Media Focus on Multinational Corporations [2023.02.27]






Carrefour China given govt relief

Carrefour China, part of retail corp, has introduced strategic investment from a government-backed capital platform to further collaborate on supply chains, capital and operations, as part of the retailer's efforts to ease its tensions with suppliers and prepaid card members.

Carrefour China reached a deal with the Yingjiang district government in Anqing, East China's Anhui province, on Monday. According to the supermarket operator, the local government has invested through the acquisition of shares to further drive the upgrade of the retailer through development in internet integration, digital innovation and flagship brick-and-mortar stores.

Earlier, the Ministry of Commerce said it is vital to rapidly promote the recovery of the retail industry and stimulate innovations, spurring the transformation of digital retail and facilitating integration between retail and other sectors, online and offline, improving the efficiency of supply chains, so as to achieve high-quality development of the retail industry.

Jason Yu, general manager of Kantar Worldpanel China, a research unit in Shanghai, said the injection of State-owned funds has boosted confidence among suppliers and employees as well as consumers of Carrefour China, offering more support to the retailer's liquidity. However, the move will not directly address the difficulties in its business operations, Yu added.

The retailer has suffered from shrinking market share and a loss of profits, resulting in the closing of many underperforming stores in some cities over the past two years.

In the first three quarters of 2022, the company closed 54 stores, leaving only 151 stores in operation, according to Kantar Worldpanel China. The number was 210 in 2019 when Suning acquired an 80 percent stake in Carrefour China from the French retailer group.

Carrefour China has seen a net loss of 795 million yuan ($115.7 million) in 2020 and the figure was 3.33 billion yuan in 2021. In the first half of 2022, the retailer reached a net loss of 471 million yuan.

The COVID-19 pandemic has quickened the decline of the hypermarket format, which has been troubled by the rise of digital shopping, delivery services and multiple consumption scenarios, said Yu.

To this end, multiple formats are key to helping retailers to gain an edge in fierce competition, he said.

Earlier this month, rumors that Carrefour would close more stores fueled concerns among suppliers and resulted in panic buying from prepaid card members.

In a statement, Carrefour China said they have adopted temporary limits on the use of prepaid cards due to the impact of the pandemic, strategic shifts and rumors of the retailer's exit. They have improved supply chains in an effort to meet surging purchases using prepaid cards.

The retailer said it is exploring a new model to optimize supply chains and open more community-based shopping centers to combat current troubles.

In March, Carrefour China is expected to show a batch of new stores in major cities including Beijing and Shanghai, transforming their hypermarkets into brick-and-mortar service centers for communities. The stores will offer more services and experiences to attract more visits from consumers, such as children's play facilities and catering services.


Unilever looking to grow for another 100 years with China

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Unilever's first entry into the China market, and the company is poised to grow together with China for another 100 years, said Zeng Xiwen, Unilever's vice-president for China corporate affairs.

Among the first batch of multinationals entering the Chinese market after China's reform and opening-up in 1980s, the consumer goods company has so far invested more than $3 billion in the China market, and China has become one of the top three key growth markets for Unilever globally as well.

According to Zeng, China's large population and Chinese people's rapid rise in income make the greatest contribution to Unilever's growth worldwide.

'Consumer products companies serve consumers and follow consumers. Therefore, the China market is indispensable,' Zeng said.

Unilever placed one of its six global research and development centers in Shanghai. Up to 400 R&D personnel from 12 nations in Shanghai work together with their R&D peers worldwide to create innovations to better serve both Chinese and global consumers, according to Shen Jun, Unilever's vice-president for North Asia R&D Center.

Shen said the Shanghai R&D center has never stopped developing new products for Chinese consumers even when the COVID-19 hit the city hard last year. And as China's response to COVID-19 enters into new phase, the company is set to deliver better and more advanced products to the China market in the coming year.

Unilever is currently operating about 40 brands in China, and it is providing daily living products and serving 150 million consumer households in China.


Bayer China Academic Collaboration Award 2022 unveiled

Bayer, together with Tsinghua University and Peking University, recently unveiled the Bayer China Academic Collaboration Award 2022, including Bayer Endowed Chair, Bayer Investigator, Bayer Postdoc, as well as Bayer Microfunding (For the full list of the award winners, please see the appendix.). Bayer China Academic Collaboration Award aims to honor distinguished scholars from prestigious Chinese universities and recognize their outstanding achievements in life sciences, medical science as well as drug research and development, to strengthen communication and coordination between the pharmaceutical industry and academia and to advance basic research applied to the research and development of new drugs, thus accelerating breakthrough innovations that will benefit patients.

