Swiss Re’s Aigrain resigns
Jacques Aigrain has stepped down as chief executive officer of Swiss Re, the world’s largest reinsurer, and will be replaced by Stefan Lippe, the group announced yesterday in a statement. Lippe, 53, who has been with the group for 25 years, moves up from his position as deputy CEO position and chief operating officer, the company said. The group last week announced it expected net losses for last year of 1 billion Swiss francs (US$860 million).
Call centers returning to US
United Airlines confirmed on Wednesday that it was closing its call center in India and transferring 165 jobs to the US, which is reeling from layoffs amid recession. The move came about a month after UAL Corp, parent of the third biggest North American carrier, said it was cutting 1,000 more jobs, pushing the total to 9,000 by year’s end, to help stem losses. The jobs in India will be transferred to call centers in Chicago and Honolulu, Hawaii, and filled by workers who now handle reservations, the Chicago-based airline said.
Yamaha may announce loss
Sluggish motorcycle sales and the strong yen are expected to push Japan’s Yamaha Motor Co into a loss for the first time in 26 years this year, the company said yesterday. Yamaha, which also makes boat engines and all-terrain vehicles, said it would cut hundreds more jobs to cope with the economic downturn. The group forecast a net loss of ¥42 billion (US$467 billion) for next year. Revenue is expected to decline 22.1 percent to ¥1.25 trillion. Net profit fell 97.4 percent last year to ¥1.85 billion, the company said.
Renault profits down
French carmaker Renault yesterday announced a 78 percent drop in net profits for last year to 599 million euros (US$774 million) as demand for new cars dried up. Full-year revenue fell 7 percent last year to 37.79 billion euros after plunging 29 percent in the last quarter alone as sales dried up. The group said its priority for this year was to produce positive cash flow by reducing costly inventories, pulling back on investment and continuing to force down fixed costs. It gave no financial forecasts for the year.
Bayer to open Beijing center
German pharmaceutical company Bayer AG said yesterday it would invest 100 million euros (US$129 million) in a new global research and development center in Beijing over the next five years. China is the third largest market worldwide for the Bayer group, and it will become the third country besides Germany and the US to host such a center for its Bayer Schering Pharma unit. “We are continuously increasing our presence in the Asia Pacific Region where China is our key growth driver,” Andreas Fibig, chairman of Bayer Schering Pharma’s board of management, said in a statement.
Senate rejects package
The Australian Senate yesterday rejected the government’s proposed A$42 billion (US$28 billion) stimulus package designed to boost the economy in the face of the global financial crisis. But Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the legislation would be reintroduced to parliament later in the day in “the national economic interest” and the government would not be deterred from taking “whatever action is necessary.”