December orders fell 7%
Japan’s machinery orders fell at the fastest pace in three months in December as a faltering global economy and gains by the yen dimmed the outlook for exporters. Orders, an indicator of capital spending, decreased 7.1 percent from November, the Cabinet Office said in Tokyo yesterday, after surging 15 percent that month. For the full year, core orders rose 7.8 percent. Bookings are expected to rise 2.3 percent in the January-March period from the previous quarter, supported by the government’s massive spending programs to rebuild areas hit by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Zuckerberg’s bonus rate set
Facebook’s top executives — including CEO Mark Zuckerberg — are eligible for twice-a-year bonuses of up to 45 percent of their base salaries and other earnings, according to a Wednesday regulatory filing. Facebook Inc said in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission that it would pay Zuckerberg, 27, a base salary of US$500,000 per year. Zuckerberg’s 45 percent target bonus will be based on his performance. Chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg will receive a base salary of US$300,000. Her target bonus is also 45 percent. David Ebersman will continue to serve as chief financial officer and he will get a base salary of US$300,000.
Toyota to expand US plant
Toyota said it would expand its factory in Princeton, Indiana, and add 400 jobs so it can build more Highlander sports utility vehicles (SUV).
The hiring and expansion will come next year. Toyota said it would invest US$400 million in the factory to build 50,000 more Highlanders per year. The plant built more than 101,000 units last year. The company said it plans to stop making Highlanders in Japan and move that production to Indiana. After the changes, Toyota will be able to build about 255,000 Highlanders a year in Princeton and in China. The Princeton plant currently employs nearly 4,000 people who make Sienna minivans and the Highlander and Sequoia SUVs.
Airlines to check A380s
Qantas Airways and Korean Air will carry out inspections for wing cracks on their Airbus A380 superjumbo planes earlier than previously scheduled, after European air safety officials ordered global checks, warning of a safety risk if the defects were not fixed. “This condition, if not detected and corrected, may lead to a reduction of the structural integrity of the aeroplane,” the European Air Safety Agency said in its directive to airlines. Singapore Airlines has been carrying out precautionary inspections of its A380s since Jan. 20 and has been forced to repair eight aircraft, the airline said. Australia’s Qantas Airways has already grounded one A380 for a week after discovering 36 separate wing cracks after a turbulent flight from London.
Rio Tinto profit falls 59%
Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto yesterday reported a 59 percent slump in annual net earnings to US$5.8 billion and its chief refused his bonus due to write-offs from its aluminium business. An impairment charge of US$8.9 billion related to its troubled Alcan assets, undercutting record profit of US$15.5 billion last year, prompted Rio chief Tom Albanese to forgo his bonus. The record profit, on unprecedented cashflows of US$27.4 billion, were up 11 percent from a year ago.