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Asia Business: Japan Redesigns Currency - 2002-08-05

Samsung Electronics plans an $800 million share buy-back while Japan redesigns its currency.

South Korean chip giant Samsung Electronics will purchase its own stock to boost its share price and return profit to investors. The company's shares have lost more than one-quarter of their value since April amid worries about the U.S. economy and the stronger Korean won, which makes Samsung's exports more costly for overseas consumers.

The share buy-back will take place from August to November, and will cost Samsung about $800 million.

Taiwan's largest memory chipmaker is also coping with financial challenges. Winbond Electronics posted a loss of $64 million, slipping into the red after a profit in the first three months of the year. Company officials say the loss is partly due to a 15 percent fall in price for the company's computer memory chips. However, they are optimistic that sales for Winbond's consumer electronics will increase in the third quarter as students purchase computers and other items for the new school year.

The Japanese government has announced that it will overhaul its paper money to prevent counterfeiting. The new bills will feature holograms, sophisticated bar codes and special ink that creates semi-transparent patterns. The new bills will be denominated in notes of 1,000, 5,000 and 10,000 yen.

Because of the new money, thousands of new vending and automatic teller machines will be needed. The government hopes this demand will provide a small boost for Japan's troubled economy.

Economy Minister Heizo Takenaka said that by printing three new notes, Japan can expect brisk orders for new machines that will generate several times more sales than before, when the government released just one new note.

The new currency will carry portraits of a Meiji era scientist and a poet.