Citigroup names new head
Troubled US banking giant Citigroup on Wednesday named as its new chairman Richard Parsons, a longtime top executive at media giant Time Warner, to steer it through its most challenging period. Parsons pledged to revamp the bank as it moves to split into two business entities amid retrenchments, massive losses and a deepening global financial crisis. Parsons will succeed Win Bischoff as chairman of the board of directors, effective Feb. 23. Bischoff, with the bank since 2000, will retire later this year.
Hyundai profits plunge
Hyundai Motor’s fourth-quarter profit fell sharply as the South Korean automaker absorbed increased branding expenditure while sales fell in its home market. Hyundai Motor Co earned 243.6 billion won (US$177.6 million) in the three months ended Dec. 31, down 27.9 percent from 338 billion won in net profit posted a year earlier, it said in a release yesterday. The company, which, with affiliate Kia Motors Corp, forms the fifth-largest automotive group in the world, said sales in the quarter rose 1.1 percent to 8.83 trillion won from 8.74 trillion won. For all of last year, net profit declined 13.9 percent to 1.45 trillion won, while sales gained 5.1 percent to 32.2 trillion won.
LG posts loss in Q4
South Korea’s LG Electronics said yesterday it swung to a loss in the fourth quarter of last year, hit by big shortfalls at its flat-screen panel unit and tougher competition. Its net loss for the period stood at 671 billion won (US$489 million) compared to a 621 billion won net profit a year earlier. Sales increased 12.2 percent to 6.59 trillion won, but the operating balance recorded a 309 billion won loss from a 154 billion won profit a year earlier.
Disney trims management
Walt Disney Co said on Wednesday that it had offered severance packages to about 600 executives at its theme parks and resorts in the US to cut costs in the economic downturn. Disney said the voluntary separation plan was made to managers earning US$100,000 or more per year in an effort “to contain costs and maximize efficiency.” “Given the continued uncertainty of the economic environment, we must manage our business even more productively,” Walt Disney Parks and Resorts spokeswoman Leslie Goodman said in a statement.
Belgium helps ailing KBC
Authorities in the Flanders region of Belgium have agreed to provide struggling bank KBC with 2 billion euros (US$2.6 billion) in exchange for a non-voting stake in its capital, KBC said yesterday. “The group is further strengthening its capital base by a two-billion-euro non-dilutive core capital issue to be subscribed by the Flemish regional government,” KBC said in a statement. “In addition, a stand-by core capital facility of 1.5 billion euros is also being provided,” it said.
No hiring of foreign workers
The government has banned the hiring of new foreign workers in the manufacturing and services sectors amid fears the economic crisis will lead to more job losses for locals, reports said yesterday. Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar told the New Straits Times there was no reason to bring in foreigners after a report found 45,000 people would be laid off over Lunar New Year.