Renault: A Bungled Espionage Probe
Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn publicly apologized for wrongly accusing three of his managers of corporate espionage. The automaker fired the men in January, claiming they had taken payments from Chinese firms for company secrets. After French police discredited the claims this month, Ghosn gave up his 2010 bonus and offered to reinstate and compensate the managers. COO Patrick Pélata and other executives involved in the mishandled probe will also return their bonuses. The French government, which owns a 15 percent stake in Renault, is demanding an independent inquiry.
UBS: Under Investigation Once Again
Switzerland's UBS (UBS) said it received subpoenas from U.S. authorities investigating possible attempts to manipulate the setting of the London interbank offered rate. Libor rates are set daily by the British Bankers' Assn., based on data it gets from a panel of banks on their borrowing costs. The validity of Libor, a benchmark for more than $350 trillion of derivatives and corporate bonds, was questioned during the credit crisis as banks became wary of lending to each other because of mounting losses.
Carlyle Group: The Buyout Firm Targets Shipping
The Carlyle Group, the world's second-biggest private equity firm, is establishing a venture to buy more than $5 billion in container, dry bulk, and tanker vessels, along with other shipping assets. Seaspan (SSW) and Tiger Group will be partners in the company, which will focus on China, targeting state-backed shipbuilders, lenders, and shipping companies. Seaborne trade is rebounding amid the global recovery. Container shipping costs as measured by the Hamburg Shipbrokers' Assn. are up 23 percent so far this year.
Hewlett-Packard: Staking a Claim in the Cloud
At long last, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) has a cloud computing strategy. On Mar. 14, CEO Léo Apotheker revealed that HP plans to take on the likes of Amazon.com (AMZN), Microsoft (MSFT), and Google (GOOG) in that market. HP also plans to create a cloud app store aimed at both businesses and consumers, seeing this as a way to unite its printer, PC, and infrastructure equipment empires. So far, the strategy is long on vision and thin on details. Still, it marks a major shift in thinking from HP's previous CEO Mark Hurd, who largely ignored the rise of cloud services.
American International Group: A Vote of Confidence in Japan
Despite the devastation in Japan following the Mar. 11 earthquake, AIG (AIG) says it remains committed to its Feb. 10 agreement to buy the 45 percent of Osaka-based Fuji Fire & Marine Insurance it doesn't already own. The $565 million offer will close on Mar. 24. Standard & Poor's (MHP) on Mar. 15 changed its outlook for Japan's non-life insurers to negative. Insurers may face claims of as much as $35 billion, which would make Japan's disaster the second-costliest ever, after Hurricane Katrina's $50 billion bill, according to risk consultants AIR Worldwide.
On the Move
— Covidien: Jose Almeida appointed president and CEO
— Univision Communications: CEO Joe Uva resigns
— AOL: Twitter co-founder Biz Stone is named the Huffington Post Media Group's strategic adviser for social impact