Fake Drugs Are Big Business

First appeared in Associated Press
The discovery that a fake version of the widely used cancermedicine Avastin is circulating in the United States is raising new fears thatthe multibillion-dollar drug-counterfeiting trade is increasingly makinginroads in the U.S.
The criminal practice has largely been relegated to poorcountries with lax regulations. But with more medicines and drug ingredientsfor sale in the U.S. being manufactured overseas, American authorities areafraid more counterfeits will find their way into this country, puttingpatients’ lives at risk.
The Avastin discovery follows other recent instances in theU.S. of counterfeiting, involving such drugs as Viagra, the cholesterolmedicine Lipitor and the weight-loss pill Alli.
“We do know there are counterfeits continuing to tryand make their way onto the U.S. supply chain,” said Connie Jung, anassociate director in the Food and Drug Administration’s office of drugsecurity.
The FDA announced Tuesday it is investigating fake vials ofAvastin that were sold to at least 19 doctors and clinics, including 16 sitesin California, two in Texas and one in Chicago. Tests showed the vials did notcontain the active ingredient in Avastin, which is given intravenously inhospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices to treat several types of cancer.
The contents of the vials are still being analyzed, and theFDA said it has not received any reports of patients who were harmed.
FDA officials said the counterfeit Avastin was imported fromBritain and distributed by Volunteer Distribution, a wholesaler based inGainesboro, Tenn. British regulators notified the FDA about the products inDecember, but the agency didn’t confirm they were fake until last week.
The FDA gave assurances Wednesday that the U.S. remains oneof the most secure pharmaceutical markets in the world. But the news sentcancer doctors scrambling to check their records.
Mary Mathias, a nurse who orders drugs for one doctor on theFDA list – Dr. Phillip L. Chatham in Granada Hills, Calif., – said they hadstopped using the company in question at least a year ago.
Because Avastin treatments are spaced one to two weeksapart, it is not likely that someone would get more than one infusion from thesame vial. And because these are people facing a life-threatening disease, itis hard to say whether missing one treatment with the real drug wouldcompromise their care.
Gauging harm from a counterfeit cancer treatment is nearlyimpossible, said Dr. Robert C. Young, former president of the Fox Chase CancerCenter in Philadelphia and now a consultant to cancer centers.
A colon cancer patient, for example, might receive 18 to 20Avastin infusions over six months. Missing one dose seems unlikely to have adramatic effect on survival odds, but it’s not provable either way becausecancer’s course and a patient’s response to treatment are not predictable, hesaid.
Counterfeits have traditionally been more of a concern indeveloping regions like Asia and Latin America, where as many as 30 percent ofdrugs sold are fake, according to the World Health Organization. The groupestimates just 1 percent of drugs dispensed in the U.S. and other developednations are fake.
But incidents of counterfeiting reported by drugmakers haveincreased steadily over the decade to more than 1,700 worldwide last year,though only 6 percent of those were in the U.S. There are few reliableestimates on the value of the global counterfeit drug trade, though most placeit in the tens of billions.
Counterfeiting has become more prevalent as pharmaceuticalsupply chains increasingly stretch across continents. Over 80 percent of theactive ingredients used in U.S. pharmaceuticals are now manufactured overseas,according to a recent congressional report, and experts say this has made iteasier to move counterfeit products into this country.
“With today’s transportation networks, it’s no longer astretch to move these materials from a source in Pakistan or India to theU.S.” said Tom Kubic, president of Pharmaceutical Security Institute, atrade association set up by two dozen pharmaceutical companies.
In 2005, federal prosecutors indicted 11 employees of aMissouri business on charges of conspiring to sell $ 42 million in counterfeitLipitor. It was manufactured in Costa Rica and illegally imported to the U.S.,where it was sold to wholesalers.
Industry experts also say a combination of big profits andlow penalties has made drug counterfeiting an increasingly attractive businessfor criminals in the U.S. and abroad.
A single vial of Avastin sells for $ 2,400, and the drug hadnearly $ 2.7 billion in U.S. sales last year, while the sentence for drugcounterfeiting in the United States is about three years in prison. Thatcompares with 15 years for counterfeiting money.
John Clark, head of global security for Pfizer Inc., saidcounterfeiters can make several million dollars quickly and, if they’re caught,get off with as little as six months in jail. He also said counterfeiters canset up an operation at a fairly low cost – perhaps $ 50,000, including about$ 20,000 for a pill press.
“It’s a no-brainer for criminal organizations that it’sworth a gamble,” Clark said.
Clark said Pfizer’s anti-counterfeiting team around theworld has seen a number of fake vaccines and biologic drugs sold in developingcountries, not just pill-based drugs.
“They’re getting much more sophisticated,” oftengetting ahold of legitimate vials that had held such medicines, from patients,trash cans or recycling operations, and then filling them with oil or water.