This year, the scientists awarded the Bayer Endowed Chair are Professor Songhai Shi, Dean, School of Life Sciences, Tsinghua University, and Professor Xuemei Chen, Chair Professor, School of Life Sciences, Peking University. Meanwhile, a total of 9 scientists from Peking University and Tsinghua University became Bayer Investigator through the selection of the Joint Steering Committee (JSC) composed of Bayer experts and senior scholars from the top two universities in China. In addition, three outstanding young researchers from Peking University grew into Bayer Postdoc.

To further strengthen translation of early innovation in drug discovery and support scientific exploration driven by Chinese investigators, Bayer and Tsinghua launched the Bayer Microfunding last year. Professors Zhi John Lu and Xuerui Yang from the School of Life Sciences of Tsinghua, Professor Haidong Tang from the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences of the university became the first group of Chinese scientists to receive funding support from the Bayer Microfunding.


Alibaba posts better-than-expected results

Chinese tech heavyweight Alibaba Group Holding Ltd delivered better-than-expected financial results in the October-December period on Thursday, with total revenue standing at 247.76 billion yuan ($35.9 billion), up 2 percent year-on-year.

Its net income came in at 45.75 billion yuan for the quarter ending Dec 31, up 138 percent on a yearly basis, while the non-GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) net income reached 49.93 billion yuan, an increase of 12 percent year-on-year.

Daniel Zhang, chairman and CEO of Alibaba, said the company delivered a solid quarter despite softer demand, supply chain and logistics disruptions due to impact of changes in COVID-19 measures.

'Looking ahead, we expect continued recovery in consumer sentiment and economic activity. We are focused on driving growth for our customers amid the competitive landscape, and creating sustainable, long-term value for our shareholders.'

During this period, the gross merchandise volume from its core e-commerce business, which refers to its Taobao and Tmall platforms, fell by mid-single digits from a year earlier mainly due to soft consumption demand and a surge in COVID-19 cases in China that resulted in supply chain and logistics disruptions in December.

Revenue in the cloud computing business amounted to 20.18 billion yuan during this period, an increase of 3 percent year-on-year, mainly driven by public cloud growth.

Alibaba Cloud has ramped up its international presence, and launched operation of its third data center in Japan in December to support the growing cloud service demands from local customers. Moreover, it added new data centers in Saudi Arabia, Germany, Thailand, South Korea and Japan in 2022.


Meituan's logistics UAV receives approval

Meituan announced on Thursday its unmanned aerial vehicle solutions for urban low-altitude logistics has been approved by the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

With the move, the online takeaway company is qualified to conduct cargo airline operations at the city level and can start its commercialization business for UAVs.

Meituan's UAV has been trialed in several cities. By the end of 2022 it had served 20,000 users in Shenzhen, the company said.


Baidu's chatbot to see full integration: CEO

Chinese tech company Baidu Inc said on Wednesday it plans to fully integrate its ChatGPT-like chatbot service Ernie Bot into the company's main businesses.

'AI technology has reached a tipping point and all industries will inevitably go through transformation. The Chinese AI market is on the verge of an explosive growth in demand, releasing unprecedented and exponential commercial value,” Robin Li, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Baidu said in an internal letter.

In the letter, Li shared Baidu's plans to fully integrate Ernie Bot across all of Baidu's operations, including Baidu Search and Baidu AI Cloud, saying the addition of Ernie Bot's capabilities will lead to fundamental changes in the products' offerings and respective markets.

There are also plans for Ernie Bot to be integrated into the Apollo smart cabin and Xiaodu's smart devices and services.

Baidu announced on Feb 7 it will complete internal testing of its AI chatbot service in March.

The company reported its total revenue reached 123.7 billion yuan ($17.93 billion) for the fiscal year 2022, decreasing 1 percent year-on-year, while non-GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) net profit stood at 20.7 billion yuan, up 10 percent year-on-year.

Ant Group

Ant Group announces partnership with NBA China

Chinese tech heavyweight Alibaba's financial arm Ant Group announced on Tuesday that it has entered a comprehensive strategic partnership with NBA China. [Photo/Ant Group website]

Chinese tech heavyweight Alibaba's financial arm Ant Group announced on Tuesday that it has entered a comprehensive strategic partnership with NBA China that would see the two parties cooperate in areas like video content, program broadcasting and membership.

The collaboration marks the first time that fans in China have access to NBA video content on Alipay, the popular payment app owned by Ant Group, and makes Alipay a strategic partner of NBA China in the field of digital life.

The collaboration with the professional basketball league's Chinese arm will also cover areas including joint marketing campaigns, digital collectibles, and social responsibility initiatives to engage fans and communities, Ant Group said.

