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Le Figaro newspaper reported on Monday that Renault’s (RENA.PA) board is set to meet on Tuesday to approve naming Luca de Meo, formerly the head of Volkswagen’s (VOWG_p.DE) Seat brand, as its next chief executive.
Renault declined to comment. The board had not yet been called, according to a source close to the matter, who declined to be named as the timing is still confidential. But De Meo’s nomination is widely expected to take place any day now.
De Meo, who stepped down from Seat earlier this month, will not take up his post at Renault until closer to July, the source added.
Italian-born De Meo had been hotly tipped for the job for several weeks but faced wrangles over his contract and a stringent noncompete clause, which had to be negotiated between Renault and Volkswagen, sources previously told Reuters.
The delay in his arrival comes at a delicate time for Renault, which is trying to reboot its alliance with Japan’s Nissan Motor Co Ltd (7201.T) after the partnership’s former boss, Carlos Ghosn, was arrested in Tokyo in 2018.
Ghosn, who has repeatedly denied the financial misconduct charges he was accused of, slipped out of Japan and fled to Lebanon at the end of 2019.
Renault’s board ousted its former CEO and longstanding Ghosn ally Thierry Bollore last October, as part of efforts to clean the decks and reset the alliance, and the job has been occupied in the interim by financial chief Clotilde Delbos.
After the investors grew increasingly anxious about the economic impact of China’s spreading virus outbreak, shares tumbled. Same time safe-haven assets such as the Japanese yen and Treasury notes demand has grown.
Japan’s Nikkei average .N225 slid 2.0%, the biggest one-day fall in five months, while a Tokyo-listed China proxy, ChinaAMC CSI 300 index ETF (1575.T), slid 2.2%. Amid the Lunar New Year holiday, many markets in Asia were closed.
U.S. S&P 500 mini futures ESc1 were last down 1.0%, having fallen 1.3% in early Asian trade.
European shares were expected to follow suit, with major European stock futures STXEc1FDXc1FFIc1 trading 1.2-1.4% lower.
“With most Asian markets closed, fast-money investors are buying risk-off hedges like Treasuries and selling the Nikkei,” said Masahiko Loo, portfolio manager at Alliance Bernstein.
“I think this would continue this week, until China markets resume trading next week and the coronavirus outbreak subsides.”
The ability of the coronavirus to spread is getting stronger and infections could continue to rise, China’s National Health Commission said on Sunday, with nearly 2,800 people globally infected and 81 in China killed by the disease.
China announced it will extend the week-long Lunar New Year holiday by three days to Feb. 2 and schools will return from their break later than usual. Chinese-ruled Hong Kong said it would ban entry to people who have visited Hubei province in the past 14 days.
Market participants kept a wary eye on developments around the virus, which the World Health Organization (WHO) last week deemed “an emergency in China,” but not, as yet, for the rest of the world.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was off 0.4%, although trade in the region has already slowed for the Lunar New Year and other holidays, with financial markets in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and Australia closed on Monday.
All three major Wall Street indexes closed sharply lower on Friday, with the S&P 500 seeing its biggest one-day percentage drop in over three months.
The S&P 500 .SPX lost 0.9%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 0.6% and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC shed 0.9% after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed a second case of the virus on U.S. soil.
U.S. Treasury prices advanced, pushing down yields further, with the benchmark 10-year notes US10YT=RR dropping to a 3-1/2-month trough of 1.627% in early Asian trade.
In the currency market, the concerns about the virus supported the yen, often perceived as a safe haven because of Japan’s net creditor status.
The Japanese currency strengthened as much as 0.5% to 108.73 yen per dollar JPY=, its 2-1/2-week high.
The euro EUR= last stood at $1.1028 versus the dollar, having fallen to its eight-week low of $1.1019 on Friday.
The offshore yuan CNH=D3 dropped more than 0.5% to 6.9776 against the dollar, its weakest level since Jan. 6.
The heightened fears of the economic impact of the coronavirus also pressured oil and other commodity prices, except safe-haven gold.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 plummeted 3.8% to hit a 3-1/2-month low of $52.15 in early trade. International benchmark Brent LCOc1 shed more than 3% to its three month low of $58.68 per barrel.
