■ BankingSumitomo to sue UFJ
Japan's Sumitomo Trust and Banking Co plans to file a damages suit worth US$913 million against UFJ Hold-ings over its abrupt switch of merger partners, news reports said yesterday. As a first step, Sumitomo Trust is considering filing a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court next month, seeking a court order to halt merger talks between UFJ Holdings and Mitsubishi Tokyo Finan-cial Group Inc, news reports said. Mitsubishi Tokyo and UFJ announced in mid-July plans to merge all of their operations but UFJ had previously agreed in prin-ciple to combine its trust bank unit with Sumitomo Trust. The Supreme Court in late August rejected Sumi-tomo Trust's request for a provisional injunction against the UFJ-Mitsubishi Tokyo merger talks, saying Sumitomo Trust will not "suffer from considerable damage" in the case. But the court also acknowledged Sumitomo Trust's exclusive negotiating rights to bid for UFJ's trust arm.
Northwest pilots OK pay cut
Leaders of the union for Northwest Airlines pilots voted unanimously to endorse a tentative agree-ment that will cut pilot compensation by US$265 million annually. The Master Executive Council of the Northwest branch of the Air Line Pilots Association voted 10-0 ON Saturday to submit the two-year deal to union members for their ratification. ``We believe this agreement is in the best interest of Northwest pilots and our company,'' council chairman Mark McClain said in a statement. North-west has said it needs US$950 million a year in worker concessions to avoid bankruptcy. The pilots were the first bargaining unit at the carrier to agree.
Opel workers want promise
Workers at an Opel car plant in Germany demanded assurances that there would be no compulsory layoffs as a condition for ending a stoppage prompted by parent company General Motors' announcement of sweeping job cuts. The stoppage at the plant in Bochum started on Thurs-day after GM said it likely would cut 12,000 jobs in Europe by the end of 2006 under a cost-cutting pro-gram for its money-losing Opel, Vauxhall and Saab operations. The majority of the job cuts would be in Germany. GM Europe presi-dent Carl-Peter Forster singled out the aging factory in Bochum as having a "competitiveness issue." GM Europe's program is aimed at saving US$620 million in annual costs by 2006.
■ Market research
JD Power explores options
JD Power & Associates, the research firm best known for its surveys of cars and other consumer products, has hired a firm to explore options that could include selling the privately held company, according to newspaper reports. The company hired Evercore Partners Inc, an investment firm with offices in New York and Los Angeles, according to The Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times. ``We're in the early stage and every option is on the table,'' said Tom Shaver, a senior partner at JD Power. He said the company was mulling whether to raise additional funding for "ambitious growth opportunities" that were identified in a recent in-house study. JD Power, which has more than 600 employees worldwide, built its reputation researching consumers' opinions and preferences toward automobiles, surveys frequently quoted by auto makers.