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Johnson & Johnson Makes Management Changes

First appeared in Bloomberg
Johnson & Johnson, the world’s second biggesthealth-care company, announced its second round of leadership changes in lessthan a year in a unit that’s recalled dozens of brands of consumer medicines. IndianapolisDefective Drug Lawyer professionals are interested in these changes.
Patrick Mutchler, named in April as company group chairmanfor over-the-counter products, will retire, to be replaced by Roberto Marques,the New Brunswick, New Jersey-based drugmaker said in an e-mail today. PericlesStamatiades, chief strategist for the consumer business, is also leaving after28 years at J&J, and his duties will be reassigned, the company said. A CharlestonDefective Drug Lawyer has been watching the changes.
The Mutchler and Stamatiades appointments followed two yearsin which J&J recalled hundreds of millions of packets of Tylenol, Motrin,Benadryl and other products due to foul odors, adulterated ingredients and badlabeling. While the company resumed some sales last year, a shuttered plant inPennsylvania isn’t expected to reopen until next year, Chief Executive OfficerWilliam C. Weldon said on a Jan. 24 call. A SaltLake City Defective Drug Lawyer had calls about the cases.
The over-the-counter business “will continue to be operatedas a separate, integrated business in order to maintain its focus on qualityand compliance, and on the successful reintroduction of OTC medicines in theU.S. market,” Bonnie Jacobs, a spokeswoman for J&J’s McNeil consumer unit,said in an e-mail. Denice Torres will continue to run day-to-day operations forthe U.S. business, she said.
Consumer Dismissals
J&J’s consumer division, which includes McNeil, isdismissing an unspecified number of workers, the company said in a separatee-mailed statement. “These changes will help us better serve consumers’ needsand remain competitive in the face of ongoing global economic challenges,”J&J said.
Jacobs declined to say how many positions were cut. The WallStreet Journal, which first reported the management changes yesterday, saidabout 100 employees were dismissed. A MinneapolisDefective Drug Lawyer is interested.
J&J rose less than one percent to $ 65.91 at 4:04 p.m. inNew York trading. The shares have gained 10.3 percent in the past 12 months.Pfizer Inc., based in New York, is the biggest seller of medical products.
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) had $ 4.4 billion inover-the-counter sales last year, a drop of more than 25 percent since 2008,the year before the bulk of the recalls began. Jacobs declined to say why theleadership changes were being made now. Mutchler is leaving after 35 years atJ&J, the company said. A SavannahDefective Drug Lawyer will continue to watch the cases.
“After a career of building successful businesses, it wasPat we turned to when we needed an experienced hand to strengthen McNeil, andagain he has delivered,” said Jesse Wu, the company’s worldwide consumer groupchairman, in a statement. Stamatiades is “a visionary whose legacy willcontinue to deliver growth to our business for years to come,” he said.

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ENERGY DRINKS TARGETING SENIORS

