Media Focus on Multinational Corporations [2022.11.21]






AstraZeneca confident to invest more in China

China's continued pursuit of high-quality economic development will foster sustainable growth of the Chinese economy, making biopharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca more confident in investing more in China, according to a senior executive of the company.

'As we look at China's role on the global stage, and in particular through this year's China International Import Expo and its opening ceremony, we have gained strong confidence in the Chinese economy,' said Michael Lai, general manager of AstraZeneca China, in a recent exclusive interview with China Daily.

COVID-19 has had a worldwide impact, creating short term fluctuations. But when looking at the longer-term economic outlook of China, it's very important for AstraZeneca to continue to take China as an increasingly important global supply base, according to him.

The company has announced earlier this year its intentions to further invest in its manufacturing facilities in China, including Wuxi and Taizhou supply bases in Jiangsu province. The company is also establishing a new supply base in Qingdao, Shandong province.

According to Lai, the Qingdao investment program is part of one of the core strategies of AstraZeneca in the respiratory disease sector over the next 10 or more years, as the Qingdao supply facility will be an important base for global manufacturing, serving not just the Chinese market, but also the rest of the world.

Lai said as China pushes for high-level opening-up, the company sees a strong environment of collaboration and cooperation between global companies working in China, as well as an environment that allows Chinese companies to be able to reach out to the world.

He is also impressed by Chinese innovation.

'We are partnering with innovative Chinese companies, like Wuxi Biologics, to further expand our partnership in COVID-19 vaccines, as well neutralizing anti-bodies,' he said.

'The Chinese pharmaceutical industry is at a growth phase in terms of world-class innovation. We are very excited to see a new generation of innovative biotech companies in China,' he added.


Bayer AG feels spillover effects from import fair

As an old friend of the just-concluded China International Import Expo, German agricultural and healthcare group Bayer AG said that its business benefits from the expo, which accelerates its momentum to tap into China's vast market and carry out locally inspired innovation breakthroughs.

Werner Baumann, chairman of Bayer AG's board of management, said, 'As a five-time participant, we are honored to be both a participant and a beneficiary of the CIIE, with faster-than-expected new product launches in the past four years.'

Baumann said that on a global scale, China is one of Bayer's most reliable and robust growth engines. This year marks the group's 140th year in China. Taking the opportunities brought by the CIIE, two major projects in the country will materialize.

'The new production lines of the prescription drug production capacities of our Beijing pharmaceuticals product supply center are set to become operational in the middle of next year. This will increase the annual output of the Beijing site by 40 percent, ensuring a reliable supply of high-quality prescription drugs for more Chinese patients,' he said.

In addition, he noted that Bayer Crop Science, another arm of the group, had inked an investment intention deal with Qiantang district, Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, for a new production site scheduled to begin construction soon.

Zeiss Group

Zeiss to spread awareness of myopia prevention and control

Zeiss Group, a German optical systems and optoelectronics manufacturer, recently debut its first myopia prevention and management integral solution in China, as it aims to push forward the development of myopia prevention and control in the country.

In the past few years, myopia has frequently occurred among children and adolescents in an early age in China, and visual health issues have a certain impact on their school attendance, employment and life.

During the just concluded fifth China International Import Expo in Shanghai, Zeiss cooperated with Shanghai Association for Science and Technology to popularize science knowledge and strengthen public awareness of eye health protection.

The two sides will compile a report, focusing on the prevention and control of myopia among children and adolescents in China in 2023. The report will provide professional data references and trend analysis for the public next year.

'We want to not only supply sufficient knowledge to the parents, but also online tools that they can use. With our mini-program, we raise awareness with the parents to let them know what can have an influence on myopia and what you can do to prevent it,' said Frank Seitzinger, head of business development of medical technology of Zeiss China.

Zeiss signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Fosun Health, and the two sides will make the process of myopia prevention and treatments more digitalized.

