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  April 01, 2000  

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Business in Asia Today

Sony starts talks with FSA on Internet bank
TOKYO - The board of Sony Corp has approved plans to file for a license for an Internet bank, and the company has begun talks with the Financial Supervisory Agency (FSA) to outline its plans for a comprehensive web-based financial services system. Sony plans to launch the new Internet bank in the first half of 2001 with equity capital of 37.5 billion yen ($354.74 million). Sony would take an 80 percent stake, Sakura Bank a 16 percent share, and US investment bank JP Morgan & Co a 4 percent stake. The new bank is expected to build a deposit base of 1 trillion yen in five years. Sony's goal is for the bank to turn profitable in its third year of operation and clear away accumulated losses by the fifth year.

Japan's Dentsu to issue $200m exchangeable bonds April 20
TOKYO - Dentsu Inc said Thursday it will issue $200 million worth of exchangeable bonds on April 20. Bond buyers are required to exchange the bonds with the company's shares when it goes public. Japan's top advertising agency plans to list its stock on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in autumn next year.

Oracle Japan to launch software support center
TOKYO - Database software giant Oracle Corp Japan will establish a software support center in conjunction with 10 other companies, including NEC Corp and IBM Japan Ltd. The centre will focus on enhancing software quality, including correcting bugs and testing software products before they are shipped. Oracle Japan plans to staff the center with 25 software development and maintenance engineers.

Japan's Hikari Tsushin posts $123m operating loss
TOKYO - Hikari Tsushin Inc (TSE: 9435) announced Thursday it has posted an operating loss of 13 billion yen ($122.97 million) for the first half ended February, compared with a forecast of a 6 billion yen profit. The leading supplier of data communications services recorded 160 million yen in profit for the same period last year. The company's first loss since going public in 1996s attributed to lower commissions from telecommunications companies due to lower-than-expected sales of cell phones.

Korean brokerages to write off Daewoo losses in one go
SEOUL - The Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) on Friday required brokerage houses and investment trusts to reflect losses resulting from debt workouts for Daewoo affiliates in closing their books for the current fiscal year. The brokerage houses and investment trusts asked the FSS to help them write off losses over five years because one single write-off would involve too high a financial burden. The FSS rejected the request, saying that even a single write-off would cause few companies, except for the Korea Investment and Trust and Daehan Investment and Trust, to suffer deficits.

Samsung Motor creditors, Renault could agree on Monday
SEOUL - Creditors of Samsung Motor and Renault will meet on Monday with both sides likely to finalize their talks on the sale of Samsung Motor. An official of Hanvit Bank said they had narrowed their differences on price and would work on differences on other details, including the method of payment.

Hyundai Group won't support affiliate's bid for Daewoo Motor
SEOUL - Hyundai Group announced Friday that it would not assist its affiliate Hyundai Motor in the latter's purchase of Daewoo Motor. On whether the group will render its assistance to Hyundai Motor, Hyundai Group Chairman Chung Mong-hun said, "Now that the company is to secede from the group before June, I think it is impossible for the group to do so even if it wants to."

Samsung invests in 2nd phase of China project
TIANJIN - South Korea's Samsung Group has launched the second phase of its workshop project in Tianjin, bringing its investment in China $1.66 billion. Located in the Tianjin Development Zone, the project is expected to boost annual production capacity of monitors to two million, with annual output value running as high as 2.8 billion yuan ($338.57 million), to take 15 percent of the domestic market share, the highest in the country. Since investing $40 million in its first Chinese joint venture in 1993, Samsung has established nine joint ventures in Tianjin.

Sino-French accounting JV set up in China
BEIJING - Joint venture accounting firm RSM Salustro Zhongrui CPAs, launched on March 28, is the first joint accounting venture allowed to be formed since China's 4,800 accounting companies were liberated from local governments last year. It is a 50-50 joint venture between Zhong Rui Hua Certified Public Accountants and French auditing and accounting firm RSM Salustro Reydel. Seven accounting joint ventures have taken root in China, most partly held by the world's largest accounting firms, such as Arthur Andersen and Deloitte.

Dijaya Corp proposes stake in Asian online casino
KUALA LUMPUR - The Dijaya Corporation Bhd (DIC) has proposed to acquire a 70 percent stake in Diva Gold International Ltd, which manages the business operations of the online Atlantic Casino for the Asian region for $3.5 million (RM13.3 million) cash. In a statement, DIC said the proposed acquisition was made through Gema Investments Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dijaya Digital Sdn Bhd, which in turn is a wholly-owned subsidiary of DIC.

