Minister against Fiat aid
A right-wing Italian Cabinet minister said on Sunday there would be a popular revolt if carmaker Fiat was given help by the Italian government, warning the government before talks with the auto sector this week. “There would be a popular revolt if once again we were to give aid to Fiat,” said Roberto Calderoli, who has the task of whittling down bureaucracy and legislation in the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. “We have already paid up to intervene in Fiat so many times and you can’t keep sharing the debt and keeping the profit,” he told state television RAI. Last week Fiat said that this year would be its “toughest year ever” and revealed a debt pile three times its forecasts.
Corus to cut 3,500 jobs
Corus, Europe’s second-largest steel producer, is to cut 3,500 jobs, Britain’s Sunday Times reported on Sunday. The company would not comment on the report. The newspaper said the move was part of a long-term restructuring plan and numbers would be finalized over the weekend. It said the cuts — precipitated by falling demand in the construction and auto industries — would not lead to the closure of any of Corus’ British sites. Corus, a subsidiary of India’s Tata Steel, employs 24,000 people in Britain.
Field found off Gabon
Japanese trading house Mitsubishi Corp said yesterday that it has discovered an oil field in Gabon, raising hope for more energy production from West Africa. The oil field, in the Atlantic Ocean, has up to 14 million barrels in possible reserves, Mitsubishi said. By comparison, Africa as a whole had close to 115 million barrels of proven oil reserves last year, the US’ Energy Information Administration has said. Mitsubishi said its subsidiary, MPDC Gabon Co, has a 50 percent stake in the oil field, with the other half held by France’s Perenco. The field, named Loche East Marine, is already producing 1,000 barrels a day, Mitsubishi said in a statement.
Suez Energy cancels deal
French power firm Suez Energy has pulled out of a US$787 million deal to take over a Philippine power station, citing a deterioration of the plant, reports said yesterday. Emerald Energy Corp, the vehicle used by Suez Energy to bid for the 600-megawatt coal-fired power plant at Calaca, north of Manila, submitted the highest bid in a government auction in October 2007 for the plant. The Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp, which has been assigned to sell off Philippine government power assets, said the company pulled out citing a “deterioration in the condition of the Calaca plant.”
Dubai feeling the pinch
Dubai port operator DP World says that while trade at its terminals grew last year, the slowing economy has begun hurting business. The government-owned company, one of the world’s biggest cargo handlers, said yesterday that business growth slowed at many of its 46 ports in the second half of the year. The slowdown was most noticeable over the last few months, suggesting the drop in global trade may be accelerating. DP World chief financial officer Yuvraj Narayan said the impact is being felt most in Asia and parts of Europe. He said management is now focused on “cash preservation” and spending is under review.
■ HONG KONG
Tsang upbeat on Ox year
Chief Executive Donald Tsang (曾蔭權) issued a bullish assessment yesterday of the territory’s prospects for recovering from the global economic downturn in the Year of the Ox. In his Lunar New Year address Tsang said: “Hong Kongers are no strangers to adversity. We are used to thriving on challenges. “I believe that if we pull together as a community, no challenge will be too big for Hong Kong.” Tsang said he believed the retail market was doing “better than expected” despite the global slump. Hong Kong officially entered recession at the end of last year when it recorded its second consecutive quarter of economic contraction. Unemployment has climbed to more than 4 percent.