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DUBAI, Sept 15 — The head of the United Arab Emirates’ General Civil Aviation Authority said today he was not optimistic that the Boeing 737 MAX would return to operations this year and that the first quarter of 2020 was more likely. The 737 MAX…

Singapore employers more cautious in hiring, as job vacancies in Q2 2019 continue to decline, says report

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PG&E announces US$11b settlement in deadly California fires

WASHINGTON, Sept 13 — Bankrupt US utility company Pacific Gas and Electric announced today it has reached an US$11 billion settlement with insurance companies over the deadly wildfires in California last year blamed on faulty power lines. The San…

1 Utama goes cashless with 1PAY e-wallet, ONESHOP online shopping platform

PETALING JAYA, Sept 13 — The 1 Utama Shopping Centre, ranked the largest mall in Malaysia, has raised the technological bar for competitors with the launch of its 1PAY e-wallet system today. Integrated with the mall’s existing ONECARD membership…

Survey: Over nine in 10 Singapore employers have trouble hiring, training staff for new technologies

SINGAPORE, Sept 13 — As the government pushes for digital transformation to take root in companies, some obstacles lie in the way, with more than nine in 10 Singaporean employers saying they face challenges in training and hiring staff to…

Pay-TV operator Astro's profit jumps ten fold for Q2 to RM169.3m

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 12 ― Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd's net profit for the second quarter ended July 31, 2019 (Q2 2020) jumped by more than 10 times to RM169.3 million, contributed by lower content costs and reduced marketing and distribution…

ECB cuts key rate, to restart bond purchases

FRANKFURT, Sept 12 — The European Central Bank approved a fresh stimulus package as expected today, cutting interest rates and approving a new round of bond purchases to prop up euro zone growth and halt a worrisome drop in inflation expectations….

Opec members Iraq, Nigeria agree to cut oil output

ABU DHABI, Sept 12 — Opec agreed today to trim oil output by asking over-producing members Iraq and Nigeria to bring production in line with their targets as the group strives to prevent a glut amid soaring US production and a slowing global…

British American Tobacco to cut 2,300 jobs globally

London: British American Tobacco on Thursday said it planned to cut 2,300 jobs globally by January as its new boss seeks to drive revenues in controversial e-cigarettes.

“My goal is to oversee a step change in new category growth and significantly simplify our current ways of working and business processes, whilst delivering long-term sustainable returns for our shareholders. This is a vital first move,” chief executive Jack Bowles said in a statement.

The announcement comes one day after US President Donald Trump’s administration said it would soon ban flavoured e-cigarette products to stem a rising tide of youth users following a spike in vaping-linked deaths.

Companies such as BAT are looking to strong revenue streams from e-cigarettes in the face of falling demand for traditional tobacco products, especially in Western markets, where high taxes, public smoking bans and health worries have persuaded consumers to turn to controversial alternatives.

Bowles said the jobs cuts, of which more than 20 percent will be senior roles, would see BAT “better placed” to deliver £5.0 billion ($6.2 billion, 5.6 billion euros) in new category revenues by 2024.

“A programme of this significance involves decisions that will be difficult for our people, but ultimately it is the right thing for our business,” said Bowles, who became CEO this year of the maker of Dunhill and Lucky Strike cigarettes.

BAT employs around 55,000 staff worldwide and did not specify which regions would suffer the job cuts, equal to a little over four percent of its workforce.

Almost three years ago, BAT took control of US peer Reynolds American in a deal worth about $50 billion in a move that specifically targeted the lucrative US market and the fast-growing e-cigarette sector.

BAT on Thursday said the latest restructuring would ensure the company “is better placed to meet ever-evolving consumer needs and deliver savings that can be reinvested in the growth of its portfolio of new categories such as vapour, tobacco heating products and oral tobacco”.

However Wednesday’s US developments were seen as a major blow to the burgeoning vaping industry, worth $10.2 billion globally in 2018, according to Grand View Research.

E-cigarettes have been available in the US since 2006 and were widely considered a safer alternative to traditional smoking.

But while e-cigarettes do not contain the estimated 7,000 chemical constituents present in traditional cigarettes, a number of substances have been identified as potentially harmful and the vapour could contain traces of metal, according to a 2018 study prepared for Congress.

Also this week, billionaire and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a $160-million campaign to ban flavoured e-cigarettes in the United States. – AFP

California law on rideshare drivers may hurt 'gig economy'

WASHINGTON, Sept 12 — Labour activists yesterday were celebrating California's move to drivers treated as employees by rideshare firms even as it fuelled concerns it will hurt digital platforms depending on the so-called “gig economy.” A…