World Business Quick Take


Sun, Oct 16, 2011 - Page 10


S&P lowers BNP Paribas

Standard and Poor’s (S&P) on Friday lowered the rating of French bank BNP Paribas one notch to “AA-,” citing funding and liquidity concerns, but held the ratings of the country’s other top banks steady. The ratings for Credit Agricole, Societe Generale, BPCe, Credit Mutuel, Caisse Central and the Federal Bank of Credit Mutuel were held at the lower rating of “A+.” S&P lowered the stand-alone credit profiles of these banks, but increased its estimate of the government support they would likely receive in case of difficulty. S&P said the tighter funding conditions would weigh on European banks’ earnings and were pushing the banks to reduce their balance sheets.


Qantas to cut 400 flights

Qantas Airways Ltd, Australia’s biggest carrier, said it would cut almost 400 domestic flights affecting 60,000 passengers for the next month as a result of labor union strikes. Bans on overtime by engineers caused a backlog of maintenance and forced the grounding of five aircraft from next week, Sydney-based Qantas said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. While a planned four-hour strike in Adelaide and one-hour stoppages in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide have been postponed for two weeks, this “will not help get these five grounded aircraft back up in the air,” said Olivia Wirth, a spokeswoman for Qantas. Workers from the airline’s engineering, long-haul pilots and ground crew unions have held strikes, used public address systems to criticize Qantas and banned overtime as they seek higher pay and job security clauses in contracts.


China panel duties mulled

The US must take action against unfairly subsidized solar panel imports from China and other suppliers that threaten the future of US producers, a US lawmaker said on Friday. The US solar industry has been hit hard by competition from China and other countries, which offer cheap financing and other forms of subsidies to support the sector. US Representative Sander Levin, who met with solar industry representatives earlier on Friday, said that without government intervention there could be no US-made solar panels within five years. Levin, a senior Democrat in the US House of Representatives, told reporters one option would be to impose “safeguard” tariffs on Chinese-made solar panels, similar to duties US President Barack Obama placed on Chinese-made tires. However, Levin said he was also concerned about government subsidies South Korea and other producers receive, which suggests a broader approach could be required.


Google Buzz to end

Google is getting ready to press the mute button on Buzz, an online social networking service that turned into a massive faux pas. Buzz will be shut down within the next few weeks, according to a Friday post on Google Inc’s blog. The 20-month-old service probably won’t be missed. If anything, Buzz is destined to be remembered as Google’s botched attempt to build a social network to rival Facebook’s online hangout. Google is now focusing its social networking efforts on Plus, a three-and-a-half-month-old service that has been catching on quickly. Plus already has more than 40 million users and Google CEO Larry Page seems confident it will become an effective weapon for fighting the threat posed by Facebook and its audience of 800 million users.