Media Focus on Multinational Corporations[2021.11.18]






Amazon’s $21 billion Rivian stake is a bet that innovation can help solve climate change

Amazon’s big bet on Rivian Automotive paid off this week when the electric vehicle start-up made an explosive debut on the public markets.

Rivian raised nearly $12 billion in the mammoth offering and landed a lofty valuation of more than $110 billion, higher than auto giants GM and Ford. The IPO resulted in a massive windfall for Amazon, which invested more than $1.3 billion in Rivian. Amazon’s 20% stake in the business is now worth more than $21 billion.

Rivian’s IPO was a huge success for Amazon financially. It’s also key to one of the company’s most challenging mandates — to cut the amount of damage it does to the environment.

Amazon has long been criticized for not moving fast enough to address its environmental footprint. More than 1,000 Amazon employees walked out in 2019 to urge it to do more to combat climate change, after submitting a shareholder proposal signed by thousands of employees.



Oil giant teams up with Aulton to build battery swap stations

British oil giant BP signed a deal with China's Aulton New Energy Automotive Technology last week to provide battery swapping services in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, in the latest step forward for the approach to electrification.



Air BP and AKR sign joint venture agreement in Indonesia

Air BP, the international aviation fuel products and services supplier, and AKR, an Indonesian distributor of chemicals, petroleum, logistics and supply chain solutions, have today announced the signing of a joint venture agreement. The agreement was signed in London by Mr Jonathan Wood, Chief Strategy and Business Development Officer, Air BP, and Mr Haryanto Adikoesoemo, President Director of AKR.

The joint venture company, PT Dirgantara PetroIndo Raya, will operate under the name of Air BP-AKR Aviation with the remit to develop an aviation fuel business in Indonesia.

Indonesia is one of the world’s fastest growing aviation markets where domestic travel is projected to grow by an average of 15% per year, reaching 180 million passengers in 2021. The market is being driven by the strong economy with a growing middle class, an archipelago geography and increased tourism. Indonesia is now the world’s fifth largest domestic market, behind only the US, China, Japan and Brazil.

Air BP and AKR see huge potential within the Indonesian aviation fuel sector.  The joint venture intends to support the development of Indonesia’s aviation industry and contribute to the growth of its economy by investing in infrastructure, applying the latest innovative technology and operational best practices for the supply of aviation fuel.



JD's Singles Day sales up 28.58%

Chinese e-commerce giant JD reported its accumulated sales rose 28.58 percent year-on-year to 349.1 billion yuan ($54.6 billion) during the Singles Day shopping carnival, which kicked off at 8 pm on Oct 31.

JD said the transaction volume of 31 brands surpassed 1 billion yuan during the shopping spree, with Apple Incs products surpassing 10 billion yuan.

The turnover of 43,276 merchants surged more than 200 percent year-on-year, while the number of small and medium-sized brands increased over four times on a yearly basis.


Baowu Steel&Vale

Baowu Steel, Brazil's Vale sign MoU to develop low emissions products

Vale, one of the world's largest iron ore producers based in Brazil, said on Friday that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with China Baowu Steel Group Corporation Limited, in which both agreed to pursue opportunities to develop steelmaking solutions focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The memorandum of understanding includes a discussion to produce biochar and use it in blast furnaces in order to consume a carbon-neutral material based on biomass instead of fossil energy. It also intends to discuss a possible investment by Vale into China Baowu's pilot biochar plant project, with an indicative amount ranging from 60 to 70 million yuan ($9.4 to $11 million).

This initiative contributes to achieving Vale's commitment to reduce 15 percent of net Scope 3 emissions by 2035. Additionally, Vale seeks to reduce its absolute Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 33 percent by 2030 and achieve neutrality by 2050, in line with the Paris Agreement, leading the evolution toward low-carbon mining.



Alibaba reports 8.45% increase in shopping blowout, cites 'consumption vitality'

Alibaba Group reported 540.3 billion yuan ($84.56 billion) transaction in this year's Nov 11 shopping gala, citing 'consumption vitality and economic resilience'.

This figure represented an 8.45 percent rise from last year's total of 498.2 billion yuan. But unlike previous years, the company did not publish any milestone gross merchandise volume throughout the 24-hour event.

Instead of touting the blowout's final revenue, the company emphasized the shared growth of big and small brands alike. It said over 2,600 brands saw revenue recorded in the first hour of Thursday surpassing last year's total.

