PM accuses UK of ‘bullying’
Prime Minister Geir Haarde accused Britain in an interview yesterday of “bullying a small neighbour” over funds frozen in the online bank Icesave, and threatened to take legal action in response. Haarde told the Financial Times that London’s reaction to the collapse of the bank, including British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s threat to sue Iceland to recover British savings, had made the island’s banking crisis worse. “The UK authorities have said they will sue us ... well both countries can sue if they see it fit. Going to court is one way of settling disputes in a civilized way,” Haarde told the newspaper. Brown’s government used anti-terrorist laws to freeze the assets of failing Icelandic banks in Britain as it attempted to protect the deposits of thousands of British savers and public bodies. But Haarde rejected suggestions his government had abandoned British savers, saying: “To claim we were running away from our obligations was unfounded and reacting in this way ... caused us more damage than was necessary.” He said London’s move to put part of Icelandic bank Kaupthing’s British operations into administration “led to the collapse” of the parent bank. He said he would support Kaupthing’s plans to sue the British government.
Royal Philips slows buyback
Royal Philips Electronics NV, Europe’s biggest television maker, said it will slow down its 5 billion euros (US$6.8 billion) share buyback after third-quarter sales fell short of analysts’ estimates. Philips will reduce the pace of purchases because of “the risks and opportunities presented by the deterioration of the economy and the financial market turbulence,” the Amsterdam-based company said in a statement yesterday. Third-quarter sales fell 2 percent to 6.33 billion euros, missing the median estimate from 12 analysts of 6.71 billion euros. Net income rose 7.9 percent on the sale of shares of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Philips, led by chief executive officer Gerard Kleisterlee, said it’s “cautious on end-market demand” this quarter as the economy weakens further. Philips will increase some prices and accelerate expense-reduction projects across the company to protect margins at a cost of as much as 230 million euros in the fourth quarter. Philips said it has a “strong balance sheet” after completing 3.1 billion euros of the buyback since December. “The slowdown of the buyback is logical,” Wing-Yen Choi, an analyst at Theodoor Gilissen Bankiers NV in Amsterdam, wrote in a note. “In these markets you can buy back your shares, but apparently the stock can drop even further the next day.” Philips fell 2.4 percent to 15.41 euros at 10:30am in Amsterdam yesterday, as the Amsterdam Exchanges Index jumped 6.2 percent.
Jetstar expands routes
Australian budget carrier Jetstar Airways announced yesterday that it was expanding services on the highly competitive routes across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand. Jetstar, a low-cost subsidiary of Qantas Airways, said it would start daily flights on April 28 from Auckland to Sydney and the Queensland Gold Coast. Chief executive Bruce Buchanan said the flights would complement Qantas’ four daily Auckland-Sydney services, and he did not see the parent carrier scaling back its New Zealand routes. Jetstar already flies between Christchurch in New Zealand’s South Island and four Australian cities. Trans-Tasman services are also flown by Air New Zealand, the Virgin subsidiary Pacific Blue and Dubai-based Emirates
Swedish Member of Parliament Hampus Hagman is pushing for changing the name of the nation’s trade office in Taipei to signal improved relations with “Asia’s perhaps foremost democracy.” Hagman on Wednesday last week proposed renaming the Swedish Trade and Invest Council to “Sweden’s Office in Taipei,” following similar changes by other nations. The Swedish Trade and Invest Council, part of Business Sweden, is owned by the Swedish government and Swedish industry. Taiwan and Sweden share important values such as respect for democracy, human rights, the rule of law and freedom of speech, Hagman said in the motion, adding that the two nations
TWO CASES: The five allegedly conspired with conglomerates, threatening the nation’s governance and subverting the rules of ethical conduct, a deputy chief prosecutor said Taipei prosecutors yesterday charged three legislators and one former lawmaker with contravening the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) in a case linked to former Pacific Distribution Investment Co (太平洋流通) chairman Lee Heng-lung’s (李恆隆) battle with the Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) over ownership of the Pacific SOGO Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨) chain, while independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇) was indicted in a separate case involving two funeral services companies and a plot of land in a national park. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) and former New Power Party legislator
PENGHU INSPECTION: Taiwan cannot let its enemies strut around in its airspace, Tsai said, one day after a Chinese spokesman denied a median line exists in the Taiwan Strait Following China’s assertion on Monday that there is no “median line” in the Taiwan Strait, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday pledged to defend the nation’s airspace during a visit to an air force base in Penghu, saying that Taiwan cannot allow others to flex their military muscle in its territorial airspace. Tsai praised the “heroic performance” of the pilots of the Indigenous Defense Fighters who have been intercepting Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force planes in recent days. “I have a lot of confidence in you. As soldiers of the Republic of China [ROC], how could we let enemies strut
EFFICIENCY: The rules for Philippine arrivals were revised after 17.6% of arrivals with symptoms tested positive, compared with 0.7% of those with no symptoms Starting today, Chinese spouses who hold a reunion permit can apply to enter Taiwan and travelers without symptoms from the Philippines do not need to be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival, but are to be tested after a 14-day quarantine, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that from today, Chinese who are married to a Taiwanese citizen and hold a reunion permit can apply to the National Immigration Agency for entry into Taiwan. Chinese who are married to a foreign national and hold an accompanied reunion permit