Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., based in Culver City, will be laying off about 450 people and eliminating 100 open positions to cope with declining DVD sales. Most of the cuts at the studio will occur by the first week of March and will be in the home entertainment and information-technology units in the United States.
The company, a subsidiary of Japan’s Sony Corp. also cut back last March, when it laid off nearly 250 people and eliminated nearly 100 open positions. Company staff was informed of the latest cuts in a memo Monday and through videos by the studio co-chairs on an employee Web site. “Our industry is affected by two things: It’s affected by the economy, of course, and it’s affected by technology,” co-chair Amy Pascal says in the video. “Over the last two years, it’s changed people’s DVD buying habits, which has had a huge effect on our company and the industry at large.”
The home video market has been declining as people have not been buying videos as often, and instead turn to rentals, which are far less profitable for the industry.
Toyota Motor Corp. has announced that it plans to end production in March 2010 at the Fremont plant it has run with General Motors Co. The Toyota-GM partnership has run the plant since 1984 – Corolla compact and Tacoma pickups are built there. Bob Wasserman, mayor of Fremont expressed disappointment at the news that the 5.3-million-square-foot plant would close: “This is a real tragic loss of jobs, very good jobs, for the workers at NUMMI,” he said. “There are a lot of good people there who will now be out of work. And this impact will be felt well beyond Fremont, considering all of the people employed by suppliers around the East Bay and the Central Valley. This is a very difficult situation.”
Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., the movie studio subsidiary of the Japanese electronics maker, is laying off nearly 250 people and eliminating nearly 100 open positions in an effort to cut costs. According to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle, about 150 of those jobs will be in the Los Angeles area:
Chief Executive Michael Lynton and studio co-chair Amy Pascal announced job cuts of 3.5 percent of the studio’s staff worldwide in a staff memo sent out Tuesday afternoon. “Our studio remains profitable, but over the past five months, the deepening global financial crisis has begun to impact some of our lines of business, such as television syndication, DVDs and advertising sales,” they said in the memo. These economic effects have, regretfully, made it necessary to take the step we had hoped to avoid, and worked hard to minimize: reducing our headcount.”
Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group has offered to purchase the 35 percent stake in San Francisco based UnionBanCal- parent of Union Bank of California, that’s held by the public. As reported in the San Francisco Business Times:
Japan’s largest bank my market cap sees the Union Bank branch network as a nice launch pad for its own banking ambitions in America. “We view this transaction as a first step of our growth strategies in the United States, and we will achieve greater management flexibility and aim to further strengthen our presence,” MUFG said.
MUFG unsolicited offer calls for the Japanese bank to pay $63 per share, or $2.7 billion, for the UnionBanCal shares in public hands. That was up from a previously undisclosed offer of $58 per share that the San Francisco bank’s board rejected in June as too low. The proposed transaction values the entire bank at $8.8 billion. Investors anticipate that the purchase price may be nudged higher, pushing the bank’s shares up 13 percent Aug. 12 to $65.50 at the close of New York Stock Exchange trading.
UnionBanCal operates 330 branches in California, Oregon and Washington state. Union Bank in recent years has adopted a strategy of courting business owners and affluent customers rather than trying to go head-to-head against California’s two-largest banks, Bank of America and Wells Fargo. The numbers don’t work for Union Bank to engage in that costly battle, given the larger banks’ ubiquitous branches and ATMs.
Walt Disney Co. is planning on launching a new cellphone service in Japan on March 1, according to a report in Los Angeles business. Disney’s Japan unit said it will become a mobile virtual network operator using Softbank Corp.’s pricing plans and sales channels, according to Dow Jones reports. The partnership was initially reported on in November. Burbank-based Disney discontinued two similar services in the U.S. in recent years, with Disney Mobile announcing in September that it was stopping service at the end of 2007 and Mobile ESPN shutting down in September 2006.
“Napster Inc. is preparing to launch an over-the-air music subscription service in Japan. The service, an extension of the Napster to Go service, will be offered by Napster Japan,a joint venture of Napster, Tower Records Japan and NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s largest wireless carrier… Los Angeles’ Napster is a music service with offerings that include free Web-based music listening and sharing, subscription and portable subscription services.”
“Tohoku University U.S. Office will hold its Opening Ceremony on April 26 and the First Tohoku University International Innovation Forum on April 27 at the Marriott San Mateo at San Francisco Airport, 1770 South Amphlett Boulevard. The U.S. Office is the international promotion center of Tohoku University. The two day event will feature over 50 world renowned experts in their fields speaking on a broad spectrum of science and technology issues to include Nobel Laureate Roger Kornberg, Stanford University Professor, speaking on The Gene Reader in Our Cells. California Governor, the Honorable Arnold Schwarzenegger, is scheduled to present the opening keynote address. The creation of Tohokuâ€™s Silicon Valley California office demonstrates the beginning of its intention to create a portal for the facilitation of collaboration with U.S. companies and educational institutions.”
Assemblyman Van Tran has gone to Japan to meet with high-ranking government officials and discuss trade relations, according to the Newport Beach Daily Pilot:
Tran was specially invited by the Japanese foreign ministry and left Tuesday for a five-day trip ‘Basically this is a long-standing invitation that’s gone on for about a year now,’ Tran said by phone Tuesday before leaving. He planned to meet with Japan’s ministers of justice, science and technology, and also with corporate officials from Panasonic, Honda and Kikkoman. Tran said his goal for the trip is “to basically promote trade and have discussions to build better relations between the people of Japan and California.
“San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC) will feature Editor-in-Chief of The Economist, John Micklethwait, at a dinner program tomorrow honoring the Founder and Chairman Emeritus of Kyocera Corporation, Dr. Kazuo Inamori. As the recipient of EDCâ€™s 2007 Herb Klein Civic Leadership Award, Dr. Kazuo Inamori is recognized as an executive who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in both business and philanthropy. In 1959, and at the age of 27, Dr. Inamori founded Kyoto Ceramic Co., Ltd. (now Kyocera) in Japan with 28 employees and three million yen from friends. In 1971, Kyocera became the first Japanese-parented corporation with manufacturing operations in the State of California.”