Monday, December 29, 2003
Philippines plans air talks with India and China in Q1 2004
Philippines' ICTSI to convert advances to units into shares
Philippine Digitel's 2003 revenues seen at 5.5 bln pesos vs 5.6 bln in 2002
Philippine Stock Exchange says in 'informal' talks with SGX over 30 pct stake
OUTLOOK - Philippine 2003 CPI to come in up 3.0-3.5 pct
Philippines end-Sept external debt at 56.3 bln usd vs 56.1 bln at end-June
Abu Sayyaf gunmen captured in southern Philippines
Manila shares close higher on window dressing; index ends at year high
Philippines' Petron shuts down gas oil hydrotreater for repair
Philippines to use text messaging to fight communist extortion - official
Philippine opposition senator files candidacy for president - report
STOCK ALERT - Philippine PLDT firmer on catch-up with ADRs, window-dressing
STOCK ALERT - Singapore-listed Medtecs up on suspected China SARS case
Philippines' PBCom shareholders to subscribe to common shares
Philippines' PLDT to set aside 18 bln pesos for 2004 capital expenditures
Negotiations for Philippine PLDT's new labor pact ends in deadlock - report
Philippine Q4 GDP seen growing 4.2-4.4 pct yr-on-yr - central bank
Arroyo spokesman says govt still seeks peace talks despite new rebel threats
Friday, December 26, 2003
Singapore-listed Medtecs warns of weaker H2 net profit; FY still seen better
Bomb explodes near airport in southern Philippines, killing soldier
Philippines faces storm threat after deadly landslides, floods - official
Philippine police catch alleged kidnapper of Coca-Cola executive - Arroyo
Philippine communists vow to intensify attacks against govt
STOCKWATCH - Singapore Exchange flat as little Manila acquisition impact seen
STOCK ALERT - Singapore Exchange lower on news of interest in Manila exchange
Philippines signs 5.6 bln pesos power contract with Japanese firm - report
Philippines on alert to prevent repeat of Christmas season bombing - officials
Malaysians rescue four Philippine survivors of ferry disaster - official
December 22 - 24
December 18 - 19
December 15 - 17
December 10 -12
December 8 - 9
December 3 - 5
December 1 - 2
|Philippines plans air talks with India and China in Q1 2004|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The Philippines intends to hold air talks with China and India in the first quarter of 2004 to take advantage of opportunities in Asia's two biggest markets.
"We're prioritizing future air talks. We're first scheduling (discussions) with countries where we have something to gain," Civil Aeronautics Board executive director Tomas Manalac said.
The Philippines' air panel is inviting its counterparts in India for dialog in January, while it intends to sit down with a Chinese delegation in February.
The two countries have yet to respond to the invitations.
|Philippines' ICTSI to convert advances to units into shares|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The board of directors of International Container Terminal Services Inc (ICTSI) has approved the conversion of 2.36 bln pesos in advances to wholly-owned subsidiary International Container Terminal Holdings Inc (ICTHI) into preferred redeemable shares.
ICTHI is ICTSI's Cayman Island unit, which in turn holds the shares in ICTSI Ltd, a corporate vehicle established for all offshore projects of ICTSI.
The company's board also approved the conversion of advances to ICTSI Warehousing Inc (IWI), amounting to 1.09 bln pesos, into deposits for future subscriptions in IWI.
The amount will be reclassified into investment from its current classification as advances.
IWI holds ICTSI's 60 pct share in Bauan International Ports Inc, which operates the container handling port facility in Bauan in the province of Batangas. It has assets of over 1.0 bln pesos as of end-September.
(1 usd = 55.55 pesos)
|Philippine Digitel's 2003 revenues seen at 5.5 bln pesos vs 5.6 bln in 2002|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Digital Telecommunications Philippines Inc said it expects to post revenues of 5.5 bln pesos this year, about 2.0 pct lower than the 5.6 bln registered in 2002, as the growing popularity of wireless phone communications cuts the earnings potential of the landline business.
A newspaper report quoting Digitel president Lance Gokongwei said the company's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) are forecast at 3.3 bln pesos in 2003 versus 3.45 bln in 2002.
Free cash flow is seen at 3.0 bln pesos due to improvements in working capital, compared to 2.45 bln prior to financing costs in 2002.
Digitel launched only early this year its wireless communications brand Sun Cellular, which had 660,000 subscribers as of end-October.
