SILICON VILLAGE

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Satyam top executive resigns

IT major Satyam Computer's head of automotives division, Subbu D Subramanian, has quit, a company spokesperson said.

Subramanian, who was serving as the Vice-President of the Hyderabad-based company, has put in his papers to seek career opportunities abroad, the spokesperson told media here.

He would be succeeded by another Satyam senior official, Keshab Panda, who was in the charge of the firm's energy and utilities vertical.

Agencies

Is Ad spend moving into internet from TV, radio?

Global economic slowdown has led to cut in media advertisement spending for sure, but internet company Yahoo is seeing a silver-lining.

And in some sense, recession in advance markets may be a blessing in disguise for such companies as advertisers shift ad spend from television and radio to internet.

Yahoo's Co-Founder and Chief David Filo confirmed the trend. "Advertising. while there may be slow-down....it's not going away", he told reporters on the sidelines of Yahoo India R & D-organised second Open Hack Day in India here.

There are other factors, he said. "People consume increasingly more and more internet", as opposed to television and radio, he argued. "People are moving that attention (from television and radio) to internet; that shift is going to increase (further)".

Particularly in times of economic slowdown, advertisers are shifting their ad spend to internet, Filo said. Internet advertising is "measurable" and, so, advertisers are "much more amenable" (to put more dollars into internet advertising)".

CEO of Yahoo India R & D, Sharad Sharma, said broadband access in India needs to improve, while PC penetration needs to be much faster. "Internet growth is modest (in India)", he said.

Agencies

Sapient lays off 300 employees in India

Software firm Sapient has laid off 300 employees at its offices in Bangalore, Noida and Gurgaon as a result of the global economic downturn, which has impacted several IT firms.

"In order to adjust to this changing demand environment, Sapient has exited about 8 per cent of its people. Sapient employs approximately 6,400 globally and as a result of this rationalisation, 300 people in India have been impacted," the company spokesperson said.

He said the exited employees have received severance packages and full outplacement services, and would be considered for rehiring on a fast track basis if the company finds that it again needs their skills and experience.

"These people were laid off to right size the company. They were at different levels of the management," he said, adding that Sapient has two-third of its workforce in India.

Businesses worldwide are feeling the impact of the economic downturn, and as a result, are reducing budgets and delaying projects. Despite the short-term softness in demand, Sapient remains well-positioned in two large markets - IT services and interactive marketing.

The company would continue to make strategic investments and targeted hires in several areas that are expected to drive success in 2009, including trading and risk management, marketing and government services, he said.

Agencies

Friday, February 13, 2009

Will Google, Yahoo and Microsoft collaborate to clean up web?

In a rare instance of collaboration among otherwise fierce rivals, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft said they would support a new web standard that will allow millions of publishers to remove duplicate pages from their websites. As a result, search engines would be able to make their search results more comprehensive.

"There is a lot of clutter on the web and with this, publishers will be able to clean up a lot of junk," said Matt Cutts, an engineer who heads Google's spam fighting efforts, the New York Times reported.

"I think it is going to gain traction pretty quickly," said Cutts.

The problem is the following: Many web publishers, especially those that have voluminous sites, like e-commerce companies, have multiple URLs that all point to the same page. This confuses search engines, sometimes causing them to index the same page multiple times. As much as 20 percent of URLs on the web may be duplicates, according to some estimates.

Engineers at Google came up with a simple way for web publishers to indicate when a URL is a duplicate, and if so, which is the principal, or "canonical," URL that search engines should be indexing. Yahoo and Microsoft, the no. 2 and no. 3 search engines, have agreed to support the same standard.

"We are happy that everyone is going to support the same implementation," said Nathan Buggia, a lead programme manager at Microsoft. "This is a clear benefit for publishers as it gives them an opportunity to get more exposure through search engines."

All search engines have developed technologies to detect duplicates that are more or less effective. The so-called Canonical Link Tag, as the standard is known, should make it easier for both publishers and search engines to address the problem, NYT reported Thursday.

"It is an important step because all the search engines are coming out with it," said Priyank Garg, director of product management for web search at Yahoo.

