The number of personal bankruptcies soared to a record of 12,407 in the first seven months of the year as Hong Kong struggles through an economic downturn, the government yesterday. The figure was almost triple the previous high of 4,340 bankruptcies between January and July 2001, officials said. The dramatic increase came as Hong Kong also set records for unemployment and the number of people receiving welfare payments. The jobless rate hit an all-time high of 7.7 percent in the April-June quarter while the number of people receiving government payments rose in July to 258,085. Bankruptcies in Hong Kong have
AOL Time Warner Inc said US$49 million in revenue from three transactions at America Online are being reviewed at the company's Internet unit. The transactions represented "an insignificant portion" of the company's total revenue in six previous quarters, a statement said. The US' SEC and the US Justice Department are investigating America Online's accounting for ad transactions. Those probes were sparked by a Washington Post report last month that said America Online boosted sales by about US$270 million with unususal transactions.
US-based telecoms chipmaker Agere Systems Inc plans to quit the optoelectronics business and lay off 4,000 workers, the firm announced Wednesday. By December 2003, Agere intends to slash its workforce from 11,200 to 7,200 as it refocuses on advanced integrated circuits and networking. Company officials cited a crash in the telecommunications sector for its decision. It will shut three US plants and a factory in Mexico to concentrate optoelectronics production in Florida.
Fujitsu Ltd will cut 2,100 jobs at four components plants in Japan, 1.2 percent of its global workforce, turning its focus to local facilities after mainly sacking workers overseas last year. The nation's biggest maker of business computers, which had a record US$3.27 billion loss last fiscal year as chip prices slumped, will eliminate jobs at two Fujitsu parts factories in Nagano, one in Hyogo and another in Tochigi, spokeswoman Yuri Momomoto said.
Citigroup Inc received a congressional subpoena demanding documents on any role stock analyst Jack Grubman played in allocating initial public offering shares to WorldCom Inc executives. The House Financial Services Committee, which issued the subpoena today, is investigating whether Grubman helped favored executives obtain IPO shares in return for their giving investment- banking business to Citigroup's Salomon Smith Barney Inc unit. The subpoena, which gives Citigroup until Aug. 23 to respond, follows the largest financial services company's failure to respond adequately to a voluntary request for information sent last month, a committee spokeswoman said.
Royal KPN NV, the largest Dutch phone company, said it has more than 100,000 subscribers for its i-mode fast wireless service in the Netherlands and Germany. KPN still expects 1 million i-mode users in 2003. The Hague-based KPN currently has more than 23,000 i-mode subscribers in the Netherlands, where it started selling the service in April, KPN said in an e-mailed statement. In Germany, its E-Plus Mobilfunk GmbH unit has won 77,000 users since March. Phone companies are hoping that clients will flock to faster wireless services such as i-mode as they work to pay off debt amassed buying new
Online sales of music will likely top US$2.1 billion by 2007, a high-tech consultancy said yesterday, rejecting claims that Internet piracy was not the culprit behind the current downturn in record sales. The industry is currently suffering under a 15-percent slump in sales, Forrester analyst Josh Bernhoff said, but people who burn CDs from the Internet are not to blame. Increased competition for consumer entertainment dollars from video games, cable television and home theatres is more responsible for the slump, Forrester concluded after a survey of 1,000 online music users. Forrester's survey suggested that online music sales will reach US$2.1
Hynix Semiconductor Inc said it had a loss in the second quarter after the price of its computer-memory chips fell to less than their cost of production. The world's third-largest maker of dynamic random-access memory chips had a net loss of 418 billion won (US$351 million) in the three months ended June 30, narrowing from a net loss of 1.6 trillion won a year earlier, the company said in a statement sent by e-mail. Sales tumbled 35 percent to 778 billion won. The average price of memory chips in the second quarter traded below the level at which companies can
The Chinese government gave Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications Ltd permission to begin operations and set up a research and development center in the world's largest mobile-phone market. The division will be based in Beijing, the London-based joint venture between Japan's Sony Corp and Sweden's Ericsson AB said in a press release. Roger Eriksson will head Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications (China) Co, it said. China, where one in eight people own a handset, overtook the US as the No. 1 mobile-phone market last year. Sony Ericsson is counting on growth in demand in the world's most populous nation to spur sales
Sun Microsystems Inc is adopting semiconductors made by Intel Corp for its low-end servers that will use the free Linux operating system or Sun's own Solaris software, the Wall Street Journal said, citing the company. Linux is an open source computer operating software that is challenging the proprietary business style of Microsoft Corp of the US. Sun's latest product line is aimed at competing with hardware from International Business Machines Corp, the Santa Clara, California-based company's biggest rival, and challenging Microsoft Corp over Internet software, the Journal said. Sun is one of the last big computer-makers designing its own chips,
