MediaFile

Fired AOL India employee talks

AOL cut more than 900 jobs around the world today — 20 percent of its staff — and  India took a pretty tough cut from the axe: 400 jobs, according to several sources, and 300 contractors, according to another source. The nice thing for Reuters is that we have a big  bureau in Bangalore, not too far from AOL, and plenty of our people know other people there and were able to get important details about the job cuts.

I coordinated some of the coverage from here since I’m hanging out in the bureau, and was happy when I heard that my colleague Nivedita Bhattacharjee got time to talk with one of the employees who was laid off today. Here is some of what he told her. We agreed to his request for anonymity because he wants to get work again and does not want to disqualify himself from jobs because he spoke to the press.

The entire team had a meeting, and they briefed us about how issues will be handled… we work in AOL. It’s something that we are always prepared (for). We were expecting an announcement soon.

They had some U.S.-centric plans, so they didn’t need us.

I’m leaving on good terms. It’s quite a good severance package… In many ways people are satisfied — we are getting four months’ salary as compensation and, depending on each case, there will be other benefits added to it.

Every fired employee (gets) four months of severance, which is pretty good, but with this action, nobody really has much faith in management, and (we) have been scarred by the experience of easily being let go … after being told for months prior that we were a valuable asset. …

from Breakingviews:

The limits of emerging market deal-making

South Africans snap pictures on their mobile phones

 So much for emerging-market solidarity.

A proposed $24 billion deal between Bharti of India and MTN of South Africa has fallen apart, not for the usual issues of price or control, but national ego.

The apparent sticking point was that South Africa was eager to retain MTN's national character and had approached Indian authorities to consider a dual-listed entity, a structure that Indian laws currently do not allow.

The opportunity for a landmark deal in southern economic cooperation, one that would have created the third-largest wireless operator in the world, looks lost. After several failed attempts, it is the credibility of their respective governments, not the companies themselves, that is left in doubt.

from The Great Debate:

Forget Microsoft, Yahoo’s value is overseas

-- Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

eric_auchard_columnist_shot_2009_june_300_px2The fate of Yahoo Inc has become intertwined in the public's imagination with the success or failure of its dealings with Microsoft Corp in recent years.

That's despite the fact that as much as 70 percent of the value investors put on Yahoo's depressed shares are tied up in its international assets or cash holdings -- factors that have nothing to do with Microsoft.

Yahoo's operations trade for just $5 to $6 per share out of its current $15 share price, once you exclude its Asian investments and the value of its cash. Its hidden assets in Japan and Chinese affiliates -- Yahoo Japan Corp and China's Alibaba Group -- alone are worth around $6 to $7 per share.

from Commentaries:

Bracing for bar brawl in mobile phone emerging markets

The last thing that the complex negotiations between India's Bharti and South Africa's MTN Group to create the world's third largest mobile phone company needed is more complexity. The existing deal involving an intricate mix of cash and stock is further complicated by currency fluctuations and diverging growth rates between the maturing Indian market and the wide-open African one.

Zain's footprint in Africa and Middle EastBut if a third company, Zain of Kuwait, succeeds in starting up a full-scale bidding war for itself, the Bharti-MTN deal could come off the rails and fall apart.  Zain's CEO told Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai on Monday that it is in talks with three major, but so-far unnamed telecom firms, including one from India. Last month, Zain said it was reviewing the possible sale of its far-flung African operations after French conglomerate Vivendi called off talks to buy a majority of Zain's African business.  A Vivendi spokesman says nothing has changed since then. There's no word yet from other obvious suspects -- France Telecom or Vodafone -- on whether they are interested.

The most likely Indian bidder for Zain looks like Reliance Communications, India's distant No. 2 mobile operator to Bharti. There's history here, as Reliance tried to nab MTN a year ago. That move came after Bharti's first try to strike a deal with MTN, South Africa's second largest operator, fell apart over which company's management would end up controlling the combined entity.

The Wall Street Journal and the death of print

Now you know that the uncertain future about the survival of newspapers is news: The Wall Street Journal’s op-ed page features an editorial castigating Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry and others for supporting the notion of federal government aid or bailouts for the struggling business.

The Journal gives us a recap of some ideas that have been seeping their way into the public consciousness in recent months, including:

    Maryland Democratic Sen. Benjamin Cardin’s bill to allow newspapers to exist as non-profits. Sen. Kerry’s endorsement of a proposal by Montana Democratic Sen. Max Baucus’s and Maine Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe’s to let newspapers offset their net operating losses over five years instead of two. Sen. Kerry’s endorsement of some flexibility under the anti-trust laws, presumably in a way that would allow U.S. newspaper publishers to dream up some ways to force people to pay for the news they read online in a model similar to how the cable TV providers work with the people who provide the shows. We note that the editorial didn’t even cover Washington State’s tax break for newspapers, not to mention Connecticut legislators’ recent willingness to help rustle up buyers for some former Journal Register papers. But you might as well add them to the list of ideas.

The Journal’s answer? No! No! No! On what grounds?