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Tue, Apr 14, 2009 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■AUTOMOBILES

GM may go bankrupt: report

The US Treasury Department has told General Motors (GM) to make all necessary preparations for a possible bankruptcy filing by June 1, even though the troubled automaker insists it can restructure its business on its own, the New York Times reported late on Sunday. Citing unnamed people “with knowledge of the plans,” the newspaper said the instructions had been conveyed by members of President Barack Obama’s automotive task force, who spent last week in meetings and on conference calls with GM in Detroit and Washington. The talks are expected to continue this week, the report said, adding that the goal is to prepare GM for a fast “surgical” bankruptcy. The automaker already has been granted US$13.4 billion in federal aid, and its managers are insisting the company’s image should not be damaged.

■TELECOMS

BT to cut 10,000 jobs

British telecoms operator BT will cut 10,000 jobs when it reveals its preliminary results next month, reports said on Sunday. BT will also make a £1.5 billion (US$2.2 billion) writedown in its under-fire Global Services division and slash its dividend by about 60 percent, the Daily Telegraph’s Web site said. The job losses, which the report said will be in addition to the 10,000 job cuts BT made last year, are expected to be spread across the company’s 160,000-strong global work force.

■TELECOMS

SK in US$150m loan talks

SK Telecom Co, South Korea’s largest mobile-phone operator, is in talks with banks to raise up to US$150 million for working capital from a three-year loan, a person with direct knowledge of the transaction said. Lenders that committed about US$100 million to the so-called club loan include Calyon and DBS Group Holdings Ltd, said the person, who asked not to be identified as the talks are private. Seoul-based SK Telecom, which has investments in the US, China and Vietnam, said on Thursday it planned to enter overseas markets and roll out new services to offset slowing growth at home.

■PHARMACEUTICALS

Express to buy NextRx units

Express Scripts Inc has agreed to buy WellPoint Inc’s NextRx subsidiaries for US$4.68 billion, the companies said in a statement. NextRx subsidiaries provide pharmacy benefits management services to about 25 million Americans and manage more than 265 million adjusted prescriptions annually. The companies said the deal includes a 10-year contract for Express Scripts to provide services to WellPoint, the largest US health insurer by membership, which will retain control of medical policy, formulary and integrated disease management in the subsidiaries.

■OIL

Prices slide below US$52

Oil prices fell below US$52 a barrel yesterday in Asia after the International Energy Agency (IEA) said it expected global crude demand to drop this year amid the worst worldwide recession in decades. Benchmark crude for delivery next month fell US$0.40 to US$51.84 a barrel by midday in Singapore in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract on Thursday rose US$2.86 to settle at US$52.24 a barrel. Trading was closed on Friday for the Lenten holiday. The Paris-based IEA, an energy policy adviser comprising 28 countries, said on Friday that demand this year will likely fall by 1 million barrels a day to 83.4 million barrels, or 2.8 percent lower than last year.

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