Archive for September, 2008

Alcatel-Lucent names new management (Reuters)

Monday, September 1st, 2008 | Finance News

PARIS (Reuters) -
Alcatel-Lucent (ALUA.PA) named its new
top management on Tuesday as Philippe Camus, a former key
executive at planemaker Airbus's parent EADS (EAD.PA), and Ben
Verwaayen
, the former head of British Telecom (BT.L).

The world's biggest provider of fixed-line telecoms
networks said in a statement that Camus, a senior partner at
French media group Lagardere (LAGA.PA), would replace Serge
Tchuruk
as non-executive chairman as of October 1, while
Verwaayen would take over as chief executive replacing Patricia
Russo
, who was ousted along with Tchuruk in July.

Alcatel has issued a string of profit and sales warnings
and seen its market value melt more than 60 percent since it
started operating as a combined business in December 2006
following Alcatel's acquisition of the U.S. group Lucent.

Investors have been pushing hard for many months to get rid
of Russo and Tchuruk. In May shareholders publicly criticized
the pair and approved measures that made it easier to dump
them.

Alcatel-Lucent's shares closed at 4.30 euros on Monday,
valuing the group at 9.98 billion euros ($14.6 billion). The
stock, which has gained 30 percent since mid-July, is still
down 13 percent since the start of the year.

(Editing by Greg Mahlich)

Source

On first scan, little oil damage seen from Gustav (Reuters)

Monday, September 1st, 2008 | Finance News

HOUSTON (Reuters) -
Several major U.S. refiners said early
checks on Monday showed their facilities were unharmed by
Hurricane Gustav, but at least two others were said to be
considering dipping into the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve
to keep operations going after the storm shut down key
waterways.

Gustav weakened to Category 2 before roaring ashore near
Port Fourchon, Louisiana, on Monday, potentially sparing the
kind of damage that the region's platforms, rigs and refineries
suffered at the hands of more powerful Katrina three years ago.

Offshore operators said remote sensors indicated that major
platforms remained where they were moored before the storm,
although Shell, the region's largest producer, said it may take
three to five days to restore production.

Energy companies had to shut in all 1.3 million barrels of
U.S. offshore oil production -- a quarter of U.S. output -- as
well as 7.06 billion cubic feet per day in natural gas supply,
or nearly all of the 15 percent of national production the Gulf
provides, as Gustav ploughed through the region.

By late Monday night, Gustav had subsided to a tropical
storm
, with winds of 60 miles per hour (96.5 kph), as it moved
inland across Louisiana.

U.S. crude stood at $111.07 a barrel by 12:15 a.m. EDT,
about 33 cents below trading levels late on Monday, when prices
slumped $4 on easing concerns about Gustav, which had been
called the biggest threat to the sector since 2005's
devastation.

Thirteen refineries with a combined capacity of 2.67
million barrels per day (bpd) -- 15 percent of the country's
total -- were shut by late Monday, but early signs suggested
many had been spared.

Valero Energy Corp said an initial check of its 250,000
barrels per day (bpd) refinery at St Charles, Louisiana,
refinery showed no significant structural damage from Gustav,
and that the plant had electrical power.

ConocoPhillips said remote sensors showed that its Magnolia
platform in the Gulf of Mexico had suffered no damage from the
hurricane.

Elsewhere, police said no flooding had been seen at the
Exxon Mobil Chalmette, Murphy Meraux and ConocoPhillips
Alliance refineries south and east of New Orleans.

The second-largest U.S. refinery, Exxon Mobil's 503,000-bpd
Baton Rouge plant was suddenly and temporarily turned off in an
electrical power failure caused by high winds.

SUPPLY PROBLEMS

Ten refineries with a combined capacity of 3.23 million
barrels were at reduced output as ship channels from Florida to
Houston were shut, cutting off their supply of crude.

The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, the only U.S. port capable
of offloading the biggest oil tankers, also halted all
operations due to high winds and waves.

Chevron Corp said production was cut at its 330,000
barrel-per-day (bpd) refinery in Pascagoula, Mississippi, due
to the closure of the ship channel, but expected output to
resume as soon as the channel opens. The channel was expected
to reopen once weather from Hurricane Gustav clears.

Facing reduced feedstock supplies, Exxon Mobil Corp and
Shell Oil Co. are expected to seek emergency crude from the
U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) on Tuesday, Louisiana's
Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal said.

An Exxon spokeswoman said she could not confirm Jindal's
statement. A U.S. Energy Department official said no requests
had yet been made to uncork some of the 700 million barrels of
crude the U.S. has on hand for a supply interruption.

