Citigroup plans streamlining
Citigroup, reeling from the subprime mortgage crisis, said on Friday it planned to sell roughly US$400 billion in assets in a streamlining reorganization aimed at restoring the US banking giant to profit. The announcement was made by the new chief executive, Vikram Pandit, in a presentation to the financial community on the ailing bank’s strategy. Citigroup has hemorrhaged nearly US$45 billion in the past nine months in losses and write-downs amid soured subprime-related bets. The bank said it wants to sell the non-core assets, representing about 20 percent of its US$2.2 trillion in assets, over the next two or three years. The vast majority of the assets to be shed are within its consumer banking and securities banking operations.
Qantas faces worker action
Qantas Airways Ltd, Australia’s biggest airline, faces overtime bans and stop-work meetings by maintenance engineers starting next week, after refusing to improve a pay offer. The actions, notified by the engineers’ labor association, will probably result in delays for passengers on Friday and May 23, Sydney-based Qantas said late on Friday in an e-mailed statement. The airline said it planned to ensure all travelers reach their destination on those days. Qantas is refusing to break its wage policy of 3 percent annual pay increases and a 1 percent additional pension contribution. The Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association has rejected the offer, the Sun-Herald said last Sunday, citing president Paul Cousins.
JVC, Kenwood set to merge
Japanese electronics manufacturer Victor Co of Japan Ltd (JVC) and Kenwood Corp have reached a final agreement to merge on Oct. 1 under a holding company, a newspaper reported yesterday. The two companies, which were working out details of their merger plan, are expected to announce the accord as early as Monday, the Nikkei business daily said. They will then seek shareholder approval at their respective general shareholders meetings late next month, the daily said.
Facebook to follow MySpace
Facebook Inc is loosening its grip on millions of personal profiles to allow inhabitants of its popular Internet hangout to transplant the information and applications to other Web sites. With the changes announced Friday, Facebook joins a growing movement to make it easier for people to share their favorite pictures, information and applications with family and friends anywhere on the Internet. Facebook, which has about 70 million users worldwide, unveiled its plans the day after its bigger rival, News Corp’s MySpace, made a similar commitment. Unlike MySpace, Facebook plans to allow users to take their personal profiles to any Web site that wants to host them.
Lula scoffs at US risk rating
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva marveled at the US’ “zero risk” financial rating on Friday, raising some laughs as he wondered how ratings agencies could call the troubled US economy perfectly safe. “I’m amazed to see that the American risk is zero. It’s in a miserable crisis, and there’s no risk,” Silva said at the inauguration of a gas pipeline in Espirito Santo state. “Brazil’s risk [and] Russia’s risk increase, but the Americans, who are in debt up to here, have zero risk,” Silva said. “It’s an invention of the ratings agencies, that’s what I think.”