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Hitachi to spin off units amid reshuffle



The changes reflect concern within Hitachi about the scale of this year’s expected losses – equivalent to almost a third of shareholders’ equity as of March 2008 – but analysts were sceptical that the move would lead to radical change at the sprawling group.

In response, Hitachi promised on Monday to cut costs by Y500bn, equivalent to 4.6 per cent of last year’s operating expenses. Of that, Y200bn will be cuts to fixed costs and Y300bn will come from a lower procurement bill, which is falling anyway because of raw material price declines.

Etsuhiko Shoyama, outgoing chairman and former president, will remain on the board and is likely to wield influence, as will outgoing president Kazuo Furukawa, who will also stay on the board as deputy chairman.

sprawling 不規則に広がる[伸びる],手足をぶざまに伸ばした.

procurement 調達,買い上げ

wield 〈権力・武力などを〉ふるう,掌握する

deputy 代理(人)

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Barclays moves to sell iShares arm



John Varley, chief executive of Barclays, has so far resisted accepting government capital, on the grounds that a state shareholding would restrict room for manoeuvre, and has turned to Middle East investors in a rights issue instead.

However, officials have made clear that, if Barclays chooses to participate, they would expect to subject the bank’s entire balance sheet to scrutiny.

manoeuvre/maneuver (窮地を逃れたり,相手をだましたりするための)巧妙な処置,策略,工作

subject to 受けなければならなくて,〔…を〕条件として

scrutiny 精密な調査[検査]

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Welch condemns share price focus



The former General Electric chief told the Financial Times the emphasis that executives and investors had put on shareholder value, which began gaining popularity after a speech he made in 1981, was misplaced.

“On the face of it, shareholder value is the dumbest idea in the world,” he said. “Shareholder value is a result, not a strategy . . . Your main constituencies are your employees, your customers and your products.”

GE “will be the locomotive pulling the GNP, not the caboose following it”, he was quoted as saying.

condemn 強く非難する

misplace 置き違える

on the face of it 一見したところでは, 表面上は 《★普通は結果的にはそうでない場合に用いる》.

constituency 地盤,得意先,顧客

caboose (貨物列車最後尾の)乗務員車

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Citi buoys global markets



Global stock markets rallied on Tuesday after Citigroup’s revelation that it had a strong start of the year ignited investor hopes that the first quarter would bring some solace to the battered financial sector

The last rescue, announced a fortnight ago, will turn the US government into Citi’s largest shareholder, with a stake of up to 36 per cent.

The Citi chief added that in January and February alone – two months in which investment banks did well because of a partial thawing of credit markets – the bank generated top line revenues of $19bn before markdowns.

buoy 〈…を〉支える,〈望みなどを〉つなぐ

revelation 発覚,天啓

solace 慰め

batter 打ち壊す

fortnight 2 週間

thaw 〈凍結したものが〉解ける

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BofA withdraws job offers to foreign MBAs



A spokesman for the bank said: “Recent changes in legislation made it necessary for Bank of America to rescind job offers it had made to students requiring H-1B sponsorship.”

Some supporters of freer migration have criticised the Tarp measure for threatening to cut the US off from foreign talent and encouraging tit-for-tat retaliation by other countries.

One concern for business school deans is that students who have traditionally studied in the US may go elsewhere. “There might be an inclination for people from around the world to vote with their feet,” says David Schmittlein, dean of MIT’s Sloan school of management in Boston.

rescind 〈法律・条約などを〉無効にする,廃止する,撤廃する

tit-for-tat 売り言葉に買い言葉,しっぺい返し

inclination 好み,傾向,

vote with one's feet 退席して反対の意思を表わす

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Expansion of LNG threatens gas glut



A huge expansion of global capacity for producing liquefied natural gas is set to bring additional volumes on to an already depressed global market.

Mr Harris said that companies with LNG projects due to come on stream this year “would not be rushing hell for leather to get production at full tilt”, and the additional volumes coming on to the market were likely to be well below the planned increase in capacity.

However, projects under construction cannot be deferred indefinitely. So if the new plants do not reach full production this year, they are likely to do so next year. “2010 may be the really horrendous year,” Mr Harris said.

glut 供給過剰

liquefy 液化する

hell for leather 猛スピードで

at full tilt 力いっぱいで,全速力で

horrendous 恐ろしい,ものすごい

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Goldman executive’s share sale capped



Top Goldman Sachs executive Jon Winkelried, will be barred from selling most of his shares in the bank when he steps down as one of its presidents at the end of this month because of a provision in the 2008 deal to sell a stake to Warren Buffett.

The agreement with Mr Buffett was noteworthy because Mr Winkelried – who remains co-chief operating officer and president until he steps down – will still be bound by the contract after he leaves Goldman.