Earlier, Digitel said it expects to post further operating losses in 2004 since the company will have to spend more on the launch and marketing of its wireless brand.
Digitel booked a net loss of 722.8 mln pesos in the first nine months of 2003 after posting a net profit of 18.9 mln in the same period a year earlier, as revenues from the fixed-line business fell while its spending, mostly related to the launch and marketing of its wireless brand, increased.
Digitel is considering spending 250.0 mln usd on the maintenance and expansion of its wireless business, and about 10.0-12.0 mln usd on the fixed-line segment in 2004.
Digitel expects to grow its wireless subscriber base to 800,000 by the end of the year. It is hoping to gradually increase the subscriber base of Sun Cellular to around 1.5 to 2.0 mln by end-2004.
(1 usd = 55.574 pesos)
|Philippine Stock Exchange says in 'informal' talks with SGX over 30 pct stake|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) said it is having "informal discussions" with the Singapore Exchange (SGX), confirming reports that the Singapore bourse is interested in acquiring 30 pct of the Philippine exchange.
It however said no formal agreements have resulted from these discussions.
PSE shares made their debut on the local bourse on Dec 16. The stock closed at 210 pesos today against a listing price of 100.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer and The Straits Times in Singapore had earlier reported that the SGX is interested in acquiring a stake in the PSE on condition there is a cross-border link between the the two. The SGX later told The Straits Times that "we are in exploratory discussions with the PSE regarding cooperation possibilities."
(1 usd = 55.574 pesos)
|OUTLOOK - Philippine 2003 CPI to come in up 3.0-3.5 pct|
(Repeating to fix ticker codes)
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The Philippines' consumer price index (CPI) is likely to rise 3.0-3.5 pct in 2003 from last year, below the government's full-year forecast range of 4.5-5.5 pct, with fragile consumer spending tempering any sharp rise in the prices of goods and services, despite the peso's weakness and higher oil prices, economists said.
The CPI grew 3.1 pct in 2002.
Meanwhile, the CPI is likely to rise 3.2-3.3 pct year-on-year in December after a gain of 3.3 pct in November due to increased spending and higher food prices in the run-up to the Christmas and New Year holidays.
The CPI data for December and the full year will be announced in early January.
The prevailing weakness of the peso, which hit an all-time low of 55.85 against the US dollar on November 27 due to preelection jitters, is also seen pushing CPI up in December and in the ensuing months.
Increased spending related to May's presidential elections, coupled with the impact of the peso's depreciation, will likely push the CPI up 3.6-4.0 pct in 2004, economists said.
"Prices went up in 2003, but at a slower rate in the absence of (stronger) pricing power among producers. Consumer confidence to spend remains weak, except for basic items such as food," said AB Capital research director Jose Vistan Jr.
Vistan expects the year-on-year rise in the CPI to come in at 3.0 pct for th e full year and 3.2 pct for December.
Banco de Oro economist Jonas Ravenas said a global scenario of low interest rates, coupled with the absence of robust domestic demand, will likely keep 2003 CPI at 3.5 pct.
"The central bank's inflation-targeting method is working very well. Its monetary policy has adopted an accommodative stance, one that supports (economic) growth and, at the same time, prevents any sharp surges in prices, " Ravenas said.
While the government has set a higher CPI goal, the central bank has kept its full-year forecast of 3.0 pct. In the January to November period, inflation averaged 3.1 pct.
"2003 is already a foregone conclusion. What I am so excited about is the 'thrilla in Manila' awaiting us in 2004," Ravenas said in reference to the May elections, when money is expected to pour out from the pockets of businessmen and from political parties and candidates.
Some 40,000 elective positions are up for grabs in the May elections, in which 40 mln qualified Filipinos will have the opportunity to choose their president, vice-president, senators and congressmen down to local government leaders.
ATR-Kim Eng Securities economist Luz Lorenzo expects the 2003 CPI to rise 3.0 pct, but sees it surging to 3.7 pct in 2004 also due to the elections.
GK Goh Securities economist Song Seng Wun said the 2003 CPI will essentially be the same as last year at 3.1 pct, although the trend is opposite than that of 2002 when prices were higher in the beginning and ebbed towards the year-end.
"In 2003, inflation was tame at the beginning and peaked towards the end of the year due to a weaker peso, the impact of weather disturbances on food supply and higher energy costs," Song said.
The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) approved two power rate increases for metropolitan Manila, the latest of which will become effective in January.
