1 Japan’s biggest bank plans to cut 10,000 jobs (Straits Times) Japan’s biggest bank is set to undergo the most dramatic reduction in headcount since it was formed after the nation’s banking crisis shook the industry almost 20 years ago.
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group is considering eliminating about 10,000 positions – about 7 per cent of its workforce – over a decade as low interest rates and intensifying competition squeeze profit, people with knowledge of the matter said. That’s more than double the 3,500 full-time roles that President Nobuyuki Hirano said last year MUFG would cut from its main banking unit through natural attrition and less hiring.
The move is a striking example of how Japanese banks are struggling with an increasingly challenging business environment as the central bank’s negative-rate policy erodes margins and a shrinking population curtails credit demand.
MUFG is seeking to reshape itself by closing branches and boosting technology investment – a strategy that peers at home and abroad are also pursuing as digital advancements transform the financial industry and provide an opportunity to save costs.
MUFG, established in 2005 from a merger, employs about 147,000 people worldwide. MUFG’s main lending unit had 766 branches in Japan and 75 abroad as of March 2015, according to its website. The group projects net income will climb 2.5 per cent to 950 billion yen in the year ending March, the first increase in three years.
2 Spotify his more than 140m users (BBC) Spotify now has more than 140 million active monthly users, but the music streaming firm is still deeply in the red. The Swedish firm had revenues of more than 2.9bn euros (£2.6bn) last year, up more than 50% compared with 2015.
However, operating losses rose at nearly the same pace to 349.4m euros (£305.7m). Spotify is considering going public and listing on the stock market, so its latest figures will be under scrutiny.
Spotify reported a net loss of 539.2m euros (£471.6m), more than double the figure for 2015. Nevertheless the number of people listening to music on the platform continues to rise rapidly. Paying subscribers to its premium service, which does not have advertising, rose by 20 million to 48 million.
Apple Music, a key competitor, now has 27 million subscribers, almost double the number 12 months ago. Unlike Spotify it does not offer a free tier. More than 30 million tracks are available on Spotify, which has signed deals committing it to to pay a minimum of 2bn euros in royalties to record companies over the next two years.
3 Amazon to buy Whole Foods Market (Sarah Butler & Zoe Wood in The Guardian) Amazon, the world’s most powerful online retailer, has taken a giant stride into traditional retailing, spending $13.7bn to take over organic food chain Whole Foods Market.
The all-cash deal could be game-changing for the traditional supermarket business. Amazon has long had ambitions to move into the grocery business and launched its food delivery service, Fresh, in the US 10 years ago. It introduced the service in the UK last year after signing a wholesale deal with British supermarket Morrisons.
Amazon is the fourth biggest business in the US and accounts for 43% of online sales there. Whole Foods, founded in 1980, has about 460 stores, including nine in the UK where it has operated since 2004.
“This deal is potentially terrifying for other grocers,” said Neil Saunders from retail analysis firm GlobalData. “Although Amazon has been a looming threat to the grocery industry, the shadow it has cast has been pale and distant. Today that changed: Amazon has moved squarely onto the turf of traditional supermarkets and poses a much more significant threat.” Until now, Amazon has had a limited impact on the grocery market. In the US, it still only accounts for less than 0.5% of grocery spending, according to GlobalData.