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Asia Business: The Week Ahead - 2002-09-30

Top officials in Hong Kong are looking at ways to halt the slide in the city's property prices. And in South Korea, one of the world's largest makers of semiconductors is selling a unit to a Chinese electronics company, as part of its restructuring effort.

Hong Kong government officials have not given details of their plan to shore up the property market. Financial analysts speculate the administration will scrap a program of supplying low-cost housing to the poor. "There is a big oversupply of residential property in the Hong Kong market," says Howard Gorges, a executive with South China Brokerage in Hong Kong. "The property developers misread the market by taking on a lot of development during the boom and the lift we had in 2002.

Property developers welcome the government's announcement that it will propose a plan. Hong Kong property prices have fallen about 60 percent since 1997, and the territory has been in a long period of price deflation. It also is in its second recession in five years.

South Korean semiconductor manufacturer Hynix plans to sell its liquid-crystal display screen unit to China's BOE Technology Group for $380 million. It is Hynix's largest asset sale and raises badly needed cash for the faltering company. The company is struggling to pay off about $5 billion in debt at a time when computer chip prices are low.

Indian pharmaceutical company Ranbaxy Laboratories plans to enter the Japanese market.

A Ranbaxy subsidiary will acquire a 10-percent stake in a Nihon Pharmaceutical, a unit of Nippon Chemiphar. The agreement includes manufacturing and marketing alliances with Nippon Chemiphar. Japan is one of the world's largest consumers of pharmaceutical products.