While the inflationary trend will be uniform for most countries in the region, currency weakness will be another factor going against the Philippines, especially as lingering political concerns ahead of the elections weigh heavily on the local currency.
"We expect the currency's weakness to be costly in 2004, given the lag effect on such items as higher power costs," Song said.
Meanwhile, government is set to update the CPI base year to 2000, from the current 1994 level, to reflect changes in Filipinos' consumption patterns. The change will be reflected in the January 2004 data, which will be released in early February.
The CPI re-basing involves updating the basket of goods and services and the weighting assigned to each category.
Essentially, a lower rating will be assigned to the food, beverages and tobacco (FBT) component, while weightings of non-food items, such as clothing, housing repairs and rentals and fuel, light and water, will be increased.
(1 usd = 55.574 pesos)
|Philippines end-Sept external debt at 56.3 bln usd vs 56.1 bln at end-June|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The Philippines' total outstanding external debt stood at 56.3 bln usd as of end-September compared with 56.1 bln usd at end-June, the central bank said.
"The increase was largely due to net loan inflows particularly from public sector accounts," central bank governor Rafael Buenaventura said.
It also attributed the increase to foreign currency adjustments arising from the strengthening of "third currencies" against the US dollar, particularly the Japanese yen.
The increase in debt was however nearly negated by an increase in residents' holdings of Philippine debt papers, which are classified as domestic accounts and are excluded from external debt figures.
The central bank said disbursements on medium- and long-term (MLT) accounts during the quarter reached more than 1.85 bln usd, with the public sector accounting for 87 pct.
"About half were for the national government's budgetary requirements while the rest went to various public and private sector projects, with the biggest amounts going to power and energy development; transportation, communication and other infrastructure," Buenaventura said.
The central bank said the country's gross international reserves of 16.8 bln usd as of end-November were 2.7 times the level of short-term debt based on original maturity.
(1 usd = 55.574 pesos)
|Abu Sayyaf gunmen captured in southern Philippines|
ZAMBOANGA, Philippines (AFX-ASIA) - Two men believed to be field commanders of the Muslim Abu Sayyaf kidnap gang have been captured following military raids in the southern Philippines at the weekend, the military said.
Troops arrested Alih Malabon, also known as Abu Nidal, and Mohammad Said, alias Commander Kaiser, in operations Saturday near the southern port city of Zamboanga, the military southern command said.
Malabon has a one mln peso bounty on his head and is believed to head a rebel unit directly receiving orders from overall Abu Sayyaf leader Khadaffy Janjalani, who remains at large.
Malabon and Said are implicated in the murders of Americans Guillermo Sobero and Martin Burnham, two of three US hostages kidnapped by the group from a beach resort in May 2001.
Martin Burnham's wife, Gracia, was rescued by US and Filipino troops after a year in captivity.
The Abu Sayyaf is a small group of bandits styling themselves as Islamic militants. The US and Manila governments however consider the group a foreign terrorist organization and officials said it once had links with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.
(1 usd = 55.574 pesos)
|Manila shares close higher on window dressing; index ends at year high|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Share prices closed sharply higher, with the main index ending at its highest level so far this year, on follow-through buying among fund managers who continue to window dress their portfolios ahead of the year-end, dealers said.
Telecom stocks Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co and Globe Telecom led risers on the back of improved earnings prospects for this year and the next.
The 30-company composite index closed up 23.30 points, or 1.63 pct, at 1, 450.70 on 147.33 mln shares worth 412.93 mln pesos. It traded between 1,427. 15 and 1,450.70.
It was the benchmark index's highest close since Nov 4, 2003, when it ended at 1,432.27.
Gainers beat losers 36 to 16, with 43 stocks unchanged.
PLDT was top-traded, accounting for almost half of the turnover, up 45.00 pesos at 980 on 211,930 shares.
Globe rose 20.00 pesos at 865 on 32,300 shares.
Dealers said the market could still post further upside tomorrow on extended window dressing, although some believe most of the blue chips are currently at overbought levels.
"Year-on-year, it's roughly a 40 pct gain for the Philippine stock market. Where can we get that? Industry players want to tell something ... that the Philippine market has been going up at a robust pace despite some political and external setbacks, indicating that fundamentals of most local firms continue to be strong," Accord Capital Equities analyst Ron Rodrigo said.
He said there is further upside potential for PLDT and Globe, and has set their resistance levels at 1,000 pesos and 875, respectively.
