- - Sunday, July 31, 2011

BANKING

HSBC plans thousands of job cuts

NEW YORKHSBC plans to announce thousands of job cuts Monday as part of an ongoing cost-cutting program announced in May, according to media reports.

The British banking company is expected to reveal it is cutting 10,000 jobs, or 3 percent of its workforce, when it reports earnings Monday, according to reports by British news broadcaster Sky News and in the New York Times.

HSBC spokesman Neil Brazil in New York declined to comment on the report.

HSBC Holdings PLC told investors in May that its new management team was implementing a strategy that would shift focus away from retail banking to commercial and corporate banking, and would target investment in high-growth economies.

Chief Executive Officer Stuart Gulliver, who began his job at the start of the year, said the bank will be directing investment to fast-growing markets, such as Mexico and Turkey, and scaling back elsewhere by, for instance, withdrawing from retail banking in Russia. These and other moves are intended to trim costs by up to $3.5 billion within three years. 

TRANSPORTATION

‘Lifeline’ of public transit faces deep cuts in state

BRISTOL, R.I. — The impact of service cuts being considered by Rhode Island’s public transit agency is more than just an inconvenience for those who rely on the system to get to and from work and elsewhere.

In a state with the third-highest unemployment in the nation behind Nevada and California, any cutbacks could hamstring an already struggling economy.

Charles Odimgbe, the chief executive officer of the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority, says public transportation effectively subsidizes most small businesses and calls it an “economic catalyst” for any community.

RIPTA is considering eliminating some routes, operating others less frequently and doing away with all holiday service.

One worker in the hospitality industry who takes the bus from Bristol to Newport and Providence says cutting late-night service will be devastating to businesses.

LAWSUIT

Bank of America hit with new Countrywide suit

NEW YORK — Bank of America Corp. is facing a new lawsuit filed by a group of shareholders of mortgage giant Countrywide Financial Corp., which the bank bought in 2008.

The group of investors, which includes BlackRock funds, T. Rowe Price Group Inc. and several pension funds including the California Public Employees’ Retirement System and TIAA-CREF, had earlier rejected a $624 million settlement struck last year, saying the terms were inadequate. The lawsuit accused Countrywide of misleading shareholders about its finances and lending practices.

WILDLIFE

Texas Gulf oysters suffering in the drought

SMITH POINT, Texas — Wildlife experts fear the drought in Texas could kill this year’s oyster harvest.

Dry conditions have caused the water in Texas’ Galveston Bay to be saltier than usual, which allows disease and predators to thrive. Many oysters now being taken from the bay, which is the source of 90 percent of Texas’ oysters, are dead.

The drought comes just as Louisiana and Mississippi are suffering poor harvests because of flooding. Fishermen had hoped Texas would make up the difference, but that now seems unlikely. They say Gulf oysters may be harder to find this year, and consumers may face high prices.

Oysters are a $217 million industry on the Gulf Coast. Texas and Louisiana account for 70 percent of the species found in the Gulf and on the eastern seaboard.

 

TECHNOLOGY

 

AT&T to throttle data speeds for ‘unlimited’ hogs

NEW YORK — AT&T Inc. said Friday that it’s going to start limiting speeds for the 5 percent of its customers with “unlimited” data smartphone plans who clog the airwaves the most.

The measure will take effect Oct. 1, AT&T said, and is intended to alleviate congestion on the network.

T-Mobile USA already throttles users who go over certain limits for data consumption.

AT&T stopped signing up new customers for “unlimited” plans last year. Instead, it now lets heavy users pay extra when they go over a certain data allotment.

Verizon Wireless also recently stopped signing up new customers for unlimited service.

 

ELECTRIC CARS

BMW rolls out electric i3 and i8 models

FRANKFURT, Germany — German luxury carmaker BMW presented two electric models on Friday, signaling its arrival to a segment that is key to the industry’s fortunes.

The all-electric i3 is aimed at the urban car market and should hit dealerships in 2012. The hybrid i8 is due for delivery in 2014 and is more geared toward high-performance auto enthusiasts.

“This is an important new milestone in BMW’s history,” chief executive Norbert Reithofer declared as the vehicles were shown to media.

“As the leading premium auto manufacturer in the world, we wanted to offer clients automobiles that were made to order, with an electric motor,” he added.

The i8 combines electric and gas-powered engines to allow for long-distance travel, while the compact i3 is clearly designed for city use.

Both have a lightweight aluminum chassis and a reinforced carbon-fiber body to compensate for the weight of the batteries.

From wire dispatches and staff reports