FedEx founder to give up CEO title; NC lands electric car plant from Vietnam |
FedEx founder to step down as CEO
NEW YORK — FedEx Corp. said Fred Smith will step down on June 1 as CEO of the package-delivery company that he founded and be succeeded by the company’s president and chief operating officer.
Raj Subramaniam will serve as both CEO and president and Smith will become executive chairman, the package-delivery company said late March 28.
Smith, 77, started FedEx in 1973, delivering small parcels and documents more quickly than the post office could. Over the next half-century, he oversaw the growth of a company that combined air and ground service and became something of an economic bellwether because of its service to other companies.
Subramaniam, 56, joined the company in 1991 and served in several marketing and management jobs in Asia and the U.S. He rose to become the chief marketing and communications officer, and also served as the top executive of FedEx Express. He became president and chief operating officer in 2019 and joined the FedEx board the following year. He will remain a director.
Smith said that for the past several years he had recommended to FedEx directors that if he died or became disabled they should name Subramaniam CEO and appoint an independent chairman. On Monday, the board appointed a current director, Brad Martin, as vice chairman and Smith’s designated successor as chairman.
Vietnam firm to build electric cars in NC
RALEIGH — A Vietnamese automaker announced plans March 29 to build a plant in North Carolina to manufacture electric vehicles, promising to bring 7,500 jobs and ending the state’s streak of near-misses for landing carmakers.
VinFast will build its first North American plant southwest of Raleigh, with production expected to start in 2024. It expects to employ 7,500 workers by 2027 with average salaries of $51,000, according to the N.C. Commerce Department.
The company is building on a nearly 2,000-acre site in Chatham County that’s about a 30-minute drive from Raleigh and is expected to invest $4 billion in the plant. The factory is slated to be able to manufacture 150,000 cars per year. The state has agreed to use job development grants to reimburse $316 million over 32 years if VinFast hits job-creation and investment goals. The state is also planning to provide as much as $450 million for site preparation, road improvements and other infrastructure work.
Commerce said the manufacturer considered locations in 12 states before narrowing its search to North Carolina and a site in Savannah.
AG sees ‘risks’ to Dominion’s wind farm
RICHMOND, Va. — The office of the Virginia Attorney General has told state regulators that Dominion Energy has overstated the economic benefits of a proposed offshore wind farm, warning of “significant risks” to customers from the costly project.
The analysis came in a filing late last week with the State Corporation Commission, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
The commission is considering Dominion’s plans for the $9.8 billion, 180-turbine wind farm off the coast of Virginia Beach. Hearings in the case are scheduled for May, and public comment is open now.
The Attorney General’s Division of Consumer Counsel submitted written testimony from energy consultant Scott Norwood.
Norwood’s testimony said the wind project was not needed to serve the company’s capacity requirements through at least 2035 and that the capital costs of the project were two to three times the cost of solar resources, the newspaper reported. It also said Dominion’s projected economic benefits were based on an analysis that overstated the benefits.
Because of the high fixed costs and “significant risks posed to customers,” the testimony said, the commission should require Dominion to file status reports on the performance and cost of the project through construction and at least its first year of commercial operations.
Company spokesperson Jeremy Slayton said that “offshore wind is good for energy security and the Virginia economy and environment.” He also said the “zero fuel costs of Virginia offshore wind are more valuable than ever given today’s rising fuel costs.”
State officials hope Virginia — with its workforce and infrastructure that already support a port and several shipyards — can become an Atlantic coast hub for the growing offshore wind industry.
TV ratings firm Nielsen to be sold for $16B
NEW YORK — Nielsen is being acquired for $16 billion, including debt, about a week after the media measurement company rejected a $9 billion offer.
Viewing data collected by Nielsen plays a big role in determining where billions in advertising dollars are spent each year. The company itself has annual global revenue of about $3.5 billion.
A group of private equity investors led by an affiliate of Elliott Investment Management and Brookfield Business Partners are the buyers.
Nielsen Holdings Plc, based in New York City, turned down the group’s previous offer, saying it had significantly undervalued the business.
Nielsen has come under criticism for failing to create new methods of capturing the amount of time viewers spend watching streaming services, such as Netflix, on a growing number of devices.