"The fundamentals of these telecom stocks are seen unscathed by political uncertainties," AB Capital research director Jose Vistan Jr said.
The market's thinning volume turnover suggests fund managers are in general "pretty happy" with their existing portfolios, although opportunity-buying remains for those who further intend to accumulate more stocks, Vistan said.
SM Prime was up 0.20 pesos at 6.70 on 4.3 mln shares.
Bank of the Philippine Islands gained 0.50 to 47 on 329,500 shares.
Ayala Corp was flat at 5.30 on 2.93 mln shares, while its property unit Ayala Land gained 0.10 at 6.10 on 2.5 mln shares.
Petron Corp shed 0.04 pesos to 2.28 on 2.9 mln shares. The company said it has shut down its oil hydrotreater facility for repair.
San Miguel A was up 0.50 at 54.50 on 118,700 shares. San Miguel, open to foreigners ended flat at 63.50 on 122,200 shares.
The all-shares index closed up 8.01 points at 869.50.
The commercial-industrial index gained 35.71 to 2,192.71, while property earned 11.61 to 580.14.
Mining ended up 29.99 at 1,618.99, while oil shed 0.03 to 1.23.
The banking and finance sub-index gained 2.34 to 439.19.
(1 usd = 55.574 pesos)
|Philippines' Petron shuts down gas oil hydrotreater for repair|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Petron Corp said it shut down for repair at the weekend the gas oil hydrotreater facility at its refinery in Bataan province.
In a disclosure to the stock exchange, the oil firm said a leak at the unit's hot separator vapor and cold separator liquid heat exchanger forced the shutdown.
Petron said it expects to complete the repairs tomorrow.
No other details were made available.
Petron closed down 0.04 pesos at 2.28 on volume of 2.9 mln shares.
(1 usd = 55.574 pesos)
|Philippines to use text messaging to fight communist extortion - official|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The Philippine military will use the local penchant for mobile text messaging to curb communist insurgents' extortion of candidates in the May national elections, a spokesman said Monday.
Military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Lucero said the campaign will be similar to one used against the Abu Sayyaf Muslim kidnapping gang, which was active in the southern Philippines, but has since been weakened with the arrest of key leaders.
With the help of text messaging or SMS, candidates and the public at large will be able to report cases of extortion involving the New People's Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, Lucero said.
"We've done this before, particularly in Abu Sayyaf areas. We've set up hot lines where people can text," said Lucero in a television interview.
Cell-phone text messages will allow callers to keep their identity secret, while reporting extortion attempts, he said.
Text messaging is hugely popular in the Philippines. News, gossip, jokes and greetings are exchanged among more than 18 mln mobile phone owners.
NPA leaders said they are collecting huge sums of money from candidates in the May elections in exchange for "permits to campaign" in guerrilla-influenced areas.
Lucero said, in the last elections in 2001, the communists charged about 1 mln pesos for each senatorial candidate with smaller sums for gubernatorial and mayoral candidates.
|Philippine opposition senator files candidacy for president - report|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Former Philippines police chief Senator Panfilo Lacson today filed his candidacy for president in the May elections, effectively splitting the opposition against President Gloria Arroyo, Agence France Presse reported.
Lacson registered as a presidential candidate of the opposition Struggle for a Democratic Philippines (LDP) party at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) office even though its leaders back movie star Fernando Poe, the news agency said.
A huge throng of supporters, including a set of Chinese dragon dancers, backed Lacson, cheering him on as he filled out the required forms at a packed Comelec office.
Lacson, who served as police chief of deposed president Joseph Estrada, had earlier won the support of much of the country's ethnic Chinese for cracking down on kidnapping gangs targeting the community.
He has been an arch-critic of Arroyo and a strong law-and-order advocate. However, he has also been hounded by accusations of police abuses under his control.
Congressman Agapito Aquino, a key Lacson ally, said the senator will not back down from his presidential candidacy despite efforts of the LDP leadership to field a single opposition candidate against Arroyo.
Poe, the "king" of Philippine movies, is rumored to be planning to file his candidacy for president later today, having already won the endorsement of a coalition of opposition groups, including the LDP leadership.
The latest surveys have Poe as the front-runner among declared presidential candidates, ahead of independent former education secretary Raul Roco, President Arroyo and Lacson next in that order.
|STOCK ALERT - Philippine PLDT firmer on catch-up with ADRs, window-dressing|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co was higher in early trade as the locally-listed stock plays catch up with the recent gains of its New York-traded American Depositary Receipts (ADRs), dealers said.
