Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Audio – Air France-KLM CEO sees some unfriendly skies ahead

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The state of the airline industry and travel overall is not poised for a rapid takeoff in 2009 and looks like it will remain in rough shape until next year, said Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, chief executive of Air France-KLM, on Monday at the Reuters Travel and Leisure Summit.

The head of Europe’s largest airline, who became CEO in January, said he was unsure when things would turn around, but warned that both passenger and cargo metrics were down for the airline.

Gourgeon also said that while there is still some business travel out there, many passengers are trading down from more expensive, high-end to coach, or less expensive travel.

Gourgeon was one of the featured speakers at the summit, which continues through Wednesday in our New York headquarters. The Summit program is in its fifth year, and in 2009 will include top-level executives from  industries and sectors including everything from Infrastructure; to Mining; to Investing in India, China, Japan and Russia; to Food and Beverages.

Audio – And then there were two?

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Priceline.com CEO Jeff Boyd told the Reuters Travel and Leisure Summit in New York that he thinks that at least two out of the four players in the online travel sector – Priceline, Orbitz, Travelocity and Expedia – could be in a position for either an IPO or a sale once the economy turns up.

“I think that the most important fact there is that two of the major players are owned by private equity,” he said. ”Orbitz is controlled by Blackstone. And Travelocity and Sabre Group are controlled by TPG and Silver Lake Partners. And what that means is eventually they will be looking for a way to monetize those private equity investments, and there’s two ways of doing it.

AUDIO – The Spiral

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This has not been a cheerless week — after all, Chicago is a pretty fun place to be.

In reviewing many of the stories, though, from this week’s Reuters Manufacturing and Transportation Summit, one gets the idea that all was gloom in the Windy City.

AUDIO – For Nordson — “Get ‘em right, or get ‘em out”

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Throughout the current recession, many of the companies’ executives at this week’s Reuters Manufacturing and Transportation Summit have found an opportunity to review, pare back and possibly add on to their existing business mixes.

Such is the case for Edward Campbell, chief executive of Nordson Corp, which has a uniquely diversified set of businesses under its umbrella and is looking at what makes sense for them going forward.

AUDIO – Staying the course at CAT — But it’s a rough row to hoe

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Caterpillar Inc Group President Ed Rapp knows that 2009 has been a tough one for his company, but he still thinks they can hit their numbers on revenue and earnings per share.

Speaking at the Reuters Manufacturing and Transportation Summit, Rapp (who, incidentally, has been with Caterpillar for almost 30 years and is still considered something of a “youngster” there!!) said that while there are still many hurdles for the company to avoid in the short term, he thought CAT’s previous guidance was within reach.

AUDIO – GE sees the problems … and the opportunities

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On the first day of this year’s Reuters Manufacturing and Transportation Summit, one of the guests told us of the Chinese theory of the word “crisis” — the symbols for which are a combination of “problem” and “opportunity”.

On Tuesday, Vice Chairman John Rice told Reuters that both sides of the equation were in play for GE, but voiced confidence that the company would be able to hit its marks.

Diller to profitable companies: Lay off the layoffs

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IAC Chief Executive Barry Diller took several groups to task at the Reuters Media Summit, but he reserved special disgust for CEOs at profitable companies who add to the country’s rising unemployment rate.

Also targeted by the former Hollywood executive were “incredibly, shockingly stupid” Big 3 auto executives, the Internet’s strange and growing dictionary, and Hollywood’s lack of creativity.

Audio – Outsourcing daily life

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At the Reuters India Investment Summit we asked Managing Partner of IBM Global Services Sandip Patel about the first thing he would like to outsource from his daily life. His response, perhaps instinctively, was automating the cleanup of thousands of his emails.

 

Anantha Radhakrishnan, Vice President at Infosys BPO, yearned for extended telecommuting to cut down on travel time (and probably cost as well!!) when asked the same question.

Central Europeans frown at state bank ownership

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Talk in western Europe of possibly nationalising private banks to save them from the credit crisis is sending shivers down the spine of policymakers in ex-communist central Europe.

They remember how their government controlled financial systems completely collapsed in the 1990s and threatened to take the countries’ economies along with them due to pouring money into firms with little prospect of returning it.

Carbon fails to capture EU cash

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alan_svoboda.jpgThe EU boasts of its global leadership in fighting climate change but some in the energy industry wonder whether the bloc will put money to work to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

EU governments have been reluctant to back clean technologies — such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) that could sharply reduce pollution from coal — with cash, potentially killing their future, Czech power utility CEZ told the Reuters Central European Investment Summit this week.

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