Toyota set to cut board size
Japan’s Toyota Motor is set to unveil a long-term strategic plan today that will sharply reduce the size of its board and focus on emerging market growth, a report said yesterday. The world’s largest automaker will aim to sharply cut the number of board members, a move that has stoked tensions within the Japanese firm’s management, the Wall Street Journal reported. The widely anticipated plan will provide Toyota with a blueprint for the decade and also give a glimpse of president Akio Toyoda’s management style and goals, the report said. While the automaker has declined to give details about the new strategy prior to its formal announcement, the WSJ cited sources as saying it plans to roughly halve the number of board members from the current 27.
Surplus shrinks 47.6 percent
Japan’s current account surplus shrank 47.6 percent from a year earlier in January as the trade balance fell into its first deficit in two years, the finance ministry said yesterday. The surplus in the current account — the broadest measure of trade with the rest of the world — stood at ￥461.9 billion (US$5.6 billion) in the month. Separate data released yesterday by the Bank of Japan showed bank lending continued to drop last month for the 15th straight month, a sign that many firms remain cautious about the economic outlook.
Air China signs Boeing deal
Boeing says it has signed a deal to sell five of its new 747-8 Intercontinental passenger jets to Air China. Boeing and Air China, the country’s flag carrier, didn’t say how much the deal was worth. At list prices it would be about US$1.6 billion but airlines typically get big discounts.Air China will use the planes to expand its international routes. The jets can carry 467 passengers and feature a new wing design and upgraded flight deck. The order was announced yesterday at the start of an air show in Hong Kong. It still needs Chinese government approval.
YouTube buys TV company
YouTube announced on Monday that it bought Internet television company Next New Networks to improve content for the Google-owned video-sharing Web site. The New York City-based startup was launched four years ago and is home to popular networks, such as “Barely Political” and “Indy Mogul,” which it billed as the “filmmaking network for the YouTube generation.” Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, and YouTube stressed that it was not getting into the content creation business.
Skype to launch advertising
Internet phone company Skype says it is launching advertising on its service for the first time. The Luxembourg-based company, which is still 30 percent owned by online auction house eBay Inc, also on Monday announced its first advertisers: Groupon Inc, Nokia Corp, Comcast Corp’s Universal Pictures and Visa Inc. Skype said its platform, with 145 million users a month and 29 million at peak times, is attractive for brands to market their products. The platform will support large-format, rich interactive ads.
Google purchases UK site
Google bought British price comparison site BeatThatQuote.com for ￡37.7 million (US$61 million) on Monday. BeatThatQuote offers price comparisons on a wide range of products, from insurance to legal services and from utilities to retail items.