Media Focus on Multinational Corporations [2023.01.09]






Paxlovid will not be added to China's updated medical reimbursement list

Pfizer's COVID-19 treatment Paxlovid will not be added to China's updated medical reimbursement list because the company asked for a very high price during the latest round of price negotiations that wrapped up on Sunday, the National Healthcare Security Administration said on Sunday.

However, drugmakers of two other COVID-19 therapies — the homegrown Azvudine and the Qingfei paidu granule, a widely used traditional Chinese medicine to ease COVID-19 symptoms — have successfully struck a deal during the negotiation, said the administration.

Although the highly-anticipated inclusion of Paxlovid was not achieved, the administration said that all COVID-19 drugs listed in the latest version of COVID-19 treatment protocol, including Paxlovid and Merck's Molnupiravir, will be reimbursed through to March 31.

With the two additions, the administration said that the medical reimbursement list will contain more than 600 types of drugs that have been proven to alleviate fevers, coughing and other COVID-19 symptoms.

Local healthcare security authorities have also included a number of COVID-19 drugs to their.


Swire Coca-Cola takes over Coca-Cola Vietnam

The transaction marks another major investment of Swire Coca-Cola in Southeast Asia following the acquisition of the Cambodia Beverage Company in November 2022.

Swire Coca-Cola owns and operates three beverage production facilities, 18 production lines and six distribution centers in Vietnam, with a total of over 3,500 staff.

The completion of the deal reflects the continued pursuit of Swire Coca-Colas vision to expand its footprint into Southeast Asia, a dynamic and vibrant region with strong growth potential, particularly in the thriving beverage sector.

The completion of the agreement in Vietnam marks another historic milestone for Swire Coca-Cola, following fast on the heels of our recent acquisition in Cambodia,said Patrick Healy, chairman of Swire Coca-Cola.

We are delighted to step up our presence in Southeast Asia with our investment in Vietnam and look forward to welcoming our new colleagues on board.

Karen So, managing director of Swire Coca-Cola, said, New territories and more employees mean more opportunities to deliver refreshment to the world. I am eager to bring Swires commitment to excellence to our new customers and communities.


Ant Group

China's Ant Group says founder Jack Ma will give up control

WASHINGTON -- E-commerce billionaire Jack Ma will give up control of Ant Group, the leading Chinese financial technology provider he founded.

In a statement posted Friday, Ant Group said that after an ownership restructuring, no shareholder, alone or with other partieswill have control over Ant Group.The company is an affiliate of e-commerce giant Alibaba, which Ma also founded.

The move follows other efforts over the years by the Chinese government to rein in Ma and the country's tech sector more broadly. Two years ago, the once high-profile Ma largely disappeared from view for 2 1/2 months after criticizing China's regulators.

The government at the same time also forced Ant Group to call off a highly-anticipated IPO that would have raised over $3 billion, just days before it was to launch.

Yet Ma's surrender of control comes after other signs the government was easing up on Chinese online firms. Late last year Beijing signaled at an economic work conference that it would support technology firms to boost economic growth and create more jobs.

And last month, the government said it would allow Ant Group to raise $1.5 billion in capital for its consumer finance unit.



Microsoft apply Googles etching technology

According to information from The Information, Microsoft is planning to apply OpenAIs ChatGPT technology to the Bing search engine. Microsoft hopes to launch a new feature in March to attract users from rival Google.

By using ChatGPT technology built by artificial intelligence company OpenAI, Bing can provide replies to users instead of giving results based on search keywords.

Currently, both Google and Bing have the same operating method of giving results based on search keywords. However, Google has the upper hand thanks to the Knowledge Graph database that helps provide information to users without having to visit the website.

Microsofts use of ChatGPT could help Bing compete with Googles Knowledge Graph. In addition, with this new technology, Microsoft is also ambitious to provide many new types of functionality to Bing.

Thanks to a $1 billion investment from Microsoft, OpenAI released ChatGPT publicly to test users in November. Since then, its ability to answer questions has made the tool the center of attention on the Internet.

ChatGPT will provide complete information about the keyword asked, from recipes to celebrity biographies. Even, users can compose poetry, compose essays, write source code with this tool.

While AI services sometimes provide inaccurate information, some analysts and experts have suggested that ChatGPTs ability to summarize publicly available data could make it a solution. Reliable alternative to Google.


