Cash running out: GM
The target date for General Motors Corp (GM) to get its second installment of government loans passed last week, but a top company executive says he expected the money to arrive in the next several days. GM president and chief operating officer Fritz Henderson said without the second installment of US$5.4 billion, the company would run out of cash long before March 31. Last month, the US Treasury Department authorized US$13.4 billion in loans for GM and US$4 billion for Chrysler LLC to keep both automakers out of bankruptcy. GM received US$4 billion late last year and was to get US$5.4 billion on Friday and US$4 billion on Saturday.
Samsung replaces chiefs
South Korea’s Samsung Electronics, the world’s top memory chipmaker, said yesterday it was replacing the chiefs of most overseas units as part of a major overhaul to counter the recession. New bosses have been appointed at five out of eight regional headquarters, the latest move in what the firm described as the biggest reshuffle in its history. More than 80 percent of 1,200 staff at the firm’s Seoul headquarters have been posted to local production or marketing units.
Japan approves drugs
Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis has received approval from the Japanese authorities for four drugs, including a medication for the treatment of leukemia, the group said yesterday. Leukemia medication Tasigna, severe asthma medicine Xolair, high blood pressure drug Co-Dio and eye disease drug Lucentis can now be sold in Japan. Tasigna, Xolair and Lucentis generated sales of US$871 million in the first nine months of last year.
SG expects solid profits
French bank Societe Generale said yesterday it expected net profits last year to reach 2 billion euros (US$2.59 billion) and to break even for the fourth quarter despite an exceptionally rocky year. The bank, hurt by a massive trading loss early last year, cited “the solidity of its retail banking activities and its diversified business portfolio” as the reason for its overall solid performance last year.
Exports sharply down
South Korea’s exports fell sharply this month as recession gripped many overseas markets, Customs Service data released yesterday showed. Customs said that outbound shipments fell an estimated 29 percent to US$12.48 billion in the first 20 days compared with the same period last year. Imports fell 22.5 percent to US$17.05 billion, leaving a US$4.57 billion trade deficit. A state-run think tank yesterday forecast export growth of just 0.7 percent this year, the slowest since the East Asian financial crisis of a decade ago.
Bank scraps shipyard deal
A US$4.6 billion deal to sell South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering — the world’s third largest shipyard — to Hanwha has been called off, a news report said yesterday. The directors of the state-run Korea Development Bank (KDB) have decided to abort what would have been the shipbuilding industry’s largest acquisition to date, Yonhap news agency said, quoting an unidentified KDB official. Hanwha, a major conglomerate focused on chemical and energy firms, signed a deal in November to buy KDB’s 50.4 percent stake in the shipbuilder for 6.3 trillion won.