Aeromexico, union ink deal
Aeromexico, Mexico’s biggest airline, and its unionized workers forged a last-minute accord early on Saturday to avoid a strike that could have grounded about 300 flights and cost 150 million Mexican pesos (US$11.7 million) a day, but delayed a decision on a crucial sticking point. The union, known as ASSA, represents about 1,300 Aeromexico flight attendants. ASSA had threatened a midnight strike if it did not get a 5 percent salary hike and 3 percent boost in benefits. ASSA rejected an early proposal by the airline that combined a slightly smaller pay raise with “new competitive conditions” for future hires that the union said would unfairly slash their pay. In its final offer, the airline proposed to raise attendants’ salary immediately by 4.7 percent, boost benefits by 1.5 percent and set up a committee to make a decision on the prickly issue of new employee contracts by July 1.
Ghana ends fuel subsidies
Ghana on Saturday ended its subsidies on fuel, hiking the prices of petroleum products as the growing west African economy struggles with a skyrocketing deficit. “This adjustment completely removes the subsidies on petrol, diesel and liquid propane gas,” National Petroleum Authority chief executive Alexander Mould said in a statement. The statement said the cut would cause only a minimal increase in prices. However, the prices of petroleum products will be more susceptible to fluctuations on the international market. Gasoline and liquefied petroleum gas will go up by 3 percent, while diesel will rise by 2 percent. Ghana had been under pressure from the IMF to cut fuel subsides after its budget deficit ballooned to 12.1 percent of GDP last year, double its target for the year.
Echo defends monpoly
Echo Entertainment Ltd plans to invest at least A$1 billion (US$960 million) to fend off Australian billionaire James Packer’s attempts to break the company’s Sydney casino monopoly. The operator of the city’s Star Casino and Crown Ltd, the gaming company controlled by Packer, have prepared rival proposals for developments on the shores of Sydney Harbour, with the New South Wales State Government saying it will approve only one project. Echo’s plan requires investment of more than A$1 billion, chief executive John Redmond said in a TV interview yesterday on Channel Nine’s Financial Review Sunday. “I have nothing against Crown or nothing against James Packer,” he said. “This is really an investment in Echo’s future. It should be only one casino and one city.”
Woori Bank buyer sought
South Korea’s government aims to sell Woori Finance Holdings Co’s main banking unit by the end of next year after it failed three times to offload its 57 percent stake in the country’s biggest financial group by assets. “We will try to designate a new owner of Woori Bank” by the end of next year, South Korean Financial Services Commission Chairman Shin Je-yoon told reporters on Saturday, according to pool reports e-mailed from the agency yesterday. Authorities are open to selling Woori Finance’s units “in pieces,” he added. Seoul is reviving plans to sell its 5.5 trillion won (US$4.9 billion) stake after it received no bidders for the shares last year in its third sale attempt since 2010. The Public Fund Oversight Committee, which oversees sales of state assets, is studying all options to sell Woori Finance and will announce details by the end of this month, Shin said.