With a Powerful Combination to Further Explore Its Field in New Energy Technology, CHERY Joins Hands with CATL to Seek a New Chapter

WUHU, China, Jan. 7, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Recently, CHERY Group signed a strategic cooperation framework agreement with Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., Limited. (CATL), and both sides will carry out all-round cooperation in various fields, such as products, commerce and market promotion. In addition to the battery supply and technical cooperation of passenger vehicles, the two sides will also conduct joint exploration in terms of mass transit, EIC technology integration of new energy and battery swap service in the fields of buses, logistics vehicles, heavy trucks, and electric ships, boosting and leading the high-quality development of the automobile industry.

CATL, the world's largest power battery manufacturer that focuses on research, development, production and sales of power battery system and energy storage system for NEVs, has been providing power batteries to numerous well-known automobile brands, including Mercedes Benz, BMW and Tesla, and won the first place for five consecutive years.

CHERY, the other side, has been conducting research and development of new energy technology since 1999. Up to now, CHERY has applied for more than 900 patents in the field of new energy and obtained more than 600 patents, ranking first among Chinese automobile enterprises, and third globally.

Following '457' technology development plan, CHERY has developed four vehicle powertrain platforms, five general subsystems and seven core technologies, covering SUVs from Class A to Class D with pure electric, hybrid electric, extended-range electric, fuel-cell and other new energy technologies. CHERY also successfully developed the world's first fully-functional hybrid DHT with the unique advantage of '3 engines, 3 gears, 9 working modes and 11 speed ratios'.

As the development of new energy has become a global consensus, the automobile industry is also faced with the historical window opportunity of the transition from the traditional to innovative stage. This time CHERY stands out again with new energy product sales exceeding 230,000 units, up 112.9% year-on-year, far surpassing the overall growth rate of the whole industry.

Of course, by joining hands with CATL, CHERY will usher in a new powerful combination and coordinated development. Moreover, CHERY will work together with partners to promote the sustainable development of the new energy industry and the popularization of electric vehicles, thus facilitating the goal of 'carbon peaking and carbon neutrality'.


BP To Significantly Boost Investment In U.S. Oil

Moving in lockstep with the Biden Administration’s calls for U.S. oil and gas companies to expand production, London-based BP Plc has unveiled plans to boost spending in the American oil heartland by over 40% this year.

On Wednesday, BP said it would raise onshore oil and gas investment in the U.S. from $1.7 billion in 2022 to $2.4 billion in 2023–a 41% hike year-on-year. Offshore, in the Gulf of Mexico, BP said it plans to invest a total of $7 billion by 2025, compared to $10 billion in investment over the past five years. While the investment dollars will be increasing, however, BP also noted a reduction in Gulf of Mexico production plans from 400,000 boed to 350,000 boepd.

In the Gulf of Mexico, BP has four deepwater production platforms, with a fifth, Argos, set to launch first production later this year as part of the oil giant’s Mad Dog 2 project. The 2023 production date represents a delay from original first production plans last year.

Several new projects are underway, including a $1.3-billion expansion at the Atlantis field in the Gulf of Mexico, the $9-billion Mad Dog 2 development, and a major expansion at the Thunder Horse field.

According to BP’s “US Impact Report: Investing in America” released on Wednesday, the company has a larger presence in the United States than anywhere else in the world, and has invested more than $135 billion since 2005, “supporting nearly a quarter million American jobs” and “contributing about $60 billion to the national economy in 2021”.

In 2021, BP produced an average of 296,000 boepd in the United States, the bulk of that in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP also noted that U.S. refineries represent around 40% of the company’s global refining capacity, with refining capabilities of 851,000 bpd.


Oil Majors Exxon And Chevron Shift Focus To Americas

Exxon and Chevron are betting big on oil and gas assets in the Americas as they seek to capitalize on abundant resources with good returns closer to home.  

Both U.S. supermajors have said in their releases about the 2023 capital budget allocation that they would focus on the Permian and a handful of oil and gas projects in North and South America.

In the past few years, Chevron has sold assets in the UK, Denmark, and Brazil, among others, according to The Wall Street Journal. Exxon, for its part, has either sold or is trying to sell assets in Nigeria, Egypt, and Chad, among others.  

In its corporate plan through 2027, Exxon said last month that its investments in 2023 were expected to be in the range of $23 billion to $25 billion “to help increase supply to meet global demand.”

