Export orders last month tumbled 5.5 percent year-on-year to US$51.9 billion as lockdowns in major Chinese cities weakened demand for most categories, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday. It is the first time in two years that the gauge of actual shipments in the following one to three months has slipped into contraction, which was induced by supply chain bottlenecks after China halted business activity in Shanghai and Kunshan, home to major manufacturing facilities of Taiwanese companies. Department of Statistics Director Huang Yu-ling (黃于玲) said export orders this month might decline by US$51.7 billion to US$53.2 billion, or a 1.1 percent decline to a 1.7 percent uptick, after China this week introduced gradual reopenings. The slowdown is most conspicuous for information and communications products, which slumped 21.5 percent to US$1.21 billion as sales for laptops and smartphones floundered, Huang said. The ominous cyclical movement came after the US and Europe opted to coexist with COVID-19, and showed less dependence on remote working and schooling products, the ministry said in a report. The digital transformation has continued, fueling demand for networking devices and severs, it said. That helped explain why export orders for electronics bucked the downtrend with a 4.3 percent increase as demand in the US and in Southeast Asian markets remained strong, although it slackened in China, it said. The lackluster showing in the Chinese market was probably due to supply chain disruptions, it said. Orders for optical products were the most affected, with demand for flat panels used in TVs and personal computers faltering, putting pressure on selling prices, the statement said. Demand for base metals and machinery equipment fell 8.8 percent and 11.6 percent respectively as customers in China, the US and other countries turned conservative about capital investment, the ministry said. Export orders for plastic products dropped 7.3 percent as demand for disease prevention products
CHINA LIFE: Despite its terms not stipulating that policyholders with COVID-19 who are not hospitalized must be compensated, China Life said that it would be flexible
Fubon Financial Holding Co (富邦金控) yesterday said that its insurance unit would weather rising COVID-19 insurance claims and no fundraising is needed. Fubon Insurance Co (富邦產險) said it has sold about 2.31 million COVID-19 insurance policies and as of the middle of this month had paid NT$1.1 billion (US$37.09 million) of claims from 29,000 policyholders. It pays a total of NT$50 million per day in claims, it said. It is difficult to calculate how much more compensation it would have to pay, as local COVID-19 infections are still on the rise, with a peak not expected until next month, Fubon Insurance said. Fubon Insurance reiterated that it would not avoid its responsibility to policyholders. “Fubon Insurance has net value of NT$30 billion to NT$40 billion, and assets of NT$130 billion, not to mention the high net value of Fubon Financial,” Fubon Financial president Jerry Harn (韓蔚廷) told an investors’ conference amid speculation that the company would be unable to bear the burden. Policyholders would receive compensation, Harn said. The loss rate on COVID-19 insurance policies was about 15 percent, the company said. Three factors would affect the figure, including the ultimate number of local infections, the government’s virus policy and clarification of disputes, it said. If the financial pressure becomes too heavy, Fubon Insurance would consider applying to the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) to use part of its special reserve to write off losses, it said. The insurer can allocate as much as NT$15.5 billion, it said. Fubon Financial Holding reported an annual decline of 9.4 percent in net profit to NT$46.5 billion for the first quarter, mainly because of a drop of 7 percent in net profit at Fubon Life Insurance Co (富邦人壽) to NT$36.4 billion amid decreasing first-year premiums and lower returns on investments, corporate data showed. Realized capital gains from fixed-income investments plunged about 75 percent year-on-year to NT$6.7
Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) and Yageo Corp (國巨) yesterday said that they plan to acquire a 30 percent stake in local semiconductor manufacturer Advanced Power Electronics Corp (APEC, 富鼎) for about NT$2.89 billion (US$97.45 million) through a joint venture, their latest effort to broaden their semiconductor portfolios. The joint venture, XSemi Corp (國創半導體), has offered to buy 35 million Advanced Power Electronics shares at NT$82.58 per share, statements filed by the companies to the Taiwan Stock Exchange showed. That represented a discount of 26.68 percent compared with Advanced Power Electronics’ closing price of NT$112.5 yesterday. Advanced Power Electronics is one of the nation’s biggest makers of metal-oxide semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFET), a device that is widely used for switching and to amplify electronic signals. The company has developed a comprehensive product lineup with more than 1,000 MOSFET products on offer, it said. Hsinchu-based XSemi is a chip designer that specializes in analogue and power semiconductors primarily used in automotive and industrial devices. The collaboration would help XSemi expedite