Dealers added investors continue to accumulate PLDT shares, despite their having reached overbought levels, as they continue to window-dress portfolios ahead of the new year.
At 9.50 am, PLDT was top-traded, up 30 pesos at 965 on volume of 32,490 shares.
Its ADRs were at at 17.10 usd apiece, or 950.59 pesos under the prevailing foreign exchange rate.
PLDT is optimistic about meeting its 2003 net profit goal of 9-10 bln pesos on the back of healthy gains of wireless unit Smart Communications Inc.
(1 usd = 55.59 pesos)
|STOCK ALERT - Singapore-listed Medtecs up on suspected China SARS case|
SINGAPORE (AFX-ASIA) - Philippine-based laboratory gowns and surgical masks supplier Medtecs International was higher in early morning trade on hopes that demand for its products will rise on reports of a suspected SARS case in China, dealers said.
The market has shrugged off Medtec's warning that its net profit in the second half of 2003 will be weaker than the first half on delays in deliveries to Taiwan, they added.
Medtecs was up 4.26 pct, or 0.01 sgd, at 0.245 on volume of 354,000 shares.
"With improving controls against the outbreak of SARS in Taiwan, Medtecs will defer, partially, delivery of products amounting to approximately 6.2 mln usd mln until next year," the company had said in a statement late last week.
The delayed deliveries are part of 16.54 mln usd worth of orders Medtecs secured from China and Taiwan at the height of the SARS outbreak earlier this year.
Nevertheless, the company has maintained that its full year to December 2003 earnings should still be better than in 2002.
(1 usd = 1.70 sgd)
|Philippines' PBCom shareholders to subscribe to common shares|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Philippine Bank of Communications' major shareholders have agreed to subscribe to its additional common shares through the exercise of warrants on or before January 15, the company said in a disclosure to the stock exchange without giving any details.
Earlier, PBCom president Isidro Alcantara Jr said the bank's shareholders plan to inject 3 bln pesos in fresh capital to fund future expansion and raise its asset base.
The planned capital injection comes after the bank reported a nine month to September net loss of 85.35 mln pesos against a net profit of 281.8 mln pesos a year earlier.
The Luy, Nubla and Chung families hold majority stakes in PBCom.
The bank is also exploring the possibility of unloading its non-performing loans and non-performing assets to a special-purpose asset vehicle.
(1 usd = 55.59 pesos)
|Philippines' PLDT to set aside 18 bln pesos for 2004 capital expenditures|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co (PLCDT) has drawn up a 2004 capital expenditure budget of 18 bln pesos, most of which will go for the further expansion of cellular unit Smart Communications Inc, PLDT president and chief executive officer Manuel Pangilinan said.
Smart will have a 2004 budget of around 11 bln pesos, similar to the amount allotted to the wireless unit this year.
Smart president Napoleon Nazareno said the firm will focus on expanding its network outside metropolitan Manila, where much of the growth is expected.
PLDT's fixed line business will be allocated a 2004 capital expenditure budget of 7 bln pesos, up from 5-6 bln this year.
PLDT expects to meet its full-year net profit target of 9-10 bln pesos on the back of Smart's robust gains.
For the nine months to September, PLDT posted a net profit of 5.8 bln pesos, up 58 pct year-on-year.
For the third quarter to September, net profit after provisions was up 319 pct at 4.015 bln pesos from 958 mln a year earlier.
Smart reported a third-quarter net profit of 4.22 bln pesos, while PLDT's fixed-line business registered a net loss of 39 mln.
(1 usd = 55.59 pesos)
|Negotiations for Philippine PLDT's new labor pact ends in deadlock - report|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co's (PLDT) talks to reach a new labor pact have ended in a deadlock after rank-and-file employees rejected management's plan to freeze wages for the next three years, the BusinessWorld newspaper reported, quoting an unnamed source.
Unless resolved, the deadlock is seen leading to a strike, the paper said.
The source said the PLDT management pushed for employees to accept a "no wage hike" proposal in exchange for a lump-sum bonus of 50,000 pesos each to be given over a three-year period.
Management reportedly offered to pay 25,000 pesos to each employee in 2004, 15,000 in 2005 and 10,000 in 2006.
PLDT vice president Butch Jimenez, however, denied that the talks have bogged down. He said management did not propose to freeze workers' wages.