More than 70% of Exxon’s capital investments will be deployed in strategic developments in the U.S. Permian Basin, as well as in Guyana, Brazil, and LNG projects around the world. By 2027, upstream production is expected to grow by 500,000 oil-equivalent barrels per day to 4.2 million oil-equivalent barrels per day, with more than 50% of the total coming from these key growth areas. Some 90% of the upstream investments that bring on new oil and flowing gas production are expected to have returns greater than 10% at prices less than or equal to $35 per barrel, Exxon said.

Chevron continues to bet on the Permian, too. Its upstream capex—out of organic capex of $14 billion for 2023—includes more than $4 billion for Permian Basin development and roughly $2 billion for other shale and tight assets. More than 20% of upstream capex is for projects in the Gulf of Mexico, Chevron said last month.

temporary reimbursement lists based on the capacity of local funds.


Talos makes commercial finds in the Gulf of Mexico

Talos Energy has hit commercial quantities of oil and gas at its Lime Rock and Venice prospects in the US Gulf of Mexico, the independent E&P company announced on Tuesday.

The company discovered 23.8 metres and 22 metres of net hydrocarbons pay at the Lime Rock and Venice prospects respectively during its drilling campaign in Q4 2022.

Gross recoverable resources on the plays are estimated to be between 20 million to 30 million boe, averaging 40% oil and 60% liquids.

Completion operations are set to finish in 2023, with first production from both wells planned for Q1 2024.

The plays are expected to produce 15,000-20,000 boepd and will both be tied back to the company’s existing 100%-owned Ram Powell platform.

Talos Energy owns a 60% share of both fields.

“Demonstrating our ability to successfully leverage existing infrastructure also reinforces the strategic merits of our pending acquisition of EnVen Energy Corporation, which will double our deepwater infrastructure footprint by adding six major facilities,” said Timothy S. Duncan, president and CEO of Talos Energy.

The company signed agreements to acquire EnVen Energy Corporation in September 2023.

Nayara Energy

India’s Nayara Energy to start up new PP unit in end-2023

India’s Nayara Energy expects to begin operations at its greenfield 450,000 tonne/year polypropylene (PP) plant between October and December 2023.

The new PP plant has been built at a site adjacent to the company’s existing refinery complex at Vadinar in the western Gujarat state, with a capital outlay of around $750m.

“The PP plant is part of the company’s vision of revamping and revitalising its Vadinar refinery into a world-class integrated refinery petrochemical complex,” Nayara Energy said in a statement on 30 December.

The petrochemical complex is being developed in phases. The PP line, a propylene recovery unit, along with upgrades to an existing fludized catalytic cracking (FCC) unit form Phase 1 of Nayara’s petrochemical complex.

“Phase-1 project development has achieved over 85% progress,” it said.

The revamped FCC unit was commissioned on 20 December 2022 and the company expects to begin pre-commissioning activities at the propylene recovery unit in February, it added.

“With completion of the FCC revamp, we have made significant progress on our petrochemical entry,” Nayara Energy CEO Alois Virag said.In the second phase, the company expects to set up an integrated petrochemical complex, he added.

Nayara Energy’s refinery in Vadinar, Gujarat is the second largest in India. It has an annual capacity of 20m tonnes which constitutes about 8% of India’s overall refinery capacity.

Tokyo Gas

Japanese Firm Closes In On Buying A U.S. Natural Gas Producer

Japanese Tokyo Gas is close to finalizing a deal for the acquisition of U.S. natural gas producer Rockcliff Energy, Reuters reported, citing unnamed sources close to the negotiations.

The value of the deal, which would include the assumption of debt, is seen at some $4.6 billion, the Reuters sources said. The actual buyer would be a subsidiary of the Japanese firm based in Texas - TG Natural Resources.

Rockcliff Energy is active in the Haynesville shale play, with a daily output of some 1 billion cubic feet daily. It is currently owned by Quantum Energy Partners.

TG Natural Resources is also active in the Haynesville play, with a daily output of about 330 million cubic feet.

The move, according to the Reuters report, could be seen as the latest move by a Japanese energy company to secure fossil fuel supply in a friendly jurisdiction, even though at the same time Tokyo Gas recently sold its interests in four LNG projects in Australia to a U.S. private equity firm.

Like Europe, Japan is trying to diversify its sources of oil and gas. Last year, Japanese energy companies signed a series of deals for LNG deliveries from the United States and Oman to advance these diversification plans.

