UAW support shaky for Chrysler pact
The Chrysler-United Auto Workers agreement was thrown into doubt after several UAW locals voted against it over the weekend. A majority of Chrysler’s 45,000 UAW workers have to approve the contract. Since voting started last Thursday, six locals representing 11,000 workers have rejected the pact, while at least seven locals with 9,000 workers have approved it. (Detroit Free Press) Chrysler agreed to invest in 55 of its 59 UAW plants over the next four years, but opponents want stronger job guarantees. The outcome is too close to call, said U.C. Berkeley professor Harley Shaiken, and “we won’t know until the last local votes.” (Bloomberg)
Bear Stearns snags China bank deal
Bear Stearns and state-run Chinese investment bank Citic Securities announced a deal in which each bank will invest $1 billion in the other. Bear Stearns CEO James Cayne said the Citic partnership will give his bank “a unique footprint in one of the world’s fastest-growing economies,” but it isn’t clear how much control Citic will allow Bear Stearns in ventures inside China. (Financial Times) Bear Stearns’ shares have dropped 28 percent on the year, and the partnership with Citic—whose shares have tripled—is seen as a vote of confidence. Foreign banks are having trouble penetrating China’s insular but booming banking sector. (The Wall Street Journal)
Wal-Mart aims big in Japan
Wal-Mart plans to take full control of Japanese supermarket chain Seiyu, after five years of losses there. Wal-Mart already owns 50.9 percent of Seiyu, and it’s offering $878 million for the remaining shares. (Reuters) As Wal-Mart’s U.S growth slows, it aims to earn at least a third of its revenue in foreign markets. “Owning all of Seiyu will make it easier for Wal-Mart to do the drastic restructuring that’s needed,” said analyst Koichiro Ogawa at Cosmo Securities in Tokyo. (Bloomberg) Also in Japan, London-based Permira Advisers bought agrichemical firm Arysta LifeScience for $2.2 billion, in a deal that could revive Japan’s sluggish private-equity market. (The Wall Street Journal)
SanDisk takes a shot at Apple
Apple is expected to report late today that it had a great quarter, but SanDisk is hoping to steal some of the thunder. This morning SanDisk introduced its TakeTV, a small portable device that stores video files for watching on a regular TV set. TakeTV will compete with Apple’s AppleTV. SanDisk—whose digital music player runs a distant second to Apple’s iPod—also unveiled its Fanfare video download service, a collaboration with CBS that will compete with Apples iTunes store. ( But with only CBS on board, “Fanfare is probably not going to be much of a competitive threat to iTunes just yet,” said NPD Group analyst Ross Rubin. (