its business development process, and improve its product portfolio and customer reach, especially with more business opportunities emerging, such as electric vehicles, digital healthcare and robotics, the statement said. “APEC’s products will also complement highly with XSemi’s internally developed power management ICs, silicon carbide chips and modules as total solutions to provide to Hon Hai and Yageo’s existing and future customers,” the statement said. Hon Hai is a major iPhone assembler, while Yageo is the world’s No. 3 supplier of passive components. “Semiconductors have been one of the three key technology pillars of Hon Hai,” said Hon Hai chairman Young Liu (劉揚偉), who is also chairman of XSemi. “On top of XSemi’s participation through its analogue and power products on the auto collaborations, its power module has also shown great progress,” Liu said in the statement. “With the private placement
Nearly 50 percent of German companies based in Taiwan remain positive about their operations, despite rising uncertainty, but said that a lack of skilled workers might become a serious threat, a survey released yesterday by the German Trade Office Taipei showed. Forty-nine percent of respondents depicted their business in Taiwan as “good,” higher than 43 percent in South Korea, 42 percent in China and 36 percent in Japan, the office said, citing a global survey of the German Chambers of Commerce Abroad conducted in March and last month. “The findings confirm that German companies remain positive about their business and look to the future with optimism,” German Trade Office Taipei chief representative and executive director Axel Limberg said. While optimism in some other major Asian markets has weakened due to heightening downside risks, it has remained strong in Taiwan, Limberg said. Only 7 percent of German companies in Taiwan expect their business operations to deteriorate over the next 12 months, he said. Optimistic business sentiment gives the firms a higher willingness to invest in Taiwan, compared with other markets in the region, he said. More than 36 percent said that they would increase investment in Taiwan in the next 12 months, while 49 percent would stand by their original investment plans, the survey showed. That is higher than 28 percent of German companies in China that intend to raise stakes, 22 percent in South Korea and 19 percent in Japan, it showed. The outlook is consistent with expectations of economic growth in Taiwan, it showed. The survey also revealed ongoing and potential challenges. The war in Ukraine is negatively affecting German firms, with 70 percent saying they expect costs to rise, Limberg said. Sixty-eight percent believe that global supply chain disruptions have affected their operations, he said. In addition, a lack of skilled workers continues to put pressure on nearly 50 percent
The TAIEX yesterday climbed out of a slump to close higher, led by shares of contract chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), which recovered from a tumble in the previous session, dealers said. TSMC helped boost the bellwether electronics sector, and the gains also spread to the old economy and financial sectors, lending additional support to the main board, but turnover remained low amid fears of further volatility on US markets, dealers said. The TAIEX closed up 0.78 percent at 16,144.85 on turnover of NT$197.899 billion (US$6.67 billion). The TAIEX opened up 0.26 percent, ignoring the losses on US markets overnight, and it gained momentum as TSMC shares attracted bargain hunters after plunging 2.97 percent on Thursday, dealers said. BARGAIN HUNTING The bargain hunting also spread to non-technology stocks, including the steel and financial sectors, helping the TAIEX close above 16,100 points after its 1.70 percent tumble the previous day, they said. “While US markets continued to trend lower, the selling was more on the Dow than the tech-heavy NASDAQ index,” Mega International Investment Services Corp (兆豐國際投顧) analyst Alex Huang (黃國偉) said. “Investors here simply took advantage of the heavy losses suffered by electronics stocks yesterday to pick up bargains today.” The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.75 percent on Thursday, while the NASDAQ finished 0.26 percent lower. “In Taiwan, TSMC became the major target among bargain hunters, as its share price was relatively low, while its fundamentals remained sound,” Huang said. TSMC shares rose 1.53 percent yesterday to close at NT$530, contributing almost 70 points to the TAIEX’s gain, and leading the electronics and semiconductor subindices to rise 0.72 percent and 1.09 percent respectively. Other semiconductor heavyweights finished mixed, with chipmaker United Microelectronics Corp (聯電) shares losing 0.20 percent to close at NT$50.70, while shares of application-specific IC designer Faraday Technology Corp (智原科技) dropped 1.25 percent to close