In addition to fossil fuel supply diversification, Japan has made a U-turn on nuclear energy. After the Fukushima disaster in 2011, Japanese leaders have taken an anti-nuclear stance but with the energy crisis this has begun to change: at the end of last year, a panel of experts under the Japanese Ministry of Industry decided that Japan would allow the development of new nuclear reactors and allow available reactors to operate after the current limit of 60 years.


Uniper Says Working with UAE's Masdar on Hydrogen Project

German utility Uniper on Thursday said it was involved in a project with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) clean energy company Masdar to produce green hydrogen, confirming a report on Bloomberg.

The Berlin government this week completed a 34.5 billion euro ($36.55 billion) bailout of Uniper, following European Commission approval, a nationalization made necessary because of Uniper's exposure to surging gas prices following the war.

The war has sharpened Germany's focus on security of supply and the use of green hydrogen produced using renewable energy that is compatible with European Union climate goals.

It expects to need imports to complement domestic production.

A spokesperson for the Duesseldorf-based firm said Uniper is actively involved in large-scale hydrogen projects in the Middle East, with a view to exporting hydrogen to Europe and Asian markets.

'The project in UAE with MASDAR has already seen impressive public support,' the spokesperson said, adding Uniper declined to provide further detail at this stage.

The Bloomberg report said that Masdar and Uniper will build a 1.3 gigawatt solar plant from which they expect to produce clean hydrogen via electrolysis from 2026, citing an interview with Masdar's executive director for clean energy, Mohammad Abdelqadar El Ramahi.

Marathon Oil

Marathon Oil Completes $3B Eagle Ford Assets Purchase

Marathon Oil Corporation has closed the purchase of the Eagle Ford assets from Ensign Natural Resources valued at $3 billion. The acquisition was closed soon after it was unveiled at the start of November 2022.

'We are pleased to announce the close of our acquisition of Ensign's high-quality assets in the core of the Eagle Ford Shale,' said chairman, president, and CEO Lee Tillman. 'This acquisition satisfies every element of our disciplined acquisition criteria. It's immediately accretive to our key financial metrics, it will drive higher shareholder distributions consistent with our operating cash flow driven Return of Capital framework, it's accretive to our inventory life with attractive locations that immediately compete for capital, and it offers truly compelling industrial logic given our existing Eagle Ford footprint and our track record of execution excellence in the play.'

The assets acquired from Ensign Natural Resources (99 percent operated, 97 percent working interest) span Live Oak, Bee, Karnes, and Dewitt Counties across the condensate, wet gas, and dry gas phase windows of the Eagle Ford. Marathon Oil believes it can deliver maintenance level production from the acquired asset of 67,000 net boepd (22,000 net bopd of oil) with approximately 1 rig and 35 to 40 wells.

The company's valuation of the asset was based off this maintenance level program and does not include any synergy credits or upside redevelopment opportunity. Acquired tangible assets are eligible for full expensing for the purpose of income tax optimization, including potential deferral of AMT.


RWE Secures 15 Years of Texas LNG from Sempra

Germany’s RWE Supply & Trading GmBH agreed to a 15-year contract with Sempra Infrastructure to purchase liquefied natural gas from a production terminal set to open in Port Arthur, Texas, in 2027, according to both companies.

With the deal, RWE said it had secured sufficient LNG volumes to make full use of its booked regasification capacities for an import terminal in Brunsbüttel, near Hamburg, that’s scheduled to open in 2026.

The partnership was “another important step to diversify Germany’s gas supply and thus contributes to enhancing security of supply in Europe on a long-term basis,” said Andree Stracke, chief executive officer of RWE Supply & Trading.

The volumes from Port Arthur will reach about 2.25 million tons annually. That corresponds to about 3 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year.

Two of five Floating Storage and Regasification Units chartered on behalf of the German government will be operated by RWE, with one anchored in Brunsbüttel starting next month. The company’s planned land-based terminal at the same location will have an annual regasification capacity of 8 billion cubic meters.

In Port Arthur, nearly all the projected off-take capacity for the first phase was now under long-term agreements, Sempra Infrastructure CEO Justin Bird said.

“Today’s announcement moves us one step further along in the process of making Port Arthur LNG a reality,” Bird said.

Both sides also said they will try to lower greenhouse gas emissions throughout the LNG supply chain.