The digital business week

9 Jan 2012

A digest of the top business and technology news stories from the past week.

Yahoo! confirms Scott Thompson is its new CEO

Former PayPal executive Scott Thompson has been confirmed as Yahoo!’s new CEO. The web portal clearly aims to capitalise on Thompson’s ability to grow user numbers and expand into new markets to turn around its fortunes.

Under Thompson’s leadership, PayPal grew the company’s user base from 50m to more than 104m active users in 190 countries worldwide. He also increased the number of merchant partners to more than 8m globally, and grew revenues from US$1.8bn to more than US$4bn in 2011.

Thompson fills the role left open after the board ousted Carol Bartz in September.

Yahoo!’s chief financial officer, Tim Morse, who was acting CEO until the role was filled, will resume his primary role as CFO.

RIM to name new chairman – report

Research in Motion (RIM) co-founders and co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie may give up their posts as co-chairmen of the board under pressure from shareholders, The Financial Post has reported.

The report says the company is getting ready for a shakeup at board level, which would oust Lazaridis and Balsillie as co-chairmen and replace them with Barbara Stymiest, an independent director who joined RIM’s board in 2007.

RIM, the maker of BlackBerry smartphones, has reportedly been under pressure to change its management structure for months.

In July, the company agreed to an independent governance review, in part to avoid a confrontation at its annual general meeting. That review is to issue its report by 31 January.

Kodak reportedly preparing for bankruptcy filing

Kodak is reportedly preparing for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection filing in the next few weeks. The company is attempting to sell some its patent portfolio first to try and avoid this filing.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the company is preparing for the filing in case its attempt to sell some of its patents fail. It is reportedly speaking with banks about US$1bn in financing to keep it operating during bankruptcy proceedings.

The pioneering company has been in business for 131 years, founded by George Eastman. It once sold 90pc of film across the globe, but struggled when the popularity of digital photography rose. It also attempted to move into different areas, such as printers and medical testing, but it was not as successful.

HTC’s net profit drops 25.5pc in the fourth quarter

HTC’s net profit has decreased by 25.5pc, according to the mobile company’s unaudited financial results for the fourth quarter of 2011.

In a brief statement, HTC reported its net profit as NT$11.02bn, down from NT$14.80bn last year and NT$18.68bn in the previous quarter.

However, for the full year of 2011, net profit was up 57pc from 2010, reaching NT62.05bn.

Its unaudited revenue decreased by 2.49pc from the same quarter in 2010. Consolidated sales for December were NT$26.36bn, down 20.3pc year-on-year.

HTC attributed slower sales to the release of products from competitors such as Samsung and Apple. It said it will release more competitive products for 2012 to improve sales.

Samsung operating profits up 73pc to US$4.5bn

South Korean electronics giant Samsung has revealed that with sales of 35m smartphones in the fourth quarter, it is on target to achieve a US$4.5bn (5.2trn won) operating profit.

The smartphone sales during the quarter – in particular, the Samsung Galaxy S II – have seen it vastly outperform rival HTC.

Operating profits of 5.2trn won beat analysts’ forecasts of 4.7trn won for the quarter, and beating Samsung’s previous record of 5trn won in the second quarter of 2010.

The company’s full financial results are expected later in the month.

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