US President Joe Biden yesterday opened his trip to Asia with a focus on the US tech sector, touring a Samsung Electronics Co computer chip plant in South Korea that is to serve as model for a US$17 billion semiconductor factory that the electronics company is building outside Austin, Texas. The visit is also a nod to one of Biden’s key domestic priorities of increasing the supply of chips. A semiconductor shortage last year hurt the availability of automobiles, kitchen appliances and other goods. Previewing the trip aboard Air Force One, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said that Samsung’s investment in Texas would mean “good-paying jobs for Americans and, very importantly, it will mean more supply chain resilience.” Greeting Biden at the plant in Pyeongtaek was South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and Samsung Electronics vice chairman Jay Y. Lee. Part of the chip shortage is the result of strong demand as much of the world emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic, but virus outbreaks and other challenges also caused the closure of semiconductor plants. US government officials have estimated that chip production would not be at the levels they would like until early next year. Global chip sales totaled US$151.7 billion during the first three months of this year, a 23 percent jump from the same period last year, Semiconductor Industry Association data showed. More than 75 percent of global chip production comes from Asia. That is a possible vulnerability that the US hopes to protect against through more domestic production and government investment in the sector through a bill being negotiated in the US Congress. The risk of Chinese aggression against Taiwan could possibly cut off the flow of high-end computer chips that are needed in the US for military equipment as well as consumer goods. Similarly, North Korea has been test-firing ballistic missiles amid a COVID-19 outbreak,
INVENTORY DOUBLED: Key parts have backed up in warehouses, halting notebook production, as Acer’s CEO said that a gradual reopening would not solve the problem
PC vendor Acer Inc (宏碁) yesterday said that lockdowns in China to control COVID-19 upended key component supply and disrupted PC production, although chip shortages have been improving. While chip supply constraints largely eased in the first quarter, the company faces uneven supplies of key components due to COVID-19 restrictions in China, Acer chairman and CEO Jason Chen (陳俊聖) told an online news conference. “Semiconductor shortage was the biggest problem in the first half of last year,” Chen said. “Now, we are beset by a supply chain issue caused by China's lockdowns.” With key components unable to be delivered and backing up in warehouses, notebook computer makers have had to halt production, Chen said, adding that a full reopening, and not gradual steps, would be the only way to resume production. Inventory has increased to about twice its normal levels due to port gridlocks, he said, adding that channel inventory has recovered to pre-pandemic levels. “Supply and demand balance is a task we have been trying to achieve. There is a great deal of difficulty in doing it right,” Chen said. Acer experienced a significant decline in revenue about two years ago, as it did not have sufficient inventory to satisfy sudden demand due to the work-from-home and remote learning trends, he said. Acer now has sufficient raw materials and finished goods in stock, he said. Demand is weakening as the war in Ukraine has stoked fears over inflation and an economic slowdown, Chen said, adding that lower household disposable income is affecting PC sales. Worldwide PC shipments fell 3 percent annually to 118.1 million units in the first quarter, Canalys data showed. However, commercial PCs and green PCs are growing, despite the industry downtrend, as enterprises are purchasing computers for employees returning to offices, he said, adding that sales of Acer’s green Vero PC series expanded 6 percent month-on-month
Gifted and inherited properties last quarter increased 12 percent and 4.3 percent year-on-year to 15,481 and 14,952 units respectively, government data showed yesterday, as people appeared to be undeterred by stricter property tax terms while becoming more active in asset allocations. The figures show a seven-year high following the introduction of combined property taxes, data on the Ministry of the Interior’s Web site showed. The rise appears to be a result of increased financial planning by people with multiple homes as a way to help them cope with selective credit controls and rising inflationary pressures, Great Home Realty Co (大家房屋) head researcher Mandy Lang (郎美囡) said. Tightened property tax terms should result in higher taxes when people sell inherited and gifted properties, although people regardless seem to be pressing ahead with asset allocations, especially those with multiple homes, Lang said. Owners of multiple homes can bypass stricter lending terms by gifting properties to spouses or children who qualify for higher house loans, Lang said. Gifted and inherited properties could also allow first-time property sellers the choice to apply a 10 percent tax rate on transaction gains, benefits usually not available to multiple home sellers. Multiple home sellers must declare capital gains in line with income tax rules and pay taxes accordingly. Gifted properties are most common in Taipei, New Taipei City and Taoyuan, but are not as popular in southern Taiwan, Lang said, adding that people in southern Taiwan are less comfortable with inheritance planning. H&B Realty Co (住商不動產) research head Jessica Hsu (徐佳馨) said that people can file for tax relief by buying a new property within a certain period after selling an old one.
