School closings as a community mitigation tactic during a pandemic would significantly or moderately affect about 72% of participating financial institutions. Nearly 99% of respondents thought the exercise was useful for assessing pandemic preparedness. Oct 26, 2007 (CIDRAP News) The US Department of the Treasury this week announced the results of a recent exercise to test the resiliency of the nation’s financial services sector in an influenza pandemic, revealing that few firms were well prepared and most needed to improve their all-hazards plans. The simulation began with the World Health Organization announcing that human-to-human cases of H5N1 avian influenza had been reported in five major US cities, probably because of infected travelers arriving from Lagos, Nigeria. Most (91%) said they would refine their business continuity plans on the basis of what they learned from the exercise. As the simulated outbreak spread across the country, companies were asked a series of preparedness questions on topics such as predicted absenteeism, the status of human resources plans for a pandemic, and plans for educating employees. Questions specifically relating to financial operations, for example, included detailed questions about predicted automatic teller machine (ATM) availability and how the companies would respond if daily security trading hours were shortened. At the end of the exercise, the groups were asked how effective their business continuity plans were. Nearly 12% said their plans were very effective, 56% reported they were moderately effective, 28% rated them as minimally effective, and 4% said the plans were “not at all” effective. As the planners analyze more of the exercise data in the coming months, they will release more detailed information on the pandemic’s impact and the industry’s response, officials said. Of the participating organizations, 64% reported they had a business continuity plan for use in a pandemic, but only 42% said they had human resources policies in place to respond to employees’ needs during a pandemic. Among other findings, Treasury Department officials learned that: Establishing a telecommuting system and dividing and dispersing work units were the two most common steps companies said they would take to maintain business operations during a pandemic. In May 2006 the White House directed the Treasury Department to work with banking and financial services companies to boost their pandemic preparedness, according to an Oct 24 department press release. As the exercise progressed, the companies responded to fluctuating market indicators and varying absenteeism rates. At the peak of the pandemic, the exercise simulated a 49% absenteeism rate. The last phase of the exercise centered on the nation’s recovery from a pandemic, with preparation for a possible next wave of illnesses. “The strong public-private coordination on this exercise allowed us to reach more institutions than we ever expected,” said Valerie Abend, the department’s assistant secretary for critical infrastructure protection, in a press release. “And by allowing almost all participants to find critical gaps in their planning, this exercise was an unquestionable success in helping the industry prepare for such a crisis.” As the pandemic progressed, the exercise described emerging impacts on supply chains, worker absentee rates, healthcare systems, schools, transportation, financial market indicators, and market reactions. The Treasury Department said 2,775 organizations registered for the exercise; 65% were banks and credit unions, 23% security firms, 11% insurance companies, and 4% other groups (utilities, industry associations, and regulators). The exercise was conducted Sep 24 through Oct 12 and consisted of an online program of weekly scenarios and preparedness questions. The exercise was organized by two Treasury divisions: the Financial Banking Information Infrastructure Committee (FBIIC) and the Financial Services Sector Coordinating Council (FSSCC).
Yoshio TamuraIndustry profits for 32-inch LCD panels are will decrease by 22% in the first quarter of 2016, after increasing by 24% year-on-year in Q1 2015, according to IHS.The research firm said that the steep decline in profit margins for 32-Inch LCD panels – a key display revenue generator – will likely mean manufacturers shift their 32-inch LCD production to larger sizes, thus reducing prices and increasing demand for displays larger than 48 inches.“Most LCD TV panel prices began to fall after the first quarter of this year, and prices will reach their lowest level in the second quarter of 2016. Since equipment depreciation cost is factored into 8th-generation fabs, the total LCD profit margin is expected to turn negative next year,” said Yoshio Tamura, senior director of research and analysis for IHS Technology.
Vivendi has explicitly criticised Mediaset’s plans to combine its Italian and Spanish units in a single Netherlands-based company as the foundation for the creation of a pan-European broadcast outfit.Vivendi, which directly holds a 9.6% stake in Mediaset and a further 19.9% through Simon Fiducaria, in which it was forced to vest the shares to comply with Italian regulatory requirements, said that the price offered to shareholders that wish to exercise their withdrawal rights is too low and contrary to the interest of minority shareholders.A Vivendi spokesperson, cited by Reuters, said that the company “denounces the real objective of Mediaset” which is to “overturn the fundamental principles of shareholder democracy”.The intervention comes after Vivendi moved to take legal action against Mediaset to assert its shareholder rights following attempts by the Italian broadcaster to block it from participating in shareholder meetings.Mediaset revealed last week that it had received a writ of summons from the French media giant via a Milan court requesting the annulation of a resolution approved in April at an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting and demanding the right to be registered in the shareholders’ list thanks to its 9.6% holding.Vivendi wants recognition that it is the legitimate owner of the shares it holds and can exercise the rights associated with that.The media outfit also wants to be able to exercise certain rights related to the 19.9% of Mediaset held by Simon Fiducaria, the group in which it placed all shares above a 10% threshold to meet the requirements of Italy’s TUSMAR rule, which holds that companies may not simultaneously hold large stakes in telecommunications and media companies.