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  March 28, 2000  

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Business in Asia Today

Japan's Sanwa Shutter to post first net loss
TOKYO - Sanwa Shutter Corp (TSE: 5929) says it will record a net loss of 7.5 billion yen ($69.87 million) for the fiscal year to March 31, falling into the red for the first time since its founding in 1956, and dropping sharply from last year's net profit of 3.2 billion yen. The net loss is attributed to 18 billion yen in extraordinary losses, including the write-off of 8 billion yen in unfunded pension and severance obligations, and 8.5 billion yen in losses incurred from extending financial aid to ailing affiliates such as Sanwa Exterior Corp and Meiji Aluminum Industries Co.

Japan's Niigata Engineering restructures
TOKYO - Niigata Engineering Co (TSE: 6011) has unveiled restructuring measures to cope with deteriorating finances amid a slump in sales. The midsize machinery producer revised earnings down on Friday and expects group net loss of 38.8 billion yen ($361.5 million) and net liabilities of 9.7 billion yen for the year to March 31. It is the first time the company has fallen into negative net worth.

Two Hitachi firms design mine clearing vehicles
TOKYO - In cooperation with its affiliate based in Yamanashi Prefecture, Hitachi Construction Machinery Co (TSE: 6305) has developed two types of vehicle used to dispose of anti-personnel mines and has started to line up orders. The vehicles, based on hydraulic excavators, can efficiently and safely detect and detonate anti-personnel mines. Developed with the cooperation of the Japanese government, the Japan International Cooperation Agency and Mitsui & Co (TSE: 8031), the vehicles are equipped with a specially designed cutter that cuts shrubs down and digs mines out of surface earth. Even if the mines accidentally go off, the vehicles are designed to protect the cabs in which operators ride from the explosions.

Seoul to let stock firms handle corporate, forex funds
SEOUL - The Korean government will consider allowing brokerage houses to expand their business area to cover foreign exchange or corporate pension funds, the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) said. FSC Chairman Lee Yong-keun made the commitment in a meeting with the presidents of local securities companies, who cited difficulty in operations as money has fled into bank trust instruments. Lee called for the development of new products to cope with the difficult situation by discarding dependence on traditional brokering commissions.

Korea's Chollian opens portal site
SEOUL - PC online service provider Chollian will provide services in over 30 nations by the latter half of this year through the global portal site Global Online. ''Dacom will use Chollian as its basic model and develop online services to meet each nation's needs. It will start business in 30 nations including India, China, Malaysia, South Africa, Morocco,'' a Dacom International source said Monday.

Singapore's Cycle & Carriage group wins Astra bid
JAKARTA - The consortium of Cycle & Carriage Limited has won the tender for 39.5 percent stake in PT Astra International owned by the government worth Rp3.8 trillion ($542 million). Cycle & Carriage, which groups Batavia Investment Management, Lazard Asia, the Government of Singapore Investment Ltd and Bhakti Investama defeated the consortium of Newbridge Asia, Saratoga Investama Sedaya, Capital Asia, Ustra Investment Fund, Colony Capital and the government of Singapore Investment Corp.

Malaysia's Telekom Multimedia launches Eastgate
KUALA LUMPUR - Telekom Multimedia, a Telekom Malaysia Bhd division, will introduce the latest Internet exchange and hubbing services, Eastgate, to provide the best in high-tech Internet connectivity services. The service was expected to be launched by April and targeted at local and regional internet service providers, Telekom Malaysia said Monday. Eastgate is a network that combines advanced networking technology and fiber-optic infrastructure for optimum reach and performance.

Malaysia's Labuan bourse offers platform for Islamic trade
KUALA LUMPUR - The Labuan International Financial Exchange (LIFE) will be launched on April 1 with several listings by international firms already having been set, Labuan Offshore Financial Services Authority chairman Ali Abul Hassan said in the 1999 annual report. He said about 52 Islamic funds valued at $90 billion could be listed on LIFE together with the Islamic money market instruments.

