Berkshire profit falls in Q1
Berkshire Hathaway Inc, the insurance giant run by billionaire Warren Buffett, on Friday said its profit fell 12 percent in the first quarter, hurt by a hefty loss on investments. The company also said that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sent a so-called Wells notice to a senior vice president of its General Reinsurance subsidiary on Monday, warning that the SEC staff may recommend bringing civil action against this individual for alleged violations of federal law. The alleged violations of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 are connected to a reinsurance transaction between General Re and American International Group Inc, which has acknowledged that its accounting for the transaction with General Re was improper. Berkshire, which said it and its subsidiaries are fully cooperating with ongoing investigations being conducted by the Department of Justice and other agencies, did not name the executive who received the SEC warning. Berkshire's results included losses of US$384 million from its investments in the latest quarter, compared with a gain of US$156 million the year before.
■ Health care
Virgin moves into insurance
After planes, trains and mobile phones, British tycoon Richard Branson's Virgin Group announced on Friday its debut in the US health care market with a new insurance product aimed at the millions of Americans who are out of shape or too poor to afford coverage. The company unveiled an alliance with leading US health care provider Humana Inc to sell a Virgin-branded health insurance product that is linked to its efforts to get Americans fitter through a training incentive program. The insurance policy will be the first venture of a new US unit called "Virgin life care" and is scheduled to launch in Florida and Texas early next year, before rolling out across the US later, a Humana spokesman said.
Amazon embraces weddings
Amazon.com Inc, the world's largest Internet retailer, has opened a wedding registry and planning service on its Web site to compete with online wedding planners such as The Knot Inc. Amazon's registry will give gift buyers access to millions of products, Kerry Morris, an Amazon.com merchandising manager, said in a statement. Couples have so far registered for more than 70,000 different items, Morris said. The site also links to local vendors, including photographers, florists and caterers. Amazon.com chief executive officer Jeff Bezos has been adding categories such as sales of wine and musical instruments, to offer customers almost anything that can be purchased on the Internet. The company also offers a gift registry for babies and "wish lists," customer creations that can be shared with friends and relatives.
■ Food industry
Chinese red berries recalled
A California-based marketer and distributor of Asian foods is recalling Chinese red berry because the herb may contain undeclared sulfites, which can be deadly to people allergic to them. Walong Marketing Inc of Buena Park, California, said the recall covers 227g packages of the Asian Taste brand of Chinese red berry and 369g packages of the Sinbo brand. The products were distributed nationwide, mostly to Asian food markets. New York state food inspectors discovered the unlabeled sulfites, though no illnesses have been linked to the product, the company said.
NOTABLE SHIFT: By 2030, 50% of all laptops would be assembled in Southeast Asia, while Taiwan would still mostly focus on research and development, a report said Global laptop and desktop computer supply chains are expected to shift significantly away from China in the next 10 years, a Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute (MIC, 產業情報研究所) report said. By 2030, only 40 percent of global laptop production would remain in China, said the report, which was released on Thursday. “The reshuffling of the global supply chain will be one of the most important trends in the next 10 years,” the institute said in the report. “In the long run, key component makers will follow laptop assemblers in moving out of China.” The Taipei-based institute predicted most key component makers
Merck Group Taiwan yesterday said that it plans to invest substantially on expanding its fab in Kaohsiung’s Lujhu District (路竹) to better serve its local customers, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電). The company said it plans to expand its production space by 50 percent in the next five years and its workforce by about 40 percent, Merck Group Taiwan managing director Dick Hsieh (謝志宏) told a media briefing in Taipei. Hsieh declined to disclose investment details, but said that the latest investment would exceed the total amount Merck has invested in Taiwan over the past few years. Those investments would be
Yageo Corp (國巨), the world’s third-largest supplier of multilayer ceramic capacitors, has formed a strategic alliance with Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) to develop key electronic components for electric vehicles and digital healthcare, it said yesterday. The alliance is to help Yageo boost its revenue from high-end components for vehicles and industrial, medical and aerospace devices, as well as those used in 5G and Internet-of-Things devices, the company said. The companies signed the strategic alliance agreement at Yageo’s headquarters in New Taipei City’s Sindian District (新店). Their cooperation is to start this quarter, the companies said in a joint statement. “Through the cooperation
SUPPLY CONSTRAINTS: The transferred orders might not provide an immediate revenue boost given local chipmakers’ high utilization rates, a senior analyst said Shares of local contract chipmakers yesterday rose as much as the 10 percent daily limit, as investors bet on orders being transferred from Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC, 中芯國際) after the US imposed export restrictions on the Chinese chipmaker. United Microelectronics Corp (UMC, 聯電) shares soared 10 percent to close at NT$27.5 as 380 million shares changed hands on the Taiwan Stock Exchange. UMC is the world’s No. 3 foundry by revenue, followed by SMIC, according to data from market researcher TrendForce Corp (集邦科技). UMC has product and customer portfolios similar to those of SMIC, TrendForce said, adding that UMC offers 14-nanometer and