“Investors will react quickly to any sign of negativity and this is no exception as China announces that the issue has become an emergency. This could keep oil prices fragile until the coronavirus shows signs of slowing down,” said Mihir Kapadia, chief executive at Sun Global Investments.
Spot gold XAU= rose as much as 1.0% to $1,585.80 per ounce, the highest level since Jan. 8, as rising concerns over the spread of a virus outbreak in China and its potential economic impact prompted investors to buy the safe-haven metal.
After unsuccessful attempt to sell majority stake 2 years ago, India makes a second attempt to sell its entire interest in Air India Ltd, making a renewed push to sell the flag carrier.
A document released on Monday showed March 17 as the deadline for submission of initial expressions of interest, and that any bidder must assume liabilities, including debt of 232.87 billion rupees ($3.28 billion).
Substantial ownership and effective control of the airline must remain with an Indian entity, the government added.
The potential sale of an airline kept aloft by a $4.2 billion 10-year bailout in 2012 comes as the government divests money-losing assets to manage the fiscal deficit.
The latest offer should garner significant response partly because it involves a clean exit by the government, said CAPA aviation consultancy India head Kapil Kaul.
“As the entire debt excluding aircraft debt is taken out of the deal, it signals a very determined effort to exit Air India, to allow taxpayers’ funds be utilized for the government’s social agenda,” said Kaul.
Indian business house Hinduja Group and US-based fund Interups have expressed interest in buying the airline, the Business Standard daily said.
It quoted Laxmi Prasad, the chairman and chief business architect of Interups, as saying the fund had initiated talks with the government and would like to make a case for certain aspects of the airline’s business to be included in the deal.
The government in 2018 here tried to sell 76% of Air India and offload about $5.1 billion of its debt, with terms including the retention of all employees.
InterGlobe Aviation Ltd’s (INGL.NS) IndiGo and Jet Airways Ltd (JET.NS) – which has since collapsed – initially showed interest, but opted out after the terms were disclosed.
Steel-to-autos conglomerate Tata Group, widely viewed as a potential suitor for Air India, also decided not to bid after deeming the terms too onerous, sources told Reuters at the time.
On Monday, civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said the government was open to suggestions and altering some provisions if the changes helped to find a buyer.
“We have gone into this exercise, months of planning and preparation have gone into it and this is not the final, final. The bidders are going to get 45 days, they are going to come back to us. It is an interactive process,” Puri told reporters.
“We are open to revising, refining and tweaking our views.”
A successful bidder would win control of Air India’s 4,400 domestic and 1,800 international landing and parking slots at domestic airports, as well as 900 slots at airports overseas.
It would also get 100% of low-cost arm Air India Express and 50% of AISATS, which provides cargo and ground handling services at major Indian airports, the bid document showed.
The buyer would also have to provide 3% of the value of the airline’s equity as stock options for permanent employees.
Air India has about 9,400 permanent employees and 3,600 fixed-term contract staff – including 1,850 pilots and 4,600 cabin crew – with benefits such as discounted air tickets and pensions.
Its employees protested against the 2018 sale attempt, and it was not immediately clear if they would also resist the latest effort. The government said it would provide details on safeguarding employee interests in its final bid document.
A spokesman for the employee union did not have immediate comment.
The government’s divestment plan could also face opposition from within, with Subramanian Swamy, an MP from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), threatening legal action against the sale.
“This deal is wholly anti-national and I will (be) forced to go to court. We cannot sell our family silver,” Swamy said on Twitter.
Electric car startup Rivian said that when their prices are unveiled soon they will be lower than has been previously announced. Rivian displayed its pickup truck and SUV at an event in San Francisco’s Bay Area on Saturday.
Rivian founder and chief executive R.J. Scaringe told Reuters the mid-range R1T pickup truck with a glass sky panel that can change from blue to clear was about $69,000. It can travel 300 miles on a full charge. A similar range R1S SUV will sell for about $72,000.