Energy shots are pocket-sized bottles with names like 6 Hour Power, Nitro2Go and ZipFizz that are packed with caffeine, stimulants and blends of vitamins and herbs. They claim to keep those who drink them amped up for hours. Their makers pitch them as a youthful tonic when coffee just isn’t enough.
Some teens down the shots to focus and stay awake while studying. For truckers, the two-ounce serving size means fewer pit stops.
Now, the shots are appealing to a growing number of people over 60 who aren’t ready to slow down with age. At the Raleigh Costco, cases of energy shots are stacked beside Ensure nutrition shakes and across from tubes of wrinkle cream.
Living Essentials of Farmington Hills, Mich., which makes 5-Hour Energy, initially built sales by targeting students and people who work long hours, like cops. But when CEO Manoj Bhargava heard that aging Baby Boomers were increasingly buying energy shots, he looked to them for the company’s next sales jolt.
Last October, the company handed out thousands of samples at the annual AARP convention in Orlando. The company was amazing to see the number of people who took it right there and then.
In January, 5-Hour began running full-page ads in the AARP Bulletin, which is delivered to 22 million households. The ad shows John Ratzenberger, best known as postman Cliff Clavin on “Cheers,” holding a bicycle. “Getting older is fine,” says the 64-year-old Mr. Ratzenberger. “But not having the energy to do the things I enjoy isn’t.”
5-Hour sales teams call on doctors, giving them coupons to pass out to older patients. Staffers tells physicians that 5-Hour’s main ingredients appear naturally in foods and include niacin, often prescribed to lower cholesterol, and citicoline, used in some countries to fight dementia.
5-Hour Energy created the energy shot trend seven years ago and dominates the market, with a nearly 80% share. Annual sales of 5-Hour Energy total about $ 1 billion.
Mr. Bhargava says he isn’t worried about the brand losing its cachet with young people, since it has always had cheesy commercials and a non-cool name.
NVE Pharmaceuticals, the market’s second-biggest player with a 5% share, is also reaching out to older adults by advertising on the Learning Channel and the Discovery Channel instead of just MTV and Comedy Central.
Sold as dietary supplements, energy shots don’t require Food and Drug Administration approval. A study in the journal Pediatrics in February warned that consumption of too many energy drinks can give children heart palpitations, seizures and other problems.
AARP says its health consultants vetted 5-Hour before allowing the company to advertise at its convention and in its publications. AARP refuses ads for controversial products such as reverse mortgages and tobacco, but found nothing worrisome about 5-hour Energy.
Energy-shot makers generally don’t confirm the precise amount of caffeine in their shots, but a recent review found a 5-Hour shot has 207 milligrams of caffeine, while a tall-sized Starbucks coffee has about 260 milligrams. Another report said the caffeine would likely provide a lift but there was little if any research showing the other ingredients would help.
One geriatrician says she’s a skeptic. Most adults get more than enough of the B vitamins and other nutrients found in energy shots, so any extras are just excreted from the body, she says. She claims medically and physiologically that it doesn’t hold water.
Other skeptics say that older adults can get more energy by eating right and exercising, not by guzzling excessive amounts of caffeine. A well balanced diet will give you extended energy where the energy drinks just give you a caffeine rush.

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Innovative financial risk analysis solution for banks now available

Polaris Software, a company that specializes in financial technology, has recently launched a new risk assessment platform for international banks called Global Risk Audit (GRA).

GRA offers real-time management of financial figures coupled with credit audit capabilities that precisely assess the liquidity and credit risk exposure across dynamically intricate, mass business transactions.

The new banking solution from Polaris provides users with the ability to centralize exposure management across the bank’s product offerings and assist in executing better-informed credit decisions.

GRA is a scalable solution to facilitate high volume payment requests and offers a flexible system to process variant messaging and communication standards.

The new innovation is parallel to Sageworks’ web-based financial analysis software products. These tools, which are used widespread by lenders and financial analysts, help professionals monitor loan portfolios, assess credit risk, make industry comparisons, in addition to many other features to help improve client relations.

Polaris’ GRA is based on SOA (service orientated architecture), covering specific business and financial services, modular types and reusable components – all of which can be used independently per client or converged with multiple accounts.

The product is also able to track bank risk with fast and accurate financial information about clients – by customer and industry sector; adaptability to coexist with the banks’ existing business applications landscape; improved customer service such as reduced error rates automated referral process, enhanced global MIS reports at the customer level.

The solution also empowers the credit risk management team to enhance the available balance check process with the introduction of multiple balance computation by combining multiple balance/credit entities and accordingly frame the decisions.

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Chevron Battles Record Ruling In Ecuador Environmental Law Case

In what may be considered to be the largest environmental law judgment of all time, an Ecuadorian judge ordered Chevron Corp. to pay $ 8.6 billion to clean up oil pollution in the country’s rain forest.

