US TV show axes workers
The Tonight Show has laid off about two dozen workers, prompting host Jay Leno to accept a pay cut to spare other staffers as NBC clamps down on expenses. NBC Universal imposed the cutbacks on Friday, according to a person familiar with the moves. The person asked not to be identified because NBC Universal had not officially disclosed the cost cutting. The payroll purge affected about 10 percent of the roughly 200 people who work on the TV show, still the top-rated late-night program. Viewers should not notice any changes in programming at the Tonight Show, the person said. Leno had been making between US$25 million to US$30 million annually as the program’s host. His salary is to be reduced to about US$20 million after making the job-saving concessions. Leno also brings in substantial income touring as a stand-up comedian.
Orix to buy Dubai firm
Orix Corp, a Japanese finance and leasing company, is in talks to spend about US$400 million to buy a stake in a Dubai-based life insurer from a European bank, according to the firm’s president Makoto Inoue. Orix may acquire as much as 49 percent of an insurance holding company in the Persian Gulf state, Inoue said in an interview on Monday last week. The Tokyo-based firm is now conducting due diligence to decide transaction terms, he said without naming the target or the seller. “The Middle East is interesting,” Inoue, 59, said. “There are many joint ventures with European financial firms there and we see opportunities as banks are now struggling with their businesses and want to sell non-core operations.” Orix is also considering investment in aircraft leasing, asset managers and other insurers in Middle Eastern countries as European firms sell assets to rebuild capital and retrench in their home markets, he said.
Ecuador lures airlines
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa is offering a temptation for airlines that schedule routes to his country: cheap fuel. Correa says the government will offer a 40 percent reduction in fuel prices for direct routes to and from cities such as Los Angeles, Vancouver, Frankfurt or Rome. He said in a regular weekly broadcast on Saturday the benefit would last for five years and airlines would have to promise to fly at least three times a week, but did not go into details. Correa says the aim is to improve connections, productivity, tourism and education in the country.
Cisco cutting workforce
Bondholders are giving Cisco Systems Inc a free pass on its plan to reward shareholders with half its free cash flow this year as the biggest maker of computer-networking equipment cuts prices and jobs to increase profit. Cisco’s bonds are trading at levels that imply it should be rated “Aa2,” according to Moody’s Corp’s capital markets research group, two levels above its actual rating of “A1.” Cisco’s fourth-quarter results beat analysts’ estimates and executives said last week that the company will raise its dividend 75 percent as part of a plan to reward shareholders with at least half the cash generated from operations. The firm’s stock reversed a 4 percent decline this year to a 5.2 percent gain on the news. Bondholders of California- based Cisco may not mind the shareholder largesse because of the firm’s “relatively strong balance sheet,” according to money manager Bonnie Baha of Los Angeles-based DoubleLine Capital LP.