'We have a platform that's enabled doctors to communicate better with their patients. We have treatment options afterwards for the doctor to prescribe to their patients,' Seitzinger said.


bp begins shipping liquefied natural gas from Mozambiques first LNG project

bp has successfully loaded the first LNG cargo from Mozambiques offshore Coral Sul FLNG facility, the countrys first LNG project and first floating LNG facility ever deployed in the deep waters of the African continent. Under its long-term contract, bp will purchase 100% of LNG output from Coral Sul FLNG which has the capacity to produce up to of 3.4 million tonnes of LNG per year.

bp continues to look for opportunities across the gas value chain, as it sees LNG as an essential part of the energy transition and its own pivot to becoming an integrated energy company. As bp aims for an LNG portfolio of 30 million tonnes by 2030, the new Mozambique supply source expands bps flexible, high-quality LNG portfolio and further enhances the companys capability to deliver LNG to markets globally.

The start of production at the facility comes at an important moment, as LNG plays a key role supporting energy security. As the demand for LNG is expected to continue growing globally, bp continues to diversify its portfolio of LNG sources and develop innovative solutions for customers.

In October 2016, bp signed a long-term offtake contract for the purchase of LNG for over 20 years with the Coral sellers comprising of Mozambique Rovuma Venture S.p.A. (a joint venture owned by Eni, ExxonMobil etc.), GALP, KOGAS and ENH (Mozambique state entity).

Carol Howle, EVP trading and shipping at bp, said: The start of production from the Coral Sul FLNG facility represents a major milestone for Mozambique, the project partners, and bp as the LNG buyer. As the world seeks secure, affordable and lower carbon energy, global demand for LNG is expected to continue to grow. This new supply source further enhances bps capability to deliver LNG to markets across the world and we look forward to continuing our close collaboration with all those involved in the project.


Aramco announces its biggest investment in South Korea

Aramco is making its biggest ever investment in South Korea to develop one of the worlds largest refinery-integrated petrochemical steam crackers through its S-OIL affiliate, in line with the companys strategy to maximise the crude to chemicals value chain.

The $7 billion Shaheen project aims to convert crude oil into petrochemical feedstock and would represent the first commercialisation of Aramco and Lummus Technologys TC2C thermal crude to chemicals technology, which increases chemical yield and reduces operating costs.

It follows an earlier $4 billion investment into the first phase of the petrochemical expansion completed in 2018.

Located at S-Oils existing site in Ulsan, the new plant is planned to have the capacity to produce up to 3.2 million tons of petrochemicals annually and include a facility to produce high-value polymers. The project is expected to start in 2023 and be completed by 2026.

The steam cracker is expected to process by-products from crude processing, including naphtha and off-gas, to produce ethylene — a building block petrochemical used to make thousands of everyday items. The plant is also expected to produce propylene, butadiene and other basic chemicals.

Aramco President & CEO Amin H Nasser said: The global petrochemical landscape is rapidly evolving with demand growth anticipated to accelerate, driven in part by rising consumption from Asias emerging economies. That is why S-Oils Shaheen is well positioned to meet rising demand for the materials that will be required across the regions key industries. By further integrating refining and chemical processes through the first commercialization of Aramcos thermal crude to chemicals technology, we aim to create a more efficient, competitive and sustainable platform for growth, while paving the way for further downstream expansion.

Aramco Senior Vice President of Downstream Mohammed Y Al Qahtani said: Shaheen aspires to be a gamechanger not only for S-OIL in South Korea, but also for our global chemicals business, allowing us to process a greater range of feedstocks in a more efficient and less energy-intensive way. The project represents the first large-scale deployment of Aramcos thermal crude to chemicals technology and shows how, through better design, we can contribute to the transition to more efficient and more sustainable production processes.

The new steam cracker is planned to use mixed feedstocks, outperforming naphtha-based crackers in terms of overall efficiency and performance. Upon project completion, S-OIL chemical yield based on volume could almost double to 25%, which demonstrates the impact of this cutting-edge technology, complementing Aramcos strategy to expand its liquids to chemicals capacity to up to 4 million barrels per day.

