BOA may boost layoffs
US banking giant Bank of America Corp (BOA) is mulling boosting its layoffs to 30,000, triple what was already in the works, the Charlotte Observer, the newspaper of the bank’s hometown, said on Friday. That would mean slashing more than 10 percent of its workforce, the Observer said, citing unnamed sources in the country’s largest bank. “The Charlotte-based bank could potentially shed 25,000 to 30,000 jobs over several years, the sources said,” according to the report. “Executives are still working on final plans.” The bank has been pummeled with losses from the 2007 to 2009 financial crisis and has recently been hit with a series of multi-billion-dollar lawsuits relating to dodgy mortgage-backed securities issued by its subsidiaries, Countrywide Financial and Merrill Lynch.
EU imposes more sanctions
The EU imposed a ban on purchases of Syrian oil yesterday and targeted three Syrian firms in an expanded sanctions list meant to intensify pressure against President Bashar al-Assad’s government. The new round of sanctions against Syria marks the first time Europe has targeted Syrian industry as it seeks to cut off Assad’s access to funds and force him to end a five-month-old crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, which the UN says has killed more than 2,000 civilians. However, analysts say the sanctions, which do not go as far as the investment ban imposed by the US last month, may have only a limited impact on Assad’s access to funds. The new sanctions target Syria’s Real Estate Bank, which provides mortgage finance, as well as Mada Transport and Cham Investment Group, two arms of a Syrian investment firm which the EU says provides funds to Assad’s government, according to the EU’s Official Journal.
Solarworld to close factory
Solarworld AG, Germany’s largest module maker, plans to close a factory to cut costs and compete against Chinese manufacturers that its CEO Frank Asbeck says are subsidized by the state. Solarworld will shutter a California manufacturing plant and some production lines in Germany, the Bonn-based company said on Friday in a statement. The move was needed to increase efficiency and reduce costs as Chinese rivals have helped drive down the price of solar cells by 42 percent this year, Asbeck said. Competing against Chinese producers that receive financial assistance from the government isn’t “fair,” Asbeck said, such as two loan facilities worth US$713 million that GCL-Poly Energy Holdings Ltd received on Friday from state-run China Development Bank Corp (國家發展銀行).
ECB head warns Italy
European Central Bank (ECB) President Jean-Claude Trichet warned Italy yesterday it was “essential” to promptly implement its deficit-reducing measures if it wants to preserve its credit worthiness. “It is essential that the target which was announced to diminish the deficit will be fully confirmed and implemented,” Trichet said at an economic forum at a Lake Como, Italy, resort. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government has been squabbling for weeks over proposed new taxes and spending cuts to achieve a 45.5 billion euro (US$64.86 billion) austerity package, which parliament must approve later this month. The outgoing central banker deemed as “extremely important” all measures to improve the “flexibility” of Italy’s economy.