Singapore's sales of handheld computers dropped 28 percent in the second quarter of this year from the first despite price drops and new models, a study said on Monday. Gartner Dataquest cited cautious buying by the corporate sector as the factor. Another was potential buyers waiting for new products based on Palm's recently announced OS 5. Palm's market share dipped from 72 percent in the first quarter to 66 percent in the second, while Microsoft's Win CE-based personal digital assistants (PDAs) increased from 21 to 27 percent in the second quarter, the firm's researchers found. Across the Asia-Pacific region excluding
The European Central Bank's chief economist Otmar Issing said in a newspaper interview published yesterday the current turbulence on the world's stock markets was no cause for panic. "There's no reason to panic. It need not automatically plunge the entire economy into crisis," Issing told the business daily Handelsblatt. Some economists believe the stock market turbulence could pull the US economy back into recession, a development that would jeopardize economic growth in the euro zone. And some observers see a danger of deflation, sparking calls for central banks to embark on a new cycle of monetary easing. But Issing said
Internet access using satellite connections are generally more expensive than connections established over standard telephone networks. That's the finding of a study by German computer magazine c't, which tested 17 satellite price scales from five different providers. According to the findings, satellite connections are advisable only for users who require very quick data transfer rates. The magazine also noted significant price and performance differences among satellite service providers. For example, the transfer of a gigabyte of data costs anywhere from US$50 and US$500, depending on which provider is used. Transfer rates varied by as much as a factor of 10,
US President George W. Bush on Saturday touted an upcoming economic forum he has organized in Texas as an opportunity to meet with government economic planners and consider ideas to strengthen the US economy. Bush said he will host the event tomorrow at Baylor University, "to meet with people on the front lines of the American economy." Guests include leaders of top US corporations, a Paraguayan-born restaurant owner from Delaware, a Mexican-American entrepreneur from southern California and a union member from Waco, as well as farmers and government economic planners. Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe said, "Instead of a
Gold futures rose on expectations that a weakening dollar will boost demand for the metal from overseas investors. Gold futures have risen 13 percent this year, boosted by the weaker dollar and increased demand from investors seeking an alternative to stocks. The dollar had its biggest drop in two weeks against the yen Friday and was down against the euro. A weaker dollar makes gold cheaper for buyers using other currencies. "Gold is serving as something of an alternative asset," said William O'Neill, a commodity consultant in Hackensack, New Jersey. "Whenever the dollar is down, it's a psychological plus
Southwest Airlines Co, in a meeting yesterday with advocates for the obese, affirmed the company's policy requiring passengers who fill more than one seat to buy a second, AP reported. The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance invited US airlines to participate at its national conference Friday. Critics said the rule is discriminatory and gate agents enforce it arbitrarily. The policy singles out one group and the people aren't offered any other benefits by purchasing an additional seat. The policy is designed to make sure every Southwest customer has use of their entire seat.
The IMF has again cut its growth forecasts for the world's main economies. The IMF expects the US economy to expand by only 2.2 percent this year, slower than the 2.5 percent it was previously expecting. And next year, the US would grow by just 2.6 percent rather than the 3.25 percent the IMF has been forecasting until now. Boersen-Zeitung said the IMF had substantially scaled back projections for the world's powerhouse economy in the wake of a dramatic slide in share prices, corporate accounting scandals and an uncertain earnings outlook for companies -- all of which were
British-based bank Standard Chartered announced yesterday that profits rose by just 1 percent in the six months to June 30 as charges for bad debts soared by 51 percent. Pre-tax profits rose to US$634 million, up from US$628 million in the same period a year earlier, on revenues up 6 percent at US$2.285 billion. But provisions for bad debts leapt US$138 million to US$407 million, although that left them US$55 million down on the previous six months. The bank blamed the rise in charges on a "rapid increase" in personal bankruptcies in Hong Kong and increased defaults in Argentina. Chairman
Former cable TV and e-commerce executive Jonathan F. Miller has been named chairman and chief executive of AOL Time Warner Inc's troubled America Online division. The appointment Tuesday is the latest move in a broader management shake-up to revive the ailing company. The selection of Miller, a former executive at USA Interactive, reflects the company's desire to generate more money by further developing AOL's e-commerce capabilities. At USA Interactive, Miller, 45, oversaw Expedia, Hotels.com and other e-commerce operations. ``Jon's success in building consumer-driven businesses online and offline has given him the right blend of expertise and experience to revitalize America
Fuji Xerox Co, a subsidiary of Fuji Photo Film Co, will buy the printer-system operation of Fujitsu Ltd, which is selling businesses and closing plants to recover from last year's record loss. Fujitsu, Japan's biggest business-computer maker, and Fuji Xerox will sign a contract finalizing the sale in November, the two companies said in a news release distributed by the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Financial terms were not disclosed.