Company news in brief

31 March 2020 | Business

Anglo cancels diamond sales event

Anglo American said yesterday its diamond unit De Beers Group will not hold its third sales event because of lockdowns in Botswana, South Africa and India, to contain the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic.

The third sales cycle was scheduled to take place from March 30 to April 3.

The pandemic has placed new worries on the diamond industry, which faced slowing demand last year due to trade tensions and protests in Hong Kong.

The world's largest producer of rough diamonds by carats, Alrosa, this month had said it was considering options for online trade as global travel restrictions complicate traditional physical inspection of gemstones.

De Beers Group is enabling sightholders to defer 100% of their Sight 3 allocations to later in the year, Anglo added. Sights are held 10 times a year in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. – Nampa/Reuters

EasyJet grounds entire fleet

British low cost airline easyJet said it had grounded its entire fleet of over 330 aircraft and had no visibility on when it could restart flights, highlighting the heavy strain on airlines trying to survive to fly again after coronavirus.

EasyJet also said on Monday that it would furlough its 4 000 UK-based cabin crew for two months, meaning they will not work from April 1 but will be paid 80% of their average pay under a government job retention scheme.

The health emergency has brought European air travel to a standstill, meaning airlines have no revenues and face a battle to survive.

EasyJet said it was focused on short term liquidity, including removing cost from the business and working with suppliers to defer and reduce payments where possible, including on aircraft expenditure, and was in ongoing discussions with liquidity providers.

"We are working tirelessly to ensure that easyJet continues to be well positioned to overcome the challenges of coronavirus," easyJet's CEO Johan Lundgren said in a statement. – Nampa/Reuters

Toyota plants won't restart until April 20

Toyota Motor Corp said yesterday that it would extend a suspension at all of its factories in Europe with the exception of Russia until further notice, with a restart expected no earlier than April 20.

With the spread of the coronavirus epidemic, Toyota had suspended production from around mid-March in France, Britain, the Czech Republic, Poland, Turkey and Portugal. Its Russian factory will be closed from March 30 to April 3, it said.

It has already halted production in all of North America. – Nampa/Reuters

Merc Formula 1 develops breathing aid

A new version of a breathing aid that can help coronavirus patients has been developed in less a week by a team involving Mercedes Formula One, and is being trialled at London hospitals.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices have been used in China and Italy to deliver air and oxygen under pressure to patients' lungs to help them breathe without the need for them to go on a ventilator, a more invasive process.

The new breathing aid was developed by engineers and clinicians at UCLH teaming up with Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains who worked at UCL's MechSpace hub to reverse engineer a device that can be produced quickly.

Mercedes can make 1 000 a day within a week, and if the tests go well they can be in the NHS by the end of this week.

Development of the new device took fewer than 100 hours from initial meeting to production of the first one. The team working on it also includes Oxford Optronix, a small company that will manufacture the oxygen monitors for the CPAP devices. – Nampa/Reuters

Barclays sets 'net zero' goal

Barclays bank has set a goal of becoming a 'net zero bank' in terms of its own carbon emissions and the activities it finances by 2050, the lender said yesterday.

The British bank said it would provide targets to judge its progress and report on them regularly, starting in 2021.

Barclays had faced criticism from investors ahead of its annual general meeting in May for having a weaker climate policy than some rivals.

Responsible investment lobby group ShareAction tabled a resolution ahead of the meeting aimed at cutting its lending to the fossil fuel industry.

Barclays said on Monday that it would table a resolution on its new climate policy and expected ShareAction and other investors behind its motion to back the board's resolution. – Nampa/Reuters

Juventus shares surge after pay cut

Shares in Italian football giants Juventus surged yesterday after the club's decision to cut their players' salaries in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Serie A champions announced on Saturday that they had cut their players' and coach Maurizio Sarri's salaries from March until June after all Italian sport was suspended.

The club's shares rose by 7.94% on the Milan Stock Exchange early yesterday in a market that has taken a major hit from the coronavirus crisis.

Juventus' highly-paid stars include five-time Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo and Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey, who joined from Arsenal on a free transfer last year.

"The economic and financial effects of the understanding reached are positive for about 90 million euro (US$100.5 million) for the 2019/20 financial year," the club had said in a statement. – Nampa/AFP