Duties imposed on gum
The US Department of Commerce on Friday said it had set preliminary duties up to 154 percent on imports of a food additive and thickening agent from China and Austria to offset what it said were unfairly low prices. The ruling is a victory for CP Kelco, a family-owned Atlanta-based company which filed a petition last year asking for anti-dumping duties on xanthan gum from the two countries. The US imported US$25 million of the gum from Austria and US$64 million from China in 2011. The department set a preliminary duty of 17.18 percent on imports from Austria and duties ranging from 21.69 percent to 154.07 percent on imports from China. The department will issue final duty determinations in May.
Hulu CEO to leave in April
Hulu LLC chief executive officer Jason Kilar said he is leaving the online video service two months after receiving a multimillion-dollar payout. Kilar, 41, will step down by April and is working with Hulu’s board on a transition, according to a statement yesterday on the company’s Web site. Chief technology officer Rich Tom will also exit. “The loss of Jason is a negative for all the media companies involved,” BTIG LLC analyst Rich Greenfield wrote in an e-mail. “Consumers lost one of the few executives who really understood how to put the consumer experience and user interface ahead of the business model.”
Bookseller’s sales fall flat
Barnes & Noble Inc posted a decline in retail sales in the holiday season as the largest US bookstore chain’s efforts to take on Apple Inc’s iPad with tablet-style Nooks fell flat with shoppers. Sales sank 11 percent to US$1.2 billion, the New York-based company said yesterday in a statement. Revenue at the Nook unit, which includes devices, accessories and content, fell 13 percent to US$311 million. The retailer released two new versions of the Nook tablet for the holidays, around the same time Apple introduced a smaller version of the iPad designed to keep customers from buying low-cost tablets from competitors. “Success of the iPad mini likely pressured sales of Nook tablets,” Stifel Financial Corp analyst David Schick wrote in a note yesterday. “It’s a challenging marketplace for them to compete with the likes of Apple and Amazon,” Michael Souers, an analyst at Standard & Poor’s in New York, said today in an interview. “It looks pretty bleak, long-term.”
Pilots offered unpaid leave
Singapore Airlines (SIA) has asked its captains to volunteer for unpaid leave amid a global economic slowdown that has dented long-haul travel demand, the airline said yesterday. The move came nearly a year after the company — considered a bellwether for the full-service airline industry — made a similar offer to its first officers. The airline has also frozen its intake of cadet pilots as part of a slew of cost-cutting measures. SIA has “a temporary surplus of pilots and are managing it through this scheme, which is entirely voluntary,” company spokesman Nicholas Ionides said. “The surplus of captains is limited and we regard it as temporary,” he added. SIA has more than 2,400 pilots — mostly captains and first officers. The global financial crisis had led to excess capacity and slower growth than anticipated, Ionides said.