Apple: Lifting the Veil on Its Supply Chain
Apple released the names of 156 suppliers that account for 97 percent of its procurement spending in response to criticism of working conditions at companies that make parts for its devices. The Cupertino (Calif.)-based company also disclosed instances of rights violations by some manufacturers. Five factories employed underage workers, and 17 others had employees who were essentially indentured because they owed excessive fees to job recruiters, according to Apple’s annual audit. Separately, a contractor for Nike agreed to pay $1 million to settle a lawsuit by unionized workers over unpaid overtime at a shoe factory in Indonesia.
Burger King: A Home Delivery Program
Burger King is trying out a delivery service at some stores in Virginia and Maryland as a way to boost sales. Deliveries are available from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and cost $2. There is a minimum order of $8 to $10, depending on the market. Customers can order online or via phone. Burger King doesn’t deliver fountain drinks, milkshakes, coffee, or breakfast foods. The privately held restaurant chain’s sales topped $608 million in the three months ended Sept. 30, up 1.4 percent from the same period in 2010.
CalPERS: Its Housing Holdings Shrink
The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the largest U.S. public pension fund, has divested about one-fifth of its residential real estate portfolio. Last August the fund’s investment committee set a goal of trimming real estate holdings to 8 percent of the portfolio, down from 10 percent. The fund sold stakes in 28 housing developments in 11 states to a partnership between developer Newland Real Estate Group and the North American affiliate of Japanese homebuilder Sekisui House for an undisclosed sum.
BASF: Moving GMO Research Out of Europe
Chemical company BASF, maker of the genetically modified Amflora potato, is relocating its plant-science division to the U.S. after European consumers resisted genetically modified crops. The headquarters will move to Raleigh, N.C., from BASF’s nearly 100-year-old agricultural center in Limburgerhof. It will also stop developing products targeted solely at European markets. The Amflora potato is designed to be used as a thickening agent in the manufacture of paper, adhesives, and textiles.
Saudi Aramco: Refinery Investments in Asia
Saudi Arabian Oil plans to build refineries in China and Indonesia as part of a $200 billion, 10-year spending program to increase oil-and-gas exploration and double refining capacity. The world’s largest oil company wants to boost exports of refined products, which fetch higher prices than crude. Saudi Aramco, as the national oil monopoly is known, is negotiating final terms for a Chinese refinery, according to company sources, and is prospecting for opportunities in Indonesia.