Covestro Taiwan Ltd (台灣科思創) yesterday launched a new research and development center that is to specialize in resin synthesis and fiberoptic coating after its parent company, Covestro AG, acquired a resins business from Royal DSM, it said. The German company in September 2020 agreed to buy the resins and functional materials business from Royal DSM for about 1.61 billion euros (US$1.69 billion), corporate data showed. The Dutch company’s local units, such as Covestro Resins (ROA) Ltd (帝昇) and Covestro Resins (Taiwan) Ltd (新力美), are next month to be integrated into Covestro Taiwan Ltd, with their employees continuing resins development, Covestro Taiwan said. The Covestro Global Energy Curing Innovation Center was established at National Central University (NCU) in Taoyuan as part of its collaboration with local universities, the company said. The 1,322m2 facility marks the first global research center located on a Taiwanese university campus and managed by a foreign company, it said. Aiming to find new solutions to make its ultraviolet (UV)-cured resin synthesis process more sustainable, the company asked eight NCU professors, along with about 20 students, to work on four projects, and expects results by the end of next year, research center head Steve Shih (石健學) told the Taipei Times in an interview. “Tin is a key production component, and we have managed to minimize tin residues to lower than one part per million, but in the event something goes wrong, we need another material with comparable performance that can substitute for tin,” Shih said, citing an example of one of the center’s projects. The company is also attempting to seek appropriate bio-based materials, such as plant matter, to replace fossil-based material, as 25 percent of its products are to be made from bio-based materials by 2030, Shih said. Covestro Taiwan is also working with National Taiwan University and National Chung Hsing University on cutting-edge research
A fire that broke out at Air Liquide Far Eastern Ltd’s (ALFE, 亞東工業氣體) plant in the Hsinchu Science Park (新竹科學園區) yesterday morning was likely caused by malfunctioning transformer units, the Hsinchu Fire Bureau said. The blaze was extinguished at about 12:30pm, and no injuries were reported, the fire bureau said. Seventy firefighters and 20 trucks were deployed to the site to put out the fire, which likely stemmed from overheating transformer equipment on the first floor of the six-floor ALFE building before spreading to the second floor, the bureau said based on a preliminary investigation. Lin Tsai-hsuan (林采煖), an assistant manager at ALFE, said that staff in the building evacuated after the fire was reported at about 10am. The ALFE facility at the Hsinchu Science Park is nearing completion after construction began in November 2020, she said, adding that the site is still in its testing phase. The joint venture between France’s Air Liquide SA and Taiwan’s Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) provides natural gas supplies and services for Taiwanese electronics and medical industries, among others, in addition to homes. The Hsinchu plant is being built to meet growing demand for natural gas among Taiwan’s semiconductor manufacturers, Lin said. Hsinchu Science Park Bureau Deputy Director-General Chen Shu-chu (陳淑珠) said the fire caused a temporary voltage drop at the park, but no power outage occurred. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (台積電) said that operations at its Hsinchu site were not affected by the incident, while Powerchip Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp (力積電) said its production was only partially interrupted, as some of its equipment did not have generators as backup.
