TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co Ltd plans to sell its remaining stakes in coal-fired power stations by the end of the decade as it shifts to gas from coal to help achieve its 2050 net zero emission target, its chief executive told Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: People walk past the logo of Japanese trading company Mitsui & Co in Tokyo, Japan, Jan. 10, 2018. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo

“We still own stakes in coal-fired plants in Indonesia, China, Malaysia and Morocco, but our goal is to make it zero by 2030,” Mitsui CEO Tatsuo Yasunaga said in an interview on Friday.

The comment – Mitsui’s first on selling out of coal-fired power generation – comes as firms worldwide move away from coal to cut harmful carbon dioxide emissions and slow climate change.

Mitsui, which generates about two-thirds of profit from energy and metals, is also shifting away from oil.

“With the COVID-19 crisis, we have postponed investment in a few upstream oil deals, but our liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects are on track,” he said.

Through equity holdings, Mitsui’s energy assets comprise 78,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil and 181,000 bpd in gas measured in oil-equivalent terms.

Its crude ratio will decline by 2030 due to the scheduled launch in about four years of LNG projects in Mozambique and arctic Russia, Yasunaga said.

“Renewable energy can’t replace all other power sources in one fell swoop. Gas goes well with volatile renewable energy as gas-fired power generation is easy to switch on and off,” he said, adding Mitsui is also keen on cleaner energy such as offshore wind farms and hydrogen projects.

Outside of energy and resources, Mitsui is betting on healthcare, especially through Malaysian hospital operator IHH Healthcare Bhd of which

By Christoph Steitz and Tom Käckenhoff

ESSEN, Germany (Reuters) – Thyssenkrupp has begun due diligence with potential bidders for its plant division as the German conglomerate accelerates a radical overhaul to sell or turn around ailing business units in the next two years, a top executive told Reuters.

In his first interview, Volkmar Dinstuhl, who oversees the divestment of non-core assets, said the company has opened the books to buyers of its plant-building units and received expressions of interest for its stainless steel division.

Thyssenkrupp

is also open to considering offers for its automotive and remaining industrial assets, said Dinstuhl, who heads up the group’s Multi-Tracks division, which houses businesses Thyssenkrupp no longer wants to own.

“Our goal is to find a solution for all our businesses within the next two years,” said Dinstuhl, the first time Thyssenkrupp has outlined a timeline for restructuring.

The Essen, Germany-based company, which makes submarines, warships, steel and car parts, as well as equipment for cement factories, construction and fertiliser plants, is struggling to define what its core business is.

Dinstuhl, an international chess master, is taking an opportunistic approach to reshaping the company’s portfolio after selling the company’s elevators unit for 17.2 billion euros ($20.2 bln) earlier this year.

That disposal gives Thyssenkrupp the financial strength to stem potential writedowns on other assets it has up for sale, allowing it to pursue a deeper restructuring than has previously been possible.

Dinstuhl said that Multi-Tracks, which accounts for about 6 billion euros in sales and was responsible for 400 million euros of negative cash flow in the 2018/19 fiscal year, will seek to sell, shut down or find partners for the 10 units it comprises.

“We’re basically an internal private equity fund,” he said.

Jennifer Cooper, who has held various M&A positions at Thyssenkrupp

SEATTLE/CHICAGO (Reuters) – Boeing Co BA.N is in discussions to sell 737 MAX jets to Alaska Airlines once the plane returns to service following a lengthy grounding, three people familiar with the matter said.

The talks are part of a series of negotiations between Boeing and several airlines over jet orders or compensation after the 737 MAX was banned worldwide following two fatal crashes.

Boeing and Alaska Airlines, which is part of Alaska Air Group Inc ALK.N, declined to comment.

Any deal would be subject to U.S. Federal Aviation Administration approval of proposed 737 MAX safety upgrades.

Boeing shares were up 1.6% at $167.22 on Thursday afternoon, while Alaska Air stock was up 4.1% at $38.54.

Alaska Airlines already had ordered 37 of the jets before the grounding. If confirmed, a new order from such a major carrier would give Boeing’s 737 MAX a sorely needed commercial boost as the U.S. planemaker tries to move beyond a crisis that has hammered its finances.

It would also mark a post-crisis test of the balance of power between Boeing and Airbus AIR.PA. The European planemaker is battling to keep a foothold in Alaska Airlines, which had operated an all-Boeing fleet until it acquired Virgin America in 2016.

However, any new deal between Alaska Airlines and Boeing is expected to include significant discounts given the MAX’s woes and plunging demand for airplanes during the coronavirus crisis, industry sources said.

It was not immediately clear how many jets it may buy.

The talks are among several discussions Boeing is having with airlines, hoping to stimulate demand for the jet when it returns to the air. Analysts caution cutting prices too far could rattle some existing customers.

After months of delays, and pending approval of design and

Viacom-CBS has enacted some additional belt-tightening for 2020, as employee merit pay increases have been eliminated for the year.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic’s continued hammering of the media sector, Viacom-CBS CEO Bob Bakish addressed staff in a global town hall event on Wednesday morning to announce the cuts.

“In an effort to manage company assets conservatively during this economically challenging time, we have come to the difficult but necessary decision to forego merit increases for all employees this year,” Bakish said, according to multiple individuals familiar with the meeting.

Merit pay is unscheduled increases in compensation based on performance, and is separate from bonuses.

A Viacom-CBS spokesperson had no immediate comment on the matter.

Sources said there’s also a feeling more staff reductions may shake out by the end of the year, which will come as part of the recent recombination of CBS and Viacom, and not as part of pandemic economic factors. The company has enacted several rounds of layoffs since February, its highest round affected roughly 100 employees across holdings.

“Even before the coronavirus pandemic, we were already in a period of significant change to integrate our newly combined company — work that is helping us weather this crisis, creatively adapt and strengthen the resiliency of our business,” Bakish said at the time.

On Wednesday, Bakish also said that domestic employees would not be returning to their offices “for the foreseeable future,” according to another individual. Months ago, the CEO announced that all office locations including their New York headquarters would remain closed through the end of 2020.

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The logo of Chevron is seen at the company’s office in Caracas, Venezuela April 25, 2018. REUTERS/Marco Bello/Files

HOUSTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Chevron Corp employees worldwide are being asked to reapply for positions as part of a cost-cutting program expected to eliminate up to 15% of its workforce, people familiar with the matter said.

The No. 2 U.S. oil producer has begun taking steps to streamline its organization this year to reduce costs and revive declining profits. Oil companies have posted huge losses on asset writedowns and slashed spending as economic downturns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic undercut fuel demand.

Employees who are not chosen for jobs should know within weeks, Chief Executive Michael Wirth said in an interview on Monday. He did not discuss how cuts would be decided nor how many employees were asked to reapply for positions.

The company took a $1 billion charge to earnings earlier this year to cover severance pay for employees affected by the restructuring. Workers not chosen for new assignments would lose their jobs.

Chevron recently expanded its 45,000-person workforce by acquiring smaller oil and gas producer Noble Energy, which has about 2,200 workers. That $4.1 billion all-stock deal closed this week.

In Houston, about 700 employees will lose jobs starting Oct. 23, according to a notice Chevron sent to the state of Texas. Employees will receive enhanced severance benefits and two-months to leave the company, the letter said. Most of the people not chosen for new posts will depart by the end of the year, a spokeswoman said.

Decisions about Noble employees are likely in several weeks, Wirth said. Reductions are more likely where the two companies overlap, such as west Texas shale and administrative areas, Wirth said.

“Some areas like the Middle East or