Rivian said the large battery could go 400 miles and the smallest could go 230 miles.
Scaringe declined to say how many prospective buyers have so far spent $1,000 on a refundable deposit to hold their spot for a Rivian, but he said the reaction had been “really positive”.
“So we’re excited by that. But we now have the challenge of a lot of pre-order customers aren’t going to get the cars as fast as they like because there’s such a long queue,” he said.
Rivian, founded in 2009, made waves when it unveiled its first prototype model at the LA Auto Show in 2018. It has raised $3.6 billion and counts Amazon.com Inc [AMZN.O] and Ford Motor Co. [F.N] as investors.
Many customers at the event were excited about the designs, but Patrick Bonsi, who flew from New Jersey to see the vehicles, questioned whether Rivian would have a Tesla Supercharger-like charging network. He owns a Tesla (TSLA.O) Model 3.
“What I found with super charging is, if the Supercharger network is not made by the car company, it doesn’t charge the car as fast,” said Bonsi.
Scaringe said Rivian was working on rolling out a network of charging stations at key locations such as national parks, but that the vehicles can charge on most charging networks available today.
Brian Gase, Rivian chief engineer of special projects, and employee number four was busy showing customers the batteries, saying 7,776 of them were powering the pickup truck, and one was powering a flashlight that slides into the door, giving the car a lucky 7,777 batteries.
The first R1T trucks will be delivered starting at the end of this year, followed shortly after by the R1S SUVs, Scaringe said.
On Saturday of the world’s largest twin-engined jetliner Boeing 777X began flights. Someone says: its the embattled planemaker steps up competition with European rival Airbus.
The 777X, a larger and more efficient version of Boeing’s successful 777 mini-jumbo, took off outside Seattle at 10:09 a.m. local time (1.09 p.m. ET) after high winds forced the company to postpone two earlier attempts this week.
Boeing officials said the maiden voyage would last 3-5 hours and herald months of testing and certification before the aircraft enters service with Emirates in 2021, a year later than originally scheduled because of snags during development.
The aircraft is the larger of two versions planned by Boeing and will officially be known as the 777-9, but is better known under its development codename, the 777X.
Its most visible features include folding wingtips – designed to allow its large new carbon-composite wings to fit into the same parking bays as earlier models – and the world’s largest commercial engines, built by General Electric (GE.N) and wide enough to swallow the fuselage of a 737 MAX.
The flight is a boost for Boeing as it grapples with a broadening crisis over the 737 MAX, which has been grounded since March following two fatal crashes.
“To me this is the flagship for the big airlines around the world … it represents the great things we can do as a company,” 777X marketing director Wendy Sowers told reporters when asked about the flight’s importance in light of the MAX crisis.
Boeing says it has sold 309 of the aircraft – worth more than $442 million each at list prices – but analysts have questioned its heavy reliance on Middle East carriers that have scaled back purchases as they suffer a pause in their expansion.
The 777X will compete with the recently introduced Airbus A350-1000 which seats about 360 passengers. Both reflect the growing range and efficiency of twin-engined jets that are steadily displacing their older four-engined counterparts.
The two planemakers have clashed over the relative efficiency of their latest jets but both face worries about demand due to overcapacity and signs of weakness in the global economy.
The United States wants India to buy at least another $5-6 billion worth of American farm goods if New Delhi wants to win reinstatement of a key U.S. trade concession and seal a wider pact, four sources familiar with the talks told Reuters.
U.S. President Donald Trump cited trade barriers last year when removing India from its Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program that allowed zero tariffs on $5.6 billion of exports to the United States. In retaliation, India slapped higher tariffs on more than two dozens U.S. products.
Ahead of a Trump visit to New Delhi to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi next month, negotiators on both sides are hammering out terms for a trade deal that would include New Delhi rolling back higher tariffs on some farm goods such as almonds, walnuts and apples, one of the sources said.
Both governments had hoped to work out a limited trade deal last year, but struggled to reach an agreement.
India’s commerce ministry and the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi did not respond to a request for comment. The office of the U.S. Trade Representative did not immediately respond outside regular business hours.
