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STC - Exide power batteries to help automotive sector

Signing of an agreement between The State Trading Corporation (STC) and Brown and Company PLC took place recently. In accordance to the agreement STC will exclusively issue Exide batteries marketed by Brown and Company PLC to the State sector.

Chairman STC Pradeep Gunewardana exchanging the agreement with Director Browns Group Ishara Nanayakkara. Minister of Trade Marketing Corporate and Consumer Services Bandula Gunewardana looks on.

The newly launched STC-Exide battery will offer the State Sector a special discount on STC-Exide batteries which will be bundled with a one year warranty.

The State Sector will also have the privilege to enjoy the Battmobile service which offers a service in a spark, firstly within Colombo city limits, thereafter it will be expanded to other key areas.

Minister of Trade Marketing Corporate and Consumer Services Bandula Gunewardana who presided at the signing of the partnership commended Brown and Company PLC on taking this initiative to promote a local product at a affordable cost within the State sector. He also went on to point out that this initiative would save currency out flow to foreign countries. Chairperson Brown and Company PLC Rohini Nanayakkara stressed the importance of the agreement and also stated that this is the first ever time Browns have signed an agreement with the State sector, after the new management take over.

Chairman STC Pradeep Gunewardana stated that they are happy to sign an agreement with Browns Battery to be sold to the State sector. The new management of STC headed by him.

Director Browns Group Ishara Nanayakkara with Chairman STC Pradeep Gunewardana signed this trade agreement. Deputy Chairman Ajith Devesurendra and General Manager Agriculture, Battery and New Business of Browns Panduka Weerasingha and the management of State Trading Corporation also attended.

General Motors cuts 744 jobs in Brazil Unit

U.S. automaker General Motors Corp. (GM) announced Monday night that it has cut 744 temporary jobs at one of its Brazilian units because of declining consumer demand and output.

According to the company, the cuts involved only temporary workers who were employed under contracts originally due to expire in July and August. The cuts took place at the company's plant in Sao Jose dos Campos in Sao Paulo State.

Local unions said they were considering strike action in response to the firings. "It is unacceptable that the Brazilian government provided billions for those companies and, in response, they cut jobs," said Luiz Prates, a union representative in Sao Jose dos Campos.

At the end of 2008, the Brazilian government reduced the IPI industrial products tax on vehicles as a way to kick-start sales. The government also boosted availability of consumer credit for buyers of motor vehicles.

In Brazil, GM has three factories and 24,000 workers. Last year, GM sold 468, 476 vehicles in Brazil, up 5.3 per cent from 2007.

Last year, domestic sales in Brazil reached a record 2.82 million for an annual rise of 14.5 per cent according to the National Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association, or Anfavea.

Brazilian motor vehicle manufacturers enjoyed a banner year in 2008 through the month of September.

In order to become a viable company:

Sen. Corker hopes Chrysler will merge

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, who pushed for tough conditions on the U.S. government bailout for automakers, said on Tuesday he hoped that Chrysler LLC would merge to become a viable company.

Corker, who was touring the Detroit auto show and scheduled to meet with U.S. auto executives, also said he was concerned that General Motors (GM.N) might not meet the aggressive restructuring targets set out under the $13.4 billion loan granted to the automaker by the Bush administration.

"Chrysler probably needs to merge with somebody, not necessarily disappear from the standpoint of existence," said Corker, who added the automaker owned by Cerberus Capital Management CBS.UL was not making the needed investment to remain competitive.

A Republican whose home state includes auto supply operations and the North American headquarters of Japan's Nissan Motor Co. (7201.T), Corker said he was concerned that the auto restructuring could be losing steam.

"I do think that we lost a little bit of a sense of urgency," Corker said, attributing it to a lack of legislative mandate for the restructuring targets on GM and Chrysler and uncertainty about the intentions of the Obama administration and the naming of a car czar.

Corker met with GM President and Chief Operating Officer Fritz Henderson before touring the auto show floor. He looked at several vehicles at GM, Ford Motor Co (F.N), Chrysler and Volkswagen, guided by representatives from each company.

Henderson told Corker that GM had begun discussions with bondholders and the United Auto Workers union, the senator said. It was important to see "shared sacrifice in those talks," the senator said.

Corker said GM needed to slash its $62 billion debt load by two-thirds to become viable.

"My only hope is that the things that have to happen in the next quarter get done so that these companies are able to deliver," Corker said.

Corker led a group of Southern conservatives during the ill-fated congressional bailout effort, some of whom opposed a rescue while others wanted deeper labour concessions than those proposed by Democrats.

He attempted to broker a compromise that faltered over how quickly wages for unionized U.S. autoworkers would be brought in line with those at some Japanese rivals that build vehicles in the United States.

"More than ever I am strongly committed to the concepts I laid out," Corker said, adding he regretted the legislation failed to pass.

The wage proposal and two other labour provisions wound up in the $17.4 billion auto bailout approved by the White House and serve as a baseline for negotiations on bailout-related concessions that began this week between GM and the UAW.

Chrysler was granted $4 billion in emergency loans and has sought another $3 billion. Ford has asked for a $9 billion line of credit as insurance against a worsening economy.

A proposal to strip the Corker-inspired labour provisions from the automaker rescue was included in legislation introduced in the House of Representatives last week to expand the government's $700 billion corporate bailout program.

The UAW has objected to Corker's proposals for purportedly placing an unfair burden on the union compared with GM and Chrysler's other creditors.

Corker, surrounded by reporters, photographers and television crews at the show, said he hoped bondholders and other stakeholders would do what is necessary for GM, Chrysler and possibly Ford to have capital structures that allow them to compete.

"Companies that have moderate debt levels are having tremendous troubles today," he said.

"So the troubles that all of these companies are having, if anything, reinforces the fact that this sort of re-engineering of the balance sheet needs to take place, and needs to take place right now."

Corker was invited to attend the Detroit auto show by Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, a fellow Republican, and met with Cox during his tour of the show floor.

GM and Chrysler face an end-March deadline of submitting restructuring plans to the new Congress with expanded Democratic Party majorities in order to demonstrate that they have won needed concessions from the UAW and creditors. Reuters

Hyundai Genesis named Car of the Year

After months of expert test-drives, critical acclaim and independent awards, the Hyundai Genesis took top honours in the most exclusive award in North America when it was named 2009 North American Car of the Year.

The new Hyundai Genesis

A jury of 50 independent automotive journalists evaluated all the new cars introduced last year and chose the 2009 Hyundai Genesis as the best new model. The award was announced at a news conference at the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

"Genesis represents everything we've learned, so far, about engineering great automobiles - and we're delighted that the judges have recognized the good work of our R&D teams," said Hyundai Motor America acting president and chief executive officer John Krafcik. "And we're not stopping here.Genesis will share company in Hyundai showrooms this spring with its rear-wheel drive platform-mate, the Genesis Coupe."

This year the jurors considered more than 50 new vehicles before selecting the top three cars and top three trucks. The Volkswagen Jetta TDI and Ford Flex were the other finalists.

The North American Car of the Year award is decided by a jury of 50 independent, full-time automotive journalists from the United States and Canada. This is the 16th year of the awards, which were inspired by the prestigious European "Car of the Year." They are administered by an organizing committee and are funded exclusively with dues paid by the jurors. Jurors judge the cars on a number of factors including innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for money.


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