15 January 2007 02:17 [Source: ICIS news]
Asahi Shimbun, Japan (online edition) ?xml:namespace>
Fujiya plagued by rats, bacteria
A day after acknowledging it shipped thousands of cream puffs that were produced using milk that had passed its expiry date, Fujiya said it also distributed cakes that were not fit for human consumption.
Officials of the Tokyo-based confectioner said Thursday that 113 chou rolls produced last June at its Saitama Prefecture factory were delivered to Fujiya cake and pastry outlets even though they contained dangerously high levels of bacteria.
Ibuki’s idle group used 9m yen in ‘office expenses’ on entertainment
A political group involved in a growing scandal concerning education minister Bunmei Ibuki stopped functioning after a lawmaker’s arrest in 2002, but it later reported about yen (Y) 9m ($74,869) in office expenses, sources said.
The group, Kozo Kaikaku Kenkyukai (Structural Reform Study Group), along with Meifukai, another political organization affiliated with Ibuki, had recorded office operating expenses totalling about Y47m on their political fund reports for 2005.
Business & Industry
Mitsubishi may seek billions for lost sales
Mitsubishi Electric Corp. plans to demand compensation from Sanyo Electric for lost earnings from defective battery packs for Mitsubishi’s cellphone handsets, sources said.
The payment, estimated at several billions of yen, will hurt Sanyo’s efforts to turn its ailing business around.
MMC planning car plant in Russia
Mitsubishi Motors Corp. is considering building a car plant in Russia to raise its share in the country’s fast-expanding automobile market, sources said.
If the plan is finalized, Mitsubishi would become the third Japanese automaker to set up a factory in Russia after Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor
Premier Wen set to visit Japan this spring
CEBU, The Philippines: In a sign of warming bilateral relations, Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday accepted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s invitation to visit Japan in spring.
The leaders held a one-on-one meeting on the sidelines of the East Asian summits in the island resort of Cebu. They are in the Philippines also to discuss trade and other issues with ASEAN members.
China, ASEAN sign trade agreement
CEBU, The Philippines: China and the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) signed an agreement on trade in services here yesterday - a major step toward establishing a free trade area (FTA) in the region by 2010.
The deal, which was inked in the presence of Premier Wen Jiabao and 10 ASEAN leaders, will help firms from the Southeast Asian economic bloc gain improved market access to multi-billion dollar service sectors including banking, information technology and tourism.
Business & Industry
China mulls regulations on agencies of overseas exchanges
China will not approve the establishment of overseas bourses’ agencies before regulations on the management of the business are made, a senior securities regulatory official said Saturday.
The country is mulling over measures to regulate overseas bourses’ agencies in the country, Tu Guangshao, vice chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) said.
Tibet posts double-digit economic growth
Tibet has notched up fast economic growth of over 12% for the sixth year in a row, a local high-ranking official said Friday.
Although the final gross domestic product (GDP) figure for last year has not yet been released, it is expected to reach yuan (CNY) 29bn ($3.7bn), a year-on-year growth of 13.2%, the highest in a decade, said Qiangba Puncog, chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region, in a government work report at a meeting of the Regional People’s Congress, the local legislature.
Officials to put Rebar founder on ‘wanted list’
Prosecutors confirmed yesterday that the founder of the cash-strapped Rebar Group Wang You-theng and his wife Wang Chin Shyh-ying will be put on the “wanted list” today over a suspected violation of the securities law.
Wang and his wife fled to China before Rebar’s financial crisis became public knowledge and sparked a run at the group’s The Chinese Bank. Prosecutors issued a warrant of arrest for the pair on 12 January.
DPP lists legislative priorities
With the current legislative session due to end in five days, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party has vowed that the party will try to sweep all legislative roadblocks for the passage of several bills.
These bills that DPP whip Ker Chien-ming said the party would do whatever it takes to pass include a bill to authorize a supplemental military budget of (New Taiwan dollar) NT$6.3bn ($192.5m), an organic bill for the Labour Retirement Supervisory Committee, a bill for legalizing publishing the names of companies with which banks have serious outstanding loan problems, a bill for eliminating salary tax exemption for soldiers and teachers, and a bill for rescinding the favourable interest for pensions of retired public functionaries who entered public service before 1995.
Business & Industry
No financial crisis after bank failure, analysts predict
The risk of Taiwan experiencing a financial crisis is low despite a scandal centred on a bank that suffered runs of NT$50bn ($1.52bn) in just a few days, analysts said.
But the panic withdrawals from The Chinese Bank, a subsidiary of troubled Rebar group, showed that the government’s incompetence and lax supervision of financial institutions was undermining public confidence, they said.
Reps say suppliers to maintain Idee support
Representatives of suppliers to China Rebar subsidiary Idee Department Store decided on Saturday night not to withdraw their support of the retailer despite the financial crisis that has hit its parent company.
Idee Department Store has annual revenues of about NT$10bn, representing 75% of China Rebar’s overall sales, but because its accounts are not separate from those of the parent company, it has been drawn into the financial maelstrom that has dealt China Rebar and other Rebar Asia Pacific Group companies severe blows.
NK pressured on humanitarian issue
CEBU, Philippines - The leaders of South Korea, Japan and China urged North Korea Sunday to scrap its nuclear weapons and to respond to international humanitarian concerns.
South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao made the plea in a joint statement after the first summit between the three nations in two years.
Hyundai union urged to cancel strike
Hyundai Motor ’s trade union faces growing calls to scrap its planned strike over reduced bonuses even from their own labour union umbrella group. Law enforcement authorities threatened to deal sternly with their walkout, which will begin today.
Unionised workers at the nation’s largest automaker decided on Friday to go on partial strikes by cutting both the day and night shifts by four hours from today. They will increase the stoppage to six hours on Wednesday.