Agencies

Can cars will talk to each other to avert accidents?

A radio technology that allows cars to 'talk' to each other and avert accidents is being tested now.

It warns drivers of potential intersection crashes, rear-end collisions and lane drift - and could be available in everyday vehicles as early as 2012.

The technology will also enable traffic flow management and optimised route selection for drivers, reducing the costs of traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.

Live safety demonstrations of the technology will be held at an Australian Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) industry event.

Vehicle manufacturers and state and federal government will be among industry stakeholders who will see first-hand the DSRC technology developed by Kent Town-based company Cohda Wireless.

Cohda Wireless was founded in 2004 by a group of scientists working at UniSA's Institute for Telecommunications Research.

Director of UniSA's Institute for Telecommunications Research Alex Grant said DSRC is a radio technology that combines GPS and Wi-Fi like communications to effectively enable cars to talk to each other.

"This technology essentially equips vehicles with the ability to see around corners and to predict and avoid dangerous situations," said Grant, according to an UniSA release.

Cohda has done DSRC field trials for vehicle manufacturers in the US and Europe and hopes to start a large-scale trial in Adelaide.

Agencies

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Citi's Pandit to take $1 salary, no bonus

Stung by criticism about use of billions of dollars in government aid, Citigroup's Indian American CEO, Vikram Pandit has vowed to take a token salary of $1 and no bonus until the ailing banking giant returns to profitability

'I get the new reality and I will make sure Citi gets it as well,' Pandit said Wednesday as lawmakers grilled top executives from eight of America's largest financial institutions about their apparent lack of willingness to lend despite collectively receiving $165 billion in capital.

'We will hold ourselves accountable for what we do, and that starts with me,' said Pandit, who collected a salary of $1 million last year. Citigroup has lost more than $20 billion in the last five quarters.

Appearing before the US House Financial Services Committee Pandit, 52, said taxpayers were right to expect a return for their investment, adding that the bank will pay $3.4 billion in annual dividends on the debt.

'There is a great deal of anger in the country, much of it justified, about past practices,' committee chairman Barney Frank noted in his opening remarks.

The banks have come under fire from lawmakers who criticised bonus payments and corporate expenses such as new executive jets at a time when people across the country are struggling to stay in their homes or losing their jobs. President Barack Obama last month called the bonuses 'shameful' and the 'height of irresponsibility.'

Citigroup, which has accepted $45 billion in government bailout money, last month reversed a decision to buy a $50 million corporate jet under pressure from the government. Last week the bank cancelled a convention in Atlanta for its Primerica Financial Services Inc. unit.

The CEOs were asked to disclose their salaries and bonuses for 2008 and 2009 at the hearing. The highest paid CEO for the year was Bank of America's Ken Lewis with a salary of $1.5 million, while the lowest was Goldman Sachs Group Inc.'s Lloyd Blankfein with a $600,000 salary. None of the executives took a bonus for 2008 or will have a salary increase in 2009.

Many of the CEOs at Wednesday's hearing defended their actions, noting that while credit standards have tightened, they were continuing to issue loans. Several of the CEOs added that without government assistance, credit would be even harder to obtain.

'We are still lending, and we are lending far more because of the TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Programme),' Bank of America Chairman and CEO Lewis said.

Yahoo

Royal Bank of Scotland to axe 2,000 jobs, says report

Royal Bank of Scotland, which is majority-owned by the British government, is about to announce plans to cut 2,000 jobs after forecasting a record annual loss for 2008, BBC television reported on Tuesday.

A company spokesman contacted by reporters refused to comment on the report.

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) was bailed out by the government earlier this year after running into trouble raising funds from shareholders because of the credit crunch and is now 68-percent owned by the state.

The report of job cuts came as the bank's former chief executive, Fred Goodwin, apologised Tuesday to lawmakers for failing to foresee the financial turmoil that led to RBS being rescued.

The bank says it expects a 2008 annual loss of up to 28 billion pounds (32 billion euros, 41 billion dollars) -- a record in British corporate history -- due to the crisis and a costly takeover of Dutch lender ABN Amro in 2007.