Manufacturing output last quarter rose for a sixth straight quarter given growth in global end-market demand, development of emerging technologies, digital transformation and improvement in supply chain disruptions, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday. Rising costs of international raw materials due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine also helped push output of the local manufacturing sector upward in the first quarter, the ministry said in a statement. Manufacturing output increased 16.01 percent year-on-year to NT$4.16 trillion (US$139.74 billion), the highest number on record for the January-to-March period, the ministry said. The increase last quarter was led by the electronic components industry — the manufacturing sector’s most important segment — which climbed 16.9 percent to NT$1.27 trillion, the highest ever for the period, it said. Semiconductor production grew 28.74 percent to NT$622.9 billion, as demand for chips used in 5G, high-performance computing, the Internet of Things and automotive applications remained strong, the ministry said. However, LCD production posted an annual decrease of 5.24 percent to NT$203.2 billion given lower panel prices compared with a year earlier, it added. Output from the computer, electronics goods and optical components industries expanded 19.03 percent on an annual basis to NT$235 billion on the back of increased production of servers, solid-state drives and networking equipment to meet robust demand for cloud computing services, the ministry said. Traditional industries such as base metals, chemical materials, petroleum and coal experienced rises in output of 22.15 percent, 12.91 percent and 39.48 percent respectively to NT$459.9 billion, NT$514.9 billion and NT$242.2 billion last quarter from a year earlier due to higher international raw material costs, the ministry said. As orders increased in semiconductor, automation equipment and 5G-related industries, the machinery equipment industry’s output rose 14.46 percent to NT$194.3 billion last quarter, it said. However, automobile and auto parts output declined 0.83 percent to NT$96.6 billion, as domestic
PEAK-SEASON RECOVERY: A strong summer rebound is expected to bring a rise in consumption and travel, and with it a substantial boost in employment
Demand for workers in Taiwan is expected to grow by 87,000 by late July, the highest estimated growth for the second quarter since 2012, a Ministry of Labor survey published on Tuesday said. The rise is mostly to be in the manufacturing industry, which reported an expectation of 42,000 new workers, followed by the wholesale and retail sectors, which plan to hire a combined 14,000 additional staff members, the survey said. The need for workers in the hospitality industry ranked third with an expected 8,000 new workers. The reasons cited by enterprises for growing worker demand were business expansion or operation diversification (61.4 percent), and to fill vacancies arising from resignations and retirements (21.7 percent). Nearly 52 percent of companies in the arts, entertainment and recreation industry cited “entering a peak season” as the main factor. The survey was conducted from April 6 to April 22 among businesses with 30 or more employees to gauge their need for workers by the end of July. About 3,000 responses were collected. The expected employment growth is likely attributable to businesses anticipating a strong rebound in private consumption during the summer, the ministry said, adding that consumer spending is forecast to rise steadily amid an expected decline in the number of COVID-19 cases, giving a boost to consumption and travel. However, high inflation could reduce purchasing power, as the consumer price index last month rose 3.38 percent from a year earlier, the highest growth since August 2012 and the ninth consecutive month above the 2 percent alert level set by the central bank, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics said on May 6.
People use their smartphones in front of paintings at the Taipei Dangdai art fair at the Taipei World Trade Center’s Exhibition Hall 1 yesterday. After last year’s online-only showing, the contemporary art event is returning with a physical exhibition featuring 1,000 artworks presented by 62 galleries locally and abroad. The event opens today and runs through Sunday.
DOUBLE WHAMMY: General Chamber of Commerce chairman Paul Hsu said living with COVID-19 has tourism-related businesses reeling again as people voluntarily stay home
The General Chamber of Commerce (GCC, 全國商總) yesterday called on the government to provide quick relief for the tourism and hospitality sectors, whose business has plunged over the past two months due to a spike in domestic COVID-19 infections. The situation is much worse than during the level 3 COVID-19 alert from May to July last year, when the government lent financial support to hard-hit sectors, GCC chairman Paul Hsu (許舒博) said. “Restaurants, hotels, travel agencies, exhibition facilities and tour bus companies are taking another blow as the daily number of new COVID-19 cases climbs steeply,” Hsu said. Although the government has refrained from tightening disease prevention measures in an effort to learn to live with COVID-19, most people are voluntarily staying home to avoid infection, he added. Business at travel agencies and tour bus companies virtually came to a halt after health authorities last month required people to receive three vaccine doses before taking part in group tours, Hsu said. Restaurants have again turned to offering takeout after business from dining in plummeted 40 to 70 percent, he said, adding that takeout is accounting for up to 70 percent of restaurants’ revenue. Hotels have been faring just as poorly, with occupancy rates on average falling 50 to 60 percent, Hsu said, adding that the pace of retreat has reached 80 to 90 percent for facilities in popular tourist locations. Quarantine hotels have said that they are also suffering since people were allowed to quarantine at home and government subsidies stopped, he said. Hard-hit businesses had no choice but to introduce unpaid leave, Hsu said, adding that they might be forced to shutter if the government remains on the sidelines. As of Monday, 2,369 companies had implemented unpaid leave, affecting 15,013 workers, government data showed. The number of furloughed workers is likely to climb, as yesterday’s tally of new cases
