Amazon strikes in Germany
Workers at Amazon.com’s German operations were set to go on strike yesterday, in the middle of the crucial Christmas holiday season, in a dispute over pay that has been raging for months. The Verdi union said workers would strike in Amazon’s logistic centers in Bad Hersfeld and Leipzig and, for the first time, in Graben. A delegation of German workers also planned a protest at Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle, helped by US workers unions. Today, workers in Amazon’s center in the German town of Werne are to protest, Verdi said.
Brazil to boost growth
Brazil will shun creative accounting as it bolsters its fiscal situation next year and increases transparency, Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega was reported as saying on Sunday. Brazil is seeking to bolster sagging growth, which has suffered in the global downturn of recent years, while also combating above-target inflation and low competitiveness. However, Mantega said in an interview published on Sunday that the Brazilian government expects its fiscal position to improve as it raises taxes. He said he believed ratings agencies would maintain Brazil’s rating of “BBB,” the second-lowest investment-grade level, even if that was placed on negative watch earlier this year by Standard & Poor’s.
Ex-UBS exec faces court
A former top UBS executive is due in US court for the first time on Sunday after his extradition from Italy for helping thousands of Americans hide billions of dollars from the taxman. Raoul Weil, 54, was extradited earlier this month, five years after his indictment by a US federal grand jury in 2008 for his alleged role in overseeing cross-border business. The Swiss national was arrested in mid-October after using his real name to check into a luxury hotel in Bologna. He has denied the allegations against him.
Carrefour to buy malls
French big-box retailer Carrefour plans to buy dozens of shopping malls next to its hypermarket stores. The retailer said on Saturday that it and eight investors would buy 127 malls in France, Italy and Spain from Paris-based Klepierre for 2 billion euros (US$2.75 billion). Carrefour already owns 45 malls in France. All the shopping centers will be held by one new company. Carrefour has been struggling for years, even before the European debt crisis decimated its biggest markets, and has seen a dizzying string of strategy changes. Georges Plassat took over as chief executive last year, pledging to cut costs and make the company a leader again in the all-in-one hypermarkets it has historically excelled at. The deal needs regulatory approval, but should close in March or April next year.
Toshiba to buy into UK
Toshiba’s US unit Westinghouse is close to announcing plans to buy Spanish utility Iberdrola’s 50 percent stake in British nuclear consortium NuGen for over ￡100 million (US$163 million), the Financial Times reported, citing sources. The Japanese-owned engineering group will announce the move within days, the paper said, citing people close to the talks. NuGen, a joint venture of Iberdrola and French utility GDF Suez, owns a site at Sellafield on the remote northwest coast of England where it plans to build 3.6 gigawatts of nuclear capacity. Winning a majority stake in NuGen would give Toshiba a foothold in pro-nuclear Britain.