Suntech in bankruptcy court
Suntech Power Holdings Ltd (尚德電力), one of the world’s biggest solar panel manufacturers, was forced into bankruptcy court on Wednesday, becoming the latest casualty of a painful slump in the global solar industry. Suntech Power said eight Chinese banks asked a court to declare it insolvent after the company missed a US$541 million payment to bondholders last week. Suntech said it would not oppose the petition. “While we evaluate restructuring initiatives and strategic alternatives, we are committed to continuing to provide high-quality solar products to our global customer base,” Suntech chief executive officer David King (金緯) said in a statement.
Manufacturing picks up
The nation’s manufacturing rebounded modestly this month after dipping during the country’s biggest public holiday the month before, a survey showed yesterday, in a sign of gradual recovery in the world’s second-biggest economy. HSBC’s preliminary version of its purchasing managers’ index for this month rose to 51.7 on a 100-point scale. A reading above 50 indicates expansion. The reading “implies that the Chinese economy is still on track for gradual growth recovery,” HSBC’s chief China economist Qu Hongbin (屈宏斌) said in a statement.
Rare earths found on seabed
Japanese researchers said yesterday they have found a rich deposit of rare earths on the Pacific seabed, with reports suggesting it could be up to 30 times more concentrated than Chinese reserves. Mud samples taken from 5,800m below the waves contained highly concentrated amounts of the precious minerals, which are vital for high-tech manufacturing and used in products including wind turbines and iPods. Scientists believe the seabed contains about 6.8 million tonnes of the materials, the equivalent of 220 to 230 years worth of rare earths used in Japan.
Oracle reports flat Q3
Oracle Corp on Wednesday reported flat earnings for its fiscal third quarter, hurt by a drop in sales of hardware systems and new software. Shares tumbled in after-hours trading on the weaker-than-expected results. Revenue from new software licenses and online subscriptions fell 2 percent year-on-year to US$2.3 billion. The company had predicted that number would rise by 3 percent to 13 percent. Sales of hardware systems products dropped 23 percent.
FedEx cuts profit forecast
Global package delivery giant FedEx on Wednesday reported lower quarterly earnings and slashed its profit guidance for this fiscal year, citing weakness in the international freight market. FedEx reported net income of US$361 million for the third quarter that ended February 28, down 31 percent from a year earlier. Revenue rose 4 percent to US$11 billion, about US$100 million below the firm’s forecast.
Lufthansa hit by strikes
German airline Lufthansa said yesterday it has canceled more than 670 European flights owing to warning strikes by ground staff and other divisions within the group. Already on Wednesday, Lufthansa had said it would cancel most of its domestic and short-haul flights between 5am and midday local time at the airports of Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf, Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne as well as several other locations.