November 2008

US ho!
Tokyo Marine Holdings, Japan’s largest non-life insurer by sales, is buying Philadelphia Consolidated Holdings, an American non-life insurer, for US$4.7 billion.

Early death
Zhang Sheng Yu, 39, has become the latest of Chinese listed company CEOs to suffer an early death. The head of the venerable pharmacy chain Tong Reng Tang, listed in Shanghai, died of a sudden heart attack on July 22.

Loan shark days
The credit crunch has hit China so badly that some smaller companies and individuals are borrowing money at 600% per month, according to local media.

Three is the charm
Hong Kong’s three top developers: Sun Hung Kai Properties, Henderson Land and Wharf Holdings have for the first time joined hands to invest in China. They will invest HK$10 billion in the southwestern city of Chengdu, in a property project on top of a mass rail station in its so-called finance street. SHK will take 40% of the project while the other two will each take 30%.

Takeover foiled
Shenzhen Zhongjin Lingnan Nonfemet has withdrawn with its Indonesian partner Aneka Tambang from bidding against Bumi Resources, also of Indonesia, for Australia’s Herald Resources due to increasing concern about the declining prices of zinc and lead.

Takeover frowned upon
Jun Kwang-woo, chairman of Korea’s Financial Services Commission has asked local banks to refrain from taking over each other as it could destabilise the financial market.

More than 400 Japanese companies have jointly issued a formal complaint to the Indonesian government about the frequent cuts to power supply and a lack of warning from the state-owned electricity company, PLN.

Wii rules Xbox
With 10.9 million Wiis in homes across the country, Nintendo has officially surpassed both the Xbox and PlayStation 3 in next-gen console sales in the US. What made the blow even harder for Microsoft is that Xbox has been on the shelves for 38 months while Wii has been on them for a mere 20 months.

Wage increase
Taiwan's huge Formosa Plastic group has reached an agreement to raise wages by an average 4.42% for the more than 90,000 of its employees. This will add NT100 million to the monthly expenditure of the industrial conglomerate.

Money not enough
Taiwan businesses in China’s Pearl River Delta are in dire need of 300 billion yuan of capital and many are pushing for Taiwanese banks to be given permission to operate in China so as to provide them with a new source of funding.

No fighter jets
Taipei has abandoned a bid to buy 66 F-16 fighter jets from the US. It is an attempt to rescue a larger arms package before George Bush – friendly to arms and munitions makers – leaves office next January.

Touch of home for Vietnamese brides
South Korean media agencies KBS and KT have joined forces with Vietnamese state-owned VTV station to start broadcasting Vietnamese channels in Seoul for the tens of thousands of “Vietnamese brides” in the country.

3G surge
The number of 3G (third generation) mobile users in Taiwan is set to exceed 10 million by the end of this year. This includes a small (400,000) but fast growing number of 3.5G users.

Jolli-beef noodle?
Philippine fast-food giant Jollibee Foods has bought 70% of Taiwanese restaurant chain Lao Dong for 61.1 million pesos (US$1.37 million) and will invest 30.6 million pesos in the venture for expansion.

Tough times ahead
India's technology sector, used to rapid growth, is ripe for some consolidation in today’s highly competitive market, said Tata consultancy Services chief executive Subramaniam Ramadorai.

Troubled skies
Eva Air, Taiwan’s second airline, will cut up to 10% of international flights (about 80 flights) to combat rising fuel costs.

Empty houses
Ordinary property owners in Beijing have joined speculators in selling homes, driving vacancy rates in the Chinese capital to exceed 10%.

Game on
Sony is putting down stakes in Taiwan’s Kaohsiung software park to develop game software for its best-selling PlayStation consoles.

Sayorana, GE
Shinsei, Japan’s first foreign-owned bank, has bought General Electric’s Japanese consumer finance business for US$5.4 billion in an attempt to find new niches in the competitive consumer finance business.

10-year struggle bears fruit
A decade of negotiation finally netted President Chain Store, a member of Taiwan food giant Uni-President, the 7-Eleven franchise in Shanghai. PSC operates the world’s third largest 7-Eleven chain in Taiwan but failed to get the franchise for Chinese cities until now.

Brand off landed in HK
Japan’s most famous 2nd hand branded good shop has opened its first foreign branch in Hong Kong’s swanky Pacific Place, selling certified authentic pre-used branded goods ranging from Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Coach to Bvlgari, Cartier, Chanel and Dior.

Eatery spies
Competition has forced Chinese eateries to spy on each other, often by sending staff masquerading as customers to rival shops and copying menus and décor wholesale to reproduce in their own outlets.

Euro Cup beckons
Ukraine is inviting Chinese companies to invest in building infrastructure for the 2012 European Cup soccer match which requires more than US$26 billion, says Natalia Boitsun, Ukraine's Vice Minister of Economy.

Formosa Plastic's big gamble
The Taiwan industrial conglomerate has broken ground in its biggest foreign investment, an US$8 billion steel plant in Vietnam. The ceremony was officiated by  Vietnamese prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung who invited Formosa Plastic to also invest in an oil refining plant.

Electric cars for Portugal
The Nissan-Renault auto alliance has formed a partnership with the Portuguese government that includes plans to sell its electric vehicles in Portugal in 2011.

Bertelsmann closes book club
Its business eroded by online book sales, the German media group has closed its 9-store Chinese book club, two weeks after closing its 21st Century Book Chain, with 36 branches, in Beijing. It will focus on media services and publishing in China.

Where Wal-Mart goes
The world’s largest retailer is investing 1.2 billion yuan to build a 180,000 sq m shopping plaza on an 86-acre (34.4 hectare) of land in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou, a transport hub for China.

New World follows
New World Department Store China, part of the group owned by billionaire Cheng Yu Tong, has paid 307 million yuan for a plot of land in Zhengzhou for retail development.

Going Genghis
HK-listed plastic product maker Bestway International is to acquire a poly-metallic ore mine and a coal mine in Mongolia for nearly HK$7 billion.


First Published: 
November 2008


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lee han shihLee Han Shih is the founder, publisher and editor of asia! Magazine.

[email protected]

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