The judge added an additional claim that if Chevron fails to publicly apologize within the next two weeks, the U.S. oil company must payout twice that amount.

The recent decision marks a significant point in a twenty year legal dilemma between Ecuador and the U.S.

The oil suit has been a hard fought battle by both sides, with each country accusing the other of improprieties. In recent months, Chevron discovered a memo disposing of the plaintiffs’ strategy for enforcing any environmental law or regulation in the world that favors an Ecuadorian victory. That implies that the oil giant could be forced to defend itself in virtually any of the countries where it conducts business.

Chevron Corp, which claims to have no assets in Ecuador, denies responsibility for the pollution and put up a stand against any efforts of the courts to seize its property overseas.

The plaintiffs of the case are the current Ecuador residents living in the oil-rich Amazon rain forest. They are seeking to hold Chevron responsible for damages they say was caused by Texaco Inc., a company that operated in the region from 1965 to 1992. After Chevron acquired Texaco in 2001, they company inherited the accountability.

For more over a year, Chevron has said that it expected to lose the battle against Ecuador. The company said that the collusion between the government and the plaintiffs in the country created grounds for an unfair judgment. On Monday, Chevron confirmed its plans to appeal the ruling, adding that it won’t pay the fine or apologize for the mess.

The ruling is “illegitimate and unenforceable,” said a Chevron spokesman. “It’s the product of fraud, and it’s contrary to the legitimate scientific evidence.”

Ecuadorian plaintiffs disagree by arguing that scientific evidence backs up their claims of environmental damage. Such a ruling was uplifting news for the plaintiffs who experienced many setbacks in U.S. courts that left them strapped for financial support.

However the win for Ecuador could be short-lived. A panel of international arbitrators last week granted Chevron a preliminary injunction that could put a hold on the plaintiffs’ ability to enforce the ruling.

The judgment raising many questions of international interests, said an Augusta business lawyer following the case. This only marks a new beginning in this long dispute.

“We believe today’s judgment affirms what the plaintiffs have contended for the past 18 years about Chevron’s intentional and unlawful contamination of Ecuador’s rain forest,” said the lawyer who led the plaintiffs’ side of the case for years until Chevron’s attacks influenced him to step down.

Under Ecuadorian law, Chevron is not responsible for paying any fines until after an attempted appeal, which could take months.

Meanwhile, the oil company is using the power behind U.S. courts in an effort to eliminate all payments due. The company sued the plaintiffs and their top lawyers in the U.S., where a federal judge recently issued a temporary stay blocking the plaintiffs’ American lawyers from seeking to enforce any judgment.

Chevron has also sued Ecuador for a sketch trade agreement between the country and the U.S. The panel of arbitrators in The Hague ruled Ecuador to take “all measures at its disposal” to prevent any ruling until the panel contributes to the case’s final judgment. That could bottleneck the plaintiff’s attempts to convince a foreign court to seize Chevron’s assets.

The country of Ecuador has asked a U.S. court to put a hold on a Chevron’s trade suit, challenging the panel’s legal jurisdiction.

Even if the oil provider never has to pay, the ruling could make matters worse publicly for Chevron as all oil companies are already under scrutiny from last year’s major oil spill in the Gulf.

As for the fines due to Chevron, the judge determined it must pay $ 5.4 billion to restore polluted soil and $ 1.4 billion to create a health system for the community, in addition to many other penalties. The court also ruled that Chevron owes the Amazon Defense Front an extra 10% in damage fines, factoring to be about $ 860 million. That could bring the total judgment to $ 9.5 billion.

During the judgment, the Ecuadorian judge claimed that Texaco had the awareness and ability to prevent such a mess and that the damages were also foreseeable.

The plaintiffs first sued Texaco back in 1993. Texaco, and later Chevron, successfully countered the claim, arguing that it should instead be heard in Ecuador, which at the time was run by a government viewed as friendly to American commercial interests.

However, Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa has publicly supported the plaintiffs’ cause. The oil giant accuses the country’s government of interference of the case.

The plaintiffs in the case have made an effort to better prepare themselves for the next stage of the trial by securing millions of dollars, some of it from a London-based hedge fund that focuses on supporting class-action suits. In addition, they have considered hired new Boise business lawyers to improve their legal approach.

