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Business in Asia Today



NKK invites IBM to sign 10-year deal
TOKYO - NKK Corp (TSE:5404) announced Thursday it will invite IBM Japan Ltd to jointly operate its information systems, entrusting development and running of its main computer system to the firm for the next decade. The steelmaker will allow IBM Japan to take a controlling 51 percent stake in wholl- owned information system subsidiary NK Exa Corp. Technical assistance from IBM Japan is expected to help NK Exa sales to non-group companies.

Sony plans sale of PlayStation2 tech
TOKYO - The Sony Corp (TSE:6758) group plans to begin selling its PlayStation2 game console chip sets and related software to nongroup electronics makers in Japan and abroad as early as next year in an attempt to lead the market for digital home appliances. The chips will enable other digital equipment to play PlayStation2 games and DVDs, as well as transmit and receive various content via the Internet. Sony and Sony Computer Entertainment Inc, which produces the game console, also plan to develop smaller next-generation chips with multiple functions and faster video processing more suitable for digital appliances.

Private placement nets Idemitsu $270m
TOKYO - Major oil distributor Idemitsu Kosan Co announced Thursday that it had conducted a private placement of 29 billion yen ($269.44 million) worth of non-voting preferred shares with five financial institutions. Sumitomo Bank (TSE:8318), Tokai Bank (TSE:8321) and Sumitomo Trust & Banking Co (TSE:8403) each bought 800,000 shares for 8 billion yen, giving them 3.49 percent stakes. Tokio Marine & Fire Insurance Co (TSE:8751) paid 3 billion yen for 300,000 shares and a 1.31 percent stake, while Sumitomo Life Insurance Co spent 2 billion yen on 200,000 shares and a 0.87 percent stake.

FTC approves triple bank merger
TOKYO - Japan's Fair Trade Commission (FTC) has ruled that the planned merger of Industrial Bank of Japan (TSE:8302), Fuji Bank (TSE:8317) and Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank (TSE:8311) to create the Mizuho Financial Group would not violate the Anti-Monopoly Law. The FTC said it had studied the plan's potential impact on competition in deposits, lending, foreign exchange, securities and trust banking, concluding that it ''would not put actual limitations on competition in any field''. Mizuho would be Japan's largest bank in terms of deposits, with a market share of over 20 percent. The three banks plan to operate under a single holding company, Mizuho Holdings Inc, which will be formed on October 1.

Hyundai considers DaimlerChrysler tie-up
SEOUL - Hyundai Motor (KSE:05380) said Friday it was considering forming an alliance with DaimlerChrysler to jointly run its commercial vehicle plant in Chonju, North Cholla Province. The company said it was only at the stage of reviewing the feasibility of forming a joint venture with the German-American motor firm and run the commercial vehicle plant, which is the largest single unit in the world, capable of turning out 60,000 2.5-ton trucks or larger, buses and special cars a year.

Hyundai Elec aims at non-memory business
SEOUL - Hyundai Electronics Industries (KSE:00660) says it will focus on boosting its non-memory business to raise non-memory's share of all semiconductor sales from 10 percent this year to 25 percent by 2003. HEI will invest 200 billion won ($177 million) this year and another 200 billion won next year with the aim of posting $700 million in non-memory semiconductor sales this year and $1.3 billion next year.

Ministry approves Tianjin Toyota JV
BEIJING - A Sino-Japanese joint venture (JV), Tianjin Toyota Automotive Co Ltd, has recently received approval by the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation to produce complete automobiles. Plans to produce a new model of the Tianjin Charade car have also been given the go-ahead. With a registered capital of $100 million, the 50:50 joint venture is expected to open in 2002, producing 1.3 liter Vita and Yaris cars to be sold at an estimated 100,000 yuan (about $12,000). Its annual production capacity is 30,000 units, A new model of Tianjin Charade is also expected to start production early next year based on Toyota's 1999 Platz and Vitz models. The total production scale of new and old models is set at 120,000 units a year.

BP Amoco JV profits in 1st year
CHONGQING, China - BP Amoco's Chinese joint venture (JV) Yangtze River Acetyls has made a profit of $3 million in its first year of operation. Vice president of BP Amoco China and chairman of the joint venture, David A Henley, said the company would increase investment in the next three years. It began operations in Chongqing in November 1998, and reached a production capacity of 150,000 tons of acetic acid in 1999. He said the company had raised production capacity to 200,000 tons every year and now occupied 30 percent of the acetic acid market in China. It plans to increase annual capacity to 350,000 tons by the first quarter of 2003.

