Hitachi executive charged
An executive with Hitachi Displays Ltd was charged on Tuesday with participating in a conspiracy to fix the prices of liquid-crystal-display (LCD) panels, the US Justice Department said. Sakae Someya, a Japanese national, was indicted by a federal grand jury in San Francisco and charged with conspiring to fix the prices of LCD panels sold to US computer maker Dell for use in notebook computers, the department said. Hitachi Displays agreed on March 10 to pay a US$31 million fine for its role in the conspiracy to fix LCD prices. If convicted, Someya faces a fine of US$1 million and up to 10 years in prison.
UBS hires new CEO
UBS AG, Switzerland’s biggest bank, hired Ulrich Koerner as chief operating officer, replacing Walter Stuerzinger in a push to reorganize services and cut costs. Koerner, who previously headed Credit Suisse Group AG’s Swiss business, will oversee the integration of infrastructure and service functions in the corporate center and become a member of UBS’s executive board, the Zurich-based bank said Wednesday. Stuerzinger will leave the board and support Koerner in his new role. “This step creates the potential for sustainable efficiency increases and cost savings,” UBS said in the statement. “Under the leadership of the new Group COO, the corresponding management and organizational structure will be immediately revised and implemented in an ongoing manner.”
Toshiba buys out LCD arm
Toshiba Corp said yesterday it would buy out its LCD joint venture with Panasonic Corp for about US$20 million in a bid to overhaul the struggling business. Toshiba, which has a 60 percent stake in Toshiba Matsushita Display Technology Co (TMD), will buy the remaining 40 percent from Panasonic for ¥2 billion (US$20.41 million), spokeswoman Hiroko Mochida said. The business, set up in 2002 to produce small and medium-sized LCDs for mobile phones, portable computers and car navigation displays, is the number two producer in that market after Epson. The new company will become a wholly owned subsidiary from April 28 and will be renamed Toshiba Mobile Display Co, the company said.
New rules for investors
China plans to extend the period that foreign investors must hold their stakes in local banks, following anger over recent quick sales, state media said yesterday. China Banking Regulatory Commission Chairman Liu Mingkang (劉明康) said the lockup period for new foreign strategic investors must be increased to at least five years, the Shanghai Securities News reported. It said the current period is three years. No details were given as to when the new regulation would be implemented.
■ SOUTH KOREA
Record trade surplus
South Korea recorded a record trade surplus of US$4.6 billion last month because of the value of imports falling more sharply than exports, a government report said yesterday. Exports fell 21.2 percent from a year earlier to US$28.3 billion last month. But imports slumped 36 percent to US$23.7 billion, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said. The trade account has been in the black for two straight months, with a US$3.3 billion surplus in February. For the first three months of this year, the surplus reached US$3.9 billion, a sharp turnaround from a US$6.6 billion deficit a year earlier.