Business World

Friday 29 August 2014

Airbag concerns spark Toyota recall

motoring

Published 12/06/2014 | 02:30

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Toyota is recalling about 650,000 vehicles in Ireland and elsewhere because of potentially defective airbags, expanding a costly recall it announced in 2013 because the supplier, Takata, had not fully identified the problematic parts, the carmaker said yesterday. Shares of Takata dropped after the announcement.

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A Takata spokesman said that more vehicles could be recalled by other manufacturers because of potential airbag inflator defects.

Carmakers including Toyota, Honda, Nissan and BMW in 2013 recalled 3.6 million vehicles in total due to problems with the airbag inflator that could potentially explode and injure the driver or passengers. Those airbags were manufactured by Takata.

Honda and Nissan also said they were investigating whether they needed to recall more vehicles due to this problem.

Toyota said it was expanding the recall it announced in April 2013 that involved 2.14 million vehicles because the serial numbers that Takata had provided for potentially flawed airbag inflators had been incomplete.

HOLLISTER INVESTS €80M IN MAYO PLANT

MEDICAL DEVICES

US specialty medical products company Hollister said it plans to invest €80m at its factory in Mayo. Hollister will bolster production of catheters. Hollister is one of the largest employers in Ballina and has contributed more than €60m to the Irish economy in 2013. The plant in Ballina is located on approximately 40 acres. In the past seven years, significant investments have been made in the Ballina plant, both in infrastructure and equipment. The Ballina operation also coordinates the inventory, distribution and sales invoicing for Hollister throughout Europe and the EMEA region.

Hollister Ireland was established in 1976. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hollister Incorporated and it currently employs over 500 people in both new product development and manufacturing.

UK UNEMPLOYMENT AT FIVE-YEAR LOW

JOBS

Britain's labour market recovery gathered pace as a record number of people found work and drove unemployment to its lowest level in more than five years in the three months to April.

Pay growth slowed sharply but the Office for National Statistics suggested it was a blip after the April 2013 figure was boosted by delayed bonus payments.

Nonetheless, some economists said the weak earnings figures suggested that Britain's jobs recovery could carry on without pushing up inflation.

The Bank of England says there is room for further growth in the economy before it raises interest rates. But some of its policymakers have said they see a growing case for a rate hike.

"With few signs still that the labour market is a source of inflationary pressure, we still think the Monetary Policy Committee can afford to keep interest rates on hold until well into next year," said Samuel Tombs at Capital Economics. Sterling ticked higher against the euro and British government bond prices briefly hit a two-month low on after the data.

The jobless rate fell to 6.6pc between February and April – its lowest since the three months through January 2009. That was down from 6.8 pc in the first three months of this year and below the 6.7pc rate expected in a Reuters poll.

STATE OWES €113BN IN BONDS

BONDHOLDERS

The nominal value of outstanding Irish government bonds at the end of April stood at €113bn, the Central Bank said yesterday.

Resident holders accounted for 47.5pc of Irish government bonds with resident credit institutions and the Central Bank of Ireland accounting for 91pc of these resident holders.

Outstanding government bonds stood at €113,155 million in April 2014, with 11.5 per cent due to mature in less than three years. At the end of April, resident holders held 47.5pc of long-term Irish government bonds. Resident credit institutions and the Central Bank account for 91pc of this resident holding.

The resident non-bank financial sector reported holding €2,903 million in April 2014 of which 42pc of this sector was held by other financial intermediaries with the balance being held by insurance corporations and pension funds .

About a quarter of all resident holdings will mature within the next five years. Furthermore, 29pc (or €17.6bn) of long-term bonds held by non-resident investors will mature from 2023 onwards.

UKRAINE REJECTS RUSSIAN GAS PROPOSAL

ENERGY

Ukraine rejected a Russian proposal that would reduce the price it pays Moscow for natural gas by more than 20pc and ruled out paying its gas debts until a pricing deal is reached.

Remarks by the prime minister and energy minister made clear Kiev was not changing its stance at talks with Moscow, despite the threat of Russia cutting supplies to Ukraine if no deal is reached – a scenario that could disrupt deliveries to Europe.

The dispute is at the heart of a crisis between Moscow and Kiev, and failing to resolve it would set back peace moves after weeks of violence in eastern Ukraine, where separatists are demanding unification with Russia.

Briefing his cabinet, Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said Ukraine was holding out for changes in state gas company Naftogaz's contract with Russian exporter Gazprom and demanded to pay the market price for gas.

Russia has floated the idea of scrapping its export duty for gas exports to Ukraine – $100 per 1,000 cubic metres, introduced after Moscow annexed Crimea – to reduce the price. "Russia has offered us a gas price cut of $100," Mr Yatseniuk said. "Our position remains the same: we rewrite the contract and get the market price."

Ukraine wants to change the 2009 contract that locked it into buying a set volume of gas, whether it needs it or not, at $485 per 1,000 cubic metres – the highest price paid by any customer in Europe.

AMAZON HOMES IN ON LOCAL SERVICES

SERVICES

Amazon.com later this year plans to launch a marketplace for local services, a broad term that encompasses anything from babysitters to handymen to birthday clowns, beginning with a single market, several people familiar with the matter said. Amazon aims to gauge demand and test logistics before rolling out nationwide, mirroring its approach to its grocery delivery service, Amazon Fresh. Fresh was tested in Seattle for years before expanding to San Francisco and Los Angeles last year.

The move takes direct aim at consumer review sites Yelp Inc and Angie's List Inc as well as US home improvement chains Home Depot and Lowe's Companies, which have both invested in ways to link customers with local plumbers, painters and other service providers.

Amazon declined to comment.

Services marks a new frontier for Amazon, which has focused on selling products as it expanded from books into consumer goods, groceries and media. Local services are massive and growing, but it has been tough for marketplace companies to turn a profit, since offerings must be tailored to each city or region.

In recent months, Amazon has reached out directly to service companies as well as to several startups in Seattle and San Francisco that already connect service providers, from home repair to massages, to customers through their own web sites and mobile applications.

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