Amadeus plans to expand in Malaysia
KUALA LUMPUR - Amadeus, a leading software technology provider concentrating on the marketing, sales and disribution needs of the travel and tourism industry, has announced its plans to expand its Malaysian market. In a press conference here today, Amadeus vice-president for Asia Pasific David Brett said Amadeus GDS (Global Distribution System) Sdn Bhd which started its Malaysian operations in 1998 hoped to capture 40 percent of the Malaysian airline ticket reservations, package tours and hotel booking market in two years.

MNI offers Malaysians chance to invest in foreign currency
KUALA LUMPUR - The newest product of Malaysia's MNI Life International Ltd, International Portfolio, is an offshore, single premium life assurance policy denominated in US dollars. The Labuan-based Portfolio is MNI Life's first product solely intended for offshore sales in foreign currencies. It is meant for long-term investments and penalties of up to 8 percent apply to investment redemption.

San Miguel cash dividend rises on positive growth
MANILA - The Philippines' San Miguel Corporation (SMC) has paid out P3.88 billion ($948 million) in cash dividends in the past five quarters to the first quarter of this year. The cash dividend for this year's first quarter was 25 centavos per share, 25 percent higher than the previous rate. The company declared cash dividends totalling P2.76 billion last year, a 53 percent increase from the P1.8 billion total dividend in 1998. SMC's net income last year rose by 82 percent to P6.02 billion

Philippines' Listed Solid buys stake in Destiny
MANILA - The Philippines' Listed Solid Group has announced the acquisition of a stake in Destiny (DI) and Destiny Cable (DCI), both owned by the Lim family. A disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange said that the acquisition would lead to restructuring so that the broadband cable infrastructure assets would be owned by DI, and the franchise to operate cable facilities and the assets necessary for the franchise would be retained by DCI.

Indonesian online media firm plans Nasdaq listing
JAKARTA - Online media firm PT Astaga Internet Konsultido (AIK) says it plans to list its shares on either the Nasdaq or the Hong Kong stock exchange by early 2001 at the latest. AIK has set aside $40 million to develop e-commerce. firms are not yet allowed to list on local bourses, but AIK would like to do so in the future. AIK is a subsidiary of PT Indonesia Online, whose shares are held by Zurich Insurance, Batavia Investment Management Ltd, Olympus Capital Partners, BoA and Lehman Brothers.

AAPT to invest US$61m in JV with AOL
SYDNEY - Telecommunications firm, AAPT Ltd, will invest A$100 million (US$61.08 million) over two years in a joint venture with US Internet giant AOL. AAPT formed the 50-50 deal with AOL's Australian operations, and hopes it will be a match for Telstra Corp Ltd and eisa Ltd's recent purchase of OzEmail. It also announced plans for a new Internet portal to deliver wireless content services. AAPT was AOL's first choice partner because of its retail customer base of 650,000 and existing infrastructure.

Bank of Queensland, Dingo Blue form alliance
SYDNEY - Bank of Queensland (BOQ) has formed an alliance with telco firm Dingo Blue to boost its online presence and extend its markets beyond Queensland. The deal, with the Internet-based telecommunications firm will see BOQ provide a range of financial services products on Dingo Blue's website, allowing the bank to boost its customer base. It will also allow Dingo Blue, a subsidiary of Cable & Wireless Optus Ltd, to expand its profile into the financial services market and increase revenues.

Australia's BHP, US firm in JV
SYDNEY - BHP Co Ltd says it has entered into an joint venture with Total Exploration Production USA Inc covering 21 leases owned by BHP in the Walker Ridge area of the Gulf of Mexico. Total will earn a 30 percent interest in the Chinook Prospect and Klondike Prospect and gives it the option to earn a 30 percent interest in the Cascade Prospect.

Carlson Wagonlit buys 50% of Indtravels
MUMBAI - Global corporate travel company Carlson Wagonlit Travels (CWT) will buy 50 percent in Indtravels to form a 50:50 joint venture. It will be called CWT but will trade heavily on the brand equity of Indtravels. Indtravels was an exclusive representative of CWT in India for five years. CWT, co-owned by Paris-based Accor group and Minneapolis-based Carlson Companies Inc, has more than 3,000 offices in 141 countries.

Mannesman Sachs to exit Sachs India
NEW DELHI - German auto component maker Mannesman Sachs has decided to exit from its Indian joint venture Sachs India Ltd by selling its stake to Indian promoter Ashish Dasgupta. The German company dropped its earlier plan to raise its stake in the Indian joint venture to 80 percent from 51 percent, following a global policy to exit from the two-wheeler and shock-absorber market.


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