Agencies

Has British jobless rate hit decade high?

Britain's official unemployment rate hit the highest level for about 10 years on Wednesday, as experts warned more job cuts would come as the recession deepens.

Although the figures were not so bad as some experts had expected, falling short of the symbolic two million barrier, analysts warned that the figure could hit 3.5 million by the end of next year as the effects of the slowdown filter through.

Protests fuelled by the rising threat of unemployment -- underlined by almost daily job cut announcements -- have snowballed in recent weeks, including a new power plant walkout on Wednesday following wildcat strikes last week.

The percentage of Britons out of work jumped to 1.97 million or 6.3 percent in the three months to December, a rise of 0.2 percent, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

"For every person who is made unemployed, there is a sadness and sorrow and we will do what we can to help people back to work as quickly as possible," Prime Minister Gordon Brown said after the figures came out.

His official spokesman told reporters: "Every job loss is obviously a matter of regret and disappointment."

Brown met 22 business leaders from some of Britain's biggest companies like supermarket chain Tesco and energy firm Centrica at his Downing Street office Wednesday to discuss getting more people into work.

But some observers warned the picture on unemployment looked set to get worse.

The general secretary of the TUC (Trades Union Congress) Brendan Barber said the situation was a "national emergency", adding: "This is another set of dreadful figures and we fear worse is still to come."

Vicky Redwood, an analyst from research consultancy Capital Economics, said the figures did not fully reflect the effects of a major contraction in the fourth quarter of 2008.

"We still think unemployment will reach 3.5 million by the end of 2010," she added.

Unemployment in Britain is lower than in some other European countries -- Germany, Europe's largest economy, has 8.3 percent unemployment and the figure in France stands at around eight percent.

But the global downturn looks set to hit Britain harder than its European neighbours -- the International Monetary Foundation (IMF) said last month that it would suffer worse than any other developed country.

Official figures last month confirmed that Britain was now in recession, while Brown last week used the word "depression" to describe the situation.

Education Secretary Ed Balls, Brown's former economic advisor and one of his closest allies, said this week Britain was facing the worst recession for 100 years.

New job cuts have hit the headlines almost daily in recent weeks -- carmakers like Bentley, Nissan and Jaguar have announced major cuts along with Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which is now majority state-owned.

Workers at London Underground were due to stage a demonstration Wednesday against what unions say are plans to cut up to 2,500 jobs on top of 1,000 already announced.

Meanwhile, hundreds of construction staff at the Staythorpe power station in central England walked out Wednesday after being told they faced disciplinary action if they joined a protest over the use of foreign contractors.

Last week, thousands of workers around Britain joined wildcat strikes on the issue.

Wednesday's unemployment figures were calculated using the International Labour Organisation (ILO) measure of unemployment.

Agencies

6,000 workers lose jobs everyday in Mexico

Nearly 6,000 workers lose their jobs daily, which has been happening since November 1, 2008, a report of the Mexico Social Welfare Institute (IMSS) has revealed.

Updated statistics that recently reported an increasing unemployment rate in the last quarter of 2008 of half a million jobs, now pointed out that a higher figure remained in the period of November-January.

The research indicated that only in the big cities 128,122 jobs have been lost last January while the current world economic crisis also had a deep impact on this field, mainly for casual day labourers.

According to the source the company that left more quantity of jobless was CEMEX, considered one of the most important cement producing company of the world, cutting 18,786 jobs.

Agencies

Will General Motors layoff 10,000 salaried jobs?

General Motors Corp. said on Tuesday it will cut 10,000 salaried jobs, citing the need to restructure itself with a government deadline looming and amid some of the worst sales in the auto industry's history.

The Detroit-based automaker said it will reduce its total number of salaried workers to 63,000 from 73,000 this year. About 3,400 of GM's 29,500 salaried U.S. jobs are expected to be eliminated.

The company's statement said that the separations would be done through GM's severance plan, so there would be no buyout or early retirement packages as GM had offered in the past.

In its plan to Congress submitted late last year, GM said work force reductions would be necessary in order for it to be viable for the long term. Most of the cuts are expected to take place by May 1.

