PM issues China directive
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has instructed civil servants to make plans to end the UK’s reliance on China for vital medical supplies and other strategic imports in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Times reported yesterday. The plans, which have been code named “Project Defend,” include identifying the UK’s main economic vulnerabilities to potentially hostile foreign governments as part of a broader new approach to national security, the newspaper reported, adding that the efforts are being led by Secretary of Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Dominic Raab. Two working groups have been set up as part of the project, according to the report, with one source telling the Times that the aim was to diversify supply lines to no longer depend on individual countries for non-food essentials. Johnson told lawmakers that he would take steps to protect Britain’s technological base, with the government review also expected to include personal protective equipment and drugs, the report said.
Borrowing sets record
Britain’s government last month borrowed more than it has done in any month on record, pushing up a measure of public debt to close to 100 percent of economic output. April’s borrowing of ￡62.1 billion (US$75.80 billion) was six times higher than in the same month last year and March’s figure was revised up sharply to almost ￡15 billion as the government’s emergency job-saving scheme began. Public debt, including the Bank of England’s massive bond-buying, jumped to nearly 98 percent of GDP, reflecting higher borrowing and a lower estimate of the size of the economy based on a scenario by Britain’s budget forecasters. That was the highest share of GDP by that measure since 1963, the Office for National Statistics said. The office also said that British retail sales last month fell by the most on record, as much of the sector was shuttered by the government’s COVID-19 lockdown.
IBM reduces US workforce
International Business Machines Corp (IBM) cut an unspecified number of jobs across the US, eliminating employees in at least five states. The company declined to comment on the total number, but the workforce reductions appear far-reaching. “IBM’s work in a highly competitive marketplace requires flexibility to constantly add high-value skills to our workforce. While we always consider the current environment, IBM’s workforce decisions are in the interest of the long-term health of our business,” company spokesman Ed Barbini said in a statement on Thursday. IBM is offering subsidized medical coverage to all affected US employees through June next year, he said.
Nissan planning job cuts
Nissan Motor Co is planning to cut more than 20,000 jobs across the world as the Japanese automaker grapples with factories and showrooms that have been shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kyodo News reported. The outbreak is forcing Nissan to cut back on production and restructuring measures in Japan are also being considered, the news agency reported. The job reductions are part of a mid-term reorganization plan that Nissan is due to unveil on Thursday next week, Kyodo said. The reduction is much larger than the 12,500 staff cuts Nissan announced in the middle of last year.
With the speed cryptocurrency is emerging as the millennial generation’s alternative asset of choice in India, it is hard to imagine that just two years ago a couple of blockchain pioneers were briefly in police custody. Sathvik Vishwanath and Harish BV, cofounders of a then five-year-old start-up, were arrested in late 2018. No, they had not pulled off a shady initial coin offering. Their “crime” was that they put up a kiosk in a mall in Bangalore where customers could swap bitcoin, ether or ripple for cash or vice versa. That was the whole point of unocoin, their crypto token exchange.
A Chinese factory owned by South Korean semiconductor giant SK Hynix Inc yesterday halted operations after a plant worker was found to have an asymptomatic infection of COVID-19, Xinhua news agency reported. The South Korean worker based at the plant in Chongqing since February had departed on Thursday for South Korea, Xinhua reported. He was tested at Incheon Airport in Seoul and confirmed positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, it reported. All factory staff as well as staff and recent guests at the hotel where the worker lived have been isolated and given nucleic acid tests, the agency said. “We’re cooperating with the local government
FIVE NEW FABS: An acquisition of Siltronic would boost GlobalWafers’ market share from 17 to 30 percent, easily surpassing Japanese rival Sumco’s 25 percent GlobalWafers Inc (環球晶圓) yesterday said it is in final talks to acquire Germany-based Siltronic AG in a 3.75 billion euro (US$4.5 billion) deal, which might help it compete with its closest rival Sumco Corp of Japan. The acquisition would be the fifth for GlobalWafers since 2008, as it has grown to become the world’s No. 3 supplier of silicon wafers through such deals. GlobalWafers, which has a 17 percent market share, would see its market position greatly elevated to 30 percent when combined with Siltronic’s 13 percent, according to a presentation Siltronic gave to its investors at a quarterly conference in August. Sumco
A year of crisis for the lira has kept people in Turkey buying gold at a record pace. Now the appetite for more bullion risks becoming a drag on the currency just as a rally struggles to regain momentum. In the two weeks after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cleared out the leadership ranks blamed for failing to stabilize the lira and draining reserves, Turkish retail investors and firms added US$2.2 billion to their gold holdings, taking them to US$36.4 billion, or almost triple the total last year, Turkish central bank data showed. People are not relenting in their zeal to own