Last week, NBA China launched an NBA channel on the Alipay platform, with a range of user-generated content created by NBA China's network of influencers and Alipay's authorized content creators.

'Bringing NBA's high-quality content and content creators into our platform is an important step for Alipay to embrace the content ecosystem as an open platform,' said Ni Xingjun, chief technology officer of Ant Group and chairman of Co Ltd.

'We will also leverage Ant Group's technology and platform capabilities and work closely with the NBA to explore creative digitalization models in service sector, joint operations of membership and innovative interactions,' Ni said. He later added that they hope to build a young digital interactive platform for NBA fans in China and bring new services and interactions in sports to the digital era.

Going forward, NBA China and Ant Group will continue to collaborate on digital engagement initiatives, including digital collectibles.


Samsung ramps up smartphone efforts in China

South Korean technology company Samsung Electronics Co Ltd is ramping up its localization efforts and looking to capture a bigger slice of China's premium smartphone segment through the launch of its latest flagship handset, the Galaxy S23 series.

The company has inked partnership with Shanghai Disney Resort to open pop-up stores in Disneytown, and to shoot short films with its Galaxy S23 series' cameras. It also collaborated with livestreaming platform Mango TV and tech company Baidu Inc in the field of video content and internet of things.

Samsung has unveiled three new flagship smartphones, Galaxy S23, S23+ and S23 Ultra in China, which feature upgraded artificial intelligence-powered cameras, in a bid to reclaim lost sales as competition in the country's phone market intensifies.

The Galaxy S23 series are equipped with high-resolution image sensors and innovative pixel technology, providing a professional shooting experience for photography enthusiasts.

A report released by market research firm Canalys said the shipment of smartphones in China reached 287 million units last year, down 14 percent year-on-year. This is the first time since 2013 that China's phone shipment has fallen below 300 million units.

China’s Tianshan Aluminum

China’s Tianshan Aluminum Sinks on Plan to Buy Three Bauxite Mines in Indonesia for USD30.3 Million

Shares of Tianshan Aluminum Group fell after the Chinese non-ferrous metal producer said it plans to buy three bauxite mines in Indonesia for USD30.3 million.

The stock was trading down 2.9 percent at CNY8.75 (USD1.27) as of 10.15 a.m. today.

Tianshan Aluminum’s units signed a deal to buy Inti Tambang Makmur and obtain the mining rights of three Indonesian mines with a total of over 30 million dry metric tons of bauxite, a sedimentary rock with high aluminum content, the Shihezi, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region-based firm said in a statement late yesterday.

Negotiations between the two parties started in August 2021, when they signed a cooperation intention agreement, according to previous announcements.

The acquisition of the Indonesian bauxite projects is the company’s first overseas expansion, Tianshan Aluminum noted, adding that it plans to continue to seek more opportunities globally to obtain high-quality resources.

With the recovery of the Chinese real estate sector and the booming new energy industry, the demand for aluminum products is expected to grow steadily, Tianshan Aluminum’s management believes. Meanwhile, aluminum's supply capacity will have a significant impact on the cost and sustainable operation of producers, given the supply bottleneck of domestic bauxite mines.

Tianshan Aluminum has production lines with a total annual capacity of 1.2 million tons of electrolytic aluminum in Shihezi.

The company said in an earlier statement that it expects net profit to have fallen 34 percent to CNY16.2 billion (USD2.3 billion) and revenue to have risen 14 percent to CNY165.6 billion (USD24 billion) last year from 2021.

Saudi Aramco

Aramco Now 3rd Largest Company by Market Cap

Saudi Aramco is now the third largest company by market capitalization, according to, a list of the world’s largest public companies by market cap which updates rankings frequently.

The list places Aramco in third with a market cap of $1.903 trillion, behind Microsoft with a market cap of $1.920 trillion, and Apple with a market cap of $2.413 trillion. On December 21, 2022, Aramco ranked second in the list with a market cap of $1.81 trillion, behind Apple, which was shown in the list at the time to have a market cap of $2.10 trillion.

On May 13, 2022, the list ranked Aramco as the largest company by market cap, with a market cap of $2.38 trillion. The list at the time placed Apple in second position, with a market cap of $2.30 trillion.

In the latest list, Alphabet (Google) ranks in fourth place, with a market cap of $1.209 trillion, and Amazon ranks in fifth, with a market cap of $996.03 billion. Tesla places seventh in the list, with a market cap of $659.11 billion, while the next placed oil and gas company in the list after Aramco, ExxonMobil, ranks in 13th with a market cap of $454.24 billion.

Chevron places 25th in the list, with a market cap of $314.89 billion, while Shell ranks 43rd with a market cap of $216.36 billion, TotalEnergies ranks 72nd with a market cap of $154.13 billion, and ConocoPhillips ranks 99th with a market cap of $126.89 billion.