Work starts to free stranded cargo ship off Md.
BALTIMORE — Tug boats began working to dislodge a stranded container ship March 29, more than two weeks after it ran aground in the Chesapeake Bay.
The effort to refloat the more than 1,000-foot Ever Forward using five tug boats began Tuesday afternoon, U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Kimberly Reaves said.
From shore, three tug boats could be seen pulling on taut lines attached to the rear of the Ever Forward, sending puffs of smoke into the air. Dozens of people gathered at a park nearby to watch the work.
The ship operated by Taiwan-based Evergreen Marine was headed from Baltimore to Norfolk, Va., on March 13 when it ran aground north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, the Coast Guard said. Officials have said there were no reports of injuries, damage or pollution.
A salvage company began dredging around the ship a week later and Evergreen said in a statement Tuesday that enough material has been displaced for the attempts to free the vessel. The plan was for five tugboats to work together in the effort and to reduce the ballast water on Ever Forward to lighten the ship, Evergreen said.
The Coast Guard has said they have not yet determined what caused the Ever Forward to run aground.
UnitedHealth to buy LHC Group for $5.4B
NEW YORK — UnitedHealth Group will spend $5.4 billion to acquire LHC Group and delve deeper into home health, an area of care expected to grow as baby boomers age.
The insurance giant said March 29 that it will pay $170 in cash for each share of LHC’s stock in a deal expected to close later this year.
UnitedHealth will add LHC Group Inc. to its Optum Health business, which operates primary care clinics and surgery centers around the country.
The deal represents “a nice strategic fit” for Optum, given the growth potential in home health care and UnitedHealth’s Medicare Advantage coverage, Mizuho Securities USA analyst Ann Hynes said in a research note.
Medicare Advantage plans are privately run versions of government-funded Medicare coverage for people who are 65 or older or those who have certain severe disabilities.
LHC Group provides in-home health care to patients dealing with injuries, illnesses or chronic conditions. The Lafayette, La.-based company has 964 locations in 37 states.
It provides nurses and home health aides who care out doctor treatment plans and therapists who offer physical, occupational and speech therapy. LHC also provides end-of-life hospice care through 170 locations.
Job openings, quits at near highs in Feb.
WASHINGTON — Job openings hovered at a near-record level in February, little changed from the previous month, continuing a trend that Federal Reserve officials see as a driver of inflation.
There were 11.3 million available jobs last month, matching January’s figure and just below December’s record of 11.4 million, the Labor Department said March 29.
The number of Americans quitting their jobs was also historically high, at 4.4 million, up from 4.3 million in January. More than 4.5 million people quit in November, the most on records dating back two decades. Many people are taking advantage of numerous opportunities to switch jobs, often for higher pay. The vast majority of those quitting do so to take another position.
Tuesday’s report is separate from the government’s monthly employment report, which in February showed that employers added a robust 678,000 jobs.
The data “shows that the labor market remains torrid,” Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont, said in a research note. “In a month when the economy added 678,000 jobs, the number of job openings only went down by 17,000. That speaks to the depth of the bid that employers have for labor.”
The outsize number of available jobs and quits has contributed to rampaging inflation, as many companies have had to raise pay to attract and keep workers. In February, there were 1.8 openings for every unemployed worker. Before the pandemic, there were usually more unemployed people than job openings.
Consumers still upbeat, but outlook less rosy
SILVER SPRING, Md. — U.S. consumer confidence bounced back in March and remains high, though consumers’ short-term outlook is not quite as rosy.
The Conference Board, a business research group, said March 29 that its consumer confidence index — which takes into account consumers’ assessment of current conditions and their outlook for the future — rose to 107.2 in March from 105.7 in February.
The board’s present situation index, which measures consumers’ assessment of current business and labor conditions, also rose this month to 153 from 143 in February.
However, the expectations index, based on consumers’ six-month outlook for income, business and labor market conditions, declined to 76.6 from 80.8 in February. Respondents cited higher prices — particularly gas prices — and the war in Ukraine as the biggest factors.
The proportion of people planning to purchase homes, automobiles, and major appliances over the next six months all fell as interest rates have risen, the Conference Board said.