Global Dispatches

An international news digest

Taiwan Relaxes Its Restrictions on China

TOKYO -- Taiwan’s government will allow its biggest technology companies to invest in mainland China, but only after they agree to make equal or better investments at home, a government minister told reporters here last week.

“We won’t restrict the investments between Taiwan and mainland China, but [we will] try to see how we can take advantage of the economic relations between the two sides,” Jaushieh Joseph Wu, chairman of the government’s Mainland Affairs Council, said at a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan.

Late last year, Taiwan approved requests from local chip makers Powerchip Semiconductor Corp., ProMOS Technologies Inc. and Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc. to make investments totaling more than $800 million (U.S.) in factories in mainland China.

Those moves followed negotiations between government officials and each company. “When they are willing to put $100 in China, we are asking them, ‘How much investment are you willing to put in Taiwan?’” Wu said. “They have to come up with some promise, and they have to write it down.”

-- Martyn Williams, IDG News Service

33% Growth Projected for Indian Outsourcers

DELHI, India -- India’s software and services exports are expected to grow by 33% to more than $31 billion (U.S.) in the fiscal year ending March 31, according to data released last week by the National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom).

India’s three largest outsourcing firms — Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., Infosys Technologies Ltd. and Wipro Ltd. — each reported strong revenue and profit growth for the quarter that ended Dec. 31, Nasscom noted.

The country is on course to achieve $60 billion in exports by 2010, the Delhi-based trade organization said.

Nasscom has projected exports totaling $18 million in IT services, including software development; $8.3billion in business process outsourcing and call center services; and $5 billion in engineering services, research and development services, and product development work during the fiscal year.

Employment in the country’s software and services sector is likely to reach 1.6 million by March 31, up from 1.28 million in the previous year, Nasscom said.

The organization did warn that the country must improve the quality of education and train more staffers in order to maintain the employment levels needed to reach the projected total.

-- John Ribeiro, IDG News Service

Outsourcers Unaffected By Bangalore Riots

BANGALORE, India -- Outsourcing companies here said they were mostly unaffected by rioting in the city earlier this month, although some took the precaution of rerouting staff transportation routes.

The riots, which started Friday, Jan.19, began as a protest of the hanging of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and turned violent as Muslims attacked Hindu establishments.

On Sunday, Jan. 22, a Hindu mob retaliated against Muslims in the area. The rioting was confined to a volatile sector of downtown Bangalore where outsourcing and IT companies do not have operations, observers said.

“We are working as usual, and our operations were not affected,” a spokeswoman at Bangalore-based Infosys said.

Staffers traveling to work at outsourcing firm iGate Global Solutions Ltd. were also largely unaffected because most arrived before rioters got to the streets, a spokesman said.

Most outsourcing firms offer transportation to work for their staffers, and many companies, particularly those doing business process outsourcing, have people working over the weekend. Many used alternate routes as a precaution during the riots.

-- John Ribeiro, IDG News Service

Dutch Prosecutors Seek Prison for Botnet Gang

LONDON -- Dutch prosecutors have asked a judge to jail two men charged with a scheme they say may have infected more than 1 million computers with malicious programs.

Prosecutors are seeking a three-year prison sentence for one of the men and a two-year sentence for the other, said Desiree Leppens, spokeswoman for the organized crime branch of the National Public Prosecution Service in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. They also recommended that each pay ¬30,000 ($38,000 U.S.) in fines, she said. A judge will rule on the case on Jan. 30. The men were not identified.

Leppens called the effort the largest cybercrime case to be conducted in the Netherlands. During a one-day trial on Jan.16, prosecutors said that at least 50,000 computers were infected by the two defendants, who are 20 and 28 years old. The pair used a program called Toxbot, a worm that can be used to gain remote control of a computer and log keystrokes, prosecutors said.

-- Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service

HP Opens Research Laboratory in Russia

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- Hewlett-Packard Co. last week opened a new research lab here. The laboratory will focus on information management research, said Beth Keer, director of the Information Services and Process Innovation Lab at the HP Laboratories operation. “There’s a lot of need to do additional database research,” she said. “In data mining and in unstructured data, there are challenges in understanding what you have got.”

Keer noted that about half of Russian university students choose to study mathematics or science. “It’s important for us to be where that talent is,” she said.

Keer will supervise the Russian lab and will act as its director until a permanent one is appointed, according to HP. The company is also recruiting researchers for the new lab, which will ultimately employ about 25 people, Keer said.

HP’s largest lab, in Palo Alto, Calif., employs about 350 people. Smaller research operations are located in Bristol, England; Haifa, Israel; Tokyo; Bangalore; and Beijing, Keer said.

-- Peter Sayer, IDG News Service

Briefly Noted

  • Hedy Holding Co. has signed an agreement to use Advanced Micro Devices Inc. microprocessors, ending the Guangzhou, China-based PC manufacturer’s policy of using only chips from Intel Corp.Hedy this month brought out several new PCs based on AMD chips and plans to add AMD-based laptops later this year. -- Dan Nystedt, IDG News Service
  • BlueScope Steel Ltd. in Melbourne, Australia, has awarded a four-year contract worth $480 million Australian ($379 million U.S.) to Computer Sciences Corp. to provide consulting, application development and support, disaster recovery, systems integration and end-user services over multiple platforms. The contract extends a relationship between BlueScope and CSC that began in May 2000. -- Darren Pauli, Computerworld Australia
  • China Mobile Communications Corp. last week agreed to purchase a majority stake in Paktel Ltd. in Islamabad, Pakistan, from Millicom International Cellular SA in Luxembourg. The deal, valued at $284million, includes cash and debt payments for Millicom’s 88.9% stake in the firm. The deal marks Beijing-based China Mobile’s first foray outside of its home country. -- Dan Nystedt and John Ribeiro, IDG News Service
  • Jay Y. Lee has been promoted to chief customer officer at Samsung Electronics Co. In the newly created position, Lee, son of Samsung Group Chairman Kun-Hee Lee, will act as a bridge between Samsung and its most important customers while working to form alliances with current and prospective customers, the company said. -- Martyn Williams, IDG News Service
  • France Telecom SA this month moved to combine its 15 worldwide research centers into a single organization called Orange Labs. The network of labs unites research centers in France, China, Japan, Poland, South Korea, the U.K. and the U.S. France Telecom CEO Didier Lombard said the combined research unit will focus its work on telecommunications and so-called Web 2.0 technologies. -- Peter Sayer, IDG News Service

Compiled by Mike Bucken.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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