GM said the cuts will vary by global regions depending on staffing levels and market conditions.

In addition, GM said it will cut the pay of most of its salaried U.S. workers beginning May 1 and continuing at least through the end of the year at which time the pay cuts will be evaluated.

The pay of U.S. executive employees will be cut by 10 percent, while other salaried workers will see cuts of 3 percent to 7 percent, GM said.

GM faces a Feb. 17 deadline to present to the government a plan showing it can become viable. The plan is required by the terms of $9.4 billion in low-interest government loans to the wounded automaker, which is seeking another $4 billion from the Treasury Department.

The automaker is negotiating with bondholders and the United Auto Workers union for concessions and it is planning to close several factories. To prove its viability, it must show an ability to repay the loans and prove "positive net present value."

Agencies

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

India remains the kings of outsourcing business

Though the world is witnessing a severe meltdown, IT firms in India found it an opportunity to step up their outsourcing activities as global companies are resorting to several cost cutting initiatives. It is despite the fact that the country is facing serious threats to its outsourcing leadership from a few internal elements like vulnerabilities to terror attacks and erosion of the confidence in corporate governance.

However India will remain a major outsourcing destination. "Even though other markets will be redoubling efforts to seize opportunities from India, no other country yet presents a serious threat as a key outsourcing destination", said Arno Franz, Partner and Asia-Pacific President at TPI, while speaking to BusinessWeek. "China is still very much an emerging destination, while it is debatable whether any other single country has the breadth and depth of skills, experience and infrastructure to seriously challenge India's position," he added.

Franz pointed out that India-based providers made significant market share increases last year. In terms of total contract value (TCV), Indian outsourcers contributed 16 percent of the global market, up from 11 percent in 2007. They also accounted for over half of the Asia-Pacific outsourcing TCV. Moreover, two out of the three mega-deals in the second half of 2008 went to India-based providers. Mega deals, defined by TPI as contracts worth over $1 billion, numbered 12 between January and June last year.

Over the year, there was a record of 88 contracts in the region with a total contract value of over US$25 million, 50 of which were awarded in the second half. Despite the high number, the 2008 TCV of Asia-Pacific outsourcing deals was $12.3 billion, lower than 2007's $12.7 billion. Annualized contract value (ACV), which is the contract value divided by its duration, also fell from $2.7 billion in 2007, to $2.4 billion last year.

Agencies

Intel invests big in US; Just as others cut costs

Chip giant Intel is swimming against the tide. At a time when most of the companies are cutting back on their expenses in the U.S., Intel is investing massively in that country. The company on February 10 announced plans to invest $7 billion over the next two years to expand and transform three U.S. manufacturing plants. With this initiative, Intel aims to outpace rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) in its core PC business, reported BusinessWeek.

The company plans to begin shipping in volume the world's first microprocessors created at the atomic 32-nanometer level-transistors so small that 4 million of them could fit on the period at the end of this sentence, as early as this fall. Intel plans to begin retooling chipmaking plants in Arizona, New Mexico, and Oregon, where a total of 7,000 people will be employed.

By shifting to a more efficient manufacturing process, Intel hopes to sell chips to consumer electronics, cell phones, and other Internet-connected devices. Such chips could substantially lower development costs for Nokia (NOK), Samsung, Sony (SNE), and other manufacturers struggling to outdo each other with cutting-edge TVs, phones, and other devices.
"We're investing in America to keep Intel and our nation at the forefront of innovation," said Intel CEO Paul S. Otellini. "The chips that the new fabs produce will become the basic building blocks of the digital world, generating economic returns far beyond our industry," he added.

Intel executives had been signaling for weeks that the chipmaker remained on track to spend $5.2 billion, or roughly the same as it spent on capital improvements in 2008, to move to the 32-nanometer manufacturing process.

Agencies

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

US Financial bailout may top $1 trillion

The Obama administration said Tuesday its new plan for rescuing America's crippled banking and financial sectors could top $1 trillion in a complex formula of cash infusions from government and the private sector.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner revealed the massive rescue effort just hours after President Barack Obama said at his first White House news conference that Congress risked turning ``a crisis into a catastrophe'' if it fails to approve a separate $800-plus billion economic stimulus program. The plan has faced stiff opposition from Republican lawmakers.

