Business News - part 41

Toyota Faces Largest Recall Yet With 7.4 Million Vehicles

Toyota Faces Largest Recall Yet With 7.4 Million Vehicles

BUSINESS

  • Recall questions Toyota’s ability to resolve quality and safety issues
  • Toyota sales up almost 32%, regains crown as world's top-selling automaker during first half of 2012
  • Recent recalls could have negative impact

In what is being called the largest recall in Toyota Motor Corp.’s 75-year history, the automotive giant is now recalling more than 7.4 million vehicles worldwide because of a faulty power window switch that has been deemed a potential fire hazard.

The recall is raising questions about Toyota’s ability to resolve quality and safety issues, considering recalls it experienced back in 2009 and 2010, involving over 10 million vehicles. In fact, Toyota’s president Akio Toyoda has appeared before Congress to provide an explanation for the company’s amount of recalls.

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Walmart Launches Prepaid Amex Debit Card For US Retail Customers

Walmart Launches Prepaid Amex Debit Card For US Retail Customers

BUSINESS

  • Walmart prepaid debit card lets customers pay for purchases anywhere American Express cards are accepted; withdraw money from ATMs
  • Partnership to open up new customer base for American Express
  • Market for prepaid debit cards expected to grow to $150 billion in 2012

The world’s biggest retailer Walmart Stores Inc. is offering customers a new prepaid debit card, called Bluebird, in partnership with American Express Co.

The new card will be available in 4,000 Walmart stores across the US and online this month. The card lets customers pay for purchases anywhere American Express cards are accepted and use it to withdraw money from automatic teller machines.

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$65 Billion Price Tag for Alaska Liquefied Natural Gas Megaproject

$65 Billion Price Tag for Alaska Liquefied Natural Gas Megaproject

BUSINESS

  • Scope of 10-year LNG megaproject includes storage tanks, liquefaction plant and 1,300-km pipeline
  • Sale of natural gas from North Slope could bring in up to $20 billion in annual revenue
  • Alaskan officials anticipating project will help region dominate global LNG industry

Oil & gas leaders Exxon Mobil Corp, BP Plc and ConocoPhillips along with energy leader TransCanada Corp project expenses to total between $45 billion and $65 billion for their new megaproject, which serves to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Alaska’s North Slope to international markets.

The three oil producers agreed in March to collaborate with TransCanada on this project of “unprecedented scale and challenge.” It may take more than 10 years to construct the megaproject’s storage tanks and liquefaction plant as well as the 1,300-kilometer (800-mile) pipeline from the North Slope to the southern coast of Alaska carried over from a 2010 TransCanada proposal.

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Kraft Foods Now Split Into Kraft Foods Group, Mondelez International

Kraft Foods Now Split Into Kraft Foods Group, Mondelez International

BUSINESS

  • Kraft Foods Group to focus on North America and manage Maxwell House, Oscar Mayer, Planters, Velveeta, Miracle Whip, and JELL-O brands
  • Mondelez to retain Cadbury, Jacobs, LU, Milka, Nabisco, Oreo, Tang and Tridentbrands
  • Kraft has work to do to generate enhanced sales in US

Kraft Foods Inc. (KRFT), a long-time worldwide leader in the food and beverage industry, has completed the previously announced spin-off of its North American grocery business, Kraft Foods Group, Inc. and is now operating as two companies – Kraft Foods Group and Mondelez International Inc., an international snacks business.

According to Kraft management, the spin-off will let the two companies develop their own culture, operating model, organizational structure and financial strategies customized to their unique businesses, markets and select opportunities.

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Mining Strikes Across South Africa Affect Production Of Metals And Minerals

Mining Strikes Across South Africa Affect Production Of Metals And Minerals

BUSINESS

  • Nearly 75,000 diamond, iron ore, gold and platinum miners on strike, production disrupted
  • Mining represents 6% of South African gross domestic product
  • Truckers strike affecting South African mining shipments

Coal mine officials in South Africa, the world’s largest coal supplier, are cautiously watching events in other sectors of the mining industry in the hopes wildcat strikes won’t spread.

Analysts say the coal sector is less likely to strike compared to gold or platinum because coal mines are located at the surface, and the work is less dangerous. They are also better paid and have better living conditions.

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US Auto Sales Reach Highest Point Since March 2008

US Auto Sales Reach Highest Point Since March 2008

BUSINESS

  • More than 1 million vehicles sold in the US in September
  • All automakers saw sales increases in the US except for Nissan
  • Consumers taking advantage of record-low interest rates

Automobile sales in the Unites States reached their highest rate this September since March 2008 as consumers took advantage of record low-interest rates to replace their aging vehicles.

Sales this past month were 12.8% higher than in September 2011. In total, slightly more than 1 million vehicles were sold, putting the industry on track to reach a target of nearly 15 million vehicles unit sales in 2012. 

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T-Mobile USA Targets Major Players With MetroPCS Merger

T-Mobile USA Targets Major Players With MetroPCS Merger

BUSINESS

  • Deutsche Telekom aims to reel in Sprint, Verizon, AT&T with merger
  • Deutsche Telekomto retain 74% stake in new company
  • T-Mobile USA lost 2.7 million subscribers in past two years

Deutsche Telekom is to merge its T-Mobile USA division with MetroPCS Communications, creating a new major player in the United States to challenge the big-three wireless operators.

The new entity, which will retain the T-Mobile name, will count 42.5 million customers with $24.8 billion in revenue, and Deutsche Telekom will hold a 74% stake.

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US Retailer Macy’s To Hire 80,000 Employees For Holiday Shopping Season

US Retailer Macy’s To Hire 80,000 Employees For Holiday Shopping Season

BUSINESS

  • Macy’s sees a 2.6% increase in seasonal employee hiring since last year
  • Macy’s outperforming key competitors JC Penney and Kohl’s
  • Toys R US, Walmart and Kohl’s also hiring more seasonal staff

Major American retailer Macy’s Inc, which runs both Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s department stores, plans to hire 80,000 seasonal employees this year, or a 2.6% increase from 2011 when 78,000 people were hired.

The retailer plans to offer positions at distribution, fulfillment and call centers as well as for in-store operations and sales. Hiring has already begun, but the sales associate positions are yet to be filled. The majority of the seasonal positions are part time.

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End Of Consumer Inkjet Printer Production For Kodak

End Of Consumer Inkjet Printer Production For Kodak

BUSINESS

  • Kodak to stop inkjet printer production to focus on commercial printing business
  • Kodak in period of restructuring, hoping to recoup $600 million loss prior to bankruptcy
  • 23% reduction in Kodak staff expected to save $340 million a year

Photography leader Eastman Kodak Co., or Kodak, has decided to stop selling consumer inkjet printers and focus instead on providing printing, packaging and related services to businesses.

Having filed for bankruptcy protection last January, Kodak is also seeking to prolong its exclusivity period for submitting a bankruptcy protection exit plan to February 28; this request will be reviewed in October.

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Sony Set to Buy Majority Stake in Olympus for $645 Million

Sony Set to Buy Majority Stake in Olympus for $645 Million

BUSINESS

  • Purchase part of Sony’s plan to expand medical-equipment business
  • Olympus controls 70% of world endoscope market
  • Sony, Olympus to launch new company that develops, manufactures and sells medical equipment

Sony Corp., Japan’s largest electronics exporter, plans to invest $645 million for an 11.5% stake in Olympus Corp., the world’s largest endoscope maker, in a deal that will mutually benefit both companies.

Sony has had four straight years of financial losses, while Olympus is recovering from an accounting scandal after a former chairman pled guilty to covering up $1.7 billion in losses.

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