Business & Industry
Stringent lending rules threatening nation’s economy
The government’s relentless efforts to curb housing prices are stoking concerns that they could cause a hard landing for the property market and hurt the nation’s economy by seriously contracting household spending.
With the recent flurry of rules to curb mortgage loans and absorb excess liquidity, market watchers are beginning to worry that many debt-financed households could become insolvent.
Cheaper oil cushions economic downturn
Oil prices are sliding as mild weather in the United States reduces demand for heating fuel and oil-producing countries remain reluctant to cut their supply to push prices up.
The price of Dubai oil fell to around $50 per barrel last week, down over $10 from its 2006 average. The downward energy costs are fuelling optimism that the Korean economy may rebound faster than expected on increased consumer spending and investment.
Foreign bourses eye OTCEI stake
After the National Stock Exchange (NSE) and the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), foreign stock exchanges are now eyeing equity stake in the Over the Counter Exchange of India (OTCEI), as the government is planning to throw a lifeline to the now defunct bourse for small and medium companies.
Sources said the government wanted to position the OTCEI on the lines of London’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM) by allowing easier corporate governance norms for the exchange. Besides, the government is likely to encourage foreign stock exchanges to buy a strategic stake in the bourse.
Farmers can swipe for seed
It is a mobile phone with a difference. It comes with a card embedded with a radio frequency identification technology by which banks can store an array of data: saving accounts, loans taken and repayment schedules. And, of course, all the details now put on a piece of paper called the Kisan credit card.
Bharti Airtel has tied up with the State Bank of India for a pilot project that could dramatically transform the face of rural banking. Launched a few months ago by creating bank accounts with data on a radio frequency identification card instead of in a passbook, the project hopes to superannuate the Kisan credit card.
Economy & Policy
India, ASEAN to strengthen air ties
India and the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) today agreed to commence a discussion on an “open skies” aviation policy.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced this at the fifth India-ASEAN summit here today. No timeline or basic framework for the proposed policy, that envisages opening up mutual airspace for unrestricted civilian air traffic, has been set at the moment.
Renewed FTA talk to focus on resolving timeline issues
Among the crucial issues involved in the India-ASEAN FTA negotiations is India’s list of highly sensitive items (three products comprising four tariff lines) on which it has committed to reduce duties by 50-60% by 2022. The duty cuts will start only after the “standstill period” (the first five years after the FTA becomes operational).
However, ASEAN is refusing to accept this standstill period. It wants tariff reductions to start immediately on commencement of the treaty. In addition, it wants the 2022 timeline to be brought forward by four years to 2018.
Major law firms expect bullish year ahead
(SINGAPORE) Major law firms are bullish about the year ahead and expect growth in all major areas of practice including corporate work, commercial litigation, real estate and intellectual property work.
By one estimate, the volume of work should expand by at least 10% all round with the spotlight likely to be on banking and finance, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) as well as equity capital market work. To cope with the additional workload, some firms are looking to increase their headcount by up to 25% this year.
URA to release detailed property price data soon
(SINGAPORE) The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) will soon release more comprehensive data to the public on private residential property prices. The change could come as early as end-January, when it is due to issue official market statistics for Q4 2006.
A spokesman for URA told The Business Times: ‘URA intends to provide more detailed information about private residential properties when we release our quarterly data in end January. This includes making public different price indices for different market segments of private residential property.’
Business & Industry
S’pore will work to boost ASEAN-China ties: PM Lee
As Singapore assumes the ASEAN chairmanship in August this year, it will work hard with China to bring ASEAN-China relations to a ‘higher level’, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.
Mr Lee was speaking at the ASEAN-China summit, which is being held in conjunction with the 12th ASEAN Summit in Cebu, the Philippines.
Thailand still a good investment: Mark Mobius
(SINGAPORE) Foreign investors may now be bailing out of Thailand in droves but the country remains a good investment, said Mark Mobius, a much-followed fund manager.
It is time to go in ‘when things correct substantially’, he told BT by phone late last week. Dr Mobius, managing director of Templeton Asset Management, oversees about $30bn in emerging market equities.
Govt has confidence in economy
The government will accelerate disbursement of funds from the 2007 budget, says Finance Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula, who is confident the economy will continue to show solid growth this year. He also defended recent reforms to the Foreign Business Act and new reserve controls on foreign inflows, which he said were made in the longer-term interests of the economy.
Bidding for new mass transit projects in Bangkok will start as early as March, while the government expects to sign a free trade agreement with Japan next month.
Thai gene bank to fight disease
Thai scientists said they are preparing to create a national gene bank to help develop new medical treatments for diseases such as Aids, cancer and diabetes, reports today say.
“It’s time for Thailand to operate a DNA bank that enables doctors, pharmacists and scientists to better understand major diseases and develop medicinal drugs and treatments which suit Thai patients,” the French news agency AFP quoted Thongchai Thavichachart, head of the Thailand Centre of Excellence for Life Sciences (TCELS).
Business & Industry
Central body to oversee retailers
A new body will take over the regulation of the retail business nationwide from local administrations under the draft retail law now being prepared, according to a senior Commerce Ministry official.
Commerce Minister Krirk-krai Jirapaet has received a copy of the draft, which was prepared by a committee chaired by Sompob Amartayakul, vice-president of the Thai Chamber of Commerce.
LTFs and FIFs stable when market suffers
Investors are being advised to consider long-term equity funds and foreign investment funds (LTFs and FIFs) as two options offering sound returns and modest risk in light of the volatile equities market, according to fund managers.
LTFs offer tax incentives on contributions as well as the opportunity to pick up relatively undervalued stocks for long-term gains.
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