Swan blames tax for deficit
Treasurer Wayne Swan yesterday admitted that it was politically “very uncomfortable” to fail to return the budget to surplus as forecast, but blamed unprecedented shortfalls in government revenue. Swan, who will deliver his sixth annual budget tomorrow, said a year ago that the national accounts should come out of deficit this financial year. However, a fall in tax revenues has forced him to delay the surplus. Swan first announced the backdown on the budget surplus in December last year and has since confirmed revenue writedowns of at least A$17 billion (US$17 billion) for the financial year.
JPMorgan CEO mulls exit
JPMorgan Chase & Co chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon said he may consider leaving the bank, where he has held the top post since 2005, if shareholders vote to split his duties, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday. Shareholders will vote later this month at an annual meeting in Tampa, Florida, on a non-binding proposal to separate the chairman and chief executive roles after a more than US$6 billion trading loss last year raised questions about risk oversight. The results of the vote will be announced on May 21, but it remains unclear what the board will do if the proposal passes.
Berlin wants more reform
Germany wants further reforms and savings in crisis-hit eurozone states, according to a report prepared by German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office and obtained by Der Spiegel magazine in which Berlin evaluates progress made under strengthened EU budget rules. In yesterday’s edition, Der Spiegel cited the report as saying that there was “further room for labor market liberalization” in Italy, while further reforms to overcome rigid labor laws in Greece and Spain were “essential.” The report also said that to improve its finances, France had increased its revenue intake, but also needed to cut spending.
‘Bild’ downsizing reported
Up to 200 jobs could be slashed at top German tabloid Bild, as its publishing group seeks to make about 20 million euros (US$26 million) in savings, Der Spiegel magazine reported yesterday. Citing “several informed sources,” the news weekly said publishers Axel Springer were looking to cut between 170 and 200 jobs at Bild, the most widely read daily newspaper in Europe. Der Spiegel said that Axel Springer had set aside 50 million euros for “structural changes” and there would be redundancies at the group. Employees at the Bild daily, the paper’s Web site and Berlin local tabloid B.Z. would be transferred to a subsidiary, Bild Digital, the report said.
Fight for Dell intensifies
A battle for US computer giant Dell Inc heated up on Friday as corporate raider Carl Icahn and other investors made a new offer and called a planned buyout led by company founder Michael Dell a “giveaway.” The investor group, which holds about 13 percent of Dell shares, said in a regulatory filing it would urge shareholders to reject the private equity buyout and opt instead for its “superior” recapitalization plan, keeping the company public. Icahn has allied with Southeastern Asset Management to block plans announced this year by Michael Dell and investment fund Silver Lake Partners to take the company private in a US$24.4 billion buyout.