The new financial bailout plan brought forward by Geithner grows out of a $700 billion rescue program put in place in October, under the Bush administration, as the depth of the country's critical financial sector troubles surfaced with a collapse of the housing market.

``Right now critical parts of our financial system are damaged,'' Geithner said in unveiling the new plan. ``Instead of catalyzing recovery, the financial system is working against recovery and that's the dangerous dynamic we need to change.''

Half of the bailout money was allocated by former President George W. Bush's administration, but that spending has come under heavy criticism for a lack of transparency and the failure of banks to put the money into the frozen credit market.

The second half of the $700 billion is now in the hands of the Obama administration, which plans to greatly expand the effort to unclog credit markets that provide loans to consumers and businesses. Funding for this effort would see a huge increase from $20 billion up to $100 billion, according to administration officials.

If a total of $100 billion from the bailout fund was used, it would be enough to support an additional $1 trillion in lending support through a Federal Reserve program that was announced in November but has yet to begin operations.

The administration also announced that the program would be expanded beyond consumer and small business loans to provide aid to the troubled commercial real estate sector.

The administration also announced a program to create a partnership between the government and the private sector to get private investors to buy bad assets that are currently weighing down the balance sheets of banks. Congressional aides who were briefed on this plan said that Treasury officials said it could involve between $250 billion and $500 billion in government support.

As Geithner put forward the new bailout package, the Senate, despite nearly unanimous Republican opposition, was expected to approve a $838 billion stimulus bill later Tuesday. Senate approval would set the stage for possibly contentious negotiations with the House on a final compromise on legislation. Congressional leaders hope to get the bill to Obama's desk in a few days.

Obama defended the stimulus plan in his press conference Monday night, saying the federal government ``is the only entity left with the resources to jolt our economy back to life.''

``The plan is not perfect,'' the president said. ``No plan is. I can't tell you for sure that everything in this plan will work exactly as we hope, but I can tell you with complete confidence that a failure to act will only deepen this crisis as well as the pain felt by millions of Americans.''

Obama goes to Fort Myers, Florida, a metropolitan area among the hardest-hit by mortgage foreclosures, for another town-hall meeting Tuesday like the one he held Monday in Elkhart, Indiana, to promote his economic plan.

Just three weeks after his inauguration was celebrated jubilantly around the world, Obama has run into the jarring difficulties of governing. He failed to win over the Republicans he courted for his economic plan. Some of his supporters have wondered if he has yielded too much ground in the pursuit of bipartisanship.

Yet Obama's approval ratings remain high — 67 per cent according to a Gallup Organization poll released Monday. He is trying to tap into that popularity to win public and congressional support for his economic recovery plan as the country faces its worst economic crisis in 80 years.

``This is not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill recession,'' Obama said in his address Monday night, issuing a dire warning of the consequences if Congress fails to agree on a stimulus package. He cited Japan's failure to take bold actions in time to reverse a recession that turned the 1990s into a ``lost decade'' with no economic growth.

Despite painting a dire picture of the American economy, Obama said the US could well be in better shape by next year, as measured by increased hiring, lending, home values and other factors.

``If we get things right, then, starting next year, we can start seeing significant improvement,'' Obama said.

Agencies

GM to cut 10,00 salaried jobs

General Motors says it's cutting 10,000 salaried jobs, blaming the need to restructure the company amid the continued drop in new vehicle sales.

The Detroit-based automaker says it will reduce its total number of salaried workers to 63,000 from 73,000 this year. About 3,400 of GM's 29,500 salaried US jobs are expected to be eliminated.

The job cuts are part of the restructuring plan GM submitted to Congress late last year. Most of the cuts are expected to take place by May 1.

GM says the cuts will vary by global regions depending on staffing levels and market conditions.

GM also is cutting the pay of most of its salaried U.S. workers beginning May 1 and continuing at least through the end of the year.