Aramco is the majority shareholder of S-OIL, holding more than 63% of the companys shares through its Aramco Overseas Company BV subsidiary.


Malaysia's Petronas Interested to Join Abadi LNG Project

Malaysian state oil and gas company Petronas has expressed interest to participate in Indonesia's takeover of Shell's stake in the Abadi LNG project, Indonesia's upstream oil and gas regulator told a parliamentary hearing on Wednesday.

The Indonesian government has said a consortium of state-owned energy firm Pertamina, the Indonesia Investment Authority (INA) — the country's sovereign wealth fund — and other companies could take Shell's 35% stake in the Abadi liquefied petroleum gas project after the energy company signaled its intention to withdraw.

'Petronas is also interested to join and if possible, work together with Pertamina in terms of replacing Shell,' chairman of regulator SKK Migas, Dwi Soetjipto, said.

Petronas said it could not immediately comment on the matter.

Japanese energy company Inpex Corp. controls 65% of the project, also known as the Masela gas project, in Indonesia's southeast Maluku islands.

Pertamina has conducted data room study and is due to submit a non-binding offer to Inpex and Shell this month, Soetjipto added.

Inpex is expected to submit a revised development plan on the project to include a carbon capture installation in their investment in December.

The project had previously been expected to cost around $20 billion.


EIG Targets Australia's Origin to Build Global LNG Company

EIG, teaming with Brookfield Asset Management in a A$15.5 billion ($10.5 billion) bid to split Australia's Origin Energy, is looking to use the deal to help build a global LNG company, its boss said on Wednesday.

Under the proposed buyout announced last week, EIG's MidOcean Energy would acquire Origin's integrated gas business including its 27.5% stake in Australia Pacific LNG (APLNG), an LNG project in Queensland state.

EIG has been eyeing the APLNG stake for at least three years, after being thwarted in a $10.8 billion bid for Santos Ltd STO.AX in 2018, aiming to create a global LNG company targeting customers in Japan, South Korea etc.

APLNG's appeal is its long-term contracts to supply Japan's Kansai Electric and etc.

'Really the attraction for us are the export volumes and the contracts. This is not meant to be a play on domestic gas pricing in Australia,' EIG Chief Executive Blair Thomas told Reuters in an interview by phone from Riyadh.


Masdar to develop Suez Canal green hydrogen project

UAE renewable energy firm Masdar and its partners Infinity Power and Hassan Allam Utilities said they signed a framework agreement with Egyptian state-backed organisations to develop a 2 gigawatt (GW) green hydrogen production project in the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZONE).

The Masdar-led consortium had signed two Memorandums of Understating in April with Egyptian entities to develop two green hydrogen production plants in Egypt, one in SCZONE and the other on the Mediterranean.

The consortium is targeting capacity of 4 GW by 2030 and output of up to 480,000 tonnes of green hydrogen a year.


Maersk sets sights on green methanol production in Jordan

Danish shipping and logistics giant A.P. Moller – Maersk has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Jordans Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources for cooperation in the field of green marine fuel production.

Through the agreement, which is said to be in line with Jordans drive to expand and enhance local clean energy sources, the parties will look into opportunities for investing and developing green methanol production in the Aqaba region.

According to Saleh A. Al-Kharabsheh, Jordans Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, the MoU is part of the countrys efforts to enhance its role as a regional centre for green energy production.

Morten Bo Christiansen, Vice President, Head of Decarbonisation at A.P. Moller – Maersk, highlighted the importance of Jordans location and its selection due to its abundance of resources.

Under the terms of the agreement, Maersk will conduct preliminary technical and economic feasibility studies for green methanol production to contribute to the reduction of emissions in the maritime sector.

The new deal comes shortly after the Danish shipping giant revealed its plans to collaborate with the Spanish government to explore the opportunities for large-scale green fuels production.

