UBS to cut 240 jobs
Switzerland’s biggest bank UBS said yesterday that 240 jobs would be cut from its wealth management division in the Asia-Pacific region as part of a cost reduction exercise. Despite the job losses, the region remains important for the company, UBS said in a statement from its Singapore office. The job cuts represent less than three percent of the bank’s total staff force in the region and under eight percent of its employees in the wealth management group, a UBS spokeswoman said. She said the job cuts extend across all levels within the wealth management group.
Alabama plant to close
The US subsidiary of French tire maker Michelin said on Monday it will shut a US plant in Alabama, where it employs 1,000 people, due to an “unprecedented” slump in demand. Michelin North America said the closure of the plant in Opelika, Alabama, by Oct. 31 was part of a restructuring plan for its manufacturing operations “in response to the unprecedented drop in market demand.” “The decision comes in the wake of the continuing economic crisis as consumers are driving fewer miles, purchasing fewer vehicles and delaying tire replacement purchases,” the company said in a statement.
Fortis reports loss
Fortis Bank, the former Belgian banking arm of stricken financial group Fortis, yesterday reported a loss of 20.6 billion euros (US$27.5 billion) for last year owing to the group’s break-up and losses on toxic assets. The bulk of the loss, which was roughly in line with a previous estimate, came from the “negative impact of 12.5 billion euros” relating to the parent company’s carve-up by the Dutch, Belgian and Luxembourg states. As part of a bailout of the group, Belgium took over Fortis Bank and is now in the process of selling a 75 percent stake to French banking group BNP Paribas. Shareholders in Fortis Holding are to vote on the sale of Fortis Bank to BNP on April 28 and April 29.
Shell talking to Chinese firms
Royal Dutch Shell is talking to Chinese oil companies about a possible bid to develop oil fields in Iraq, CEO Jeroen van der Veer said yesterday. “We are in the process of forming partnerships for certain bids, and Chinese companies are a part of that,” van der Veer said. He declined to say which potential partners Shell is talking to, or which fields they might bid on. Van der Veer said the deadline for bids is expected to be in late June or early July and details on partnerships would be announced then.
Mobile data use soars
People in Hong Kong people sent 14 times as much mobile data in January than they did in the same month two years ago, figures released yesterday revealed. The rise in the sending of mobile data from phones and hand-held computers also represented a four-fold increase on the figure from January last year, the territory’s telecommunications authority said. Figures from the authority show that there were 10.5 million mobile phone subscriptions in Hong Kong in January, equivalent to 1.5 subscriptions for every person in the former British colony. Every mobile phone customer sent an average of 41 SMS messages in January while the total number of SMS messages sent was 421.5 million, a 22 percent year-on-year rise.