Malaysia's Proton to make cars in India
NEW DELHI - Malaysian car maker Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional Bhd (Proton), intends to open manufacturing operations in India, using Hindustan Motor's facility in Tamil Nadu state. Proton will use Hindustan Motors' Tamil Nadu facility under an in-principle agreement with the CK Birla flagship, HM's executive director, A Sankara Narayanan, was quoted as saying.

Indonesia's Bosowa, Korea's Hyosung to ride together
JAKARTA - Indonesia's Bosowa Nusantara Motors and South Korea's Hyosung Motors & Machinery Inc have agreed to produce motorcycles in Indonesia and are expected to start marketing their products next month. Bosowa president Aksa Mahmud said after signing the agreement between the two companies that the companies' jointly-produced motorcycles, trademarked ''BSW'', would be able to capture a significant market share even though other motorcycles had entered the market earlier. This year production is expected to reach 10,000 units against an installed capacity of 60,000 units.

NTT Comms buys 15% of Philippine telcom
TOKYO - NTT Communications Corp announced Friday that it has finished providing capital to the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co (PLDT), the largest telecommunications company in the Philippines. NTT Communications invested about 27.8 billion pesos, or roughly 78.3 billion yen ($729.39 million), in PLDT, acquiring about 15 percent of PLDT's outstanding shares. NTT Communications will also dispatch two board members to PLDT. PLDT will handle NTT Communications' international communications services in the Philippines, and the two firms will strengthen ties by jointly developing communications services using Internet technology.

Manila approves $123m investments in economic zones
MANILA - The Philippines government has approved P5.1 billion ($123 million) in investments in the country's special economic zones during the first two months of 2000, up 39.7 percent from last year's P3.6 billion. In a memorandum to Secretary Manuel Roxas II of the Department of Trade and Industry, Director General Lilia de Lima of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, said export enterprises would implement projects worth P4.2 billion. Last year's figure was only P2.88 billion.

Vietnam earns $2.94bn from exports in Q1
HANOI - Vietnam posted an export turnover of $2.94 billion in the first quarter of this year, a year-on-year increase of 34 percent, according to the General Statistics Office. Domestic enterprises contributed $1.52 billion or a year-on-year increase of 8.6 percent; foreign-invested enterprises contributed $1.41 billion or an annual growth of 78 percent. The top export item was oil, up 117 percent to $645 million although volume dropped nearly 3 percent to 3.332 million tonnes.

Shimadzu, Proteome Systems to develop research tools
SYDNEY - Australia's Proteome Systems Ltd has joined with Shimadzu Corp of Japan to develop state of the art instruments for proteomics research, the company said today. Under a strategic alliance, Proteome Systems and Shimadzu will develop instruments capable of parallel screening large number of proteins, thus simplifying the process of proteomics studies, it said.

Watchdog to look into Qantas, Air NZ acquisition
SYDNEY - Australia's competition watchdog raised concerns about Qantas Airways Ltd buying into Air New Zealand and said it would investigate the matter carefully. A spokesperson for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said the key issue would be Air New Zealand's ownership of Ansett, which competes directly with Qantas in the Australian market. ''There is obviously a problem, that being Ansett,'' ACCC spokesperson Lin Enright told reporters. ''The problem of your major competitor having a large slice of your holding company.''

News Corp sells stake in Ansett New Zealand
SYDNEY - Rupert Murdoch's News Corp has cut its last major link with the aviation industry, announcing it has sold Ansett New Zealand to a consortium of investors. The investment group was arranged by merchant bank Clavell Capital Ltd and includes two of New Zealand's richest men, as well as Australian clothing retailer RM Williams Pty Ltd with a 12.5 percent interest.