The signing of the protocol was described as a significant milestone in the collaboration that, if fully implemented, could deliver up to 2 million tonnes of green fuels per year.


Pertamina to explore green hydrogen projects with Keppel ,Chevron

Indonesia's state-owned energy firm Pertamina will explore the development of green hydrogen and ammonia projects in the country, along with Singapore-based Keppel Infrastructure and global oil major Chevron as part of a joint study agreement signed.

The companies intend to explore the feasibility of developing a green hydrogen facility in Sumatra, Indonesia, with a production capacity of at least 40,000 tonnes per annum, powered by 250-400 megawatts of geothermal energy in the initial phase, according to a statement dated Nov. 10.

'The hydrogen production facility could have the potential to scale up to 80,000-160,000 tonnes per annum, depending on the availability of geothermal energy as well as market demands,' the statement said.

The so-called green or clean hydrogen is made using electrolysers powered by renewable energy to split water from oxygen, while blue hydrogen is made from natural gas with technology to capture and storage the carbon dioxide emissions produced.


Disney announces ex-CEO Bob Iger to return for 2 years

The Walt Disney Company announced late Sunday that former CEO Bob Iger will return to head the company for two years in a move that stunned the entertainment industry.

Disney said in a statement that Bob Chapek, who succeeded Iger in 2020, had stepped down from the position. Disney board chair Susan Arnold thanked Chapek for his leadership during the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic.

She said directors believed Iger was uniquely situated” to guide the entertainment behemoth during an increasingly complex period of industry transformation.” Iger, 71, led Disney for 15 years as it absorbed Pixar, Lucasfilm, Marvel and Foxs entertainment businesses, then launched its Disney+ streaming service.

Iger said in the statement that he was thrilled” to return and extremely optimistic” about Disneys future.

I am deeply honored to be asked to again lead this remarkable team, with a clear mission focused on creative excellence to inspire generations through unrivaled, bold storytelling,” Iger said.


Tesla recalls 300K vehicles over taillight software glitch

Tesla is recalling more than 300,000 vehicles in the U.S. because a software glitch can make taillights go off intermittently, increasing the risk of a collision.

Tesla said in documents posted Saturday by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that the glitch may affect one or both taillights on certain Model 3 and Model Y vehicles. Brake lamps, backup lamps and turn signal lamps are not affected by the software problem, the company said.

The automaker said it is releasing an online software update that will fix the problem.

The recall covers certain 2020 to 2023 Model Y SUVs and 2023 Model 3 sedans. That amounts to potentially 321,628 vehicles.

Tesla became aware of the problem last month after receiving complaints, primarily from customers outside the U.S., that their vehicle taillamps were not illuminating. The company completed an investigation into the problem earlier this month.

Owners will be notified by letter starting Jan. 14. The company says in documents that vehicles in production and those set for delivery got the update starting Nov. 6.

As of Nov. 14, Tesla had received three warranty claims due to the problem, but was not aware of any related crashes or injuries related to the glitch, according to the documents.


Amazon CEO says layoffs will extend into next year

The mass layoffs that began in Amazon's corporate ranks this week will extend into next year, CEO Andy Jassy said Thursday.

In a note sent to employees, Jassy said the company told workers in its devices and books divisions about layoffs on Wednesday. He said it also offered some other employees a voluntary buyout offer.

Ive been in this role now for about a year and a half, and without a doubt, this is the most difficult decision weve made during that time (and, weve had to make some very tough calls over the past couple of years, particularly during the heart of the pandemic),” Jassy wrote in the memo.

Seattle-based Amazon, which has been cutting costs in various areas of its business in the past few months, is undergoing an annual review process to figure out where it can save more money. Jassy said this years review is more difficult” due to the economic landscape and the companys rapid hiring in the last several years.

