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Thu, Dec 18, 2008 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■SEMICONDUCTORS

Hynix cleared of charges

South Korea’s Hynix Semiconductor, the world’s second-largest memory chipmaker, said yesterday it has been cleared of charges that it violated anti-trust laws in the US and the EU. Hynix said the US Department of Justice and the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, have closed investigations into possible violations regarding static random access memory (SRAM) chips. SRAM chips are used to store data in servers, switches and low-power devices such as handheld devices. “The investigations are now closed and no charges have been brought against any Hynix entity,” the chipmaker said in a statement.

■ELECTRONICS

Canon shelves plant plan

Japan’s Canon Inc said yesterday it was shelving plans to build a new domestic plant for digital cameras as the market rapidly shrinks. “Growth in demand for digital cameras has rapidly declined compared with original projections due to the global economic downturn,” Canon said in a statement. Canon, which produces cameras and office equipment, set up a new subsidiary in southern Nagasaki prefecture in July to build another plant making single-lens reflex cameras and compact digital cameras. The company said it has put off the plant for now and would monitor the market to see when it can restart the plan.

■CRIME

SEC Madoff probe launched

US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairman Christopher Cox late on Tuesday announced a probe into how his financial regulatory body failed to detect an alleged US$50 billion fraud scheme that Bernard Madoff is accused of running despite a decade of warning signs. The SEC “has learned that credible and specific allegations regarding Mr Madoff’s financial wrongdoing, going back to at least 1999, were repeatedly brought to the attention of SEC staff, but were never recommended to the Commission for action,” Cox said in a statement. Cox said he has “directed a full and immediate review of the past allegations regarding Mr Madoff and his firm and the reasons they were not found credible, to be led by the SEC’s Inspector General.”

■FINANCE

Goldman reports first loss

Goldman Sachs Group Inc on Tuesday reported its first quarterly loss since it went public in 1999, losing US$2.29 billion during its fiscal fourth quarter, but investors seemed unfazed and sent its shares higher. The loss proves the turmoil in the financial markets has tripped up even the best-run financial institutions. The New York-based bank has long been considered the premier investment bank on Wall Street, and in recent quarters, the sturdiest amid the turmoil. The Wall Street firm lost US$4.97 per share in the quarter ended on Nov. 30, compared with earnings of US$3.17 billion, or US$7.01 per share, last year.

■CREDIT

EU relaxes aid rules

The European Commission said yesterday it was relaxing EU state aid rules until the end of 2010 to help companies secure crucial financing in the face of a credit crunch. Under the changes, member states can grant companies a lump sum of 500,000 euros (US$705,000) per company over the next two years to help them cope with the lack of credit. Governments will also be able to provide loan guarantees with reduced premiums as well as soft loans, particularly if they are for producing environmentally friendly products. Rules on how much venture capital can be provided by the state will also be loosened.

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