Agencies

Airlines raise fares by at least Rs 2,000

Airlines including low-cost carriers have withdrawn all promotional fares and increased basic fares by around Rs.2,000 on several sectors from Tuesday.

The decision was taken as operators were faced with low load factors, though basic promotional fares had been as low as Rs.99 on many routes, industry sources said.

"We have discontinued our promotional fares as the response has not been very good, but people who have already bought tickets under the scheme will enjoy the benefit," said an Air India spokesperson here.

The spokesperson of private carrier Kingfisher Airlines said: "We have closed low fare buckets and are concentrating on setting higher fare buckets. Our focus is on revenue and not seat factors."

Agencies

One in four US companies plan salary freeze

About a quarter of businesses in America have frozen workers' salaries for 2009 in the wake of a pessimistic economic outlook, according to a new survey.

Outsourcing and consulting firm Mercer in a survey released Monday said 25 percent of organizations surveyed said they have already decided not to raise their employees' pay, and another 20 percent are considering a salary freeze this year.

A year ago, just 5 percent of companies planned to suspend raises for their staff. Mercer predicted that one in three companies will have frozen wages at 2008 levels by the end of 2009.

"It's not an easy message to communicate to employees, but we think managers will be aided by the unprecedented context of these difficult decisions - including low inflation and high unemployment," said Steve Gross of Mercer.

Those companies that plan on offering raises to their employees will give smaller-than-expected pay increases, Mercer said. The average expected salary bump at those businesses was just 3.2 percent, down from a planned 3.6 percent according to an October study.

The news comes as many employers are opting to slash jobs rather than reduce or freeze pay. Announced layoffs so far this year have already topped 300,000, and the Labour Department reported Friday that employers slashed 598,000 jobs in January - the single highest monthly job-loss total since December 1974.

Mercer also reported that executives are far less likely to get a salary increase than other employees in 2009. According to the survey, just 61 percent of companies are planning to raise their executives' pay, and 77 percent of respondents plan to decrease the level of executive compensation from their October projections.

Only 69 percent of employers plan to raise salaries for employees in managerial positions.

"Given lacklustre corporate performance and recent pressure from regulators, shareholders and the president (Barack Obama), it's not surprising to see that over the past few months, more than one-third of participants who reported executive salary data went from a 2009 planned base-salary increase for their executives to a freeze," said Gross.

Agencies

Has China overtakes US as largest auto market?

China overtook the United States as the largest auto market in the world in January, according to data published by Chinese state media on Tuesday.

A total of 735,000 automobiles were sold in China last month, state television said, citing Dong Yang, deputy director of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

By contrast, 656,976 vehicles were sold last month in the United States, according to preliminary estimates issued last week by market research firm Autodata.

Agencies

Monday, February 9, 2009

Will Intel shift out 2,000 jobs out of Shanghai?

Intel Corp announced on Thursday a reorganization of its China operations that would close a Shanghai plant and eliminate 2,000 jobs, while affected workers would be offered positions in other parts of the country.

The news comes just days after the world's largest chipmaker said it would close plants in Malaysia, the Philippines and the U.S., cutting as many as 6,000 jobs as quarterly profit tumbled 90 percent.

"In order to optimize its manufacturing resources in China, Intel plans to consolidate Assembly and Test operations (ATM) from Pudong to Chengdu over the next 12 months," the company said in a statement.

Intel said it would provide the affected employees an option to work at the Chengdu facility in the west, or Dalian in the north, both more than 1,000 kilometres from Shanghai.

"The decision to relocate is up to the employees," said Nancy Zhang, an Intel spokesperson in Beijing. Zhang said she was not aware of any subsidies or other incentives that employees who choose to relocate would receive.

An Intel employee who attended the meeting in Shanghai where Brain Krzanich, president of Intel's Manufacturing and Supply Chain group, announced the job losses said workers were upset about the need to move to keep their jobs.

Intel said it was committed to China, nevertheless, and would increase its registered capital in Intel China Ltd., the company's investment holding company based in Shanghai, by $110 million.

Intel said the moves were necessary "as a result of the current economic conditions" and that its investment in the new $2.5 billion Dalian factory would be increased in order to insure that it has the latest advanced chip technology.