As of 11 pm on Thursday, 698 small and medium-sized brands have leapfrogged from several millions yuan of sales in last year's event to pass the 10 million yuan threshold in this edition.



BHP, HBIS sign three-year research agreement

BHP has signed a three-year tripartite research collaboration agreement with China's HBIS Group Co Ltd and University of Science and Technology Beijing to support research in low-carbon iron and steel making technologies.

This agreement is a milestone for BHP and HBIS to implement the collaboration inked in a memorandum of understanding signed in March 2021, under which BHP intends to invest up to $15 million over three years to fund research and pilot projects including hydrogen-based direct reduction technology, processing and recycling of steelmaking slag, as well as enhanced lump utilization in the blast furnace.



CGNPC enters production phase of joint venture Kazatomprom

CGNPC Uranium Resources Co Ltd, a subsidiary of China General Nuclear Power Group, said on Thursday its joint venture with Kazakh uranium producer NAC Kazatomprom JSC, Ulba-FA LLP, has entered the nuclear fuel assembly production phase.

CGNPC has a 49 percent stake of the joint venture, while Kazatomprom took a 51 percent stake.

The project will supply 200 tons of uranium for fuel assembly each year for 20 years in China.

China General Nuclear Power Group said it has also been carrying out in-depth cooperation with Kazatomprom in the fields of uranium resource exploration, natural uranium trade and nuclear fuel pellet processing.



SF Airlines deploys over 60 freighters for 'Double 11' shopping spree

BEIJING - SF Airlines, China's largest air cargo carrier, has deployed more than 60 freighters to serve the rocketing express delivery demands from the country's major shopping spree, according to the cargo airline on Wednesday.

These all-cargo freighters are in place to ensure efficient air delivery during the annual logistics peak around the 'Double 11' online shopping spree on Nov 11, said SF Airlines.

Alongside deploying freighter capacity, the cargo airline has also added more than 10 new routes to meet demands and link diverse regions with the country's eastern region, a major cluster of e-commerce.



Tencent reports first profit decrease in 10 years

Tencent Holdings Ltd reported its first decrease in adjusted profit in 10 years in its latest quarterly report on Wednesday, as it emphasized investment in frontier technologies and socially beneficial endeavors.

For the three months ending in September, the company saw a 2 percent drop in profit based on non-IFRS adjustments, which exclude the likes of share-based compensation and merger and acquisition-related impacts.

Revenue for the period surged 13 percent to 142.4 billion yuan ($22 billion).

State Grid

State Grid opens new energy generator cluster in Qinghai

State Grid Corp of China, the largest power provider in the country, has opened the world's largest new energy distributed synchronous generator cluster in Northwest China's Qinghai province, the company said on Tuesday.

The first batch of 11 new energy distributed synchronous generators were put into operation on Tuesday, which will increase local new energy consumption capacity by 1.85 million kilowatts.

The grid network in Qinghai has the highest percentage of new energy installed capacity nationwide, which poses a challenge to the local grid network as new energy is usually unstable and volatile.

To tackle the problem of large-scale new energy utilization, the company has been working on solutions and will come up with 21 distributed phase modifiers in four regions in Qinghai province to further lift the transmission capacity of new energy.

All 21 distributed phase modifiers will be put into operation by the end of this year, which will further lift the new energy transmission capacity by 3.5 million kilowatts, equivalent to a reduction of coal consumption by 3.19 million tons and a carbon dioxide emission reduction of 5.74 million tons.


Sinopec completes construction on Shandong hydrogen project

The largest hydrogen cell supply project in Shandong province finished construction on Wednesday, according to its operator China Petroleum and Chemical Corp, the world's largest refiner by volume also known as Sinopec.

With an annual hydrogen production capacity of 22.5 million tons, the project will be put into operation by the end of December and further lift hydrogen production and supply capacity in Shandong province.

The project is a major hydrogen demonstration project in Shandong for the 14th Five-Year-Plan period, with a total investment of nearly 47 million yuan ($7.35 million). It is expected the annual hydrogen production capacity in Shandong will reach 45 million tons by 2023, which will by then meet all the hydrogen demand in the province.

The company plans to invest 30 billion yuan during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) period in hydrogen-related business, including hydrogen refueling stations and hydrogen storage facility construction, all of which is believed to achieve a carbon dioxide reduction of more than 10 million tons.

The company also plans to build 1,000 hydrogen refueling stations, 5,000 charging and battery swap stations and 7,000 distributed photovoltaic power generation sites during the 14th Five-Year Plan period. It has already built 21 hydrogen refueling stations in 14 provinces and cities, including Guangdong, Shanghai and Hainan.


