The digital business week

7 Feb 2011

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

Pressure for Apple CEO succession plan increases

The Institutional Shareholder Services has backed a proposal from an Apple shareholder which asks for a formal succession plan following the medical leave of CEO Steve Jobs.

According to the Financial Times, the influential advisory service endorsed this proposal from the Central Laborers’ Pension Fund.

The proposal, which is non-binding, calls on the board to make public reports on its CEO succession plan.

Apple does not agree with the proposal and previously said it already has a succession plan in place. The company believes if it reveals its chief executive candidates, the ones named may be poached by other companies and those not named would resign.

However, the Central Laborers’ Pension Fund had said it was not looking for names of the next potential Apple CEO, only the succession plan.

The proposal may get more votes from investors at an Apple annual meeting on 23 February.

Intel offers voluntary redundancy to 100 staff

Intel has offered voluntary redundancy to up to 100 of its staff following the closing of a factory on its Leixlip campus.

The company will close its “Fab 10” facility within the Kildare-based campus in March, which initially offered Pentium chips in 1995.

Demand went away for this and construction began in upgrading the “Fab 14” facility.

Eighty per cent of the staff from Fab 10 underwent an upskilling programme and will move to this newer building. However, the remainder did not take this option.

“Unfortunately, there was about 100 people who for personal or professional reasons weren’t able to make the move to the new facility and we’ve offered them a voluntary redundancy package,” said an Intel spokesperson.

Numerous parties interested in buying MySpace – News Corp.

News Corp. has received interest from many potential buyers of MySpace, the company’s COO said during the release of its financial results.

News Corp.’s COO Chase Carey said a number of parties were interested in acquiring MySpace and said it would pursue all options, but was not soliciting anything.

MySpace has been struggling to remain relevant in today’s online world, thanks to increasing competition from social networking vendors such as Facebook. It recently let go 500 staff members in order to keep the company sustainable.

News Corp’s revenues reached more than US€8.7bn for the quarter with a net income of US$642m.

However, it recorded a US$275m pre-tax charge for the impairment of goodwill, which included the restructuring of MySpace.

MySpace’s lower search and advertising revenues also had an impact, with the segment it fell under experiencing a second-quarter operating loss of US$156m, US$31m greater than last year.

Blu-ray and TV sales drive Panasonic revenues 21pc

Panasonic has announced that its third quarterly net profit rose by 24pc on the back of group sales for the third quarter increasing 21pc to 2,285.5bn yen.

Overseas sales increased to 1,084.9bn yen, up 23pc from 881.7bn yen.

As a result of “strong sales, and streamlining of material costs and other general expenses, offsetting severe price competition, appreciation of the yen and rising material costs”, Panasonic managed to increase the operating profit, pre-tax income and net income.

Sales in Digital AVC Networks increased to 2,585.4bn yen, from 2,578.2bn yen a year ago. This was largely due to the sales of Blu-ray Disc recorders and flat-panel TVs, however, there was a decline in sales of mobile phones and digital cameras.

Toshiba profits double on smartphone sales

Toshiba Corp. has benefitted from global demand for smartphones and tablets as sales of its NAND flash memory chips and liquid-crystal displays boom.

Profits at the Japanese firm doubled in the third quarter of the year and kept its full-year operating profit forecast of US$3.05bn.

However, the company lowered its full-year sales target by almost 6pc.

For the three months ending 31 December, Toshiba posted operating profit of $0.45bn profit, compared with $0.18bn a year ago.

UPC Ireland appoints new CEO

UPC Ireland has appointed Dana Strong as its new CEO, effective from 1 May 2011. She will succeed Robert Dunne, who will become managing director at UPC Netherlands.

Strong has been chief operating officer of satellite subscription TV provider AUSTAR since 2002. It provides this service to more than 760,000 customers in regional Australia.

Both UPC Ireland and UPC Netherlands are subsidiaries of cable operator Liberty Global, which owns a 54pc indirect majority interest in AUSTAR as of 30 September 2010.