Media Focus on Multinational Corporations[2021.03.25]






Carrefour to Buy Brazil’s Grupo Big From Advent and Walmart

French retail giant Carrefour is pushing deeper into Brazil, with plans to buy Grupo Big, the country’s third largest retailer.

“Our group is on the offensive,” said Carrefour chairman and chief executive officer Alexandre Bompard. The executive called it a “transformation” move for the retailer in the vast market.


Volkswagen suspends production in Brazil over COVID

Volkswagen said Friday it was suspending production at its four plants in Brazil for 12 days because of a new surge of COVID-19 in the hard-hit country.

Brazil is reeling from a new wave of infections and deaths that has pushed hospitals across the country close to the breaking point.

The German auto maker's Brazilian unit said that starting Wednesday it would temporarily halt vehicle production 'to protect the health of its employees and their families.'

More than 290,000 people have died of COVID-19 in Brazil, more than any country except the United States.

During the first wave of the pandemic last year, production at car companies operating in Brazil ground to a near-total halt, causing output to plummet 99 percent last April.


Amazon Names Salesforce Executive Adam Selipsky To Head AWS Inc. (AMZN) has named Adam Selipsky, currently CEO of Salesforce-owned software maker Tableau, to head its Amazon Web Services division.

Andy Jassy, the current head of AWS and the incoming CEO of Amazon, informed employees about the appointment in an email on Tuesday, CNBC reported. Jassy has been leading Amazon's cloud business for the past 15 years.

'Adam brings strong judgment, customer obsession, team building, demand generation, and CEO experience to an already very strong AWS leadership team. And, having been in such a senior role at AWS for 11 years, he knows our culture and business well,' Jassy wrote in the memo.

Selipsky had previously served as AWS' Vice President for Sales, Marketing and Support, before leaving to run then-public Tableau in 2016. Salesforce bought Tableau for $15.7 billion in 2019.


Toyota, Isuzu Revive Alliance With Capital Tie-Up

Toyota will acquire 39 million shares in Isuzu, worth 42.8 billion yen, taking a 4.6% stake, they said. Toyota and Isuzu dissolved a previous capital tie-up in 2018.

Toyota Motor Corp and Isuzu Motors Ltd announced a capital alliance on Wednesday, reviving a partnership to bolster their competitive edge in connected, commercial vehicles.

Toyota will acquire 39 million shares in Isuzu, worth 42.8 billion yen, taking a 4.6% stake, they said. Toyota and Isuzu dissolved a previous capital tie-up in 2018.

Isuzu, Hino Motors and Toyota will set up the new joint venture, they said. Toyota will own 80%, while Isuzu and Hino will own 10% each, they said in a statement.

Toyota truck unit Hino Motors Ltd will join in deepening cooperation to work on connected commercial vehicles and fuel cells, the automakers said.

Shares of Isuzu Motors Ltd and Hino Motors Ltd jumped on Wednesday.


Exxon cut at Moody's as dividend priority slows debt reduction

Exxon Mobil's (NYSE:XOM) debt ratings are downgraded by Moody's to Aa2 from Aa1 with a stable outlook, saying the company's policy of maintaining its dividend will slow debt reduction.

This is Exxon's second downgrade from Moody's in less than a year; S&P rates Exxon a step lower at AA-.

'Exxon Mobil's large increase in debt in 2020 and accompanying deterioration in financial leverage metrics following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic looks unlikely to be fully reversed in the next few years,' Moody's writes.


Apple Fined $308.5 Million for Infringing Fairplay DRM Technology

A federal jury has found that Apple infringed upon a Texas-based company’s patent with its FairPlay digital rights management (DRM) technology, and as a result, the Cupertino-headquartered iPhone designer has been ordered to pay $308.5 million.

The underlying courtroom confrontation kicked off back in 2015, when Sugar Land, Texas’s Personalized Media Communications (PMC) sued Apple for allegedly infringing upon seven of its DRM patents with the iTunes Store. Apple successfully targeted the validity of the underlying patents before the USPTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board, but an appellate court last year overturned the latter ruling, thereby allowing the case to proceed.

Following a five-day trial, jurors found Apple liable for the alleged infringement and directed the publicly traded company to pay a running royalty of $308.5 million to Personalized Media Communications, which notes on its website that it “owns a fundamental patent portfolio relating to the control of networked equipment.” The jury began deliberating at about 11:30 AM and reached a verdict at 3:48 PM, legal documents reveal.


Glencore says Australian nickel plant running at reduced production after outage

MELBOURNE, March 22 (Reuters) - Repair work is underway at Glencore PLC's Murrin Murrin nickel and cobalt plant in Western Australia following a component failure at an acid plant that left the facility running at reduced capacity, the miner said on Monday.

