Top Business Stories
Bates, the former Skype CEO in charge of Microsoft's business development, will leave immediately, technology news site Re/code reported on Sunday citing unnamed sources. Bates, who has also worked at Cisco Systems Inc, was considered one of the potential CEO candidates to succeed Steve Ballmer, who announced in August that he would retire. Eric Rudder, head of advanced strategy, will temporarily take up Bates' duties and marketing executive Chris Capossela will replace Reller, the report said. Reller, one of the top female executives at the company and co-head of Microsoft's Windows unit, will remain with Microsoft for some time to help with the transition.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating Citigroup for accounting fraud after it disclosed bogus loans in its Mexican Banamex unit, a source familiar with the investigation said. The securities regulator is also examining whether Citigroup violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the source said. An employee at Banamex has been questioned by Mexican police after being suspected by the bank of involvement in the loan scheme, another source familiar with the police investigation said. Citigroup said on Friday it had found $400 million in bad Banamex loans and was reducing its full year profit by $235 million to $13.67 billion, after the bank had first reported its 2013 earnings more than one month ago.
Boeing Co is considering a slower build rate and other options to keep production of its EA-18G electronic attack planes running into 2017, and give Congress time to add more orders, a top company executive told Reuters in an interview. The St. Louis production line for Boeing's F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers is slated to shut down after 2016 unless the Pentagon's No. 2 supplier wins additional U.S. or foreign orders for the planes soon. U.S. Navy officials often laud the performance, on-time deliveries, and low operating cost of the Super Hornet and Growler aircraft, which fly from U.S. aircraft carriers. But U.S. defense officials say the Pentagon's 2015 budget will not fund any more of the Boeing planes given competing budget demands and a growing focus on Lockheed Martin Corp's next-generation F-35 fighter, which has three models, including a carrier-based model for the Navy.
Two former directors of Ecobank defended CEO Thierry Tanoh and said he is under pressure to resign because he is dealing with governance problems that allegedly took place before his tenure began at one of the biggest banks in sub-Saharan Africa. Evidence of those purported breaches should emerge in a report by professional services firm EY that was commissioned by the bank, Lawson told Reuters, calling allegations against Tanoh that have occurred since that board meeting a "smokescreen".
Part-nationalized Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L) is working on a plan to salvage its troubled Irish business, Ulster Bank, by merging it with a number of rivals, the Sunday Times newspaper reported. Attempts to find a buyer for the business have failed and a team inside RBS is looking at tie-ups between Ulster and other lenders, such as Permanent TSB or the Irish units of Danske Bank (DANSKE.CO) or KBC (KBC.BR), the newspaper reported. Bolting the institutions together could allow the new Ulster Bank to strip out costs and mount a credible challenge to Ireland's top players. Ireland's finance minister Michael Noonan said on Saturday he would like a "significant" new bank with a big balance sheet to enter its lending market this year to drive competition in the diminished sector.
Swiss pharma group Novartis (NOVN.VX) will work more closely with rival Roche (ROG.VX) but rules out a merger, its chairman said in a newspaper interview on Sunday. Asked whether the two companies wanted to stay independent, Joerg Reinhardt, who took over as Novartis chairman in August, told Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung: "Absolutely." He said, however, that he'd met outgoing Roche Chairman Franz Humer a few weeks ago and was also exchanging emails with his successor Christoph Franz. Both Roche and Novartis are based in Basel in north-western Switzerland.
Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection (CBP) awarded its subsidiary a contract to deploy border surveillance technology in southern Arizona. Known as the Integrated Fixed Tower contract, it includes a base period quantity and options that CBP may exercise over several years. Currently, CBP awarded the base period quantity for a portion of the $145 million total contract amount, to be implemented over one year, Elbit said on Sunday. "Arizonans have been waiting more than a decade for the Department of Homeland Security to place the needed technology along our border to support the Border Patrol and fully secure our southern border," U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona said in a separate statement.
When Tokyo asked for bidders to build what is expected to be the world's largest fish market on the city's vacant eastern edge there were no takers. In a graphic illustration of how the hopes for "Abenomics" are falling short, the city was forced to raise by two-thirds its budget for the project to more than $1 billion before some of Japan's top construction companies stepped forward. "Wages and material costs are rising, and that's why we failed to attract bidders the first time we tried," said Koji Ishii, a city official overseeing the project, on a sprawl of landfill at Toyosu, next to Tokyo Bay. Tokyo's predicament highlights a deeper problem for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's economic revival plan for Japan, comprising his "three arrows" of hyper-easy monetary policy, fiscal spending and growth-generating structural reform.
The main shareholder in Ecobank (LAG:ETI), one of the biggest banks in sub-Saharan Africa, called on Saturday for its Ivorian chief executive Thierry Tanoh to be dismissed immediately. The South African government-owned Public Investment Corporation's (PIC) demand was made in a letter to the interim chairman of the bank, which is headquartered in Togo and is listed in Nigeria and Ghana and on the West African regional bourse BRVM.
Veteran food industry investor C. Dean Metropoulos is seeking a new owner for Pabst Brewing Co, best known for blue collar-turned-hipster favorite Pabst Blue Ribbon label, people familiar with the matter said. Los Angeles-based Pabst, whose beer and malt liquor labels also include Schlitz and Old Milwaukee, has hired boutique investment bank Perella Weinberg Partners to assist with the effort, the people said on Saturday. While the sale process is still at an early stage and detailed financial information is not available, Pabst is expected to fetch between $500 million and $1 billion, some of the people said. Representatives for Metropoulos, Pabst and Perella Weinberg could not be immediately reached for comment.
Warren Buffett on Saturday signaled he plans to make more large acquisitions for Berkshire Hathaway Inc to expand his conglomerate, which posted a record profit in 2013 with the help of a recovering U.S. economy. "America's best days lie ahead," Buffett, 83, said in his annual letter to Berkshire shareholders. "Charlie and I have always considered a 'bet' on ever-rising U.S. prosperity to be very close to a sure thing," he added, referring to his 90-year-old vice chairman Charlie Munger. The annual letter is widely read not just by Berkshire shareholders, but by investors and others looking for wisdom and guidance from the so-called Oracle of Omaha, the world's fourth-richest person.