While India has offered partial relief on medical device price caps that have hurt American pharma giants and a roll-back in tariffs on some U.S. goods, Trump’s team wants a sweetener of $5-6 billion in additional trade for U.S. goods to restore GSP privileges, three of the sources said.
That demand was conveyed by the United States to India in late December, said two sources.
As part of the negotiation, the U.S. wants India to increase imports of frozen poultry products, the first source said. The U.S. has already been pushing India to cut the high import taxes on poultry products.
“The deal has to be agriculture focused, the U.S. is putting a number on everything (if India wants GSP back),” said one of the sources.
The sources asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the discussions.
Other than the agriculture sector, the United States could be swayed if some of that additional revenue goes to its energy sector, said one of the sources.
Indian oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan this week said India was looking forward to extending its energy cooperation with the United States and other countries, but didn’t disclose any planned deals.
Trump is likely to visit India in late February, in what would be his first visit to the South Asian nation since he took office three years ago.
SMALLER CHINA-TYPE DEAL
India and the United States have built close political and security ties, but in recent years trade frictions have come to the fore. Trump has often named India as one of the countries with the highest tariffs in the world.
Trump’s administration has also been upset with India’s decision to force foreign card networks to store more data locally and imposition of stringent e-commerce investment rules that impacted operations of Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) and Walmart’s (WMT.N) Flipkart.
A fifth Washington-based source with knowledge of the U.S. administration’s thinking said a U.S.-India trade deal would be far smaller than one the United States struck with China this month, but will “look basically the same”.
China this month agreed to increase purchases of U.S. products and services by at least $200 billion over the next two years in exchange for the rolling back of some tariffs, defusing an 18-month row that had hit global growth.
“It will be challenging for the U.S. to see a reasonable agreement with India … without concessions on the trade gap. Given the recent deal with China, India has to follow suit,” said Samir Kapadia of Washington-based lobbying and advisory firm, The Vogel Group.
Trade between United States and India stood at $142.6 billion in 2018, but Trump wants to reduce its $25.2 billion deficit with India.
India has also offered the United States a commitment to increase purchases of almonds and apples and scrap an import tariff of 50% levied on Harley-Davidson (HOG.N) motorcycles, the first source said. Trump has publicly said India’s high tariffs on such bikes was unacceptable.
India initially also offered to relax some tariffs on high-end U.S. technology products, but that is now off the table, said one of the sources.
Sweden’s Ericsson (ERICb.ST) reported a smaller-than-expected rise in fourth-quarter core earnings on Friday and said higher costs would spill over into 2020 as the telecoms equipment maker looks to exploit its leading position in super-fast 5G networks.
Its shares fell more than 6% in early trading.
After a number of lean years, Ericsson has been boosted by the roll-out of 5G, particularly in the United States.
But while 5G has helped sales, it has increased costs. Ericsson has also opted to take on strategically important clients to gain market share, betting a hit on margins in the short term will help to deliver longer-term profitability.
The company recently bought the antenna and filter business of Germany’s Kathrein to boost its 5G portfolio and said costs and investments related to the deal would weigh on margins through 2020.
Increased investments in digitalization and more spending on compliance – after a $1 billion payment to resolve probes by U.S. authorities into corruption – are also expected to mean somewhat higher operating costs in 2020.
Ericsson shares were down 6.1 percent to 79.44 Swedish crowns at 0840 GMT, underpeforming the STOXX Europe 600 Technology Index .SX8P, which was up 1.2%.
Nevertheless, CEO Borje Ekholm said Ericsson was on track to deliver on its 2020 targets of an adjusted operating margin of more than 10% and sales of 230 to 240 billion Swedish crowns.
Ericsson is fighting rivals Nokia (NOKIA.HE) and Huawei [HWT.UL] to take the lead in the roll out of 5G networks, which are expected to host critical functions from driverless vehicles to smart electric grids and military communications.
That has led the United States to blacklist Huawei and launch a worldwide campaign to try to persuade allies to ban the Chinese firm from their 5G networks, alleging its equipment could be used by Beijing for spying – which Huawei denies.
