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Sat, Dec 14, 2002 - Page 12 News List

World business quick take

Economics

Friedman gets the job

US President George W. Bush on Thursday capped a sweeping overhaul of his economic team by appointing Stephen Friedman as his chief economic adviser, rejecting protests by conservatives who questioned the Wall Street veteran's tax-cutting zeal. Friedman, 64, will replace embattled National Economic Council chief Lawrence Lindsey, who was forced out last Friday along with gaffe-prone Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill. Wasting no time reaching out to his conservative critics, Friedman told a White House ceremony attended by Lindsey that he "strongly" shares Bush's "conviction that now is the time for a robust growth and jobs policy."

Airlines

UAL may make big labor cuts

United Airlines parent UAL Corp may need to reduce annual labor costs by more than US$1.5 billion to emerge from bankruptcy protection, UAL Chief Executive Officer Glenn Tilton said. The company had previously negotiated cuts in employee pay and benefits totaling US$5.2 billion over five-and-a-half years, or US$945 million a year. That amount was insufficient to gain government help. Those worker concessions were less than the US$1.5 billion the company said it wanted in August, and now the company may need more, Tilton said.

Microchips

Toshiba to invest in fabs

Toshiba Corp, the world's second-largest chipmaker, said it will invest Japanese Yen 350 billion (US$2.85 billion) in two plants making advanced chips for cell phones and other consumer electronics that use high-speed Internet connections. Toshiba will invest the money over the four years starting April 1, it said in a release. The plants, based in Oita and Aichi prefectures, Japan, will use silicon wafers measuring 300mm in diameter, larger than conventional 200mm wafers. Increasing wafer size reduces manufacturing costs by boosting the number of chips that can be cut from a single piece of wafer.

Software

Adobe Systems' profits rise

Adobe Systems Inc, the world's largest maker of software for publishers and graphic designers, said fourth-quarter profit rose as sales increased for the first time in a year-and-a-half. Net income rose to US$40.1 million, or 17 cents a share, in the quarter ended Nov. 29 from US$34.3 million, or 14 cents, a year earlier, the company said in a statement distributed by Business Wire. Sales rose 11 percent to US$294.7 million from US$264.5 million a year ago. The software maker's sales rebounded after the worst advertising slump since the Great Depression caused customers to cut spending on software.

Future outlooks

Japanese more optimistic

Business outlook among Japanese companies improved in the October-December quarter, although the recovery is not expected to last in months ahead, according to a central bank survey released yesterday. While still in negative territory, the Bank of Japan's quarterly "tankan" survey of corporate sentiment improved for a third straight quarter. The confidence of major manufacturers rose to minus 9 from minus 14 in July-September. The index gives the percentage of companies saying conditions are bad subtracted from those reporting conditions are good. The negative numbers show corporate sentiments are grim. Japan has been struggling in a decade-long slowdown.

Agencies

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