Approved foreign investment soars in February on Taipei 101 deal

Fireworks explode with slogan reading "Happiness and Good Condition Together" on the Taipei 101 building during the New Year's celebrations in Taipei, Taiwan, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

Taipei, March 20 (CNA) The value of approved foreign investment in Taiwan in February soared more than 300 percent from a year earlier after Japan-based Itochu Corp. agreed to buy a stake in Taiwan’s tallest building Taipei 101, the Investment Commission said Tuesday.

The commission said it approved 208 foreign investment applications (excluding those from China) to pump US$905 million into Taiwan, up 342 percent from a year earlier.

The jump resulted largely from Japanese trading company Itochu seeking to remit US$665 million to buy a stake in the Taipei 101 skyscraper.

In a deal announced in December, Itochu will buy a 37.17 percent stake in Taipei 101 from the Taiwan-based scandal-stricken Ting Hsin International Group to become the first foreign shareholder of the landmark building.

Once the deal is completed, Itochu will be the second largest shareholder of Taipei 101, which is operated by Taipei Financial Center Corp.

Taiwan: View on ‘Taipei 101’ Tower in Xinyi District, Taipei. Photo from 14. May 2016. | usage worldwide Photo by: Daniel Kalker/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

The largest shareholder of Taipei 101 is the Ministry of Finance, which controls a 44.35 percent stake in the building through three government-invested financial groups — Mega Financial Holding Co., First Financial Holding Co. and Hua Nan Financial Holding Co.

Though total approved foreign investment in Taiwan rose in February, the number of approved applications was down 18 percent from a year earlier, the commission said.

For the first two months of the year, foreign investment in Taiwan jumped 122.38 percent year-on-year to US$1.27 billion, and the number of approved applications rose 10.38 percent to 500, data compiled by the commission showed.

Approved Chinese investment in Taiwan for the first two months of the year rose 134.88 percent from a year earlier to US$82.03 million, while the amount in February alone fell 97 percent to US$85,000, the commission said.

The spike in the two-month period reflected the investment of US$56.05 million by Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. unit Foxconn Industrial Internet in Taiwan-based Ingrasys Technology Inc., also owned by Hon Hai, the commission said.

The commission said approved China-bound investment from Taiwan in February fell 55 percent from a year earlier to US$280.94 million and the value for the first two months fell 50 percent to US$620.51 million, largely because of a relatively high comparison base from last year.

Hon Hai, the world’s largest contract electronics maker, invested about US$270 million in a subsidiary in China during the corresponding period in 2017.

Approved Taiwanese investment in foreign markets outside of China fell 16 percent from a year earlier in February to US$249 million, and fell 1.92 percent in the first two months of the year to US$744 million, the commission said.

Despite the fall in foreign bound investment in the two-month period, approved Taiwanese investment in India, Malaysia and Thailand rose 667.8 percent, 309.3 percent and 146.2 percent, respectively, year-on-year, the commission said.

(By Liao Yu-yang and Frances Huang)