Panasonic bosses’ pay cut
Panasonic president Kazuhiro Tsuga and chairman Fumio Ohtsubo will have their salaries halved as part of a move to take the blame for the firm’s financial woes, the company said yesterday. Tsuga and Ohtsubo have been returning 40 percent of their pay since November last year voluntarily, while other executives have also given back up to 20 percent of their wages, a spokeswoman said. As of July, the program will be made official, she said.
European car sales drop
European car sales are sliding to a 20-year low after German concerns over the ongoing debt crisis sent demand plunging last month in the region’s biggest economy and removed the main buffer protecting automakers. Registrations last month fell 10 percent to 1.35 million vehicles, the 18th consecutive monthly decline, with Germany’s auto market plummeting 17 percent, the Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association said yesterday in a statement. First-quarter deliveries in the region dropped 9.7 percent to a record low 3.1 million cars.
Unemployment rate rises
The unemployment rate rose to 7.9 percent of the workforce in the three months to the end of February from 7.8 percent in the three months to the end of January, official data showed yesterday. The number of unemployed increased to 2.563 million from 2.516 million over the same period, the Office for National Statistics said. The number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance meanwhile fell last month by 7,000 to 1.53 million.
Tesco profits plunge 95%
British supermarket giant Tesco yesterday said its annual net profits slumped 95 percent, and confirmed its costly exit from the US market. Earnings after taxation tumbled to ￡124 million (US$190 million) in its 2012-2013 financial year, compared with ￡2.806 billion last time around, Tesco said in a results statement. Profits nosedived as Tesco took a ￡1.2 billion hit from its struggling US division Fresh & Easy, and also booked a ￡804 million writedown on the value of its property portfolio in Britain.
ING to sell share in US unit
ING Groep NV says it will sell a 25 percent stake in its US arm for about US$1.4 billion to US$1.5 billion in an initial public offering (IPO), as part of measures demanded by the European Commission to compensate after ING received a bailout from the Dutch government in 2008. ING US has insurance, investment and retirement businesses. The IPO price range suggests ING US is worth US$6 billion, less than half the US$14.2 billion the company had valued it on its books. The company yesterday said it would use proceeds to pay down debt.
Lockheed turns to OTEC
US defense contractor Lockheed Martin on Tuesday announced plans to build a green energy power plant that will use variations in ocean water temperature to generate electricity, taking a big step toward making the 130-year-old concept commercially viable. Lockheed signed an agreement on Saturday in Beijing with the privately held Reignwood Group to build the 10-megawatt offshore plant that will provide energy for a new luxury resort on Hainan Island. It will use what is known as ocean thermal energy conversion technology (OTEC).