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Petronas to cut under 1,000 positions after strategic review

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KUALA LUMPUR Malaysia’s Petronas announced it is making about 1,000 positions redundant and is reshuffling some senior executives after a strategic review, as the state-owned oil and gas company tries to cope with the hit from a plunge in oil prices.

Petronas, or Petroliam Nasional Bhd, is one of the biggest employers of Malaysians and has a staff of about 51,000 people, according to its 2014 annual report.

A 70 percent slump in crude prices since mid-2014 has been squeezing the finances of oil companies globally, including those of Petronas, which makes up about a third of the Malaysian government’s oil and gas revenue.

Earlier this week, the company posted a quarterly net loss and confirmed plans to cut spending by 50 billion ringgit ($12.0 billion) over the next four years.

Petronas said in a statement on its website on Tuesday that it was making efforts to re-deploy employees affected by the redundancies.

“Petronas will further embark on a separation exercise for these employees as needed, which is expected to be completed over the next six months,” it said.

The announcement was made after President and Group Chief Executive Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin addressed employees in a much-anticipated town hall meeting in Kuala Lumpur.

Under the review, leadership changes from within the organisation have also been made, which will take effect from April 1. The statement said some executives, whose service contracts have come to an end, are leaving the company.

The leadership line up showed Mohd Anuar Taib as the new executive vice president & chief executive officer for the upstream division, replacing the former Wee Yiaw Hin.

($1 = 4.1650 ringgit)

(Reporting by Emily Chow, Writing by Praveen Menon; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

Source: R-Business


India's 2016/17 budget 'balanced', 'pragmatic' – RBI deputy governor

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MUMBAI India’s 2016/17 budget unveiled by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday is “pragmatic” and “balanced,” and its focus on the rural economy and job creation will bring long-term benefits, Reserve Bank of India Deputy Governor S.S. Mundra said.

Mundra’s reaction, during an interaction with reporters on Tuesday, marks the first public comment from a senior RBI official on the budget.

“It is a pragmatic budget, particularly if you look at the fiscal consolidation road map,” Mundra told reporters on the sidelines of a conference.

“The thrust on rural economy and job creation is very positive for the long term benefit. The social and public investment thrust should also be very important. Overall it’s a balanced budget and (with) a very long term impact.”

Mundra said the government’s plan to inject 250 billion rupees ($3.67 billion) into state-owned lenders in the year starting in April “would work for the time being”, but added it should be open to making more such injections.

“If the need arises, government will find a way,” he said.

($1 = 68.0350 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Aastha Agnihotri; Writing by Rafael Nam; Editing by Anupama Dwivedi)

Source: R-Business


Euro zone factory growth at one-year low in February – PMI

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LONDON Euro zone manufacturing activity expanded at its weakest pace for a year last month as deep price discounting failed to put a floor under slowing order growth, a survey showed on Tuesday.

Although the overall expansion was slightly better than previously thought, Markit’s Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) will make gloomy reading for the European Central Bank, coming little more than a week before its next policy setting meeting.

“Concerns are growing that the region is facing yet another year of sluggish growth in 2016, or even another downturn. Lacklustre domestic demand is being compounded by a worsening global picture,” said Chris Williamson, Markit’s chief economist.

Markit’s manufacturing PMI for the euro zone dropped to 51.2 from January’s 52.3. That was slightly better than an earlier flash estimate of 51.0 and above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction.

A sub-index measuring output, which feeds into Thursday’s composite PMI and is seen as a good growth barometer, also fell to a one-year low. It registered 52.3 compared to January’s 53.4, up from the 51.9 flash estimate.

Worryingly for policymakers, the slowdown came as factories cut prices at the steepest rate since mid-2013 — the output price index slumped to 47.6 from 48.3. Input prices fell at their fastest rate since July 2009.

The ECB wants inflation near 2 percent but prices across the bloc fell 0.2 percent last month, short of already depressed expectations and virtually ensuring another round of policy easing.

An additional cut to the ECB’s deposit rate is almost certain on March 10 and there is an even chance the central bank increases the size of its 60 billion euro a month bond buying programme, a Reuters poll found last month.

“With all indicators — from output and demand to employment and prices — turning down, the survey will add pressure on the

ECB to act quickly and aggressively to avert another economic downturn,” Williamson said.

(Editing by Catherine Evans)

Source: R-Business

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