(1 usd =55.59 pesos)
|Philippine Q4 GDP seen growing 4.2-4.4 pct yr-on-yr - central bank|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The central bank expects the Philippines gross domestic product to register growth of 4.2-4.4 pct year-on-year in the fourth quarter, matching the expansion seen in the third quarter, said bank governor Rafael Buenaventura.
The growth will be attributable to increased consumer spending and further improvement in the services sector, he added.
"I think our GDP will grow between 4.2 and 4.4 pct in the last quarter and meet the 4.2 pct full-year target," Buenaventura said.
The economy grew 4.4 pct year-on-year in the third quarter, exceeding the government's forecast of a 3.8-4.3 pct expansion.
Earlier, Economic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri said fourth quarter GDP is expected to post growth of 3.8-4.0 year-on-year on improved agricultural output and a robust services sector.
The economy should perform better in 2004, he said, barring any unforeseen events, such as the external shocks that buffeted the Philippines this year.
Growth should accelerate in the second half of next year after the May elections, but the continuity of economic programs and policies under the next administration will also be crucial to maintain the growth momentum, Neri said.
(1 usd = 55.59 pesos)
|Arroyo spokesman says govt still seeks peace talks despite new rebel threats|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The government will still pursue efforts to reopen peace talks with communist guerrillas despite the new rebel threat to launch more attacks, Presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye said.
"You can see that the peace initiatives are continuing, hopefully until we can bring the two sides back to the negotiating table," Bunye said.
"We want long-lasting peace but we will observe the immediate actions," of the insurgent Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its guerrilla wing, the New People's Army (NPA), Bunye said in a radio interview Saturday.
His remarks came after CPP central committee chairman Armando Liwanag called on guerrillas to further "expand and intensify" tactical attacks and "isolate and bring down" the government of President Gloria Arroyo.
The party will "extend the guerrilla fronts to the majority of municipalities, especially those in the strategic parts of the archipelago," Liwanag said in a statement issued on Friday, marking the CPP's 35th anniversary.
Manila is expected to hold talks next month with the NPA's National Democratic Front, and as a gesture of goodwill declared a unilateral Christmas truce with the rebels until January 6.
Arroyo suspended peace talks with the rebels in 2001 after the NPA assassinated several high-profile politicians.
|Singapore-listed Medtecs warns of weaker H2 net profit; FY still seen better|
SINGAPORE (AFX-ASIA) - Philippine-based laboratory gown and surgical masks supplier Medtecs International has warned that net profit in the second half of 2003 will be weaker than the first half of the year as deliveries to Taiwan had been delayed.
"With improving controls over the outbreak of SARS in Taiwan, Medtecs will defer, partially, delivery of products amounting to approximately 6.2 mln usd million until next year," it said.
The delayed deliveries are part of 16.54 mln usd worth of orders Medtecs secured from China and Taiwan at the height of the SARS outbreak earlier this year.
In the first half to June, Medtecs posted net profit of 2.81 mln usd on sales of 28.48 mln usd, compared to net profit of 1.4 mln usd on sales of 22. 09 mln a year earlier.
Notwithstanding the weaker second-half performance, Medtecs said its full year to Dec 2003 results should still be better than 2002's.
(1 usd = 1.70 sgd)
|Bomb explodes near airport in southern Philippines, killing soldier|
ZAMBOANGA, Philippines (AFX-ASIA) - A homemade bomb exploded as it was being disarmed outside an airport in the southern Philippine island of Jolo, killing a soldier and wounding another, the military said.
Civilians found the improvised device concealed in a cardboard box that had been left near a perimeter fence of Jolo airport. Troops were alerted and tried to disarm it, but it exploded, killing one.
A second bomb was found on a roadside also near the airport but was safely detonated.
"The powerful blast killed the soldier instantly and another soldier was injured and we still don't know who's behind this latest act of terrorism," said Colonel Fredesvindo Covarrias, commander of the army's civil relations group in the south.
"Civilians informed the military about the bomb after they saw electrical wires protruding from the box," he said.
Authorities have yet to determine who was behind the bomb attack, but Jolo is a stronghold of the Muslim Abu Sayyaf group, considered by the governments of the US and Manila to be a foreign terrorist organization.
The explosion came as authorities across the Philippines were placed on high alert to thwart possible attacks on vital installations during the holidays.
The Abu Sayyaf has been blamed for a spate of kidnappings and bombings in the southern Philippines in recent years.