Kavo Group

Kavo Group inks deals worth $8m

Kavo Group, a global R&D manufacturer of dental products and equipment, signed a package of deals valued at more than $8 million at the fourth China International Import Expo, showing its strong commitments to the Chinese market.



Microsoft, L'Oreal join forces on data at CIIE

The China operations of L'Oreal and Microsoft have entered into a partnership during the fourth China International Import Expo to extend and deepen the integration of technology with beauty solutions.

The duo hopes to address digital transformation, accelerate the L'Oréal China data platform and business innovation capabilities with the Microsoft Intelligent Cloud, and expedite the transformation of beauty technology.

The companies will focus on developing 'enterprise intelligence', which means building a unified data platform using Microsoft's big data capabilities and establishing a technology platform which spurs business innovation and empowers both enterprises and employees to guarantee business operations under different conditions.

The pair will also use algorithms, timely data analysis and multidimensional data visualization to optimize management and make full use of data assets.



Astellas completes strategic layout and upgrade in China

The multinational pharmaceutical enterprise Astellas has announced an upgrade of its strategic layout in China.

Astellas China Investment Co Ltd and Beijing Astellas Medical Co Ltd have been established, on the basis of the existing Astellas Pharma China Inc, to jointly promote the vigorous development of Astellas in China.

Astellas covers more than 70 countries and regions all over the world, and entered the China market in 1994. The company has been marketing products in many specialized treatment fields such as oncology, transplantation immunity, urinary health and infection.

After upgrading, the new structure consisting of one headquarters and two centers will come into being, and Astellas Investment, as the regional headquarters in China, will play a critical role in the overall layout, strategic decision-making, and resource coordination to support the company's development in all aspects.

Beijing Astellas Medical will be responsible for the sales and marketing of oncology and specialized treatment products in China, and Astellas Pharma will further focus on production and manufacturing.


‘Too risky’ to not use both battery electric and hydrogen tech, Daimler Truck CEO says

The Daimler Truck CEO has spoken of the challenges and opportunities his industry faces in the years ahead, as competition heats up and efforts to develop zero-emission offerings face hurdles relating to cost.

In an interview with CNBC’s “Street Signs Europe” Friday, Martin Daum spoke about the current situation when it came to the cost of electrified trucks, emphasizing that a number of factors were in play.

“The first truth is, in heavy duty commercial vehicles you need such a huge amount of energy, meaning you need such large batteries, that such a truck always will cost significantly more than a combustion engine powered truck,” he said.

“The savings come if the price for green, renewable energy drops and the cost for emitting CO2 rises and then out of that equation you might get a cost parity, or in other … cases road transportation will become more expensive.”

Despite the above, Daum said the manufacturer had to go “straight forward to zero-emission transportation.” It’s previously laid out plans for zero-emission vehicles to account for “up to 60% of sales” by the year 2030.


Toyota resuming full Japan production from December

Toyota has announced that it expects to have all of its manufacturing plants in Japan to return to normal operation from December, with production forecast to reach 800,000 vehicles.

This resumption will be the first time all 14 of its production plants and all 28 assembly lines will be operating normally in seven months since May this year, and the 800,000-unit target includes recovery volume from the impact of previous production cutbacks.

If attained, will be a record figure for the month of December, the automaker said. Toyota maintains its production forecast of nine million units for the fiscal year ending March 2022.



Apple to Pay Store Workers $30 Million Settlement for Bag Checks That Occurred Off the Clock

After years of fighting it out in court, Apple Store employees in California will finally get paid for the time the company spent checking their bags for possible stolen products while they were off the clock. The payout: roughly $30 million.

According to court documents filed in the Northern District of California on Friday, and reported by Bloomberg, a total of 14,683 current and former Apple Store employees who worked for the company from July of 2009 to December of 2015 could receive a part of the settlement, which must be approved by the district judge. The class action lawsuit covers the company’s 52 stores in California was filed in 2013 by two Apple Store employees.

The employees objected to the company’s mandatory policy of carrying out unpaid searches of their bags and Apple devices every time they left the store. The searches, which had to be carried out by a manager or security guard, in general averaged between five to 20 minutes, but stretched to up to 45 minutes on the busiest days. Failure to undergo these searches could have led to disciplinary action or termination.

