Honda switches to English
Honda Motor Co made English the official language of global meetings, as the Japanese automaker shifts decisionmaking power to regional units. Honda CEO Takanobu Ito informed global employees of the change in April, John Mendel, executive vice president of the Tokyo-based company’s US sales unit, said in an interview at the LA Auto Show in Los Angeles. Mendel was promoted to Honda’s North American management committee last year, in an earlier move by Ito to localize business decisions. The automaker’s move follows language conversions by Japanese companies including Fast Retailing Co, Asia’s biggest apparel seller, and Rakuten Inc, the country’s biggest Internet mall.
Novartis to buy back shares
Novartis AG plans to buy back US$5 billion in stock over two years and said it would expand in faster-growing areas of healthcare such as treatments for skin and heart diseases. The share repurchase will begin immediately, the Basel, Switzerland-based company said in a statement before its annual investor day yesterday. Novartis will develop new business segments in dermatology, heart failure, respiratory illnesses and cell therapy, it said. “Novartis has reached an inflection point, having fully integrated Alcon and reduced debt,” CEO Joseph Jimenez said. “We are now further sharpening the execution of our strategy to strengthen shareholder value through science-based innovation in high-growth segments of healthcare where we have the global scale, competitive advantage and the right capabilities to win.”
Drop in users hits Pandora
Pandora Media Inc, the biggest US online radio service, reported a third-quarter loss after spending more on development, marketing and overhead as it defends its turf against new competition. The net loss was US$1.7 million, or US$0.01 per share, compared with a profit of US$2.05 million a year earlier, the Oakland, California-based company said in a statement on Thursday. Excluding items, profit of US$0.06 matched the average of 22 analysts’ estimates, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Pandora reported a drop in active users last month and continues to increase spending on marketing and sales staff to attract more listeners and advertisers. It has also released new programs for Apple Inc devices and new applications for Google Inc’s Android and Chromecast as total costs in the quarter jumped 53 percent to US$181.9 million from a year earlier.
Credit outlook positive
Standard & Poor’s increased the outlook of Romania’s junk credit rating to “positive” from “stable” and said it may upgrade it in the second half of next year depending on fiscal rigor and sales of state assets. The country’s long-term government bond rating was maintained at “BB+,” one level below investment grade and on a par with Croatia and Indonesia, S&P said yesterday in a statement. Romania has struggled to shed its junk rating for five years, embarking on one of the US’ toughest austerity programs in 2010 by cutting state wages 25 percent and raising the value-added tax by 5 percentage points. The government secured a third international bailout loan this year and has narrowed the budget gap to an estimated 2.5 percent of GDP this year, from 7.2 percent in 2009.