An avid horseman, he owns a ranch in Colorado.

bar 〔+目+from+doing〕〔…しないように〕〈…を〉妨げる,はばむ

noteworthy 注目すべき; 顕著な

bound 〈人を〉(法律・契約などで)〔ある状態に〕縛る

avid 貪欲(どんよく)な

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Investors fear GE will lose triple A rating



The two scenarios have haunted GE’s shares in recent weeks, even as the company took steps to shore up its beleaguered finance arm, GE Capital, by diverting $9.5bn in cash from the corporate parent this quarter and slashing the company’s dividend.

The stock fell for the 11th time in the past 14 sessions and has lost almost 60 per cent of its value this year, prompting GE to write to investors on Wednesday seeking to assuage fears for GE Capital’s stability.

beleaguer 〈…を〉取り巻く,〈…に〉付きまとう

assuage 緩和する,やわらげる

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AIG still facing huge credit losses



“There was no oversight of the financial products division. This was a hedge fund basically that was attached to a large and stable insurance company.”

oversight 監視

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BofA chief calls Merrill aid ‘mistake’



BoA received an initial $25bn from the Treasury in September. It requested a further $20bn at the end of December as the scale of Merrill’s losses eclipsed BofA’s initial forecasts.

“In hindsight, it was a tactical mistake because it put us in the same category as Citigroup,” said Mr Lewis.

Mr Lewis said that it would have been better to request only $10bn for that purpose. He said that could have helped to curtail investor fears that further problems were in the offing.

Mr Lewis has come under fire for paying close to $20bn to acquire Merrill Lynch just as the ailing investment bank was posting $15bn in fourth-quarter losses, and then asking the government for aid to keep the deal afloat.

eclipse 〈幸福などに〉暗い影を落とす; 〈…の〉光を奪う

hindsight 後で考えると

curtail 削減する; 縮小する

in the offing 近い将来に

ailing 病気の[で], 患って(いる); 悩んで(いる)

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Mutineers face trial after Dhaka massacre



Bangladesh’s new civilian government is to charge 1,000 paramilitary border guards with murder and arson as the administration tries to pacify a military furious at the slaughter of up to 130 senior officers in last week’s Bangladesh Rifles’ mutiny.

Sheikh Hasina Wajed, the prime minister, has vowed to establish special tribunals to try the mutineers after the weekend discovery of mass graves containing the bodies of at least 60 senior officers and their relatives.

For Sheikh Hasina – who took power two months ago after parliamentary elections ended two years of military rule – the crisis will test already fraught relations with the army, which historically has better ties with the Bangladesh Nationalist party, led by Khaleda Zia.

The authorities were on Sunday scouring drains, ponds, and areas surrounding the Rifles headquarters in search of the bodies of those missing, as a shocked nation was presented with more details of the atrocity.

The senior army officers that command the Rifles, a paramilitary border protection force, had last week poured into their Dhaka headquarters for the annual durbar – a chance for troops to raise grievances with their commanders.

The insurrection by the guards – who are not part of the regular army but are commanded by army officers – was quelled on Thursday, after Sheikh Hasina initially offered an amnesty then later warned she would use force to crush the mutiny.

The extent of the killing has fuelled frenzied speculation that the uprising was far more than just a spontaneous outpouring of long-simmering anger at the Rifles’ low pay, poor working conditions, and high-handed treatment by their officers, as the mutineers had claimed.

Syed Ashraful Islam, a spokesman for Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League, said initial investigations indicated the attack was planned and that the mutineers had outside assistance, though he did not elaborate.

General Moeen U. Ahmed, the army chief who has publicly affirmed the military’s loyalty both to the administration and the prime minister, on Sunday spoke to senior officers at the Dhaka cantonment.


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Indonesia sells $3bn in debt at discount



The new issue premiums were, at 55 and 50 basis points, respectively, however, conspicuously lower than sovereign offerings by Brazil, Mexico and Columbia earlier this year.

conspicuously 著しく,目立って

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Tata sets Nano launch date



Tata Motors on Thursday set April as the launch date for the Nano, the world’s cheapest car, in a bold gamble that India’s largest automaker hopes will revive its plummeting sales.

The heavily-indebted group said the mini-car, whose price would start at Rs100,000 ($1,948), would go on sale in April, ending months of delays after political strife at its original plant near Calcutta, eastern India, forced it to shift the factory.

Tata executives argue the Nano’s rock-bottom price makes it the perfect product to launch during an economic crisis.

“It fits my budget and now fuel prices too are down,” said Mr Verma, who somehow crams his whole family onto the scooter.

“No more getting drenched in the monsoon,” said one of his daughters, referring to Mumbai’s punishing rainy season.

plummet 〈人気・物価などが〉急落する

strife 争い

rock-bottom (価値などの)最低,どん底

somehow どうにかして

cram 詰め込む,押し込む

drench びしょぬれにする

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AIG considers break-up in bid to stay afloat



It also could provide a template for carving up other troubled financial groups – such as Citigroup – should they be brought under government control, the people involved say.

But people involved in the talks say that company could disappear if the government decides to recoup taxpayers’ investments in the insurer by selling or listing the three divisions separately.