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Growth in automobile manufacturing could hinder public transportation

As India’s automobile industry continues to grow at incredible rates, its car manufacturers could influence the global climate and related transportation policies in similar manner as the U.S., warned the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). On the other side of the story, the almost humorous speed of Indian railways hinders the growth of public transport development.

The chairman of the IPCC – an organization that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 – made a speech during an interaction with three other Nobel Laureates at the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2011.

“In the U.S., special interest groups who have been dominating and dictating the country’s climate policy have been arguing in their own interests,” said the 2001 Nobel Prize winner. “People have to realize that they are not speaking in the interest of the country as a whole, not in the interest of most ordinary citizens.”

IPCC chairman noted Indian auto transport policies are facing a similar risk. The concern is that with the expansive growth of India’s auto industry, the country maybe faced with a similar problem as the U.S in terms of transport and climate issues.

For example, the interests of auto manufacturers can be opposed to those of public transport. “With one of the largest rail networks in the world, what is the speed that we have? It’s laughable,” the chairman said. He emphasized such a vision of transport results in “mortgaging our future energy security”. He added that by 2030, India could very well be importing 750 million tonnes of oil per year.

Ramping up the price of diesel gasoline, investing in train transportation, waterways and coastal transport would all help to ensure that India does not get into the same type of mess.

The winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1986 warned that if India follows a similar path as China in an auto transport boom, its per capita emissions can potentially rise to six or seven tonnes per capita. Currently, India’s per capita emissions are at less than two tonnes.

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Growth in India’s automobile manufacturing could hinder public transportation

As India’s automobile industry continues to grow at incredible rates, its car manufacturers could influence the global climate and related transportation policies in similar manner as the U.S., warned the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). On the other side of the story, the almost humorous speed of Indian railways hinders the growth of public transport development.

The chairman of the IPCC – an organization that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 – made a speech during an interaction with three other Nobel Laureates at the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2011.

“In the U.S., special interest groups who have been dominating and dictating the country’s climate policy have been arguing in their own interests,” said the 2001 Nobel Prize winner. “People have to realize that they are not speaking in the interest of the country as a whole, not in the interest of most ordinary citizens.”

IPCC chairman noted Indian auto transport policies are facing a similar risk. The concern is that with the expansive growth of India’s auto industry, the country maybe faced with a similar problem as the U.S in terms of transport and climate issues.

For example, the interests of auto manufacturers can be opposed to those of public transport. “With one of the largest rail networks in the world, what is the speed that we have? It’s laughable,” the chairman said. He emphasized such a vision of transport results in “mortgaging our future energy security”. He added that by 2030, India could very well be importing 750 million tonnes of oil per year.

Ramping up the price of diesel gasoline, investing in train transportation, waterways and coastal transport would all help to ensure that India does not get into the same type of mess.

The winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1986 warned that if India follows a similar path as China in an auto transport boom, its per capita emissions can potentially rise to six or seven tonnes per capita. Currently, India’s per capita emissions are at less than two tonnes.

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Microsoft makes more managerial shifts

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO, sets to extend a managerial shake-up targeted to adding additional product executives with educational backgrounds in engineering background.

These shifts may be announced this month, said one of the individuals. In January, Ballmer unleashed a server division president, claiming the company needed new leadership that could focus on areas such as cloud computing software.

Microsoft’s move would broaden an effort to promote more people in management who have skills in engineering as well as experience executing product plans – an effort to chase key Web services rivals such as Apple Inc. and Google – two leaders in smartphones and tablet computers. The initiative is also an attempt to quite criticism from the board and investors that Microsoft is falling behind in some markets.

“Engineering is become a core focus because the company’s CEO is seeing a need to expand on a vision. In order to execute on new technologies, rather than focusing on sales on sectors like used laptops.” said an analyst at research firm associated with Microsoft.

Ballmer wants to earn Microsoft a bigger piece of the pie in mobile phones and tablet computers, as well as ensure that the company isn’t left in the dust around cloud software. Cloud technology enables customers keep their applications and information in remote data storage centers to access them over the Internet.

