Russian ‘bloodbath’ for corporates; BlackBerry hit by low sales; Benefits of being an ugly duckling

1 Russian ‘bloodbath’ for corporates (BBC) The chief executive of Renault Nissan, Carlos Ghosn, has said that manufacturers in Russia are facing a “bloodbath” because of the plunge in the value of the rouble. The currency has been dropping steadily for several months, but suffered very sharp falls earlier this week.

Several rival manufacturers have taken similar steps. However, Mr Ghosn said he was confident the situation would stabilise, eventually. “We didn’t do it [suspend orders] overall, just on some models we said, ‘Sorry, until we see where this situation is going we don’t take orders,'” he said.”When the rouble sinks it’s a bloodbath for everybody. It’s red ink, people are losing money, all car manufacturers are losing money,” he added.

The French-Japanese Renault-Nissan alliance is a major player in Russia’s car industry. Other manufacturers have been taking similar steps in response to the decline of the rouble, which has halved in value against the dollar this year. General Motors, Audi and Jaguar Land Rover also suspended deliveries to Russian dealers earlier this week.

If car sales in Russia do continue to decline, it could affect British manufacturing. Nissan says about 10% of the cars made at its Sunderland plant are exported to the region.

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-30552925

2 BlackBerry hit by low sales (Chris Johnston in The Guardian) BlackBerry shares have fallen despite the smartphone maker announcing better than expected orders for the new Passport phone, as well as slashing losses. The Canadian company lost $148m for the three months to 29 November, a dramatic turnaround from the $4.4bn loss for the same period a year earlier.

However, sales were $793m – significantly below analysts’ expectations of $927.8m and almost $400m lower than last year. In September BlackBerry launched the Passport – an unconventional smartphone about the size of a closed passport with a large square touchscreen as well as a keyboard.

John Chen, chief executive, said the flagship model sold out “a number of times in the quarter”, creating a backlog of orders that reduced revenue in the period. While some 200,000 Passports were sold, he said that some orders slipped into the fourth quarter. Chen said recently: “BlackBerry has survived; now we have to start looking at growth.”

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/dec/19/blackberry-autumn-quarter-results

3 Benefits of being an ugly duckling (Omaira Gill in Khaleej Times) In a world that is becoming more and more superficial, looks are everything. Standards of beauty have changed throughout history, and the current flavour of the month is skinny and pretty. Young girls spend their entire lives obsessing over their looks. Are they pretty enough? Are they thin enough? Will boys like them? Will they get asked to the dance? What should they wear to the dance?

Given this, there is something to be said about growing up an ugly duckling. I was not a pretty teenager. Not even remotely. I was skinny and awkward, with frizzy hair that I hated and the obligatory monobrow. My teenage years were a strange landscape, devoid of the usual angst. I moved to the UK at the age of 14, and was dropped from the clinical surroundings of an all-girls’ school run by nuns into the hormonal cauldron of a co-educational institution.

I brought with me years of indoctrination of no makeup at school, and certainly no fancy hairstyles. Bespeckled and from the age of 17 to 19, with braces to boot, boys were not only uninterested in me, my lack of looks became their running joke. Did all of this bother me? It did, and it didn’t. I never went to a single of my high school parties or dances. I did this out of choice, claiming I didn’t want to go to something as boring as a dance, and anyway what would I do there?

At the age of 19, I finally let my older sister shape my eyebrows. I began wearing kohl, and one evening during some free time in my university dormitory, a friend begged to make me over, so I let her because I had nothing better to do. When she showed me my face in the mirror, I was so shocked that I started laughing. Staring back was a pretty stranger I hadn’t seen before.

Did spending my teenage years as an ugly duckling have a negative impact on me? I don’t think so. If anything, they made me who I am. I learnt that people are shallow, and looks are transient. They’re nice to have, but if I make it to my old age, I’d much rather have interesting stories to tell than a albums of faded beauty.

http://khaleejtimes.com/kt-article-display-1.asp?xfile=data/opinion/2014/December/opinion_December32.xml&section=opinion

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About joesnewspicks

This blog captures interesting news items from around the world for those strained by information overload and yet need to stay updated on global events of significance. The news items displayed are not in order of merit. (The blog takes a weekly off — normally on Sundays — and does not appear when I am on vacation or busy.) I am a journalist for nearly three decades.
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