Sun, Nov 20, 2005 - Page 11 News List

Business Quick Take


■ Petroleum
Chavez set to sell cheap oil

Venezuela will soon begin selling heating oil at discount prices to poor communities in the US cities of Boston and New York, following up on a promise by President Hugo Chavez to help poor Americans cut energy costs, Venezuela's state oil company announced. Citgo, a subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil company, will offer fuel at discounted rates in Boston, Massachusetts, as early as next week, according to a statement posted on Friday on the company's Web site. "The first phase of the program, in Boston, will offer up to 4.5 million liters of heating oil at accessible rates, representing US$10 million in savings for those sectors," the statement read. Citgo said the distribution of discounted heating oil will be organized with the help of local nonprofit organizations. Citgo runs roughly 16,000 gas stations in the US.

■ Shipping

Panama touts `mega-port'

Panama's President Martin Torrijos on Friday met with Asian, US and European executives in Panama City to detail plans to open bidding on a new "mega-port" at the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal, officials said. The initial investment on the project, aimed at bolstering Panama's status as the key center for trans-oceanic container shipping, is expected to be some US$600 million. Bidding on the facility in Farfan will take place in the new year, the president's spokesman Ubaldino Real said. Torrijos met with representatives of Evergreen Marine Corp (長榮) of Taiwan; China Ocean Shipping Co (COSCO) and Hutchison Port Holdings of China; the Port Authority of Denmark (APM); Dragados of Spain; International Transportation Services (ITS), Ports North America Inc, Stevedoring Services of America (SSA) and Marine Terminal Co (MTC Holdings) of the US; Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NHK Line) of Japan and PSA International of Singapore.

■ Antitrust suit

Microsoft to hold law classes

Microsoft Corp pledged on Friday to expand legal training for employees and broaden its internal reviews of industry agreements to be sure the company doesn't violate its antitrust settlement with the government. Microsoft's decision, disclosed in court papers, responds to criticism last month from the federal judge overseeing its business practices under the agreement. She was upset over a proposal by Microsoft -- unlawful under the settlement -- to force manufacturers to tether iPod-like devices to Microsoft's own music player software. Microsoft abandoned the idea after a competitor protested, and it later blamed a newly hired "lower-level business person" it said did not understand the company's obligations under the antitrust settlement with the US Justice Department. The agreement constrains Microsoft's business practices through late 2007.

■ Automakers

Ford plans 4,000 job cuts

Ford Motor Co, facing a deepening financial crisis, said on Friday it plans to eliminate 4,000 salaried jobs, or 10 percent of its North American white-collar work force, as part of a larger restructuring plan. A majority of the job cuts -- announced to employees in an e-mail distributed by Mark Fields, president of Ford's Americas business -- will be made in the first quarter of next year, spokesman Oscar Suris said. The cuts will come through attrition, layoffs and the elimination of some agency and contract positions, Suris said. They will be in addition to the 2,750 job losses already announced by the automaker this year.

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