Some of the top management position replacements will most likely be executives who understand how to combine server software with Web-based services. Shifting the management team would also allow Ballmer re-exert his influence amid mounting criticism from investors, the people said.

In addition to the managerial changes soon to take place, efforts to buy Cisco equipment and build a solid hardware foundation are being considered. While it may seem like a long term process to up the company’s technical capabilities, hints of a doing business with a Cisco reseller are being passed around.

Microsoft investors are concerned that the company is falling too far behind in tablet computers and mobile phones, said an analyst at Loomis Sayles & Co. Those devices could replace some personal-computer purchases, hindering a core revenue stream from Microsoft’s Windows operating system, he added.

Microsoft’s board has voiced concerns about Ballmer’s leadership as well, citing the company’s performance in mobile phones and new types of computing devices, according to a September regulatory filing.

“We need to ramp it up” said a inside official at the company. “Too many consumers are looking for used Dell computers, refurbished HP notebooks, and other refurbished products.”

The CEO has already expressed a desire to appoint engineers or product experts to run divisions. Key management positions were replaced by engineering experts, rather than other company executives who were thought to be next in line. Although not for certain, there is some word about the company putting personnel on tasks specifically to help buy Cisco hardware.

When Chief Software Architect of Microsoft announced plans to step down in last year, Ballmer elected not to replace that role, claiming the company had “strong technical leaders in each business group.”

“We need to start driving new, innovative programs. Instead of competing with the ‘Sell Cisco hardware’ market, we need evolve into the tech company we set out to be.” said a spokesperson in a recent announcement.

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Hackers Breach Nasdaq

Federal government investigators are puzzling the pieces to identify Hackers who have repeatedly penetrated the computer network of the company that runs the Nasdaq Stock Market.

The platform that facilitates the trading operations of the exchange was not compromised, investigators told the media. However, it couldn’t be determined which other parts of Nasdaq’s computer network were hacked.

Official on the case are considering a wide range of possible motives for the hack, including theft of trade secrets, unlawful financial gain and a national-security threat designed to hinder the exchange.

Because of Nasdaq’s vital role to many other critical systems, the hacking has set off a series of alarms within the government. Such systems include power companies, air-traffic-control systems, auto transport providers and all part of the nation’s basic infrastructure. Other infrastructure components have been compromised in the past, including a situation in which hackers implemented potentially viral software programs in the U.S. electrical grid, according to national-security officials.

“So far, (the hackers) appear to have just been looking around,” said an individual involved in the Nasdaq matter. Another person familiar with the case said the incidents were, for a computer network, the equivalent of someone snooping around someone’s house and not touching anything.

Investigation into the matter was initiated by the Secret Service and now the case involves the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The motive mystery of the hackers is making investigators scratch their heads. They remain unsure whether they have completely plugged all potential gaps in the exhange’s security—especially considering invaders often seek new routes to breach systems.

The Nasdaq case is part of what cyber-crime authorities consider a broader problem of hackers nosing around corporate computer networks.

Businesses in the U.S. are a consistent target, and often times their public websites are vandalized. It is less common for hackers to break into internal systems. Breaches like the case with the trading exchange will rarely see the media because companies are afraid that acknowledging such hacks would chase away customers.

A former World Bank computer security official who now works for Core Security Technologies said the most elite hackers are increasingly targeting financial institutions, or companies tied to many connections, like car shipping companies and those involved in the stock market.

Many hackers also pinpoint companies tied to financial analysis software due to their valuable database information.

“Many sophisticated hackers don’t immediately try to monetize the situation; they oftentimes do what’s called local information gathering, almost like collecting intelligence, to ascertain what would be the best way in the long term to monetize their presence,” he said.

Officials familiar with the matter claimed the Secret Service started the investigation last year. People taking on the case have informed White House officials of the case, according to the people working on the investigations.

Authorities on the case have not yet been able to pinpoint a specific individual or country. Those working on the case said that some evidence points toward Russia, but the backers could be potentially anywhere, perhaps using computers in Russia merely as a conduit.

The hack leads to two causes for concern: preserving the dependability and stability of digital trading and sustaining investor faith in that computerized system and their financial risk management.