Vietnam's exchange opening on track
HANOI - Vietnam's State Securities Committee (SSC) has reiterated that the long-awaited exchange will open to securities brokers in July despite the large amount of work yet to be completed on the plan. Vice Chairman of the SSC Vu Bang said that it had not precisely determined several trading regulations and other related procedures related to listing, information exchange, deposit and payment.

Pacific Internet launches in Bangkok
SINGAPORE - Internet service provider Pacific Internet Limited (Nasdaq: PCNTF) has launched operations in Bangkok. Pacific Internet Thailand (PITH) said it would use its over 200 dealers in Bangkok as a springboard to expand into another five Thai provinces over the next few months. ''Pacific Internet is now fully operational in six countries,'' said Nicholas Lee, CEO of Pacific Internet Limited. Pacific Internet acquired a majority stake in Thai ISP IT Star Co Ltd, now renamed Pacific Internet (Thailand) Ltd, in January. The company plans to invest S$10 million (US$5.81 million) over two years to expand its network infrastructure in Thailand.

TH Group IT offshoot set up
KUALA LUMPUR - TH Group Bhd has launched a new wholly-owned subsidiary called THG ITech Sdn Bhd to provide IT business solutions, system integration and consultation and IT project management services. THG ITech would provide its services to four core industry sectors - plantations, project management, logistics and management information system, said the TH Group Head of Information Technology Development Dennis Cheng Khiam Seng.

Broadcaster secures $80m loan
KUALA LUMPUR - Measat Broadcast Network Systems Sdn Bhd, the satellite operator of television broadcasting company Astro, has formalized a $80 million five-year term loan facility with Citibank Malaysia (L) Ltd. The loan facility, with a five-year repayment period, was guaranteed by two European export credit agencies, namely Exportkreditnamnden of Sweden and Office National du Ducroire of Belgium.

State aircraft maker suffers $212m loss
JAKARTA - The state-owned aircraft factory PT Industri Pesawat Terbang Nusantara posted a net loss of Rp1.7 trillion ($212.5 million) in the first half of this year, the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (Ibra) said. Ibra Executive Mohammad Syahrial attributed the loss to over leverage projecting too high its sales target.

Bakrie Finance declared bankrupt
JAKARTA - The Supreme Court has declared PT Bakrie Finance Corp (JSX:MTFN) bankrupt on the demand of creditors AB Capital Markets Limited Leasing and Finance Limited, Hanmi Leasing and Finance Limited, and KEB Leasing and Finance Limited. They made the demand when the company failed to meet an agreement on its debt repayment. The Supreme Court has ordered the Jakarta Commercial Court to assign a judge to supervise the implementation of its decision, the SSX said. Bakrie Finance said it would ask for a review of the supreme court's decision. The company's shares were last traded on the Jakarta Stock Exchange on March 24.

Telstra to spend $200m on rural banking
SYDNEY - Telstra Corp Ltd is expected to spend A$350 million (US$199.32 million) on a new rural business unit in Albury-Wodonga on the Victorian-NSW border by the end of the year, The Australian Financial Review reported Friday. It would also announce plans on Sunday to put 9,000 call center staff in regional Australia. The business unit's headquarters, also located in Albury-Wodonga, would be run by four managing directors who would oversee a series of 26 rural zones, the report said. Telstra will launch its new regional unit on Sunday.

Smart cards boosted by $17m JV
PERTH - In a bid to stimulate the smart card market, ANZ Banking Group Ltd (ASX:ANZ), Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX:TLS) and ERG Ltd (ASX:ERG) have invested A$30 million (US$17.19 million) to create a $100 million plus joint venture to be known as ECard Pty Ltd. The new company is expected to remove some of the key barriers that have slowed the deployment of smart cards in Australia.

Leighton wins US$108m worth of projects
SYDNEY - The Malaysian subsidiary of Australian-based multinational construction company Leighton Asia has won three new projects worth A$190 million (US$108.2 million), bringing the parent company's Asian work in hand to a record A$1.24 billion. The projects, related to the construction of a new coal-fired power station, were awarded by Lekir Bulk Terminal Sdn Bhd, Alstom Export Sdn Bhd and Koch Transporttechnik GmbH respectively, and cover the construction of a coal offloading jetty, cooling water intake works and civil works for the plant. ''For the first time in the company's history, a country other than Hong Kong is providing the largest component of our current workload,'' said Managing Director of Leighton Asia, John Faulkner.

(Asia Pulse)




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