Company news in brief

13 September 2021 | Business

Toyota cuts production target

Toyota Motor Corp cut its annual production target by 300 000 vehicles on Friday as rising Covid-19 infections slowed output at parts factories in Vietnam and Malaysia, compounding a global shortage of auto chips.

"It's a combination of the coronavirus and semiconductors, but at the moment it is the coronavirus that is having the overwhelming impact," Kazunari Kumakura, an executive at the world's biggest car maker, said.

Unlike other big global automakers that were forced earlier to scale back production plans, Toyota had managed to avoid cuts to output because it had stockpiled key components along a supply chain hardened against disruption following northeast Japan's devastating earthquake in 2011.

The Japanese carmakers' announcement is a further sign that no part of the global car industry has escaped the effects of a pandemic that has sapped sales and is hobbling their ability to take advantage of the recovery in demand that followed the initial waves of Covid-19.

Toyota now expects to build 9 million vehicles in the year to March 31, rather than 9.3 million. It did not revise its 2.5 trillion yen (US$22.7 billion) operating profit forecast for the business year. – Nampa/Reuters

Japan Airlines plans to raise billions

Japan Airlines Co Ltd said it planned to raise around 300 billion yen (US$2.7 billion) of subordinated loans and hybrid financing to help it weather the prolonged impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

"We are considering various ways to secure financing, in order to prepare for the long-term effects of the spread of coronavirus infections, and in order to achieve the growth targets laid out in JAL's medium term business plan," the airline said.

JAL last month posted a first-quarter operating loss of 82.65 billion yen, an improvement from a year earlier, as pandemic-related cost cuts took effect and travel demand rose from a very low base.

JAL, like other carriers, has been burning through cash reserves to keep jets and workers it will need when travel demand rebounds. It raised US$1.8 billion in a share sale last November.

The airline last month said it expected its cash burn rate to fall to around 5 billion yen a month in the second quarter ending Sept. 30 from 10 to 15 billion yen a month in the first quarter. – Nampa/Reuters

Google to replenish more water

Alphabet Inc's Google aims to replenish 20% more water than its offices and data centers use by 2030, the company said, addressing concerns about water-guzzling tech facilities amid record droughts.

"We are pledging to a water stewardship target to replenish more water than we consume by 2030 and support water security in communities where we operate," Google chief sustainability officer Kate Brandt wrote in a blog post. "This means Google will replenish 120% of the water we consume, on average, across our offices and data centres."

Google consumed 3.4 billion gallons of water in 2019, its most recent disclosure.

Google uses water to cool its data centre' stacks of computers that store and process search queries, YouTube videos and other data. The Mountain View, California-based company's data centres are located around the globe.

Google plans to reach its new target by using less water at its buildings and then helping with conservation in surrounding communities, starting with those where water is especially scarce. – Nampa/Reuters

Shell weighs 'jab or job' policy

Royal Dutch Shell is considering making it mandatory for workers in some operations to get Covid-19 vaccinations or risk being fired, an internal company document seen by Reuters shows.

The Anglo-Dutch energy company's decision comes as the Biden administration on Thursday said it will press large US employers to get their workers vaccinated, in a more aggressive effort to combat the growing number of Covid cases.

Companies around the world are grappling with their response to Covid-19 vaccinations as some countries struggle to inoculate their population and as some people refuse to be vaccinated.

Numerous energy companies witnessed heavy outbreaks beginning in 2020, particularly on offshore facilities, where workers are susceptible to infection because they work in close quarters for weeks at a time.

Shell, which employs some 86 000 workers in more than 70 countries, declined to comment. – Nampa/Reuters

Wells Fargo hit with new fine

A top US banking regulator fined Wells Fargo US$250 million and placed new restrictions on the bank's business after finding shortcomings in its earlier efforts to pay back customers it had previously harmed.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said the bank had not met the requirements of a 2018 consent order, when the regulator ordered the bank to pay back customers who were charged excessive or improper fees.

Specifically, the OCC said Wells Fargo's efforts to identify and pay back customers who had been previously harmed by the bank were insufficient, citing "significant deficiencies" in its earlier attempt.

In 2018, Wells Fargo agreed to a joint US$1 billion settlement with regulators, who found the bank had wrongly layered insurance on hundreds of thousands of drivers and routinely assessed excessive and improper fees on homebuyers.

The penalty marks the latest hit to the bank, which began addressing widespread customer abuses nearly five years ago. – Nampa/Reuters

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