Other tech companies — many of which had gone on hiring binges in the past few years — have also been trimming their workforce amid concerns about an economic slowdown. Among others, Facebook parent Meta said last week it would lay off 11,000 people, about 13% of its workforce. And Elon Musk, the new Twitter CEO, has slashed the companys workforce in half this month.


Starbucks workers strike at more than 100 US stores

Starbucks workers at more than 100 U.S. stores are on strike Thursday in their largest labor action since a campaign to unionize the companys stores began late last year.

The walkouts coincide with Starbucks’ annual Red Cup Day, when the company gives free reusable cups to customers who order a holiday drink. Workers say its often one of the busiest days of the year. Starbucks declined to say how many red cups it plans to distribute.

Workers say they're seeking better pay, more consistent schedules and higher staffing levels in busy stores. Stores in 25 states planned to take part in the labor action, according to Starbucks Workers United, the group organizing the effort. Strikers are handing out their own red cups with union logos.

Starbucks, which opposes the unionization effort, said it is aware of the walkouts and respects its employees' right to lawfully protest. The Seattle company noted that the protests are happening at a small number of its 9,000 company-run U.S. locations.

We remain committed to all partners and will continue to work together, side-by-side, to make Starbucks a company that works for everyone,' the company said Thursday in a statement.


Alibaba group will not complete primary Hong Kong listing

Chinese tech heavyweight Alibaba Group Holding Ltd said on Thursday night that it will not complete a primary listing in Hong Kong before the end of this year as initially planned.

'Before our conversion to a primary listing in Hong Kong, we also need to formulate and submit a new employee stock ownership program to our shareholders for approval in order to comply with the newly amended rules in Hong Kong,' Alibaba said in a statement.

The new program will continue to align the development of the company with the interests of long-term shareholders, Alibaba said, adding 'we will continue to evaluate the various factors during this process and update our investors in due course'.

Alibaba, which already has a secondary listing in Hong Kong, said in July it expected the primary listing to be completed by the end of this year.

The company also reported that its total revenue stood at 207.18 billion yuan ($28.96 billion) during the July-September period, up 3 percent year-on-year.

Its net loss attributable to ordinary shareholders came in at 20.56 billion yuan for the quarter ending Sept 30. Non-GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) net income reached 33.82 billion, an increase of 19 percent from a year earlier.

NetEase Inc. 

NetEase inc. reports 24.4 billion in net revenue

Chinese internet and online game giant NetEase Inc. reported, on Thursday, 24.4 billion yuan ($3.4 billion) in net revenues during the third quarter of this year, an increase of 10.1 percent year-on-year.

The expenditure on research and development stood at 4.0 billion yuan in the July-September period, accounting for 16 percent of the companys total revenue, according to the quarterly financial report. NetEase has invested nearly 11 billion yuan in R&D in the first three quarters.

Games and related value-added services net revenues came in at 18.7 billion yuan during the quarter ending in September, up 9.1 percent from a year ago. Cloud Music, the music streaming arm of NetEase, saw its net revenues rise 22.5 percent on a yearly basis to 2.4 billion yuan.

Youdao, an intelligent learning firm under NetEase, posted 1.4 billion yuan in net revenue, up 1.1 percent compared with the third quarter of 2021.

Online game company Blizzard Entertainment Inc. said on Thursday it will suspend most Blizzard game services on the Chinese mainland due to the expiration of the current licensing agreements with NetEase on Jan 23, 2023

NetEased confirmed these licenses will expire in January 2023 and will not be renewed. Net revenues and net income contribution from these licensed Blizzard games represented low single digits as a percentage of NetEase's total net revenues and net income in 2021 and in the first nine months,” the company said.

The expiration of such licenses will have no material impact on NetEase's financial results, it added.

Shiseido Group

Global cosmetics maker Shiseido to up investment in China

Global cosmetics giant Shiseido Group will enhance investment to boost its innovation capabilities in China, the company said in a statement.

The company will continue to invest in building its second-largest research and development center in the country to cater to the demands of its largest overseas market, according to its new growth plan released Tuesday at a reception marking the company's 150th anniversary.