The offshore fleet of production platforms and drilling
rigs
may have fared as well as the refineries, with Conoco and
Anadarko saying remote sensors indicated the giant and costly
structures had not been dragged far away or crushed.

Shell said it was planning to begin returning crews to
platforms outside of Gustav's path, while doing flyovers of
those that bore hurricane's fury.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba, Richard Valdmanis, Robert
Campbell, Bruce Nichols, Eileen O'Grady and Chris Baltimore;
Editing by Ben Tan and Jonathan Leff)

Source

Google set to introduce its own Web browser (Reuters)

Monday, September 1st, 2008 | Finance News

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) -
Google Inc (GOOG.O) is set to
introduce on Tuesday a new Web browser designed to more quickly
handle video-rich or other complex Web programs, posing a
challenge to browsers designed originally to handle text and
graphics.

Google officials confirmed news of long-rumored plans to
offer its own Web browsing software, entitled Google Chrome, in
a company blog post after it mistakenly mailed details of the
plan to a Google-watching blog, called Blogoscoped.com.

The company statement calls the move "a fresh take on the
browser" and said it will be introducing a public trial of the
Web browser for Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) Windows users on
Tuesday. Details can be found at http://tinyurl.com/gchrome/.

The Internet search leader is also working on versions for
Apple Macintosh users and for Linux devices, it said.

The launch of Chrome coincides with the recent introduction
by arch-rival Microsoft of its Internet Explorer 8 last month.
Internet Explorer holds roughly three-quarters of the browser
market, followed by Mozilla's Firefox and Apple Inc's (AAPL.O)
Safari browsers.

Google said its engineers have borrowed from a variety of
other open-source projects, including Apple's WebKit and the
Mozilla Firefox open-source browser. As a result, Google plans
to make all of Chrome software code open to other developers to
enhance and expand, the company said.

"We realized that the Web had evolved from mainly simple
text pages to rich, interactive applications and that we needed
to completely rethink the browser," Google Vice President of
Product Management Sindar Pichai and Engineering Director Linus
Upson said in a jointly authored blog post.

BUILT FOR SPEED

They said Google Chrome promises to load pages faster and
more securely, but it also includes a new engine for loading
interactive JavaScript code, dubbed V8, that is designed to run
the next generation of not-yet-invented Web applications.

"What we really needed was not just a browser, but also a
modern platform for web pages and applications, and that's what
we set out to build," Pichai and Upson wrote.

A Google spokesman declined to comment beyond the blog
post.

Microsoft said the recently upgraded version 8 of Internet
Explorer
offered many new privacy and user control features.

"The browser landscape is highly competitive," Dean
Hachamovitch, general manager of Microsoft's Internet Explorer,
said in a statement.

"People will choose Internet Explorer 8 for the way it puts
the services they want right at their fingertips, respects
their personal choices about how they want to browse and, more
than any other browsing technology, (it) puts them in control
of their personal data online," Hachamovitch said.

John Lilly, chief executive of Mozilla Corp, the
organization behind the Firefox browser, said Google, which has
been his non-profit organization's biggest financial backer for
several years, had recently renewed its support through 2011.

Mozilla recently introduced its own upgraded browser,
Firefox 3, and has collaborated with Google on a variety of
technical issues, including a system for reporting software
crashes and to make software browsers more secure.

He said in a blog post that Mozilla and Google would
continue to collaborate where it made sense for both
organizations, but that Mozilla would also focus on its main
mission of keeping the Web open and participatory by fostering
its own commmunity-developed browser and other projects.

"With IE, Firefox, Safari, Opera, etc -- there's been
competition for a while now, and this increases that," Lilly
wrote in commenting on news of Google Chrome.

GOING 'INCOGNITO'

Google confirmed that it had prematurely mailed a copy of a
promotional comic book detailing plans for Chrome to a blogger.
Blogoscope's writer, Philipp Lenssen, scanned and published the
38-page comic at http://blogoscoped.com/google-chrome/.

Chrome organizes information into tabbed pages. Web
programs can be launched in their own dedicated windows. It
also offers a variety of features to make the browser more
stable and secure, according to the comic book guide.

Among Chrome's features is a special privacy mode that lets
users create an "incognito" window where "nothing that occurs
in that window is ever logged on your computer." This is a
read-only feature with access to one's bookmarks of favorite
sites.

Once available for testing on Tuesday, the browser can be
downloaded at http://www.google.com/chrome/.

(Additional reporting by Daisuke Wakabayashi in Seattle,
Paritosh Bansal and Nick Zieminski in New York; Editing by
Matthew Lewis and Jan Paschal)

Source