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Singapore firm’s profits down 80%

Singapore firm’s profits down 80%

* Singapore — The regional financial crisis has caused an 80 per cent fall in the interim profits of 190 listed Singapore companies to S$660 million (US$385.3 million) compared to S$3.26 billion (US$1.9 billion) a year ago. Of the 190 companies reporting results for the half-year ended June 30, 133 firms posted net profits of S$1.98 billion (US$1.16 billion) but this was offset by losses of S$1.32 billion (US$770 million) sustained by 57 companies. — Asia Pulse

* Seoul – Dacom Corp, South Korea’s second-largest telephone company, says it will separate its four main businesses and sell stakes to foreign partners, aiming to maximise profits. Dacom aims to raise more than US$500 million by selling parts of the four companies to foreign companies, including about US$200 million from selling a 40 per cent stake in its cash-cow Internet service, Chollian. Dacom’s four main businesses are long-distance call and international call services, an Internet service, systems integration and satellite television. — Bloomberg

* Sydney — Construction group Leighton Holdings Ltd has repeated its bullish predictions about its prospects this year and hinted at possible expansion. In Leighton’s annual report, chairman Mr Tim Besley said this year’s profit would be underpinned by the strength of its Australian operations but he also noted that there would be opportunities in Asia. “We have record work in hand and expect to deliver an increased profit” Mr Besley said. “Australia remains our largest market with significant growth prospects and Asia, despite the economic gloom, will also produce opportunities.” — Bloomberg

* New York — American Express is currently offering a new free portable email service which is accessible from anywhere in the world. AmExMail (http://www.amexmail.com) is a new Web-based email service which follows subscribers wherever they go, through job changes, moves or switches in Internet providers. All that is needed is an internet connection. Those who currently only have a work email address can create their own personal AmEXMail email address. — Asia Pulse

* Tokyo — Japan Telecom Co chairman Mr Koichi Sakata says major foreign carriers such as AT&T Corp, MCI WorldCom Inc and Cable & Wireless PLc are interested in forming an alliance – and an agreement will be reached by the end of this year. Mr Sakata said Japan’s third-largest domestic long-distance company needed an alliance with one or more foreign carriers to expand its revenue from international data transmission, where demand was growing rapidly. — Bloomberg

* Jakarta — Indonesia will allow foreign airlines to fly to any location in the country, in a bid to boost its US$6.6 billion tourism industry. Previously, the country’s six domestic airlines were protected from competition as foreign carriers could only fly to a few big cities. President B.J. Habibie has also exempted tourist promotions from taxes as Indonesia aims to boost tourist arrivals to at least six million this year, from five million last year. — Bloomberg

* Tokyo — NTT Docomo, the world’s largest mobile phone operator set to go public later this month, will maintain its phenomenal profit growth over the next few years, though midterm prospects are less certain, analysts say. NTT Docomo, the mobile phone unit of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp, will soon announce the pricing for its initial public offering (IPO), the world’s largest yet. The massive share offering is scheduled for October 22. — Reuters

* Seoul — New foreign-owned plants in the Seoul metropolitan area may be exempted from national taxes for at least seven years under tax reform proposals, South Korea’s Finance and Economy Ministry says. The government is drafting a bill to give more tax breaks to foreign companies in a bid to promote investment. Foreign companies building new plants in Seoul and neighbouring cities would be fully exempted from income and corporate taxes for seven years, and exempted by half for a further three years. — Bloomberg

Beijing catches the hi-tech bug

* Beijing – Information age products are catching on fast in China. In Beijing’s high-tech retail district of Haidian, vendors show off high-powered Compaq and IBM personal computers. Government officials crowd a networking exhibition to pore over glossy brochures for lightning-fast servers from 3Com Corp and Cisco Systems. Young Chinese women in bars chat gaily into colourful mobile phones from Motorola Inc, Nokia AB and Ericsson. And new software releases can draw long queues of buyers eager to try the very latest. Such eagerness is repeated throughout much of China, a nation of 1.2 billion people, creating a boom for high-tech goods and offering relief for foreign technology companies battered by Asia’s financial crisis. — Reuters

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