NYSE Euronext spokesman added reinforcement to the subject: “We take any potential threat seriously and we are continually working to ensure that our systems operate at the highest levels of security and integrity,”

The individual did not release any specific instances of hacking attempts against that exchange.

The issue of computer hacking is a problem for many tech-advanced countries. In the past, authorities in the U.S. have battled cyberattacks connected computers in Russia, China and Eastern Europe.

Good hackers utilize geography as a smokescreen. Officials noted Albert Gonzalez, a pro hacker, landed his biggest digital heist with help from computers in Europe. His residence is in Miami. Gonzalez used computers in the U.S., Latvia and Estoniato to steal over 100 million credit-card numbers from many sources, according to a 2009 federal indictment. Many of his sources came from online shopping stores ranging from microfiber cleaning cloth makers to estate jewelers.

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Chrysler plans to pay UAW workers a $750 “performance award”

Next week Chrysler plans to pay its UAW and CAW employees an average “performance award” of $ 750, based on the automaker’s 2010 operating profit of $ 763 million. This all comes at a surprise to investors given the fact Chrysler lost $ 652 million after interest expenses and other restructuring obligations.

Workers who get paid by salary, except for the top 50 executives of the company, also will receive the award, a Chrysler spokeswoman said early in the week. Because the company still has debt of $ 5.8 billion to the feds, the U.S. Treasury can restrict senior management’s compensation.

“The obligation to our people was much greater than the need to improve our bottom line profitability.” said the company’s CEO Sergio Marchionne.”It was absolutely owed that we treat our people properly,”

Praising the idea of the performance award is Chrysler’s VP of the UAW department, General Holiefield.

“This certainly shows the character of the new Chrysler to give recognition to the UAW Chrysler workforce,” said Holiefield. He also mentioned that some employees would receive a payment in excess of the $ 750 average, while other workers would receive less, depending on their eligibility.

The Michigan automaker reported a $ 199 million net loss for the last quarter, but a $ 198 operating profit when interest expenses and taxes are excluded.

For the entire year of 2010 Chrysler reported a net loss of $ 652 million, but a better than projected operating profit reaching $ 763 million.

The core reason for the company’s large difference in net loss and operating profit is the interest expense due to government loans. That interest accumulated to $ 329 million in the fourth quarter and $ 1.23 billion for all of 2010. CEO Sergio Marchionne has spoken with investment bank Goldman Sachs about ways to refinance some of those loans at a lower interest rate.

Such financial adjustments likely occur before Chrysler can follow through with an IPO that would allow the U.S and Canadian governments to sell shares in Chrysler. The U.S. owns 9.2% and Canada owns 2.3%.

Marchionne and CFO of the company Richard Palmer said Chrysler projects to earn a net profit of between $ 200 million and $ 500 million for 2011, without having to refinancing the federal loans. Excluding interest expense, management expects its operating profit to more than double from $ 763 million last year to $ 2 billion in 2011.

But the burden of Chrysler’s financial aid from the government remains heavy. Palmer added that those loans carry an average interest rate of 11%.

Chrysler’s loan interest could see an increase this year. The automaker is waiting for word from the U.S. Department of Energy on an application for a $ 3.5 billion loan, which would fund new projects to improve the fuel economy of future vehicles.

Last week, neighboring automaker Ford said it would award its 40,600 UAW workers an average of $ 5,000 in profit-sharing. Chrysler has not paid profit-sharing since 2005, when its UAW workers received an average of $ 650.

Marchionne elected to the call the payment “performance award” rather than “profit-sharing”, because it is difficult to mention profit sharing when you have a negative figure at the bottom line, he added.

Chrysler reported a net loss of $ 199-million for the fourth quarter, but an operating profit of $ 198-million when interest expenses and taxes are excluded.

“I want to express my gratitude to everyone for their hard work as we move forward towards the achievement of our goals,” Marchionne said in his e-mail. “You are the authors of this success. I want to thank you for your dedication, your creativity and your willingness to embrace change without which these results would not have been achieved. “

For the full year, Chrysler reported a net loss of $ 652 million, but a better-than-expected operating profit of $ 763 million. Additionally, the company still maintains key relationships with large clients, in sectors like transportation services and auto transport.

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