Disney splits corporate roles
The board of The Walt Disney Co has amended its corporate governance guidelines to officially separate the offices of chairman and chief executive, a move hailed by corporate governance advocates who pushed for the change. The decision was announced on Thursday. Connecticut State Treasurer Denise Nappier, who had submitted a shareholder proposal to force the board to split the roles, said in a statement that: "This represents a significant victory for Disney shareholders and corporate governance advocates, and is certainly in the best interest of the company." Nappier had submitted the proposal on behalf of the state's pension fund. Disney's board first split the roles last year after shareholders delivered a stinging vote of no confidence in chief executive Michael Eisner. Disney is searching for a replacement for Eisner, who has said he will step down when his contract expires in 2006.
Analog chipmaker cuts jobs
National Semiconductor Corp, which makes analog chips used in cell phones, computers and televisions, said on Thursday it is cutting about 550 jobs, or about 6 percent of its global work force, as it copes with an inventory buildup and lower demand. About 450 jobs will be cut at factories and another 100 will be eliminated from other parts of the company, including its headquarters. It previously reported a headcount of about 9,000. In a statement, National said its factories ran at about 65 percent of capacity in its fiscal second quarter, down from the mid-90s during most of fiscal 2004.
Studios embrace HD format
Time Warner Inc's Warner Bros and two other US film studios will release movies in the next-generation HD DVD format proposed by Toshiba Corp by the end of the year. The titles will include Forrest Gump from Viacom Inc's Paramount Pictures and The Bourne Supremacy from General Electric Co's Universal Pictures, Toshiba said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. Support from the studios is key for Toshiba and NEC Corp, which are promoting HD DVD as an alternative to the Blu-ray format supported by Sony Corp, in the race to replace the current standard for digital video discs used in the US$22 billion home entertainment market. Toshiba plans to sell HD DVD players and notebook PCs with HD DVD drives by the end of the year, while NEC will deliver drives that read the format by September, the companies said.
Changhong denies takeover
China's Sichuan Changhong Electric Co (四川長虹), a leading domestic television maker, said yesterday it has no plans to acquire a US distributor that owes it hundreds of millions of dollars. Changhong issued the statement on the Shanghai Stock Exchange Web site after local media reported it was considering a takeover and what the company called other incorrect information. Last month, Changhong said it expected a substantial loss for 2004 because Apex Digital Inc, a US distributor known for its low-cost business model, failed to pay for hundreds of millions of dollars worth of sets.