Britain is expected soon to make a final decision on whether to allow Huawei equipment in its 5G mobile networks, while Germany may also rule on the matter during the spring.
North America has been the biggest market for 5G so far, boosting Ericsson’s sales, but the company said demand slowed in the fourth quarter as the proposed merger between Sprint (S.N) and T-Mobile hit their spending.
“It was a significant impact in a small part of the market which means the quarter came out negative in North America,” Ekholm said. “But in general demand is very strong there.”
While the United States is an early 5G adopter, China is expected to start its roll out this year and Western Europe after that.
By 2025, the GSMA telecoms industry lobby group estimates operators globally will have spent $1 trillion building up 5G networks, offering a huge jackpot for the leading suppliers.
Ericsson’s adjusted quarterly operating earnings rose to 5.7 billion crowns ($600.2 million) from 2.6 billion a year earlier, but were down from 7.4 billion the previous quarter. Analysts in a Refinitiv poll had forecast 6.9 billion crowns.
At the annual World Economic Forum in Davos business titans said they ready to tackle Climate Change.
Having previously played down the need for the reform that scientists had urged, finance leaders and company chiefs conspicuously rallied around a consensus that accelerating global temperatures pose a significant risk to society — and to business.
Missing, though, was a clear answer to the question of what exactly they would do about it and how quickly.
“It’s an increase in rhetoric, absolutely,” said Alison Martin, who leads the Europe, Middle East and Africa divisions of Zurich Insurance. “Will we see a walking of the talking? The jury is out.”
After months of global climate protests that drew millions of young people, a raft of companies said this week in Davos that they would aim to lower their emissions of planet-warming gases to net zero by 2050 or earlier. A coalition of major financial institutions, representing $4.3 trillion in assets, said it would take steps to minimize carbon-heavy investments in its portfolios and lobbied other investors to join it.
A group of 140 of the world’s largest companies pledged to develop a core set of common metrics to track environmental and social responsibility. And companies and government leaders, including President Trump, who has rolled back dozens of environmental and climate policies, said they would aim to plant one trillion new trees around the world, at the behest of Marc Benioff.
“The tree is a bipartisan issue,” said Mr. Benioff, a co-founder and the co-chief executive of Salesforce. “No one is anti-tree.”
The window of time to avert the worst impacts of climate change is rapidly closing, according to numerous scientific reports. And while critics blame big business for decades of inaction, as well as the active suppression of climate science, many major companies now acknowledge the immediate need for change.
“The measurements all show that we are clearly not doing enough yet,” Feike Sijbesma, the chief executive of DSM, a Dutch health company, said at Davos.
The pledges were the latest in a string of climate-related announcements in recent weeks.
BlackRock, the world’s largest institutional investor, said it would place climate change at the center of its investment strategy. Microsoft said it would not only go carbon negative — reducing more greenhouse gases than it adds to the environment — but also somehow remove all the emissions the company has ever produced. Lloyds, the British financial group, pledged to cut by “more than 50 percent” the carbon emissions generated by the projects it finances by 2030.
Larry Fink, BlackRock’s chief executive, showed up to meetings wearing a wool scarf that represented the decades of warming since the industrial age, a Christmas present from a nonprofit organization that works on climate issues.
“I’ve never seen a social issue explode like this,” said Paul Tudor Jones II, the investor and founder of Just Capital, which ranks companies based on sustainability factors. “Every single C.E.O. and board is having to figure out what their carbon footprint is and what they’re going to do about it.”
Behind this flurry of corporate commitments is a growing concern about tangible risks to the bottom line, including the prospect that ratings agencies will factor in climate risk, pressure from younger employees, changing consumer preferences and government regulations like a carbon tax.
Extreme weather events are already causing economic havoc. The California wildfires last year were estimated to have caused $25.4 billion in damage. Pacific Gas & Electric, the largest energy producer in the state, has filed for bankruptcy.
