THE WEEK’S OVERVIEW – CORPORATE

Teamwork

Items of interest that might have been missed in the press of events:

  • Ford is finalizing plans to close factories in Europe and cut 12,000 jobs, twenty percent of its European workforce.  The plan is aimed at focusing on technologies that are reshaping the auto industry such as electric vehicles and autonomous driving.  In so doing, the company will shrink its manufacturing plants from 24 to 18 by the end of the year, which is seen as assisting the company to return to profitability in that arena.
  • It’s expected that Nissan will soon have a majority of independent directors and the thinking inside Renult is that this group could potentially be more willing to examine a deal with Renault/Fiat/Chrysler based on strategic merits rather than through the “prism of a fraught alliance” (ref WSJ).  Fiat Chrysler withdrew its offer to Renault in June after the French government had indicated that more time was needed for the partnership between Renault and Nissan to gel.  Executives of all three companies still remain open to the idea that the deal may return.
  • FedEx profits are currently being squeezed by customers who seek cheaper delivery options and that situation continues to weigh on the company’s core Express business.  The company recently ended a contract with Amazon.com and announced plans to offer 7-day delivery service to homes to replace some of the previous use of USPS shipping.  CEO Fred Smith has said that , “As we go forward and things change, if we don’t see. . . growth, we will change our approach in the business  – we don’t have any sacred cows here.”
  • Walmart is using virtual reality to assist in its management hiring processes.  During the hiring process, management applicants are fitted with a virtual reality headset and asked to respond to situations such as an angry shopper, a messy aisle and/or an underperforming worker, among other scenarios.  The company’s VP of Associate Experience has said, “What we’re trying to do is understand the capacity of the individual from a leadership prospective and how they view situations.”  The VR process is seen as useful in limiting the bias inherent in  traditional hiring decisions.

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