Officials had earlier warned of retaliatory attacks in the south after one of its leaders, Ghalib Andang, was wounded and captured this month by troops in Jolo.
Andang, alias Commander Robot, is under tight guard at a military hospital in suburban Quezon north of Manila, where he is recuperating from his injuries.
|Philippines faces storm threat after deadly landslides, floods - official|
MANILA, Dec 26 (AFP) - A tropical storm is threatening the eastern and central Philippines today with authorities yet to recover from landslides and floods that have left an estimated 200 dead or missing, the civil defense office said.
Residents of low-lying areas, as well as those near mountains, have been advised to be on high alert against flash floods and landslides, it said.
The storm, with strongest sustained winds of 55 kilometers per hour near the center, is forecast to be 320 km east of Catanduanes island tomorrow.
The eastern Visayas and Bicol regions have been experiencing winds strong enough to uproot small trees, while sea travel for small fishing boats is risky, they said.
Meanwhile, the total number of casualties in the landslides and floods that hit the central island of Leyte and southern Mindanao island last week has risen to 174. But the number of missing has fallen to only 26 from 108, rescuers said.
The area, however, remains in a calamitous state and relief and rescue operations are continuing, the civil defense office said.
Torrential rains triggered by seasonal northeasterly winds caused floods and landslides in Leyte and Mindanao, with entire villages buried under mud.
Officials also blamed illegal logging for the tragedy.
|Philippine police catch alleged kidnapper of Coca-Cola executive - Arroyo|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - A man believed to have murdered a Coca-Cola executive after she was kidnapped in Manila last month has been caught, President Gloria Arroyo announced today.
The suspect, identified as Elinzenio Saliente, was arrested while trying to pass through a police road block in central island of Leyte on Christmas Eve.
"He was caught in a checkpoint and this demonstrates the effectiveness of interdiction measures," Arroyo said in a statement. "We will bring justice to kidnap victims and get the rest of the kidnap gangs."
Saliente is believed to have shot dead Betti Chua Sy, a Chinese-Filipino, after she was abducted in November. Sy bled to death in captivity and her corpse was found stuffed inside a garbage bag at a Manila roadside.
Sy's abduction was the first in a string of high-profile kidnap-for-ransom cases targeting affluent members of the ethnic Chinese community in Manila.
Authorities said that Sy was the 156th kidnap victim this year. Independent statistics show that kidnapping has reached a 10-month-high in the country with an average of one victim every three days.
Public outrage forced Arroyo early this month to lift a four-year moratorium on the death penalty in a bid to reverse rampant crime.
Police said they are also on the trail of five other men believed to be members of Saliente's gang.
|Philippine communists vow to intensify attacks against govt|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Philippine communist guerrillas called today for intensified attacks against the government and claimed to have boosted their ranks despite peace overtures by the authorities.
Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) central committee chairman Armando Liwanag called on guerrillas to further "expand and intensify" tactical attacks and "isolate and bring down" the government of President Gloria Arroyo.
The party will "extend the guerrilla fronts to the majority of municipalities, especially those in the strategic parts of the archipelago," Liwanag said in a statement marking the CPP's 35th anniversary.
Its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), "is waging extensive and intensive guerrilla warfare on the basis of an ever-widening and ever-deepening mass base," Liwanag said.
The authorities believe Liwanag is another name being used by Jose Maria Sison, the self-exiled communist leader based in Utrecht, the Netherlands.
The military has said the NPA numbers around 9,000.
Liwanag also accused the Arroyo government of being a "puppet" of the United States, which has placed the CPP-NPA in its list of foreign terrorist organizations.
Manila is expected to hold talks next month with the NPA's National Democratic Front. The NPA has demanded it should be taken off the US blacklist prior to the talks.
|STOCKWATCH - Singapore Exchange flat as little Manila acquisition impact seen|
SINGAPORE (AFX-ASIA) - Singapore Exchange Ltd (SGX) shares turned flat in morning trade after news that the company is keen to acquire a 30 pct stake in recently-listed Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), dealers said.
At 10.10 am, SGX was flat at 1.64 sgd on volume of 92,000 shares after falling 0.01 sgd earlier.
The Straits Times Index was up 2.64 points at 1,728.63.
A report in the Straits Times said the interest is based on condition that there is a cross-border link between the two exchanges.
A cross-border link will allow investors to trade stocks on both exchanges through local dealers, making it cheaper and more convenient for Singaporeans to invest in Philippine stocks as they will be charged local commission rates.