The facility is located about 880 kilometres (550 miles) east of Perth in the north-eastern Goldfields region of Western Australia. 'Operations at Murrin Murrin continue at a reduced capacity whilst repairs are being completed,' a Glencore spokesman told Reuters.

Murrin Murrin produced 36,400 tonnes of nickel metal and 2,900 tonnes of cobalt in 2020.


BPCL to merge Bharat Gas with itself

The board of directors of the company at its meeting today, ie March 22, 2021, has considered and approved the Scheme of Amalgamation of Bharat Gas Resources Ltd (BGRL) with the company (BPCL), the firm said in a stock exchange filing


Bridgestone to close French tire factory in late April to cut costs

Major Japanese tire maker Bridgestone Corp. said Wednesday it will close its factory in France in late April as part of efforts to cut costs after gaining approval from the French government and employees.

The planned closure of the Bethune plant, which was announced last September, was approved by local authorities on Tuesday. The factory's 860 employees will either be transferred to the company's sales and logistics bases in France or receive help in finding a new job, the maker said.

The plant -- which has been running since 1961 and which produces 17,000 tires per day -- had become unprofitable amid fierce competition from new companies entering the business such as from China. Bridgestone wanted to close the factory to shift its focus to more profitable larger tires used for sports utility vehicles.

The French government had sought a retraction of the closure, suggesting the tire maker keep the factory by slashing employees and producing tires of higher value, but Bridgestone did not budge.

The world's second-largest tire maker by sales value plans to slash 40 percent of its 160 production bases around the world by the end of 2023.

The company said last month it incurred a net loss for the first time in 69 years in 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic dented its sales in all major markets.


Volvo Establishes Joint Venture To Develop New Infotainment Systems

Volvo will establish a joint venture with technology company ECARX to develop a new, cutting-edge infotainment system platform.

ECARX was founded by chief executive Shen Ziyu and Geely chairman Li Shufu in 2016 and will work with the Swedish automaker to create a platform that will be used by future Volvo models, other brands within the Geely Group and, potentially, third-party manufacturers.

“The infotainment system in Volvo’s latest cars is one of the best on the market, rivaling mobile phones in user experience,” Volvo Cars chief technology officer Henrik Green said. “Through this joint venture, we can speed up development of the system, bring high quality infotainment to more cars and maximize incentives for companies and developers to create great services and apps for the users of the platform.”


Bridgestone will close down 8 tire plants during late April-early May

Japanese tiremaker Bridgestone said on Monday it will suspend operations at its 11 domestic plants, including 8 tire factories, from late April to early May to cope with dwindling demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world's biggest tiremaker will shut down the 8 tire plants between April 29 and May 8, including its main passenger vehicle tire factory in Hikone, western Japan and its main truck and bus tire manufacturing plant in Amagi, southern Japan.

【Shenergy Group】

Novatek increases sales to meet China's energy needs

Shenergy Group recently signed a sales and purchase agreement with Russia's second-largest gas producer Novatek to receive more than 3 million metric tons of liquefied natural gas over a 15-year period.

The LNG will be sourced from Arctic LNG 2, a new project in Russia, and will come online around mid-2023 at the earliest.

Analysts said this will help the Shanghai-based company to ensure its energy needs. It is also in accordance with a growing trend for Shanghai to diversify its LNG supply mix.


Geely establishes new premium electric car brand

China's Geely Auto announced the formation of a new electric car brand, Zeekr, on Tuesday, whose first vehicle will be delivered in the third quarter this year.

The brand will focus on the Chinese market in the beginning but will also explore overseas opportunities to meet global market demand for premium electric vehicles, said the company.

With a registered capital of 2 billion yuan ($307 million), Zeekr is a joint venture between Geely Auto and its parent company Geely Holding Group.

As planned, Zeekr aims to deliver a new electric vehicle to market each year in the coming five years. Geely Holding will undertake their production.

Zeekr will leverage Geely Holding's research and development results, including the leading Sustainable Experience Architecture that enables software upgrades over the air.


Sinopec signs 10-year deal with Qatar Petroleum for 2 m tons of LNG

China Petrochemical Corp, or Sinopec Group, has signed a long-term purchase and sales agreement with Qatar Petroleum to buy 2 million tons of LNG from Qatar Petroleum each year for 10 years, starting in 2022, the company said on Monday.

The long-term purchase and sales agreement with Qatar is of great importance and the company is looking forward more cooperation with Qatar Petroleum in the future, said Zhang Yuzhuo, chairman of Sinopec, Asia's biggest refiner.

The long-term agreement will not only meet the demands of the Chinese market for LNG but also reflects the company's commitment to a low-carbon and green sustainable path. It is every company's duty to achieve carbon neutrality, Zhang said.

As a major strategic partner in the energy field, Qatar has supplied 62 million tons of LNG since 2009. With the government introducing more environmentally-friendly procedures, it is expected the country's LNG market in the future will embrace more stable and steady growth, Sinopec said.