Australia's Huntley's Business Network in $2.43m IPO
SYDNEY - Public company information provider Huntley's Business Network Ltd plans to raise A$4 million (US$2.43 million) and list on the Australian Stock Exchange in a move to boost its online and offline financial publishing business. The company plans to use the money raised from the Initial Public Offer to expand the online delivery of its information services and add more financial markets products to its existing base.

Kerry Packer to make FXF Trust investment vehicle
SYDNEY - Kerry Packer will push ahead with his latest money-making proposal, after investors overwhelmingly showed their approval for the mogul's plan. Packer - who announced on Tuesday night the proposal to expand the FXF Trust (ASX: FXF) into a new investment vehicle - was not expected to announce further details of the strategy for several weeks.

Canada's InterOil to list on Australian bourse
PERTH - Canadian oil group, InterOil Corp Ltd, says it will seek official listing on the Australian Stock Exchange. The company is listed on the Canadian Dealer Network and the Port Moresby Stock Exchange and has around 20.2 million shares on issue.

India's MTNL to list on NYSE by early May
NEW DELHI - India's state-owned Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) has announced that it will be listing on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) by May this year. ''We had earlier announced that the company would go for a listing by March 15. MTNL is currently readying the documents and we expect to file them with US Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) by mid April and the listing itself would happen by early May,'' S Rajagopalan, chairman and managing director of MTNL said on Friday.

India may have to import rubber to meet demand
NEW DELHI - India may have to import natural rubber again to meet its requirements, with an expected deficit in the commodity in 2000-01, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said in its 1999/00 annual report. The report also said that further deficits may widen progressively and unless conscious steps are initiated to accelerate output, there could be import dependency for meeting its requirements in future. As against an annual consumption of nearly 600,000 tonnes, India imported 26,413 tonnes of natural rubber during 1998-99 under the Advance Licence and Special Import Licence as an incentive for export of manufactured goods.

India's SBI to raise Rs10bn through subordinated bonds
NEW DELHI - India's largest commercial bank State Bank of India (SBI) is raising Rs10 billion through private placements of subordinated bonds to increase its tier-II capital. Banks's bond at a coupon rate of 10.80 percent payable half-yearly is one of the biggest of its kind by any bank in recent times.

Pakistan to invite bids for 49% of shares of 2 banks
ISLAMABAD - The government has decided to offload 49 percent shares of National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) and Habib Bank Limited (HBL) for which bids will be invited through the stock exchanges. ''We will have a jump-start next May for our privatization program when we will be calling bids for off-loading 49 percent shares of both the NBP and the UBL through stock markets,'' disclosed chairman of the Privatization Commission, Altaf Saleem.

UAE Group plans $3bn investment in Pakistan
KARACHI - The UAE Offsets Group plans to invest between $2 billion and $3 billion in downstream industrial projects and the energy sector in Pakistan. The Group recently signed an agreement with Pakistan that sets the stage for a multi-million dollar project under the Dolphin initiative, said Pakistan's Ambassador to the UAE Khayyam Qaiser.

Fiat, GM to launch cars in Pakistan by June
LAHORE - Two models of Fiat car will be launched in Pakistan by June this year, according to Raja Abdur Rehman, chairman of Raja Motors Company. He said the Rs670 million ($12.93 million) Fiat auto manufacturing plant set up in Pakistan has the capacity to produce 5,000 cars a year while operating in single shift. He said the Fiat company, which had recently entered into agreement with leading auto maker General Motors would initially introduce UNO Fiat 1700cc diesel car and UNO Fiat 1300 petrol car at lower prices than their Japanese competitors.

Minister says Pakistan, Korea to tie up in auto venture
KARACHI - Sindh Provincial Minister for Industries, Dewan Muhammad Yusuf Farooqui has said that a revolution will be brought in automobile industry in Pakistan with Korean cooperation. He said automobile parts would also be manufactured m under a joint ventures to be established by Pakistani and Korean vendors for which a vendor park will be set up on 150 acres of land in Sujawal, 50 kilometer south of Karachi.

(Asia Pulse)


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