Industrial sentiment worsens
The country’s industrial sentiment dropped by one point to 92 points this month, pushing further below its long-term average of 100, figures released yesterday by the national statistics office showed. Manufacturers evaluated the business climate as having worsened, adding that while order books were stable, they were judged as being somewhat thin, INSEE said. The outlook also remained negative. Last week, INSEE reported that industrial production rose by 1.5 percent in April, mostly due to increased gas and electricity output during unseasonably cold weather.
Household debt ‘alarming’
The country’s household loans have grown “at an alarming rate” to US$553 billion in April and are vulnerable to financial shocks arising from a global economic downturn, a report said yesterday. More people are borrowing just to meet living expenses and there is an increase in borrowers from the older age group and lower income group, the report from Moody’s Investors Service said. The credit ratings agency said outstanding household loans at the country’s banks and non-banks totaled 639.6 trillion won (US$553 billion) at the end of April, compared with 622.2 trillion won in July last year. The debt-to-disposable income ratio was 135 percent last year, higher than 114 percent in 2002, the year before the country’s credit card crisis.
Danone cuts profit forecast
Danone, the world’s biggest yogurt maker, cut its profitability forecast as consumers in Spain switch to less expensive products and raw-material costs rise more than anticipated. The maker of Actimel yogurt expects its operating margin to decline by 50 basis points this year on a like-for-like basis, the Paris-based company said yesterday in a statement. “The group has faced a swift deterioration in consumption in southern Europe that has proven steeper than anticipated, especially in Spain,” the company said. “Danone has chosen to respond with a combination of support for its brands and steps to make its products more competitive.”
Luxon to head Air NZ
Air New Zealand yesterday said former head of Unilever Canada Christopher Luxon would take over as the flag carrier’s new chief executive at the end of the year. Luxon, a New Zealander who joined the airline last year as head of its international operations after almost two decades at the Anglo-Dutch food and cosmetics giant, will replace outgoing Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe. Air New Zealand, which announced a 61.2 percent slump in interim profits in February, is in the midst of a cost-cutting program that will slash more than 400 jobs and deliver savings of NZ$195 million (US$154.5 million) by 2015.
Yahoo hires Michael Barrett
Yahoo is turning to a former colleague of its interim CEO to oversee the troubled Internet company’s efforts to sell more online advertising. Monday’s announcement that Michael Barrett will be running Yahoo’s advertising sales team as chief revenue officer comes five weeks after the Sunnyvale, California, company dumped Scott Thompson as its CEO amid a flap over misleading information on his biography. Thompson’s replacement, interim CEO Ross Levinsohn, used to work closely with Barrett while they were both top Internet executives at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp when it owned MySpace.