Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC, 台灣高鐵) yesterday reshuffled its 15-member board at a shareholders’ meeting, with government-appointed representatives taking up nine seats — including three seats for external directors — while five of the railway project’s original shareholders retained their seats.
The newly elected board made former CEO Ou Chin-der (歐晉德), who replaced former chairwoman Nita Ing (殷琪) in late September, its new chairman with a three-year term.
The government-appointed board members include Pan Wenent (潘文炎), representing the CTCI Foundation (中技社), and Hu Mao-lin (胡懋麟), chairman of the state-owned Taiwan Sugar Corp (台糖). Academics Lin Chen-kuo (林振國), George Chen (陳世圯) and Victor Liu (劉維琪) were appointed as independent directors.
During its shareholder meeting yesterday morning, Ou said he would turn around the company’s financial performance by coming up with a healthier operational plan, boosting passenger traffic and negotiating new loans at lower interest rates.
In response to shareholders’ questions, Ou said the company needed more than 140,000 passengers per day to break even, from its current average of 87,000 passengers per day.
He also addressed recent concerns about the company’s highly paid foreign executives, some of whom he said have submitted their resignations in the wake of criticism over their high salaries.
Ou said the company hoped to retain the foreign executives, who made up just 2.6 percent of the company’s total workforce as of August, down from 3.7 percent last year and a reduction of more than 30 percent from the project’s early years.
These executives, whose salaries accounted for 1.9 percent of the company’s total personnel expenditure, remain indispensable to daily operations, especially the railway system’s maintenance, which is of great importance to passenger safety, he added.
The foreign executives are highly sought-after by railway contractors in other countries and have been offered up to double the salary they earn at THSRC, Ou said.
Nevertheless, he said the company would gradually reduce the number of foreign executives by June.
A company source, who declined to be identified, yesterday said the company was expected to negotiate terms including interest rates and maturities with creditor banks including its main lender, Bank of Taiwan (台灣銀行), to finalize a NT$382 billion (US$11.8 billion) syndicated loan “by the end of this month or no later than the year’s end.”
For its government-funded loan of NT$308.3 billion, the company hopes to pay a floating interest rate that would be pegged to the rate for one-year postal deposits and would be slightly lower than the averaged rate of 2.6 percent on its old loans, the source said.
A fixed rate of 0.8 percent on top of the rate for one-year postal deposits, currently at 1 percent, would be levied on the remaining loan of NT$73.7 billion, the source said, adding that the company was further negotiating for a ceiling on the rates if they were to be substantially increased.
MOVING ON UP: Taiwan improved in all four areas measured by the IMD, making its biggest leap, from 17th to sixth place, in economic performance Taiwan moved up three spots from last year to place eighth, its best performance since 2013, in the latest annual world competitiveness rankings, released yesterday by the International Institute for Management Development (IMD). Innovation, digitalization, welfare benefits and social cohesion are critical to economic performance, with Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and Singapore making up the top five on the list this year, the Switzerland-based institute said, after grading 64 countries and regions based on economic performance, infrastructure, and government and business efficiency. “Leading performers are characterized by varying degrees of investment in innovation, diversified economic activities and supportive public policy,” IMD
With the US opening up to travel, demand in Taiwan for US-bound flights has soared, pushing up ticket prices to most destinations in North America, tourism sources said. Fares for destinations in the US have risen dramatically since the middle of last month, and the trend is expected to continue in the coming months, as California on Tuesday lifted most social distancing and capacity limits put in place to contain the spread of COVID-19, ezTravel Co (易遊網) said in a statement yesterday. The travel agency forecast that the number of tickets sold this month is likely to be double or triple
‘MATTER OF SURVIVAL’: Vice Premier Liu He is to lead the development of ‘third-generation’ chips, a field not yet dominated by any nation or company Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) is renewing his years-long push to achieve technology self-sufficiency by tapping a top deputy to shepherd a key initiative aimed at helping domestic chipmakers overcome US sanctions. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He (劉鶴), Xi’s economic czar whose sprawling portfolio spans trade to finance and technology, has been tapped to spearhead the development of so-called “third-generation” chip development and capabilities, and is leading the formulation of a series of financial and policy supports for the technology, people with knowledge of the matter said. It is a nascent field that relies on newer materials and gear beyond traditional silicon,
OPPORTUNITY: The company aims to sell its product soon, as enterovirus vaccines are not available anywhere but China, where firms are only marketing their vaccines locally Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp’s (高端疫苗) phase 3 clinical trials for an enterovirus 71 (EV71) vaccine completed the multi-regional, multi-central data “unblinding” yesterday, with the results, including safety, immunogenicity and efficacy, meeting its expectations. The company would compile a final analysis report as soon as possible, and apply for the new drug certificate from domestic and foreign drug authorities in the third quarter, Medigen said in a Taiwan Stock Exchange filing yesterday. Its phase 3 trials were conducted in Taiwan and Vietnam with 3,049 participants ranging from two months old to six years old, Medigen said. The company enrolled its first participant for