I never thought I’d be writing about Union Carbide deadly pesticide leak in Bhopal, India, because it happened 25 years ago, before I was even a journalist.
But just when you think something is old news, it’s new news all over again.
Would you believe an Indian court today convicted seven former senior executives of Union Carbide’s Indian subsidiary of “death by negligence” for their roles in the world’s worst industrial accident?
15,000 people died – or more, depending on whose estimates you believe.
The executives, most of whom are now in their 70s, got two years in prison and $2,175 fines. They are, of course, going to appeal.
When they say that Indian courts are notoriously slow, they aren’t kidding.
Union Carbide, now owned by Dow Chemical, settled the case in 1989 for $470 million.
Foxconn Technology Group has responded to a rash of suicides at its plant in Shenzhen China with yet another round of raises.
The latest pay raise, announced Sunday, brings monthly salaries up to about $293 a month.
So far this year, 10 Foxconn workers in Shenzen have killed themselves by jumping from plant complex buildings, and three others have attempted suicide. Another Foxconn worker in northern China also committed suicide.
Foxconn makes everything from iPads to to cell phones and computers. Labor activists say plant bosses run the workers like militaristic slave-drivers. The company, while bending to public pressure in doling out raises, has said its suicide rate may be within normal range. It employs hundreds of thousands of people, and the annual suicide rate in China is about 13 per hundred thousand.
Six Flags is bankrupt after an acquisition spree that left it with more than $2.4 billion in debt.
The Looney Tunes characters running through the company’s 20 parks seem to have gotten the best of Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder. Synder waged a proxy battle in 2005, winning control of the company, it’s problems, and all of its debt. He was the man who promised to turn it all around, but a downturn in the economy exposed hinm as just another Elmer Fudd.
Snyder installed a new CEO, Mark Shapiro, a wunderkind programming executive from ESPN, who had some success turning around operations.
But Snyder and Shapiro were unsuccessful managing the company’s debts – which is, uh-hem, the most important part of a turn-around strategy. Click here to read my column on Six Flags. I also talked about Six Flags with David Asman on Fox Business News.
One of the worst things that can happen to a company is a successful initial public stock offering, followed by an accounting scandal and then and economic downturn.
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. was one of the hottest IPOs of 2000 – amazing considering it was founded in 1937 and wasn’t a dot com. But stock that reached more than $50 a share has languished for years and now trades at $3.50.
Investors loved the doughnuts, but didn’t stop to realize that it’s difficult to support a business that takes up pricey retail space, selling mostly sugar, flour and grease. Still, not recovered from the Internet bust, Krispy Kreme is now struggling through the mortgage bust.
The company recently reported a 53% slide in profits – but at least it’s profitable. Click here to see my column on Krispy Kreme.
Crocs Inc., maker of cheap, ugly plastic shoes, may not stride through this recession.
After posting a net lost of $185 million for 2008, amid declining revenues, it’s auditor filed a statement with regulators on Tuesday that is has “substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”