NOT FINALIZED: The injection amount may fluctuate as changes to disease prevention measures affect the number of claims, CTBC Financial spokeswoman Chiu Ya-ling said
Taiwan Life Insurance Co (台灣人壽) is considering injecting capital into its subsidiary CTBC Insurance Co (中國信託產險), as the unit has been paying out about NT$5 million (US$168,294) per day in compensation for COVID-19 claims, parent company CTBC Financial Holding Co (中信金控) told an investors’ conference in Taipei yesterday. The amount of the injection has not been finalized, as the number of claims affecting CTBC Insurance’s financial strength would change as the government changes its disease prevention measures, such as the isolation rules, CTBC Financial spokeswoman Chiu Ya-ling (邱雅玲) said. The cash injection would not reduce Taiwan Life’s capital adequacy too much, Chiu said. Taiwan Life’s risk-based capital (RBC) ratio stands at 335 percent and is expected to remain above 300 percent even after injecting capital into CTBC Insurance, she said. Having sold 400,000 COVID-19 insurance policies, CTBC Insurance said that it has assigned more staff to deal with claims as domestic COVID-19 infections climb. CTBC Financial reported that net profit in the first quarter fell 17 percent year-on-year to NT$16.29 billion, with subsidiaries CTBC Bank (中國信託銀行), CTBC Securities Co Ltd (中信證券) and Taiwan Life Insurance all reporting annual declines in net profit. CTBC Financial’s revenue fell 0.3 percent from a year earlier, as a 16 percent increase in annual net interest income was offset by declines of 3.7 percent in annual fee income and 51 percent in annual revenue from trading, derivatives and foreign exchange. CTBC Bank is monitoring the effects of China’s lockdowns on its business there, after the bank wrote off a loan loss of US$28 million related to a US$40 million loan to Chinese RISE Education Cayman Ltd (瑞思教育), Chiu said, adding that the bank has tightened its criteria for lending to education companies in the Chinese market. CTBC Bank’s net interest margin edged up to 1.47 percent at the end of March, from 1.43
E Ink Holdings Inc (元太科技) yesterday said it would further expand capacity to cope with robust demand for e-paper displays used in e-readers, e-notes and electronic shelf labels, as the COVID-19 pandemic and rising inflation have not dampened consumer demand. Although rising inflation is weakening companies’ purchasing power, E Ink said that its customers have not scaled down orders for e-paper displays used in e-readers. “Reading is still the most affordable leisure activity that people have,” E Ink CEO Johnson Lee (李政昊) told an online investors’ conference in Taipei. As e-books are less expensive than paper books, “we have so far not seen a slowdown in demand,” Lee said. “We are seeing quite robust demand.” Demand was also aided by E Ink’s launch of better-performing colored e-paper display technologies to replace e-readers with monochromatic displays, Lee said. Large-scale retailers are more rapidly adopting electronic labels due to price volatility and inflation, as well as higher labor costs and worker shortages, he said. E-papers used in electronic labels, which replaced those used in e-readers, became E Ink’s biggest revenue contributor last quarter, accounting for 52 percent of the company’s total revenue of NT$5.96 billion (US$200.61 million), the company said, adding that this was a significant increase from 40 percent a year earlier. To meet demand, E Ink said that it would double this year’s capital expenditure to more than NT$4 billion. The firm is to launch three new production lines for e-paper displays this year, Lee said, adding that another new production line would be postponed until the first quarter of next year because delivery of the equipment had been delayed. To boost production, E Ink might convert part of a new office building into a manufacturing site, he said. The office building is to open next year, he added. Lee said that the impact from COVID-19 lockdowns in China
Taipei Fubon Commercial Bank’s (台北富邦銀行) board of directors yesterday approved a proposal to increase investment in the Web-only Line Bank Taiwan Ltd (連線商業銀行) by NT$2.195 billion (US$73.88 million), which is expected to raise its stake in the virtual bank from 25.1 percent to 27.18 percent. Taipei Fubon would remain the second-largest shareholder in Line Bank after Line Financial Taiwan Corp (台灣連線金融科技), which holds a 49.9 percent stake. Taipei Fubon’s decision came as Line Bank seeks to increase its paid-in capital by NT$7.5 billion after its accumulated pretax losses approached one-third of its paid-in capital of NT$10 billion. Line Bank plans to first reduce its capital by NT$2.5 billion to cut losses and then increase capital by NT$7.5 billion, Taipei Fubon said. CTBC Bank (中國信託銀行), which has a 5 percent stake in Line Bank, has yet to decide whether to boost its investment in the virtual bank, while other stakeholders Standard Chartered Bank (Taiwan) Ltd (渣打國際商業銀行) and Union Bank of Taiwan (聯邦銀行) said they would take part in the recapitalization scheme. Line Bank is scheduled to hold a shareholders’ meeting tomorrow to discuss the capital increase plan.