The company will see more investment in local innovation in China, bolstered by the establishment of an innovation fund worth up to 1 billion yuan ($142.12 million).

To accelerate its green growth and support China's circular economy, the company plans to have over 150 refillable products on the Chinese market by 2023, the statement said.

'We are full of confidence in the huge potential in China and are even more committed to our long-term investment in the market,' said Shiseido Group CEO Masahiko Uotani, calling China 'a key growth engine' of the company's growth.


Foxconn hiring workers, offering bonus

The Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou, Henan province, expects to hire more workers to meet production peak demand.

The world's largest Apple iPhone assembly plant faced a shortage of hands after many workers resigned due to the COVID-19 outbreak. It aims to attract employees by offering various subsidies.

New employees need to be quarantined in centralized management locations for three days. Those who are quarantined from Nov 9 to 19 can receive a subsidy of 1,600 yuan ($227), after they work for 15 days, according to a recruiting advertisement released by the company on Saturday.

The wage for new workers is 30 yuan per hour. If they arrive at the company from Nov 9 to Nov 19, they can be given a subsidy of 3,000 yuan after working for 30 days, it said.

Besides, for previous workers who resigned from Oct 10 to Nov 5 but want to come back, they can receive a subsidy of 500 yuan.

The first batch of new workers from some cities in Henan — such as Zhumadian and Xinyang — arrived on Sunday, as sent by the local government. A man surnamed Shi told Henan Daily that he was attracted by the salary. Another new employee surnamed Jin told the paper that it's not easy to find a job, and believed the epidemic situation will become better.

The plant has optimized epidemic prevention and control measures in accommodations, sanitation and protection of laborers' rights, it said.


TikTok to address US security concerns

Short-video app TikTok is working on an initiative called 'Project Texas' to address the US government concerns about data security, its CEO said on Wednesday.

Shou Zi Chew, CEO of TikTok, said Project Texas is designed to isolate sensitive data of its US users so that only staff in the United States can access it. The move is part of the company's broader push to beef up data management and to ease US officials' concern about data security.

The effort is 'extremely difficult and expensive to build,' Chew said at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore on Wednesday.

'It's unprecedented. No company has attempted this,' Chew said. 'I'm very confident that through the detailed discussions that we're going to have, we will come up with a solution that will reasonably address the national security concerns.'

Chew made his comments after US FBI Director Christopher Wray alleged on Tuesday that the US operations of Chinese-owned TikTok raise national security concerns, according to foreign news reports.

In response to such reports, China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said at a news conference in Beijing on Wednesday that the US side is spreading false information and using it as an excuse to suppress the Chinese enterprises concerned, which has become a common practice of the US.

China firmly opposes such attempts and hopes that the US side will adopt a more responsible approach, and earnestly respect and abide by fair, open and nondiscriminatory international rules, Mao said.


Tencent to divest Meituan stake as dividends

Chinese tech company Tencent Holdings said on Wednesday it would distribute its $20.3 billion stake in online food delivery firm Meituan as dividends.

It will transfer 958.12 million shares in Meituan, equal to 90.9 percent of the Class B ordinary shares it held in the company, Tencent said.

Meituan said in a separate statement Tencent President Martin Lau Chi Ping has resigned as a board member.


Shanghai Disney Resort to partially resume operations

Disneytown, Wishing Star Park and Shanghai Disneyland Hotel will resume operations on Thursday, Shanghai Disney Resort announced on Wednesday.

The resort also noted that hotel reservation services resumed on Wednesday.

Following the resumption of operations on Thursday, Disneytown will operate from 10:00 to 20:00, and Wishing Star Park will operate from 9:00 to 17:00. The Disney Car and Coach Park, the Disneytown parking lot and Wishing Star Ferry will also resume operations.

Shanghai Disneyland and Toy Story Hotel will remain temporarily closed until further notice.