Global business briefs

  • November 5, 2012 - 4:49 PM
Global business

Apple shook up its senior management. Scott Forstall, who oversaw the befuddled rollout of Apple's new mapping service, which prompted techie rage in the blogosphere, is leaving the company, as is John Browett, who had been in charge of retail operations for only six months.

Netflix's share price, which has tumbled from its peak in 2011, jumped by 14 percent. Investors were buoyed by word that Carl Icahn, a renowned investor, has amassed a 10-percent stake in the video-streaming and DVD-rental company. Icahn expects to see "consolidation in this industry."

Panasonic took markets by surprise when it reported an $8.7 billion quarterly loss as it wrote down its business in solar panels, batteries and mobile telephones. The struggling Japanese electronics company, which had been expected to show a small profit, is headed for another big annual loss of around $10 billion.

Sony posted its seventh straight quarterly loss and cut its forecast for the number of cameras, television and game consoles it expects to sell this year.

Fiat's share price fell sharply after it outlined a turnaround plan. It is only the latest European carmaker to do so in an effort to cope with what Fiat calls a "carmageddon" in sales. Instead of closing factories, however, the company will make more top-end Alfa Romeos and Maserati models in Italy and give over more production to exports.

Even as it was hoping to put the LIBOR rate-fixing scandal behind it, Barclays faced fresh investigations into its business in America. Regulators are looking at the bank's capital-raising efforts during the financial crisis, when it turned to the sovereign-wealth funds of Abu Dhabi and Qatar for cash, to make sure that the investments comply with America's Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Also, a federal energy commission sought to fine Barclays $470 million for manipulating energy securities in California four years ago, which it denies.


Moody's put six of Canada's biggest banks on review with an eye to downgrading their credit ratings. At the height of the financial crisis, Canadian banks were often praised for their prudence and Canada's financial system was singled out as the strongest in the world by the World Economic Forum. However, Canada's household debt as a proportion of disposable income has surged, leading to now-familiar warnings about the dangers of debt-fueled economic growth.

UBS unveiled more drastic cost-cutting measures, as it shrinks its investment bank to become less capital-intensive and refocus on wealth management. The Swiss bank is shedding 10,000 jobs. Some of the losses were brutally immediate: This week dozens of traders turned up to work at offices in London to find that their security passes were no longer recognized.

The former UBS trader whose alleged rogue trades caused a $2.3 billion loss took the stand at his trial. Kweku Adoboli denies the charges, and partly blamed a "huge cultural change" at the Swiss bank that caused executives to push traders to take greater risks.

Political economy

America's economy grew by a better-than-expected 2 percent in the third quarter, according to a first estimate from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. It was the 13th consecutive quarter of economic expansion in America. Since the middle of 2009, quarterly output has risen by an average of 2.2 percent.


India's central bank held its main interest rate at 8 percent, despite being prodded to cut rates by the government, which unveiled a five-year plan to reduce the budget deficit. There also was a big cabinet reshuffle. The Reserve Bank of India did lower the cash-reserve ratio for banks by a quarter of a percentage point, to 4.25 percent, to boost lending. The bank is trying to tackle India's twin troubles of a slowing economy and rising inflation.

Bahrain banned all protests amid clashes between antigovernment demonstrators and police. The interior minister said "repeated abuse" of the right to freedom of expression could no longer be accepted, and that protests would be permitted only after security and stability are restored.

Silvio Berlusconi railed against Italy's judicial system after he was convicted in a tax-evasion case. The former prime minister, who was given a prison sentence and banned from holding office, claimed that the case was a politically motivated put-up job, and wants to appeal the verdict. His punishment will not take effect unless a higher court upholds the conviction.

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