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Business in Asia Today



Profits soar 729% for Japan Air System
TOKYO - Operating profits rebounded at two of three of Japan's largest airlines in the year ended March 31, with Japan Airlines Co (TSE:9201) recording a 37 percent jump, and Japan Air System Co (TSE:9203) seeing a 729 percent surge. All Nippon Airways Co (TSE:9202) climbed back into the black. Recovering passenger volumes and cost-cutting were cited for the encouraging results.

Central Glass profits up 68% at $106m
TOKYO - Central Glass Co (TSE:4044) has announced a 68 percent rise in group operating profit to 11.4 billion yen ($106.68 million) for the year to March 31. The company's glass business turned profitable on sales growth of highly profitable substrates for liquid crystal displays and double-glazed windows. Revenue from high-margin fine chemicals also expanded. Although sales of glass for vehicles and construction declined, this was more than offset by growth in sales of LCD glass. Revenue from chemical products slipped because of sinking fertilizer sales.

Yen's rise wipes out auto profits
TOKYO - Japan's 11 auto makers had by Wednesday announced mostly gloomy earnings results for the year to March 31, with the strong yen exacerbating a slump in domestic car sales. Five of the 11 posted group net losses, while three saw group net profit fall. Only Toyota Motor Corp (TSE:7203), Daihatsu Motor Co (TSE:7262) and Suzuki Motor Co (TSE:7269) bucked the trend. The yen's average exchange rate against the dollar strengthened by 16 yen from the previous year, cutting about one trillion yen from combined operating profit. For the year to March 2001, the 11 car makers forecast increased revenue on higher domestic sales and a slowdown in the yen's appreciation.

Hyundai Motor head refuses to budge
SEOUL - Chairman Chung Mong-koo of Hyundai Motor Co again refused Wednesday evening to step down from management. A joint statement issued by Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors, which both are under Chung Mong-koo's control said Chairman Chung Mong-koo will continue devoting himself to the automobile business as major shareholder and board head in both companies and as a responsible and competent executive officer.

Murdoch's son given Starring role
LONDON - Rupert Murdoch's youngest son, James, will be appointed head of the media mogul's Hong Kong-based Star TV network, it was reported Wednesday. The non-Murdoch Guardian newspaper said James Murdoch, 27, would be announced Thursday as new chief of the satellite network, a key part of his father's News Corporation media empire. As chief executive of Star, which operates in 53 countries, the younger Murdoch was likely to have a seat on the board of the new satellite business which will be spun off from News Corp in the coming months, the paper said. At Star, he will replace Gareth Chang, who stood down earlier this month after reportedly falling out with Rupert Murdoch.

Chinese jewelry exports top $2.1bn
BEIJING - Jewelry sales in China were worth more than 80 billion yuan ($9.7 billion) in 1999, while exports reached $2.14 billion. China had 500 gold and platinum jewelry enterprises and 4,000 pearls and jewel production firms by the end of 1999, as well as over 20,000 retailing enterprises. The sales value of platinum and diamond products reached 20 billion yuan and those of rubies, sapphires, jadeite, pearls and low and middle-grade diamonds was 20 billion yuan. The output of pearls was 800 tons.

PLDT invests $37m in Net data center
MANILA - Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) has invested 1.6 billion pesos ($37.3 million) in a new Internet Data Center (IDC) to provide services for businesses. PLDT's IDC is a state-of-the art, secure building staffed by IT professionals that will host, co-locate and/or manage computer servers, applications and bandwidth needed by PLDT and its customers for their Internet and multi-media operations. The Board of Directors of PLDT has approved an incremental investment of 641 million pesos ($15 million) for IDC's hardware and support systems.

Sime Darby ponders $473m question
KUALA LUMPUR - Sime Darby Bhd is examining all available options to utilize its cash surplus of more than RM1.8 billion ($473.7 million) as at March 31. ''We have ample capacity to undertake a lot of things in the coming years without eroding our financial position,'' Chief Executive Officer Nik Mohamed Yaacob said.

Silterra secures $674m import loan
KUALA LUMPUR - Silterra Malaysia Sdn Bhd, a full-service semiconductor manufacturing provider, has received final approval from the Export-Import Bank of the United States for a loan of $674 million. Its chairman, Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim, said Wednesday that the loan agreement will be signed in June, in time to utilize the loan for importation of major process equipment from the US in July.

Progen, Medigen in anti-cancer alliance
BRISBANE - Progen Industries Ltd (ASX:PGL) and Taiwan's Medigen Biotechnology Corp (MBC) have entered into a strategic alliance to accelerate development of drug PI-88 for the potential treatment of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Under a separate subscription agreement MBC will buy a stake in Progen for A$11 million ($6.3 million). Promising pre-clinical results indicate that PI-88 has a potential application in cardiovascular disease as a potent anticoagulant and antithrombotic agent. The drug is in Phase 1 cancer clinical trial at two sites in Australia.

Shell to shed coal to Anglo American
BRISBANE - The Shell Petroleum Company Ltd has reached an agreement for the much anticipated sale of its coal assets, with the UK's Anglo American plc set to pay up to A$1.6 billion (US$916.64 million) for the portfolio. The companies said yesterday the price would be between US$800 million and $900 million (A$1.5 billion-A$1.6 billion), depending on balance sheet adjustments at completion of the deal. The assets consist of significant interests in four underground and three opencut mines at five locations in Australia and Venezuela.

Cape Range may swallow Arcadian
PERTH - Perth-based telco Cape Range Wireless Ltd is in the midst of negotiations with Arcadian Wireless Inc which could lead to the acquisition of the entire company. Cape Range's major asset is its 20 percent stake in Arcadian, but Chairman Ron Wise said discussions were likely to lead to a significantly higher ownership.

Indian ISP's rates slashed 50%
NEW DELHI - India's state-owned telecom major Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL) has announced a 50 percent cut in Internet rates and free Internet access at night as part of a special Monsoon Package applicable from June 1 to July 31, 2000 ''All customers registering for VSNL's Internet services during the special offer period will be able to avail of a 50 percent discount and the free night access for the duration of VSNL account which is three years,'' VSNL said Wednesday.

Rediff.com likely to list on Nasdaq
NEW DELHI - Rediff.com is likely to list on the Nasdaq before June 15 through its proposed $75 million American Depository Shares (ADSs). Rediff.com is sticking to a plan for a $75 million issue and a formal announcement is expected Thursday. Reports had suggested that Rediff.com, the first Indian Internet portal to seek listing on the US market, had plans to double its issue size to $150 million. The public offer is being managed by an underwriting group led by Goldman Sachs & Co. Credit Suisse First Boston and Robert Fleming are co-managers.

(Asia Pulse)




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