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Exxon weighs global job cuts after unveiling Australian lay-off plan

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MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) is assessing possible worldwide job cuts, a spokesman said on Wednesday, after the company announced a voluntary lay-off programme in Australia.

Exxon is the latest oil major to embark on axing jobs spurred by a historic collapse in fuel demand because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The company has slashed capital spending this year by 30% to around $23 billion and said in August it planned both capital and operating expense cuts to defend its dividend after reporting losses in the first and second quarters.

“We have evaluations underway on a country-by-country basis to assess possible additional efficiencies to right-size our business and make it stronger for the future,” spokesman Casey Norton, based at the company headquarters in Irving, Texas, said in emailed comments to Reuters.

The comments mark a shift, after Exxon told Reuters in July it had no plans for layoffs due to the pandemic and no percentage targets to reduce its workforce through this year’s employee reviews.

In Australia, Exxon said on Wednesday it had completed a review of its current and future project work in the country and was seeking volunteers to quit the company.

“This program will ensure the company manages through these unprecedented market conditions,” it said in a statement.

The company did not say what percentage of its workforce it was seeking to cut, but said in Australia it would consider all employees who expressed an interest in voluntary redundancy.

FILE PHOTO: A logo of the Exxon Mobil Corp is seen at the Rio Oil and Gas Expo and Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil September 24, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes

“Until other study work is complete, it would be premature to draw conclusions for other countries,” Norton said.

Exxon is looking to sell its 50% stake in the Bass Strait oil and gas joint venture in southeastern Australia, which analysts have estimated could fetch up to $3 billion.

Analysts have speculated it could also sell or close its Altona plant in Melbourne, Australia’s oldest refinery.

Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Tom Hogue and Christian Schmollinger

Source: – Reuters

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World's fastest passenger jet goes supersonic in tests – CNN

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YYJ delays: RCMP called to Victoria International Airport | CTV News – CTV News VI

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Travellers who have a flight planned at Victoria International Airport (YYJ) on Tuesday are being warned of travel disruptions due to police activity.

Sidney/North Saanich RCMP say the airport was closed after a suspicious package was discovered around 1:30 p.m.

Cpl. Andres Sanchez of the Sidney/North Saanich RCMP says that the airport was closed to all incoming and outgoing flights “out of an abundance of caution.”

He said the airport will remain closed until police “can be sure it is safe for the public to travel.”

‘INCENDIARY DEVICE’

“The package was located at the departures/check-in [area], so it was brought in by a passenger,” said Sanchez Tuesday afternoon.

The package was flagged by Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) staff who spotted what appeared to be an “incendiary device” within a bag, he said.

“CATSA employees performed the checks that you normally do at a departure situation at the airport,” he said.

“They scanned the bag and found there were items inside that could be of a dangerous nature and at that point police were called to the scene to investigate further,” he said.

Mounties say a specialized RCMP team has been called in from the mainland to remove the bag from the premises and to “ensure the package is dealt with in a safe manner.”

PASSENGER UNDER INVESTIGATION

Sanchez says the individual who brought the bag is under investigation, but it’s unclear if any criminal charges will be recommended yet.

“Again, because we don’t know what’s in that bag we can’t speak further on that,” he said.

In the meantime, people are asked to avoid the airport for the next few hours, according to RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Chris Manseau.

Around 4:20 p.m., the airport said all scheduled commercial flights for the next two hours were cancelled.

The airport is working with airlines to keep them updated on the status of flights.

Police say they hope the airport will be able to reopen Tuesday night, but it’s uncertain how long the investigation at the property will take.

Travellers should check the YYJ website for the latest updates on their flights, according to the airport. 

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​Scotia hikes dividend, smashes Q2 profit estimates – BNN

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Bank of Nova Scotia opened earnings season for Canada’s Big Six on Wednesday with a beat and a dividend hike as profit climbed in all its major divisions other than capital markets.

Scotia said its net income in the fiscal second quarter, which ended April 30, rose to $2.75 billion from $2.46 billion a year earlier. On an adjusted basis, Scotia earned $2.18 per share; the average estimate among analysts tracked by Bloomberg was for $1.97 in adjusted per-share earnings.

The bank also announced its quarterly dividend will rise to $1.03 per share from $1.00, effective July 27.

“Continued loan growth of 13 per cent, an improving net interest margin, strong customer balance sheets, combined with prudent expense management, positions the Bank well to grow its earnings,” said Brian Porter, Scotia’s president and chief executive officer, in a release.

Profit in Scotia’s core Canadian banking division soared 27 per cent year-over-year to $1.18 billion in the latest quarter. Credit quality was a swing factor compared to a year earlier, as Scotia released $12 million from the unit’s provisions for loan losses in the most recent quarter; a year earlier, it booked $145 million in new provisions for loans that could go bad.

Scotia said it had an average of $271.8 billion in residential mortgages on its Canadian loan book during the fiscal second quarter, up almost three per cent from the prior quarter.

Growth in Scotia’s international division was even more pronounced, as net income surged 44 per cent year-over-year to $605 million as provisions for loan losses fell and revenue climbed.

Scotia’s Global Banking and Markets division was a profit drag, as net income slumped six per cent year-over-year to $488 million, which the bank attributed to higher non-interest expenses and lower non-interest income.

In a report to clients after the results were released, Barclays Analyst John Aiken said he doesn’t think Scotia will be an outlier with the profit slump in its capital markets business.

However, Aiken did flag that the drop in Scotia’s Common Equity Tier 1 capital ratio to 11.6 per cent from 12.0 per cent in the previous quarter might not sit well with investors.

“The only real knock on the results will likely be Scotia’s lower-than-peer regulatory ratio, which was drawn down again from share repurchases. While we believe that [Scotia] is heading towards a much more efficient capital level, the market does not like outliers, particularly where capital and an uncertain outlook is concerned.”

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