After Intel's assembly and test facility is closed in Shanghai, the eastern port city will still be home to an Intel research and development center and the firm's China headquarters.

Agencies

After losses Lenovo announces management changes

Chinese PC maker Lenovo, which today announced a loss of $96.7 million for the quarter ended December 31, said CEO William J. Amelio resigned in a management reshuffle.

While Lenovo founder Liu Chuanzhi would return as the chairman of the company, present chairman Yang Yuanqing will return as CEO in the place of Amelio, Lenovo said in a statement.

Observing that the next several quarters will be "very challenging for Lenovo and the rest of the PC industry", Lenovo said the worldwide restructuring program announced on January 8 is expected to save the company approximately US$300 million in the 2009/10 financial year.

"In the past quarter, same as many other companies, Lenovo was deeply impacted by the global economic turmoil," said Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing. "We have taken actions to ensure that in an uncertain economy, our business operates as efficiently and effectively as possible, and continues to grow in the future."

The PC maker said its global sales of US$3.59 billion for the reporting quarter is 20 per cent less compared with the same period of 2007.

"The Group's results were impacted principally by slowdown of the Chinese PC market in which it has significant market share and demand reduction in the worldwide commercial PC segment," the company statement said.

On January 9, Lenovo had announced that the company is going tolay off 2,500 employees, nearly 11 per cent of its work force.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Is LPOs set to ramp up headcount in India?

The global slowdown is keeping the legal process outsourcing (LPO) sector in India extra busy these days. With the sudden surge in business in the LPO space in the last one year, firms such as Pangea3, UnitedLex and Legal Circle are looking at ramping up headcount in the entry and mid-management levels over the next few months.

The turmoil in the financial services sector globally is driving more legal outsourcing to India both in the corporate and litigation space. Gurgaon-based UnitedLex’s vice-president HR, Rakhi Sharma, said, “We plan to hire 700 professionals in the next few months to keep pace with the work coming from the US and the UK.”

The firm has seen a significant jump in the number of outsourced projects over the last few months both in the corporate and litigation space. Bankruptcy filings in the US have gone up in the last couple of months raising demand for lawyers in India.

“Legal work related to bankruptcies in the global market has increased ,” said Pangea 3 Vice President Legal Services Antony Alex, adding that the law firm is set to recruit around 500 lawyers by the end of 2009. This includes campus placements across several law schools in the country.

Legal Circle, the LPO subsidiary of Delhi-based law firm Fox Mandal Little, too, is gearing up to ramp up headcount to take advantage of the booming time. “The demand for LPOs is on the rise and we have seen increased number of queries from the US to do litigation support from India,” said Fox Mandal Little managing partner Som Mandal.

According to research firm ValueNotes, the entire legal outsourcing industry in India reported revenues of $225 million in 2007, and is expected to generate revenues of around $640 million by the end of 2010. The sector reported a rise of over 200 per cent in revenues in the last 12 months.

Times of India

Is Infosys getting tougher on poor performers?

The economic slowdown has made Infosys Technologies, India’s second-largest IT services firm by revenues, take a harder look at employee performance. The firm has put 2,200 employees under the scanner for non-performance this year — more than double the number last year, a senior executive said.

Last year, about 1.5% of IT services staff or about 1,000 employees figured among the bottom performers. This year, the percentage has shot up to about 3.5%. About 600 of such non-performers have left the company already this year.

Such employees are put under a performance improvement plan, provided mentoring and their performance is reviewed for a quarter. “When the times were good, people got away with things. Our tolerance of non-performance has come down now,” Infosys director (HR, education & research and administration) TV Mohandas Pai said.

Meanwhile, the IT services major has made about 20,000 job offers to college students across the country for 2009-10. The company will honour the commitment made, Pai said.

However, there could be lower or even no wage increases at Infosys next fiscal. “Wage increase next year will be subdued, if there will be an increase,” the Infosys director said.

The IT services firm said it expects IT budgets of clients to be flat or may even reduce 5-10% next fiscal. “Clients are in pain and they want us to share the pain. Their ability to spend is lower,” he said.

Economictimes

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