Insiders said the new rescue plan was precipitated by AIG’s deepening financial woes – which were caused by a sharp rise in unrealised losses in its investment portfolio – and its difficulties in selling large assets to repay the current loan.

One of AIG’s most prized assets, American International Assurance, its Asian business that was once valued at $20bn, attracted lukewarm interest. Potential bidders have been deterred by turbulent conditions in insurance and credit markets.

carve up 〈領土などを〉(勝手に)分割する.

recoup 〈損金などを〉〔…から〕取り戻す; 埋め合わす

precipitate 早める,促進する

woe 災難,災い

deter やめさせる,思いとどまらせる

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Bernanke calms nationalisation fears



Stress tests of big US banks that start this week are unlikely to lead to any of them being seized by regulators and nationalised outright, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress on Tuesday.

His comments provided the clearest signal yet that US authorities hope to support major banks as going concerns in the private markets, taking equity stakes as necessary to shore up their capital in what would amount to partial nationalisations.

Mr Bernanke described the financial rescue plan as a Treasury plan, but offered broad endorsement of it.

outright 徹底的に、完全に

shore up 〈経済・通貨・体制などを〉支える

endorsement 保障、是認

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ADB’s lending revamp under threat



Controversial plans by the Asian Development Bank to change its lending criteria could be dropped, amid mounting concern in Washington that the overhaul will water down social and environmental standards for project financing.

People familiar with discussions on the ADB board said some shareholders had been sounded out about shelving a review that one insider described as “painful”.

Support from the US, which alongside Japan is the bank’s largest shareholder, is not sewn up.

Such concerns could scuttle the capital increase plan, as Congress will need to approve funding for the bank’s capital expansion.

revamp 改訂する

overhaul 精密検査

water down うすめる、効果を弱める

shelve 〈法案などを〉棚上げする,握りつぶす

alongside 一緒に

sew up 〈交渉などを〉うまくまとめる, 締結する

scuttle 〈計画・企てなどを〉やめる

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De Beers mothballs diamond mines as sales slide



The world's biggest and most valuable diamond mines have been mothballed since the start of the year when De Beers put its Botswana production on hold as sales of the stones slumped.

Global sales of the precious stones, which trade through auction houses and private placements rather than commodity markets, have fallen to a standstill.

She said the challenge was to retain the "agility" to start up once demand returned.

Last week, Standard and Poor's, the credit rating agency, warned that it might downgrade its opinion of Botswana's creditworthiness in light of the turmoil in the diamond market.

mothball 使わないものを保存しておく

standstill 停止

retain 保つ

agility 軽快さ

in light of …の観点から

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Swiss must be creative with banking secrecy



On Wednesday UBS paid nearly SFr1 billion ($850 million) in fines and agreed to hand over details of 250-300 customers to avert criminal proceedings relating to a tax evasion investigation.

On Thursday US tax collectors issued UBS with a civil lawsuit seeking the identities of about 52,000 US clients who allegedly kept billions of dollars at the bank to dodge the Internal Revenue Service. UBS has said it will fight the case.

The Department of Justice had initiated criminal proceedings against UBS and the Swiss authorities obviously felt this could have serious consequences for the liquidity and existence of UBS.

The problem is that our neighbours are being denied the means they need to maintain their welfare states. That is the point that we have to understand. I don't really buy the argument that Switzerland should grant asylum to tax refugees because they are being pursued by high tax countries.

avert 避ける

evasion 回避

dodge 巧みに回避する,ごまかす

proceeding 訴訟手続き

grant 与える

asylum 保護施設

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GM crops continue to spread



Clive James, ISAAA chairman, said the most significant development last year was the first commercial planting of biotech crops in two African countries: maize in Egypt and cotton in Burkina Faso.

Mr James, a strong supporter of GM in agriculture, said: “Future growth prospects [in Africa] are encouraging. The positive experiences in these new regional footholds will help lead the way for neighbouring countries to learn by example.”

The third country where GM crops were planted for the first time last year was Bolivia, where farmers grew herbicide-resistant soya; it is the ninth country in Latin America to adopt the technology. One new GM crop, herbicide-resistant sugar beet, was launched last year in the US and Canada.

Crops with “stacked traits” are becoming increasingly important, the ISAAA report shows.

GM soy monocultures in South America are wiping out forests, causing massive climate emissions and forcing communities off their lands.”

maize とうもろこし

foothold 足場

herbicide 除草剤

stack 積み重ねる

trait 特性,特色

monoculture 単一栽培

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US plan to curb mortgage rates falters



The US Federal Reserve’s efforts to drive mortgage rates lower by purchasing home loans have faltered and rates have risen over the past month.

The rise in rates is a disappointment to government officials, who had hoped that a steep fall in house prices and low financing costs would lure new buyers into the nation’s depressed housing market.

curb 制御する

falter つまずく,よろめく

lure 誘惑する

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