COMPANY NEWS IN BRIEF

10 July 2020 | Business

Airbus deliveries hit 16-yr low

Airbus deliveries rose 50% in June compared with May and reached their highest level since the coronavirus crisis spread to Europe in March, but the accelerating recovery failed to prevent first-half deliveries from sliding to a 16-year low.

Figures released by the European plane maker late on Wednesday underscored a collapse in aerospace industry fortunes since early this year, hours after Airbus workers facing job cuts staged their first strike in 12 years.

Deliveries rose to 36 aircraft in June from 24 in May and a low of 14 in April. For the first half, deliveries fell by 49% to 196 planes compared with 389 in the same period last year.

Airbus has said it faces an average 40% drop in business over the next two years, forcing it to cut 15 000 jobs, or 11%, of its workforce. Unions oppose compulsory cuts.

Facing a slump in demand, plane makers have been urging airlines to take planes that have already been built in return for agreement to defer others due at later dates. Some aircraft, however, are going straight into storage because travel demand is recovering slowly, experts say. -Nampa/Reuters

Google shuts down cloud project

Alphabet Inc's Google said on Wednesday it has shut down its cloud project named Isolated Region and added that it was not weighing options to offer its cloud platform in China.

Earlier in the day, Bloomberg News reported, citing two employees, that Google had shelved the project in China and other politically sensitive countries in May, partly due to rising geopolitical tensions and the pandemic.

The search engine giant, however, said that the project's shutdown was not due to either of those two reasons and that it has not offered cloud platform services in China.

"Isolated Region" was just one of the paths explored by the company to address requirements related to adoption of cloud technology, a company spokesperson said.

The project aimed to provide cloud services to customers and regulatory bodies around the world. – Nampa/Reuters

Amazon removes Redskins merchandise

Amazon.com Inc is pulling Washington Redskins merchandise from its website, with sellers given 48 hours to review and remove any products flagged by the e-commerce giant, according to a note sent to sellers by the company.

An Amazon spokeswoman confirmed the move by the company. Under mounting pressure from sponsors and Native American rights groups, Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder said last week he would consider changing the name of the National Football League team whose roots date back to the 1930s.

Controversy over the team's name, which is widely seen as a racial slur against Native Americans, resurfaced in recent weeks amid widespread racial and social justice protests across the United States after the death of George Floyd in police custody.

Amazon's action follows that of other retailers such as Walmart Inc, Target Corp and Nike Inc. Top sponsors, including PepsiCo Inc and FedEx Corp, who have the naming rights to the NFL team's Landover, Maryland, stadium, called for a change last week. – Nampa/Reuters

Facebook suspends disinformation network

Facebook Inc on Wednesday suspended a network of social media accounts it said were used to spread divisive political messages online by employees of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and two of his sons.

The company said that despite efforts to disguise who was behind the activity, it had found links to the staff of two Brazilian lawmakers, as well as the president and his sons, Congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro and Senator Flavio Bolsonaro.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy, said the accounts were removed for using fake personas and other types of "coordinated inauthentic behaviour" which violated the company's rules.

He said there was no evidence the politicians themselves had operated the accounts. "What we can prove is that employees of those offices are engaged on our platforms in this type of behaviour," he told Reuters ahead of the announcement on the company's blog.

Facebook said it has also suspended three other networks on Wednesday, including one it attributed to Roger Stone, a long-time friend and adviser of US President Donald Trump. The Brazilian president's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. – Nampa/Reuters

Total secures US$15.8 bln

French oil major Total has secured US$15.8 billion in funding for its massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in northern Mozambique, according to South African lender FirstRand's local unit, FNB Mozambique.

In a press release published on Wednesday, FNB Mozambique said the financing contracts for Total's blockbuster development had been signed on Friday. While this was widely reported in local media at the time, Total has not confirmed the signing.

"FNB... intends to enter other large natural gas projects in Mozambique, just as it entered into Total's financing, in a consortium of 20 banking institutions that granted US$15.8 billion, for which the last contracts were signed last Friday," it said.

FirstRand's corporate and investment banking unit, Rand Merchant Bank (RMB), has previously said it was part of the consortium.

The project, Mozambique LNG, is one of several being developed in the country's extreme north following one of the largest gas finds in a decade off its coast. – Nampa/Reuters