Int'l Readers Report

Indover Bank Begs to Differ (int'l edition)

We have serious objections to what you wrote about Indover Bank (''Where did the billions go?'' Asian Business, Feb. 28). To summarize, you said that in the course of Indonesia's financial crisis, Indover bank has been involved in possibly illegal financial help to Bahana, orchestrated by our shareholder Bank Indonesia.

This is untrue. The only transaction ever between Indover Bank and Bahana regarded a loan of $10 million against normal market conditions, which was rendered to Bahana on Dec. 22, 1995, well before the crisis of 1998 and at a time when Bahana was a sound company. Meanwhile, $5 million was repaid by Bahana on Dec. 22, 1997, to us. The remaining $5 million is outstanding against normal market conditions. The suggestions as supplied by anonymous investment bankers and anonymous Bahana executives are untrue.

It was also stated that Indover is one of the ''affiliated parties'' of Bank Indonesia's records that purchased Bahana paper. That is not true, either. General Manager D. van Leeuwen refused to answer additional questions concerning Indover Bank's clients citing confidentiality. You will appreciate that a bank has a legal obligation of confidentiality toward its clients.

Indover Bank is independent in its decision-making from Bank Indonesia and is under the supervision of De Nederlandsche Bank (the Dutch central bank) and is complying with all applicable rules and regulations.

Muhamad Muchtar
President Director
Indover Bank

Editor's note: BUSINESS WEEK stands by the facts in the story.

Protect Your Privacy by Blocking Web Site ''Cookies'' (int'l edition)

After reading ''Privacy: Outrage on the Web'' (News Analysis & Commentary, Feb 14), I wondered: Why doesn't everyone just block incoming cookies? The procedure is quick and very simple and I assume effective.

It does have one disadvantage: Not all sites can be accessed if you do not accept their cookies. I recently tried to shop at, only to find that I could not gain access without accepting the cookie, so they lost my business. I can see no reason why I should be expected to surrender more information about myself if I shop on the Web than I would be expected to provide if I went into the store.

All that is needed is for more people to do the same, and stores would have to drop their information-gathering policy. I suspect that the main reason why people do not do this is because they do not realize just how easy it is. What is needed is for some widely read magazines to inform their readers about this quick and simple way to increase their privacy.

M.C. Elstub

How Germany's Greens Grabbed Market Share (int'l edition)

''Surprise, the German Greens are marching with business'' (International Outlook, Feb. 28) is a case study in marketing. The Greens first outflanked mainstream parties by championing principled issues such as ''environment, women, peace.'' As this restricted them to 6.7% of voter support, they diagnosed the problem as being a slow-selling ''product'' and not the way they were supporting it.

Their brilliant solution was to switch sides: By becoming more pro-business than the mainstream, they outflanked it on the other side, thus upping their market share to 9%. This illustrates the high regard in which the Green leadership holds its electorate, and their joint success in transforming principles into discardable commodities.

Petros Haritatos

Note to Daum: It's the Product That Counts (int'l edition)

I thought connecting the world to the Internet was supposed to be a forward-looking concept that would assist people in understanding each other better. I was appalled by how Daum Communications Corp. attempts to appeal to anti-Japanese sentiment in its ads (''Portal combat,'' Asian Business, Jan. 17). After just having gone through the hype of ''new millennium this'' and ''new century that,'' why is this Korean company taking a step backward five centuries?

I applaud the fact that Korea is opening its markets to foreign competitors. When I was in the service in the early '90s, I traveled to Korea on several occasions, and I do not remember seeing a single foreign-made automobile there, except on U.S. bases. But to me, Daum's advertisement sounds like a message of desperation: It gives me the impression not only that Daum's products are inferior to those of foreign rivals but also that the company is seriously lacking in diplomacy and long-term vision.

If a company can make a superior product, people will flock to buy it. I don't think the Korean people really think about what another country did centuries ago when they make purchases. Case in point: All the Koreans I know here in the U.S. drive Japanese cars, not Hyundais or Daewoos.

Harvey K. Andrew
San Diego

Britain Enjoys the Euro's Benefits without Its Costs (int'l edition)

With the euro's recent fall from dollar parity, British speculators on currency integration have much to celebrate (International Figures of the Week, European Edition, Feb. 28). In a cost-and-benefit analysis between Britain and the euro, the British have curiously enjoyed most of the benefits while avoiding its costs. The primary benefits of the euro include price transparency, reduction in transaction costs, and the elimination of risk in exchange rates. In every case, Britain benefits.

What were formerly 11 transactions between British businesses and euroland have now been reduced to one--that of the euro. Thus, price transparency between the pound and the euro is exponentially bolstered. The reduction in transaction costs is self-evident, while managing risk between the pound and other euroland currencies are reduced to only one exchange.

While the euro has fallen from $1.17 to $0.98 (as of Feb. 8), the British pound remains steady around $1.61. Although there is more to foreign exchange than just the dollar cross-rate, few investors would rush to buy a security with greater than 16% negative return.

The euro has probably fulfilled its promise of providing a more stable currency for weaker European economies; however, the members of the monetary union have surrendered their ability to manage monetary policy at a national level. Thus, they are less capable of responding to boom and busts. In contrast, Britain retains the ability to tack to the right as Europe goes left, and the economy is doing nicely as a result.

Jun Xu and
David Robinson
Berkeley, Calif.

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Indover Bank Begs to Differ (int'l edition)

Protect Your Privacy by Blocking Web Site ''Cookies'' (int'l edition)

How Germany's Greens Grabbed Market Share (int'l edition)

Note to Daum: It's the Product That Counts (int'l edition)

Britain Enjoys the Euro's Benefits without Its Costs (int'l edition)

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