Mitsubishi to cut 900 jobs
Mitsubishi Motors is preparing to cut some 900 more jobs as Japanese automakers downsize to cope with a slump in demand, media reports said yesterday. Japan’s fourth-largest automaker will not renew contracts for selected temporary workers at a factory in Kurashiki in western Japan, public broadcaster NHK said. The local Sanyo Shimbun said in its online edition that the factory had already terminated 250 jobs by the end of last month and the fresh job cuts could push the total number of layoffs above 1,000. “The layoff is inevitable for us to cope with the rapid fall in sales,” a factory official told the Sanyo.
Central bank cuts key rate
The central bank cut its key interest rate by half a percentage point yesterday in a bid to stimulate growth amid the global recession and easing inflationary pressures. Bank Indonesia cut its benchmark rate by a higher-than-expected 50 basis points to 8.75 percent, officials said. “Inflationary pressures continued to ease in recent months as a result of falling commodity and energy prices,” central bank governor Boediono said. The year-on-year inflation rate slowed to 11.06 percent last month from 11.68 percent in November following a cut in retail fuel prices.
Dow sues for damages
Dow Chemical Co, the largest US chemical maker, said on Tuesday it plans to seek more than US$2.5 billion in damages from Kuwait for canceling a joint venture just days before its launch. A US$17.4 billion deal between Kuwait’s state-run Petrochemical Industries Co and Dow fell through on Dec. 28. The joint venture would have enabled Dow to acquire rival Rohm & Haas, the world’s largest maker of acrylic paint ingredients. Dow would have gained about US$7.5 billion after taxes from Kuwait’s investment. Petrochemical Industries was to buy a 50 percent stake in Dow’s commodity plastics unit. The agreement failed amid opposition from Kuwaiti parliamentarians who said it was overpriced.
LyondellBasell unit bankrupt
The US arm of chemical giant LyondellBasell Industries has filed for bankruptcy as the recession continues to weaken demand for products made from chemicals. LyondellBasell said on Tuesday that one of its European holding companies had also filed for bankruptcy protection and that it arranged for up to US$8 billion in financing to keep operating. LyondellBasell, based in the Netherlands, is the world’s third-largest independent chemical company. The company warned last week that bankruptcy was an option as consumer demand continued to slow. The company had disclosed last month that several lenders let it postpone US$160 million in loan payments, and credit agencies cut its ratings to junk status.
Apple cuts iTunes prices
Apple Inc closed its final appearance at the Macworld trade show on Tuesday by cutting the price of some songs in its market-leading iTunes online store to as little as US$0.69 and disclosing that soon every track would be available without copy protection. Apple’s top marketing executive, Philip Schiller, said iTunes songs would come in three pricing tiers: US$0.69, US$0.99 and US$1.29. Record companies will choose the prices, which marks a significant change, since Apple previously set all songs at US$0.99.