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Mon, Dec 11, 2006 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Telecoms
Siemens, Nokia ties at risk

The alleged bribery scandal surrounding the German conglomerate Siemens may scupper a planned tie-up with Finnish telecom equipment maker Nokia, according to a German news report yesterday. Nokia could at the last minute withdraw from the joint venture, Nokia Siemens Networks, which is designed to merge their telecoms equipment and network activities starting on Jan. 1, due to a special clause in the merger contract, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung reported. Nokia Siemens Networks would have annual sales of close to 16 billion euros (US$20.5 billion) and a work force of 60,000, making it No. 3 in the telecoms equipment sector behind Ericsson and Alcatel/Lucent.

■ Investment

Fund eyes foreign targets

Japan's gigantic public employee pension fund is studying a plan to invest more in foreign stocks and bonds to increase its returns, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported yesterday, a move that could boost overseas markets. The three pension funds covering public workers and teachers at private schools had a total of ?54 trillion (US$469 billion) in assets at the end of March, with 68 percent in domestic bonds, 12 percent in domestic stocks, 6 percent in foreign bonds and 8 percent in foreign stocks, the paper reported, without saying where it got its information. Hoping to score better payoffs from overseas stock markets, the Ministry of Health Labor and Welfare is considering boosting the percentage of funds invested in foreign stocks over the next 10 years.

■ Banking

Mizuho to open PRC branch

Mizuho Corporate Bank plans to set up a local unit in China to offer retail banking services to local customers in yuan, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun said yesterday. The bank, one of the core members of Mizuho Financial Group, will file a request with Chinese authorities for the plan today, the business daily said. The wholly-owned local subsidiary will be set up in Shanghai, converting its five branches in Shanghai, Beijing, Dalian and two other cities to offices of the new entity, it said. Operation at the subsidiary is expected to begin early next year.

■ Insurance

Ming An plans IPO

Ming An (Holdings) Co, a Hong Kong-based property and casualty insurer, plans to raise up to HK$1.3 billion (US$167 million) selling shares in an initial public offering to expand into China. The firm will sell 700.3 million shares at between HK$1.28 and HK$1.88 each to raise HK$896.4 billion to HK$1.316 billion, Ming An said in a statement yesterday. Ming An said it's the only company based outside of China to have full approval to offer insurance products in the nation, including for motor and property. The company will offer shares in Hong Kong from today to Thursday. Trading of the company in Hong Kong is forecast to start next Friday.

■ Crime

Police warn loan sharks

Malaysia's police will set up special squads to pursue loan sharks who use violence and intimidation against borrowers, news reports said yesterday. The crackdown comes amid increasing public concern over illegal moneylenders after a couple harassed by loan sharks allegedly poisoned their sons to death and tried to commit suicide. Offenders who lend money without a license face a maximum fine of 100,000 ringgit (US$25,000) and up to five years in jail.

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