■ Labor relations
IBM settles out of court
Information technology giant IBM on Wednesday said it had agreed to pay US$65 million to settle a class action lawsuit concerning overtime pay. IBM said that litigation "would have been lengthy, burdensome and expensive, and IBM chose to resolve it." The case, filed in January in the federal district court in San Francisco, focused on current and former IBM employees in the "Technical Services Professional" and "Information Technology Specialist" categories. The dispute centered on whether those employees, who sometimes worked nights and weekends, were skilled professionals and therefore exempt from extra payment.
■ Mobile phones
NEC trims China presence
Troubled Japanese electronics giant NEC Corp has significantly reduced its presence in China's mobile phone market, the world's largest, due to continued heavy losses, state press said yesterday. Japan third largest electronics company has stopped manufacturing operations in Wuhan city in central China and will not offer new models of second generation handsets on the mainland, the China Daily said. The company will now turn its attention to third generation, or 3G, technology services, it said. NEC's partial exit from China follows in the wake of other big name Japanese brands, including Mitsubishi, Panasonic and Toshiba.
Lone Star terminates deal
US private equity group Lone Star Funds said yesterday it was terminating its contract to sell its controlling stake in Korea Exchange Bank to Kookmin Bank. "We have concluded that we cannot move forward with the sale of KEB to Kookmin Bank due to the continuing investigations surrounding Lone Star's investment in KEB and KEB's subsequent rescue of its credit card subsidiary, which have been extended several times and now have no firm completion date," John Grayken, chairman of Lone Star Funds, said in a statement.
Podcast use rising, slowly
A growing number of US citizens are listening to podcasts, but very few do so every day. The Pew Internet and American Life Project said on Wednesday that 12 percent of Internet users have downloaded a podcast, an increase from 7 percent earlier in the year. However, only about 1 percent said they download a podcast on a typical day -- unchanged from the survey earlier this year. "While podcast downloading is still an emerging activity primarily enjoyed by early adopters, the range of content now available speaks to both mainstream and niche audiences," said Mary Madden, senior research specialist at Pew.
Magnate cuts GM stake
Billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian announced on Wednesday that he had cut his stake in General Motors after failing to engineer a global alliance of the US auto giant with the Renault-Nissan group. Kerkorian's personal holding company, Tracinda Corp announced that it had reduced its stake in GM to 7.4 percent from 9.9 percent. Tracinda, of which Kerkorian is the only shareholder, sold 14 million GM shares at a price of US$33 in a "private transaction," according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The sale provided Kerkorian with some US$462 million. Kerkorian, 89, was once Chrysler Corp's largest shareholder, began boosting his GM holdings last year.