Although Apple argued that anyone who didn’t like getting their bags or Apple products checked could choose not to bring them to work—which, speaking as a former clothing retail store employee, is very hard to do as bags often hold food, snacks, water, keys, and medicine, among others—it discontinued policy in December of 2015.


Chinese Insurer Ping An Plans to Sell $2.1B Stake in Autohome

HONG KONG – Financial conglomerate Ping An Insurance Group of China is seeking to offload its 44% stake in auto services portal Autohome, three people familiar with the situation told Reuters.

Ping An, which is currently the biggest shareholder of Beijing-based Autohome via an offshore entity, has held talks with several strategic and private equity investors for the stake in recent months, said the people.

The stake would be worth around $2.15 billion based on Authome’s current valuation.

Autohome faces growing difficulties in China where automakers, in particular electric vehicle (EV) makers, increasingly rely on their own distribution networks instead of dealerships for sales, said two of the people.

That has affected the business of many dealers in the world’s biggest auto market and then forced them to cut budgets for online portals like Autohome, said the people.

Founded in 2005, Autohome mainly serves as an information portal for automobile buyers and an online car-trading marketplace in China.

Advertisements and fees from automakers and dealers generally account for more than 80% of its revenue as they use its platform for services including brand and sales promotions.

Ping An, China’s largest insurer by market value, declined to comment on “market rumors.” Autohome, which is listed in both New York and Hong Kong, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Apple supplier Foxconn warns that component shortages will last until 2022

The ongoing global shortage for electronic components continues, and Foxconn — which handles manufacturing for Apple, among other major tech heavyweights — has announced that it’s starting to see the impact of shortages. According to Young Liu, Foxconn’s CEO, the company won’t be able to fulfill some of its orders due to those shortages, which he expects will last until at least the second quarter of next year, Nikkei reports.

“The [supply in the] first two months of this quarter was still ok, as our clients are all very big, but we started to see changes happening this month,” Liu reportedly told investors during the company’s latest earnings call.

The impact of the shortages isn’t expected to be large, at least for now: Liu expects that the company will only miss around 10 percent of its orders due to part shortages, citing the large order volumes of its customers. But it’s still a notable miss for Foxconn — and by extension, its customers like Apple — who may be forced to contend with delays.

Foxconn also saw slowdowns in manufacturing last spring at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, following mandatory government shutdowns and quarantined factory workers. Those delays trickled down across the supply chain, leading to a later-than-usual November launch for Apple’s iPhone 12 lineup. The current slowdown, by comparison, seems less drastic, but if parts continue to be hard to get, delays could mount later in the year.


ExxonMobil to invest in petrochemical complex in China

IRVING, Texas – ExxonMobil has made a final investment decision to proceed with a multi-billion dollar chemical complex in the Dayawan Petrochemical Industrial Park in Huizhou, Guangdong Province in China. The facility will help meet expected demand growth for performance chemical products in China.

Facility in Guangdong Province will manufacture performance chemical products for packaging, hygiene, automotive, and agricultural industries

Project will help meet demand growth in China

Investment is part of ExxonMobil’s plans to increase global manufacturing capacity

The chemical complex will produce performance polymers used in packaging, automotive, agricultural, and consumer products for hygiene and personal care. As part of ExxonMobil’s ongoing commitment to advancing climate solutions, the site will feature industry-leading technologies to improve energy efficiency.

“Demand for performance polymers will continue to increase in China, and we’re well positioned to meet the needs of that growing market,” said Karen McKee, president of ExxonMobil Chemical Company. “We look forward to progressing this exciting project as we work to build a competitive growth platform in Dayawan.”

The facility supports progress toward China’s national petrochemical development priorities, which include self-sufficiency, diversified feedstock sources and advancing new competitive technology.

Construction is underway on the greenfield project, which includes a flexible feed steam cracker, three performance polyethylene lines, and two differentiated performance polypropylene lines. The steam cracker will have a nameplate capacity of approximately 1.6 million metric tons per year.

ExxonMobil is prioritizing near-term capital investments on advantaged assets with the highest potential value and ability to generate attractive shareholder returns. These include chemicals projects to grow high-value performance products by 60% by 2027. Besides the chemical complex in China, ExxonMobil and SABIC’s joint venture in San Patricio County, TX, Gulf Coast Growth Ventures, is in the process of starting up.

ExxonMobil has operated in China for more than a century. The company’s current business interests include a presence in downstream, chemicals and liquefied natural gas. ExxonMobil is committed to being a good corporate citizen and supports community relations programs wherever it operates.