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By Jan Schwartz and Georgina Prodhan HAMBURG/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Ferdinand Piech, a towering figure at Volkswagen for more than two decades, resigned as its chairman on Saturday after losing a showdown he had provoked with Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn, ending an era at the iconic German carmaker. Piech, the 78-year-old grandson of the inventor of the Volkswagen Beetle Ferdinand Porsche, had previously seen off other executives who crossed him, including his own hand-picked successor as CEO, Bernd Pischetsrieder. "The members of the steering committee came to a consensus that, in the light of the past weeks, the mutual trust necessary for successful cooperation was no longer there," the six-member panel said in a statement after another meeting on Saturday. The steering committee was and is conscious of its responsibility to Volkswagen and its many thousand staff." Two sources with knowledge of the matter said Piech had resigned without forcing a vote of the committee at its second crisis gathering in 10 days.
Retail clothing chain Abercrombie & Fitch will end by July its "sexualized marketing," after years of blanketing its web sites, store windows and shopping bags with photos of half-naked men, according to the Washington Post. It will also stop using shirtless models or lifeguards at events and store openings for both the Abercrombie & Fitch and the Hollister brands, the newspaper reported late Friday, citing an announcement. Abercrombie & Fitch had come under fire in recent years for its strict dress code and sexualized marketing, and has been in a Supreme Court case for denying a Muslim woman a job because of her head scarf. The changes come as the company faces slumping sales, as teens increasingly move away from the brand, according to the Washington Post.
Deutsche Bank faces a long and costly battle, analysts say, to sell Postbank and pare investment banking, the new strategic goals it outlined late on Friday. Deutsche will face an especially difficult challenge in selling off Postbank without having to post losses. We're worried about jobs at Postbank, Carsten Schneider, finance expert and deputy SPD parliamentary floor leader, told Reuters. Deutsche Bank has a social-political responsibility here that extends beyond its economic interests. Postbank could fetch close to 3.6 billion euros ($3.9 billion) if it sells for a multiple of 0.8 times a book value of 4.5 billion euros, according to analysts' calculations.
Comcast Corp abandoned its $45 billion offer for Time Warner Cable Inc on Friday after U.S. regulators raised concerns that the deal would give Comcast an unfair advantage in the cable TV and Internet-based services market. The collapse of the deal opens the door for other possible offers for Time Warner Cable, but also casts heightened regulatory risk on merger activity in the U.S. cable industry, which has been rapidly consolidating in the face of competition from satellite TV and Web-based services. Comcast had argued the merger would bring faster service and better video services to more Americans. Charter Communications Inc lost out on a bid for Time Warner Cable last year, and Charter's controlling shareholder, Liberty Media Corp, had since indicated continuing interest.
The building is home to Futex, one of several so-called "trading farms" in the UK that give training, office space and equipment to people prepared to make short-term trades, mostly within a day, with their own money in the hope of being hired or sponsored for a cut of their profits. Navinder Singh Sarao - who has been accused by U.S. authorities of contributing to the May 2010 "flash crash" in Wall Street - worked there between early 2003 and early 2008, according to a statement by Futex on Friday.
Greece and its lenders must reach a reform deal by early May to address Greece's need for cash, Deputy Prime Minister Yannis Dragasakis said in an interview with a Greek newspaper published on Saturday. Shut out of international markets and locked in talks with its European Union and International Monetary Fund creditors over its proposed reform-for-cash deal, Greece risks running out of cash within weeks. Athens must pay the International Monetary Fund almost 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) in May. It has said it wants to honor its obligations and needs lenders to offer something in return. "There is clearly a potential and an imperative need for an interim deal to be concluded in the first days of May, if not within April," Dragasakis said in an interview with Avgi newspaper, the mouthpiece of the leftist government of Alexis Tsipras.
By Tom Krkemeier RIGA (Reuters) - German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble hinted on Saturday that Berlin was preparing for a possible Greek default, drawing a parallel with the secrecy of German reunification plans in 1989. At a briefing with reporters after a tense meeting of euro zone finance ministers on Greece on Friday, Schaeuble was asked if euro zone finance ministers were working on a "Plan B" in case negotiations on funding with cash-strapped Athens fail. To explain his position, he drew a parallel with the secrecy that was necessary during the initial stage of planning for German reunification in 1989. The finance minister of Slovenia suggested at that meeting that because the talks, that have been going on for three months, were leading nowhere, perhaps euro zone ministers should starting discussing a Plan B -- what happens if Greece defaults.
By Serajul Quadir DHAKA (Reuters) - Some 220 garment factories have shut down in Bangladesh with the loss of up to 150,000 jobs after the collapse of Rana Plaza shone a light on unsafe working conditions in the ready-to-wear industry, triggering a wave of inspections, according to a report on Saturday. More than 1,100 workers were killed when the building collapsed in 2013, creating urgent demands for global retailers to do more to ensure the safety of their workers in Bangladesh, the world's second biggest garment exporter after China. German-based NGO Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB)said many factories had closed down because they failed to meet the stricter safety measures and better terms for their workers, or due to a fall in orders. "The factories, especially small and medium-sized factories were closed during this time due to cancellation of work orders from the buyers and lack of compliance," TIB Executive Director Iftekhar Uzzaman told Reuters.
UBS's chairman said a default by Greece is seen by the International Monetary Fund as "systemically controllable" and he believed it would have a negligible impact on the Swiss bank itself, according to a newspaper interview published on Saturday. Euro zone finance ministers told Greece on Friday that its leftist government would get no more aid until it agreed a complete economic reform plan. In an interview with Neue Zuercher Zeitung, the chairman of Zurich-based UBS, Axel Weber, addressed the alternative if euro zone and Greek officials fail to reach an agreement. "I've just come from a meeting of the International Monetary Fund.
Greece's governors and other local officials agreed on Saturday to lend cash to the near-bankrupt central government after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras assured them the measure would last for only a short period of time. Greek lawmakers approved a decree late on Friday to force state entities to lend cash to the central government in spite of protests by municipalities and labor unions. The measure, which was approved by 156 lawmakers in the 300-seat chamber, caused an outcry by local governors, who met Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Saturday to seek an explanation about the necessity of the action. "We got assurances that the measure is an emergency and temporary one, so it will become optional in a short time," the head of the Greek group representing local government officials, Kostas Agorastos, told reporters after the meeting.