The 30 pct stake in the PSE will cost 579 mln pesos, commuter newspaper Today said.
However, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that the SGX's condition of a cross-border link has not gone well with Philippine brokers on concerns that they will lose business to overseas rivals.
In a research note, OCBC Securities said news of the acquisition plan is unlikely to have much of an impact on SGX in the absence of further details as discussions are likely to be at an early stage.
Although a cross-border link between the two exchanges can provide SGX with an additional source of revenue, the brokerage said the local bourse will still derive most of its income from domestic operations.
Cross-border trades between the two exchanges are minimal, despite efforts to increase such activities, it added.
OCBC Securities said it is maintaining its "market perform" rating on SGX as the stock trades at an undemanding valuation of 19.1 times its year to June 2004 earnings.
(1 usd = 1.70 sgd;55.51 pesos)
|STOCK ALERT - Singapore Exchange lower on news of interest in Manila exchange|
SINGAPORE (AFX-ASIA) - Singapore Exchange Ltd (SGX) shares were lower in early morning trade on news that the company is keen to acquire a 30 pct stake in recently-listed Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), dealers said.
SGX was down 0.01 sgd at 1.63 on volume of 18,000 shares.
A report in the Straits Times said the interest was based on condition that there is a cross-border link between the two companies.
(1 usd = 1.70 sgd)
|Philippines signs 5.6 bln pesos power contract with Japanese firm - report|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - A Philippine state-owned power company has signed a contract worth 5.6 bln pesos with Japan's Kanematsu Corp, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported today.
The state-run PNOC Energy Development Corp (PNOC-EDC) signed the contract for Kanematsu to construct a 40-megawatt geothermal plant and a 26-megawatt plant, both in the central island of Negros, the newspaper said.
Apostol said only presidential approval was needed for the contract.
PNOC-EDC had earlier pre-qualified four Japanese firms -- Sumitomo, Kanematsu, Marubeni and Mitsui - to bid for the projects.
|Philippines on alert to prevent repeat of Christmas season bombing - officials|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Philippine military and police forces are on high alert for the Christmas season at bus terminals and sea and airports to prevent a repeat of a series of bombings that killed about 20 people in December 2000, officials said today.
National Security Adviser Roilo Golez told Agence France Presse that the alert was imposed even before the US raised from "elevated" to "high" its nationwide alert level for possible terror attacks, prompting tighter security and even some cancellations of flights overseas.
"We have a security alert, but no specific threat," Golez said.
Soldiers and police could be seen checking bags and luggage as crowds sought public transportation to join their families over Christmas.
Ricardo de Leon, the head of security forces in Metropolitan Manila, said that overhead railways and other vital installations are being tightly guarded "to ensure that any terrorist threats will not be allowed to go on."
Manila international airport general manager Edgar Manda also said security officials are tightly screening people entering the airport for any suspected terrorists.
The Philippines, a largely-Christian country where Christmas is celebrated with huge gatherings in public places, has been on guard for possible terror attacks over the season since a series of bombs exploded in an overhead railway and other public places on Dec 30, 2000.
Muslim rebels, with the help of Indonesian members of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terror network, were blamed for the attack.
|Malaysians rescue four Philippine survivors of ferry disaster - official|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Malaysian fishermen have rescued four survivors of a ferry that sank in bad weather off the Philippine island of Palawan four days ago, officials said today.
Deputy head of naval forces in the southern Philippines Captain Petronilo Magno said the fishermen had picked up four Filipinos near Bangui island, off Sabah, and turned them over to the Royal Malaysian Navy.
The four are believed to be among five survivors of the sunken ferry, the Piary, and Philippine aircraft had spotted clinging to wooden debris near Bangui. It was not clear what happened to the fifth survivor.
The Piary, a wooden-hulled vessel, went down in stormy seas on Sunday off the western island of Palawan with at least 75 passengers. Some 25 survivors of the disaster were picked up near the scene.
Philippine naval and coast guard vessels are still searching the area for more survivors.
Meanwhile, on the central island of Leyte and the southern island of Mindanao, rescue and relief activities continued for thousands of people flash floods and landslides displaced or left missing last weekend.
The toll of dead and missing from landslides and flash floods in Leyte and Mindanao has risen to 156, the authorities said.
More than 24,000 people are still housed in evacuation centers with damage to crops and infrastructure estimated at over 5 mln usd.