Automaker Yulon Motor Co (裕隆) yesterday kept its forecast for domestic new vehicle sales this year at 436,000 units, saying that Shanghai’s reopening would boost production and component supplies. The forecast is 0.5 percent higher than last year’s domestic sales of 434,000 units. Sales in the first four months of the year plummeted 12.5 percent to 136,000 units from a year earlier, due to shortages of chips and key components, as well as logistic bottlenecks, Yulon vice president Lee Chien-hui (李建輝) said. The 50-day lockdown in Shanghai has dealt a serious blow to global auto component supply chains, as the city is one of the world’s biggest manufacturing hubs of key components, Lee said. Yulon is stepping up efforts to acquire more key components as production and logistics gradually return to normal, he said. “We will closely monitor how consumers react to interest rate hikes, inflationary pressure and spike in COVID-19 infections. We will adjust [our forecast] accordingly,” Lee said. Local automakers and distributors such as Hotai Motor Co (和泰) have accumulated sizeable order backlogs and people must wait at least a year for delivery. Yulon reported that net profit in the first quarter surged 53 percent year-on-year to NT$2.07 billion (US$69.67 million) from NT$1.36 billion a year earlier, thanks to a substantial increase in investment gains. Investments rose 92 percent to NT$1.18 billion from NT$616 million a year earlier. Gross margin improved to 34 percent from 29 percent a year earlier, company data showed. Taiwan Acceptance Corp (裕融企業), an auto financing unit 45 percent owned by Yulon, helped boost Yulon’s performance, Lee said. Revenue in the first quarter fell 7 percent to NT$19.04 billion from NT$20.27 billion a year earlier, due to a decline in vehicle sales at Yulon Nissan Motor Co Ltd (裕隆日產), which distributes Nissan Motor Co and Infiniti vehicles. Yulon Nissan, which is 50 percent owned
State-run Taiwan Cooperative Financial Holding Co (合庫金控) yesterday said it aims to increase total lending by 7 percent this year, after outstanding loans increased 7 percent last month. It aims to preserve the momentum over the rest of the year, the bank-focused group said, adding that it would prioritize retirement planning and lending to urban renewal projects. Main subsidiary Taiwan Cooperative Bank (合庫銀行) reported that fee income from wealth management and credit card businesses in the first quarter fell 11.46 percent and 42.86 percent respectively, as global monetary tightening and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine weighed on investment sentiment. The nation’s largest lender by number of branches said that it aims to shore up its wealth management business by expanding its product line. Taiwan Cooperative Financial reported that net profit in the first quarter slipped 6.45 percent year-on-year to NT$4.47 billion (US$150.45 million), or earnings per share of NT$0.32. The property market is going through a consolidation phase, due to a spike in domestic COVID-19 infections and unfavorable policy measures, but would likely recover later in the year thanks to real demand, the company said. Land financing in the first quarter dipped 1.11 percent from the last quarter of last year, but home loans increased 1.2 percent, it said. The central bank is likely to raise its discount rate by 12.5 basis points next month, unless downside risks to the nation’s economy loom larger, it said. A rate hike of 0.25 percentage points could benefit the bank’s net interest margin by 0.055 percentage points if other factors remain unchanged, it said. Net interest margin in the first quarter fell to 0.895 percent, company data showed. Contributions from overseas branches in the first quarter soared to 52.01 percent from 28.7 percent a quarter earlier, thanks to better asset quality and accounting rule changes in the US, the firm said.
A worker prepares to dry noodles on woven bamboo trays in Tainan’s Guanmiao District yesterday. When it stops raining, Guanmiao Noodle manufacturers are busy getting their product out as workers need to manually turn the noodles every two hours in the sun to dry them evenly, the Guanmiao District Farmers’ Association said. Some noodle manufacturers have also used drying rooms within their factories to speed up production schedules and meet rising orders, the association said.