to pursue "activist" investing, has been pressing KT&G to sell assets to raise the firm's share price.

■ Airline industry

UAL shares drop 10 percent

Shares of United Airlines parent UAL Corp fell 10 percent on their first day of trading on the NASDAQ Stock Market, after some analysts said the stock price was higher than the company's prospects justified. The new shares began trading yesterday under the symbol UAUA after the company emerged from more than three years of bankruptcy on Thursday. They fell US$4.11 to US$35.89 at 4:30pm. The price had risen as high as US$43.75 in trading since Jan. 26 on a "when issued" basis. United, the world's second-largest airline, had forecast in its plan to exit bankruptcy protection that the new stock would trade at US$15 a share. The company is issuing 125 million shares, mainly to creditors and to United employees, who provided more than US$4 billion in pay and benefit concessions to help reduce UAL's costs and stem losses.

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