S Korean growth slowing
South Korea's economic growth will slow to a mid-4 percent level next year from this year's targeted 5 percent gain, Finance and Economy Minister Kwon Ok-kyu said yesterday. Higher oil prices and the strengthening of the won against the dollar have undermined South Korea's efforts to boost its export-led economy, the fourth largest in Asia. South Korea, which expanded 4 percent last year, aims to grow some 5 percent this year, a target that officials say is attainable. Officials said the economy was still on target for 5 percent growth this year.
Matsushita may appeal
Samsung Electronics Co said yesterday that a US court has ruled that it and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co of Japan didn't infringe on each other's patent rights. Samsung made the statement in a filing to South Korea's Financial Supervisory Service. According to the filing, the ruling was made on Friday in federal court in the US state of New Jersey. Matsushita spokesman Shunji Kanamura said the company had heard from its local unit that a jury had reached a decision in the case but as yet did not have any details. "If the court has ruled on the matter as is being reported, then the decision is certainly not one with which we can be satisfied," Kanamura said. "We would seek a just solution, including the possibility of appealing the ruling." Japanese electronics maker Matsushita sued Samsung, the world's largest maker of computer memory chips, in 2002, accusing it of patent infringements in dynamic random access memory chip, or DRAM, technology. Samsung then filed a counter suit claiming Matsushita violated its patented technologies.
Thomas Matter steps down
The chief executive of embattled banking group Swissfirst AG stepped down with immediate effect yesterday, citing the increasing pressure on him over allegations of mismanagement and insider trading. Thomas Matter, who holds an 18.5 percent stake in the Zurich-based bank he founded more than a decade ago, said he would offer his shares to Swissfirst to use as part of its future strategy. The bank, which has put itself up for sale, was raided last week by prosecutors who seized documents as part of a criminal probe against Matter and several pension-fund managers in connection with Swissfirst's merger with Bellevue last year. In the run-up to the merger, Matter allegedly urged pension funds to sell their Swissfirst shares back to the bank, causing the funds to miss out on millions of Swiss francs when shares jumped upon news of the deal.
PRC enacts bankruptcy law
China has enacted an updated bankruptcy law that explicitly covers private businesses for the first time. The law passed on Sunday by parliament also raises the status of commercial creditors, requiring failed companies to pay them first instead of workers, who previously had priority, the Xinhua News Agency said. The law takes effect on June 1, next year. Previously, Chinese bankruptcy law only mentioned state-owned companies, leading to uncertainty about how to settle the debts of private businesses that failed. Officials defended the decision to give creditors priority over employees, saying it brings China into line with market economies and will reassure foreign investors.