Jesper Brodin, the chief executive of Ikea, said his company was already feeling the impact. Severe flooding in the United States temporarily closed many of its stores. Energy prices in Sweden skyrocketed during a recent heat wave. Fires in Australia have disrupted business there.
Arne Sorenson, the chief executive of Marriott, said the hotel chain was also feeling the brunt. “We have hotels in Puerto Rico that are still closed,” he said. “We’re going to see the impact of fires and storms.”
A report this week from the Bank for International Settlements, which represents central banks, said climate change could cause the next financial crisis. Mark Carney, the departing Bank of England governor who has spearheaded efforts to get central banks to carry out stress tests assessing climate impacts on sectors, said companies needed to examine and disclose their strategies and timelines for lowering their carbon footprints.
“This is a whole-of-economy transition. In every sector, there will be companies that will be part of the solution,” Mr. Carney said. “Those who lag are going to be punished.”
Despite talk of the risks, few companies and investors provided details at Davos on how they would rapidly transition away from an economy based on fossil fuels. Just a fraction of global businesses currently disclose the financial risks posed by climate change. Even fewer have set their own targets and timetables to do what the science demands: Reduce total greenhouse gas emissions by half over the next decade.
While global investment in renewable energy hit $289 billion in 2018, far exceeding the investment in new fossil fuel power, wind and solar remain a small portion of total energy production.
Ms. Martin, of Zurich Insurance, said the real evidence of change would come when investors started exiting carbon-heavy companies, especially those with no transition plan. “What is going to cause the change?” she added. “If capital actually does start to fly, if it does actually make choices.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin ridiculed calls for fossil fuel divestment, singling out the teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, who called on the Davos crowd on Tuesday to immediately halt investments in oil, gas and coal.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Mr. Mnuchin belittled Ms. Thunberg. “After she goes and studies economics in college, she can come back and explain that to us,” he said.
Ms. Thunberg responded tartly on Twitter, saying that “it doesn’t take a college degree in economics to realise that our remaining 1.5° carbon budget and ongoing fossil fuel subsidies and investments don’t add up.”
Mr. Mnuchin also played down the need for new regulation. “We don’t believe there should be carbon taxes,” he said on CNBC. “We want to cut taxes. We think that industry can deal with this issue on its own.”
The World Economic Forum’s annual global risk report this year ranked climate and environmental hazards as the top five concerns facing the world in the next decade for the first time. But a separate survey of business executives about the top 10 risks in the next 12 months made no mention of climate.
One measure of a newfound awareness, said Stefan Rahmstorf, a climate scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, was how many invitations that researchers like him were now receiving from the titans of global capital. Dr. Rahmstorf said that while he was frustrated that the business community had for decades blocked efforts to address rising greenhouse gas emissions, he was also hopeful about the change he was witnessing.
“The business community is increasingly not trying to lobby against decarbonization and solving the climate crisis,” he said. “They are realizing something has to be done and something has to change.”
Tesla Inc has overtaken the world’s second most valuable carmaker behind Toyota – Volkswagen.
Tesla’s stock has more than doubled in value in the last three months, with its market capitalization piercing $100 billion on Wednesday, a first for a listed U.S. automaker.
During the rally, its value has leapfrogged more established global rivals: Honda (7267.T), BMW (BMWG.DE), General Motors (GM.N) and Daimler (DAIGn.DE). On Wednesday, it eclipsed VW’s $99.4 billion value.
Toyota still holds pole position with a market cap of $233 billion.
The recent gains have been fueled by a surprise third-quarter profit, progress at a new factory in China and better-than-expected car deliveries in the fourth quarter.
Many investors remain skeptical that Tesla can consistently deliver profit, cash flow and growth.
But the gains highlight growing confidence among investors about the future of electric vehicles and Tesla’s shift from a niche car maker into a global leader in cleaner cars.
A glance at its results shows it has a long way to go before it can eclipse larger rivals.
Based on 12-month forward sales estimates, it doesn’t even appear in the top 20 in the world. The company’s sales will reach $31 billion, a slither of Toyota’s $276 billion, VW’s $283 billion and Daimler’s $191 billion, according to Refinitiv data.