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CEO Daily Brief – Nov. 9, 2010

GE’s Immelt Presses China Industrial Policy Concerns GE CEO Jeff Immelt said he remained concerned about a Chinese industrial policy that has been widely criticized by foreign businesses as discriminatory, even as the company pledged to invest $1.5 billion in four new joint ventures and pour $500 million into research and development. “Indigenous innovation concerns …

GE’s Immelt Presses China Industrial Policy Concerns

GE CEO Jeff Immelt said he remained concerned about a Chinese industrial policy that has been widely criticized by foreign businesses as discriminatory, even as the company pledged to invest $1.5 billion in four new joint ventures and pour $500 million into research and development.

“Indigenous innovation concerns us as a policy,” Immelt told a news conference Tuesday in Beijing, referring to a Chinese government effort to promote homegrown technologies. Immelt was reiterating a similar remark he made in China earlier this year.

The Chinese policy has sparked an outcry among foreign businesses and industry groups. They complain that it puts them at a disadvantage against increasingly potent Chinese state-owned competitors by compelling them to transfer valuable technology to China and limiting their access to what is now the world’s biggest market for everything from trains to cars to cellphones.

Chinese officials credit the policy in part with helping the nation’s economic boom, and they say foreign companies are also welcome to participate.

“And we are worried about protectionism” in China and around the world, Immelt told reporters at a news conference in Beijing. For more from The Wall Street Journal, please click here.

U.S. Chief Executives More Confident on Sales, Survey Says

Confidence among U.S. CEOs improved at the start of the fourth quarter as more forecast stronger sales and spending on equipment, a survey showed. The Young Presidents’ Organization gauge of sentiment rose to 59.9 in October from 57.5 in July. A reading greater than 50 shows the executives’ outlook was more positive than negative.

Forty-nine percent of CEOs said they expect economic conditions to be better in six months, while 60 percent said sales will be higher in the coming year. The outlook for corporate investment also improved, with 38 percent expecting to spend more in the next 12 months. Thirty-six percent of leaders surveyed said they plan to expand hiring, compared with 30 percent in the last survey. The capital spending index climbed to 58.2, the highest level since the group began keeping records last year.

CEO confidence in the economic outlook was most upbeat in production and services and turned positive in the construction industry for the first time since April. For more about the survey, as reported by Bloomberg, please click here.

Wynn’s Pascal to Resign

One of the top executives at casino company Wynn Resorts Ltd., Andrew Pascal, is resigning, the company disclosed in a filing Monday. Pascal joined the company seven years ago and has been the president of Wynn’s Las Vegas operations for the past five years. Pascal has often been viewed as a potential successor to Steve Wynn, the company’s founder and chief executive, who tends to keep the circle around him very tight. Pascal is Wynn’s nephew through Wynn’s ex-wife, Elaine Wynn. The company is not disclosing the reason for the departure, which is expected Dec. 1, the spokeswoman said. For more from the Wall Street Journal, please click here.

How to Lead When There’s Still No Good News

How are you supposed to inspire your workers when the economic outlook, at your company as well as in the country as a whole, remains so discouraging? What do you do if you have to deliver still more bad news? According to staffing, career and crisis communications pros, openness, honesty and empathy are absolutely essential and go a long way.

Beth Banks Cohn, who runs a leadership and executive coaching firm, says you must be decisive about your company’s business plan and communicate that plan clearly to the staff. That’s especially important when the plan involves major shifts in staff and workloads. At a pharmaceutical business where Cohn consulted, management abruptly split the research and development department into two pieces, hoping that would help development of a new drug to keep up with a competitor. But no one sat down with the staff and spelled out the reason for the split.

Another reason for clear communication: “In the absence of information, people make stuff up,” Cohn observes.

How can you as a boss keep your staff focused in the midst of great turbulence–say, during a week when employees are being laid off? Start with empathy.

And do not tell employees they should feel good when they have every reason to feel rotten.

For more from Forbes, please click here.

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