US is in recession: Buffet
While economists quibble, the world’s richest man has decided: the US is already in recession. So Warren Buffett tells German magazine Der Spiegel in an interview to be published tomorrow. “It is perhaps not a recession in the way that economists would understand it ... but people are already feeling the effects and it will be deeper and longer than people think,” Buffett said on a visit to Frankfurt. Buffett, the 77-year-old chief of the Berkshire Hathaway holding company, blamed financial institutions for introducing instruments “they can no longer control” and said the “genie can no longer be put back in the bottle.”
MTN merger talks shelved
An Indian telecommunications company has called off merger talks with South Africa’s largest mobile phone network operator, MTN Group Ltd, a company statement said. Bharti Airtel Ltd said late on Saturday that it was pulling out of talks with MTN because the South African firm had presented a different merger structure from what had been agreed to earlier this month. Discussions were held with MTN until Friday without a breakthrough, Bharti Airtel said. MTN could not immediately be reached for comment.
Union Fenosa faces pressure
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said his government will nationalize Spanish electricity provider Union Fenosa SA unless it cedes 16 percent of its shares to his government. Fenosa agreed to sell the shares for about US$15 million under a preliminary deal, but both sides are still negotiating final details. “Either they respect the agreement,” Ortega said in a speech late on Friday,” or that company will be in the hands of the Nicaraguan people, in the hands of the state.” Nicaragua’s government accuses Fenosa of breaching its concession agreement by failing to invest enough to improve infrastructure in the energy-starved country.
Menu Foods sets up fund
Canadian pet food manufacturer Menu Foods, blamed for the deaths of dozens of cats and dogs in North America, has set up a US$24 million settlement fund to deal with a slew of US legal suits. The company last March recalled 60 million cans and pouches of food made in the US and sold under 95 different brand names after reports that house pets were falling sick and dying after eating their products. The recall cost Menu Foods more than US$30 million dollars, and was prompted by the deaths of five company pets and nine laboratory cats of renal failure. Veterinarians in Canada and the US subsequently reported similar cases.
Nuclear reactor shut down
Tokyo Electric Power Co, Japan’s biggest power utility, said it shut down a nuclear reactor at its power plant in Fukushima Prefecture, northern Japan, because the reactor’s cooling system wasn’t functioning. Both the high-pressure injection system and the reactor core isolation cooling system at the plant’s No. 5 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power unit weren’t functioning, forcing the company to shut down the reactor manually, the company said on its Web site. It will be shut down until Tokyo Electric can determine the cause of the problem, said Toshiyuki Yajima, a spokesman for the utility.