Enron bankruptcy: Company paid out $55m in bonuses -- and other news

Enron paid $55m bonuses to key staff
More than 500 employees of fallen energy provider Enron were paid bonuses totalling $55m (£39m) just days before...

Enron paid $55m bonuses to key staff
More than 500 employees of fallen energy provider Enron were paid bonuses totalling $55m (£39m) just days before the company filed for bankruptcy. The bonuses, which averaged $110,000 per employee, came to light as Enron became the subject of an investigation by the US Department of Labor.

The Times reports that Enron paid bonuses to persuade key employees to stay with the company after its collapse. But the average payments of $110,000 far exceed the $4,500 severance packages offered to the company's 5,100 employees based in Houston and London. The Daily Telegraph reports that lawyers have questioned the size of the payouts, which Enron described as "retentive incentives" for crucial staff. The Guardian, meanwhile, reports that the payments have not only caused outrage among the workers already laid off, but also its creditors, who are chasing debts that total more than $30bn.

Intel and AMD predict boost in sales
The long-suffering semi-conductor industry received a boost yesterday when two of the world's largest chipmakers said they expect sales in the current quarter to be higher than previously forecast. Intel said it expected sales of $6.7bn-$6.9bn in the fourth quarter, against its previously forecast range of $6.2bn-$6.8bn. Meanwhile, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) said fourth-quarter sales would increase 10% or more compared with third-quarter sales of $766m.

The Financial Times reports that the improved guidance from Intel and AMD is consistent with an industry report this week that suggested global chip sales were starting to improve slightly.

Best of the rest

The Financial Times reports:
  • Nine states still persuing the antitrust suit against Microsoft will today propose behavioural restraints on the company. The states' proposal will force Microsoft to give public access to significantly more portions of the software code of its Windows operating system than the Justice Department deal.

  • Siemens' chief executive, Heinrich von Pierer, has quashed speculation that it will withdraw from mobile phone manufacturing. The company said yesterday that it would give its two networking and IT services business units another year to fulfil their operating margin targets.

  • SAP will make job cuts for the first time when it reduces its US workforce by 7% later this year. The company expects 300 jobs will be lost when it reorganises its US businesses from 21 industry groups into 12 so-called key clusters.

The Daily Telegraph reports:
  • NTL, the US-listed cable company will start charging for its previously free Internet service in a bid to reduce its debts of $12bn. The 600,000 users of the free service will be told that from January they will have to pay £5 a month for the service; new customers will pay £10.

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