Business news in brief
Broadway bridge project wins top honor
The project to replace the Broadway bridge drew the top honor at the American Council of Engineering Companies of Arkansas annual Engineering Excellence Awards Gala.
The bridge spanning the Arkansas River connecting downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock was named Grand Conceptor at the annual event, held Thursday at the Governor’s Mansion. The bridge also took first place in the structural systems category.
Garver, a multidiscipline engineering, planning, architectural and environmental services firm based in North Little Rock, provided design services for the project, which included approaching roadways, bridge lighting, and pedestrian and cycling paths.
“The new Broadway bridge is one of the most satisfying and rewarding projects that I have worked on during my career at Garver, considering the importance to the community,” said John Ruddell, the firm’s bridge design manager.
The $98.4 million contract to replace the Broadway bridge gave Massman Construction Co. of Kansas City 180 days to close the bridge to traffic, dismantle the old bridge and open the new one to traffic. Massman did it in 152 days.
— Noel Oman
Potential Goldman chief exec to retire
NEW YORK — Goldman Sachs said Monday that Harvey Schwartz, its co-chief operating officer, will retire next month, clearing the way for David Solomon to eventually become the next chief executive of the Wall Street firm.
Schwartz and Solomon jointly hold the positions of co-chief operating officer and president. Both had been considered likely successors to Lloyd Blankfein, the current CEO.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Blankfein was considering retiring at the end of this year, and named both Schwartz, 54, and Solomon, 56, as the only two candidates being considered to replace him. With Schwartz retiring effective April 20, that would leave only Solomon.
Goldman made no mention of Blankfein’s future plans in its announcement. When the Journal published its story, Blankfein took to Twitter and said the announcement was like “Huck Finn listening to his own eulogy.” The firm has declined to comment on Blankfein’s future career plans.
— The Associated Press
Tesla: Idled Model 3 production a week
Tesla Inc. temporarily suspended production of the Model 3 electric sedan for a week in late February, a planned breather that ultimately may help increase output of the closely watched vehicle.
Model 3 production was idled from Feb. 20 to Feb. 24 before resuming at the company’s assembly plant in Fremont, Calif., according to the company. The automaker makes the Model S sedan, Model X sport utility vehicle and Model 3 at that site and batteries at a plant known as the Gigafactory east of Reno, Nev.
“Our Model 3 production plan includes periods of planned downtime in both Fremont and Gigafactory 1,” a Tesla spokesman said in an emailed statement. “These periods are used to improve automation and systematically address bottlenecks in order to increase production rates. This is not unusual and is in fact common in production ramps like this.”
The Model 3 is the linchpin of Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk’s plan to bring electric vehicles to the masses, but ramping up production has taken longer and been more challenging than originally anticipated. Tesla is targeting a weekly Model 3 production rate of 2,500 sedans by the end of this month and 5,000 by the end of June.
— Bloomberg News
China’s ’17 Belt, Road outlays slowed
China’s financing for so-called overseas Belt and Road Initiative energy projects dropped 28 percent to $14.3 billion last year from $19.9 billion, according to data released Monday by Boston University’s Global Development Policy Center.
Spending last year included investments in gas pipelines in Malaysia, coal power plants in the Pakistani desert and an oil terminal in Bangladesh.
China has invested about $128 billion in energy projects in Belt and Road countries since 2001, according to Boston University’s research, which tracks finance data from the country’s two policy banks, the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China. The slowdown in spending last year came as the government cracked down on capital outflows, scrutinizing companies from HNA Group Co. to Anbang Insurance Group Co. that expanded rapidly overseas.
“In late 2016 and early 2017 China suffered a rush of capital outflows due to a mix of premature capital account liberalization and external conditions,” Kevin Gallagher, professor of Global Development Policy at Boston University, said by email. “This led to some fairly tight restriction on capital flows that slowed things down a bit across the board.”
President Xi Jinping announced the Belt and Road Initiative project almost five years ago to rebuild the ancient Silk Road and to extend China’s reach through Europe, Asia and Africa via infrastructure projects. It includes investments in road, railways, ports and energy ventures across more than 60 countries to open new business opportunities for domestic companies.
— Bloomberg News
Father, son guilty in hearing-aid scam
DALLAS — A North Texas father and son could each be sentenced to more than 90 years in prison in a nearly $17 million hearing-aid scam targeting American Airlines workers.
Federal prosecutors say 67-year-old Terry Lynn Anderson and 37-year-old Rocky Freeland Anderson were convicted Thursday in Dallas over hearing aids that weren’t needed or were never dispensed.
Investigators say the Andersons’ business submitted bogus or unnecessary insurance claims for some workers. Authorities say many hearing tests lasted less than 5 minutes and were conducted in an employee break room at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
Father and son were convicted of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, health care fraud and aggravated identity theft. Terry Anderson was also convicted on two additional fraud counts.
No sentencing date was immediately set.
— The Associated Press
India grounds Airbus A320neo jetliners
India unilaterally grounded all Airbus SE narrow-body planes powered by the latest Pratt & Whitney engines on Monday after a series of in-flight incidents prompted the local regulator to question the safety of the aircraft.
A320neo jetliners with Pratt engines featuring a seal that’s been found to cause vibrations will no longer be able to fly, India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation said in a statement. European regulators had deemed the planes safe if featuring only one affected turbine.
The move immediately grounded eight aircraft at IndiGo, India’s largest carrier, and three at GoAirlines India Pvt. It comes after three in-service shutdowns of aircraft with one PW1100 engine featuring the seal, two of which occurred in the past week, according to the regulatory body.
The glitch is the latest in a series of expensive problems for Pratt in its development of the geared turbofan engine model. The manufacturer, part of United Technologies Corp, had proposed a fix that would see at least one engine featuring an older seal reinstated on planes while it worked on a more permanent solution.