On February 2, Apple announced financial results for its fiscal 2023 first quarter ended December 31, 2022. The company reported quarterly revenue of $117.2 billion, which it highlighted was down five percent year over year, and quarterly earnings per diluted share of $1.88.

On January 24, Microsoft Corp. announced its results for the quarter ended December 31, 2022. The company reported revenue of $52.7 billion and diluted earnings per share of $2.20 GAAP and $2.32 non-GAAP, which it highlighted marked a year on year decrease of 11 percent and six percent, respectively.

Aramco is currently scheduled to publish its 2022 dividend and “key” financial results, and its 2022 financial statements, on March 12 and 13, respectively, the company’s website shows.


Shell begins oil production at first deep-water platform in Gulf of Mexico

Shell Offshore Inc., a subsidiary of Shell plc (Shell), announced has begun oil production at the Shell-operated Vito floating production facility in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico (GoM). With an estimated peak production of 100,000 boed, Vito is the company’s first deep-water platform in the GoM to employ a simplified, cost-efficient host design.

“Vito is an excellent example of how we are approaching our projects to meet the energy demands of today and tomorrow, while remaining resilient as we work toward achieving net zero emissions by 2050,” said Zoe Yujnovich, Shell’s Upstream Director, adding, “Building on more than 40 years of deep-water expertise, projects like Vito enable us to generate greater value from the GoM, where our production has amongst the lowest greenhouse gas intensity in the world for producing oil.”

In 2015, the original host design was rescoped and simplified, resulting in a reduction of approximately 80% in CO2 emissions over the lifetime of the facility as well as a cost reduction of more than 70% from the original host concept.

Vito also serves as the design standard for Shell’s Whale project that will feature a 99% replication of the Vito hull and 80% of Vito’s topsides.

Shell’s Powering Progress strategy to thrive through the energy transition includes increasing investment in lower-carbon energy solutions, while continuing to pursue the most energy-efficient and highest-return Upstream investments.

Originally discovered in 2009, the Vito field spans four Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) blocks in the Mississippi Canyon at a depth of more than 4,000 ft (1,220 m) of water. The host is approximately 150 miles (241 km) southeast of New Orleans and 10 miles (16 km) south of the Shell-operated Mars TLP.

Vito is a four-column semi-submersible host facility with eight subsea wells (31,000 ft or 9,400 m) with deep (18,000 ft or 5,500 m) in-well, gas lift, and associated subsea flowlines and equipment.

Current estimated recoverable resource volume of the Vito development is 290 million boe.

Shell is the leading operator in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas production. In addition to operations in Brazil and the U.S. GoM, Shell’s deep-water portfolio includes our Argentina Shales organization and frontier exploration opportunities in Mexico, Suriname, Sao Tome & Principe, Argentina and Namibia.


bp to buy TravelCenters of America for $1.3 B

TravelCenters of America said it will be acquired by bp for about $1.3 B in cash, as the British energy giant looks to expand its travel convenience and fuel supply footprint in the U.S.

bp has offered $86 per TravelCenters share held, which represents a 74% premium to the stock's last close on Wednesday.

The company's shares jumped 71% in premarket trading on Thursday. TravelCenters owns a network of about 281 highway sites across 44 states and offers services including diesel and gasoline fuel, truck maintenance and repair, restaurants, travel stores, and parking.

The services complements BP's existing convenience and mobility business and will help in expanding its offers including electric vehicle charging, biofuels, renewable natural gas (RNG) and later hydrogen, the company said.

On Wednesday, bp announced plans to invest $1 B in EV charging across U.S. by 2030. Convenience is one of BP's five strategic transition growth engines. By 2030, the London-listed aims for around half its annual investment to go into these transition growth engines.

The acquisition of TravelCenters is expected to add to BP's EBITDA immediately, growing to around $800 MM in 2025, the company said.


ExxonMobil to deploy Honeywell carbon capture technology at its Baytown refinery

Honeywell announced that ExxonMobil will deploy one of Honeywell’s carbon capture technologies - Honeywell’s CO2 Fractionation and Hydrogen Purification System - at its integrated complex in Baytown, Texas. This technology is expected to enable ExxonMobil to capture about 7 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, the equivalent of the emission of 1.5 MM automobiles for one year1.

Honeywell UOP’s carbon capture technology will be integrated into the design of ExxonMobil’s low-carbon hydrogen production facility and enable it to capture more than 98 percent of associated CO2 emissions. The captured CO2 is expected to be sequestered and permanently stored by ExxonMobil.

ExxonMobil's Baytown low-carbon hydrogen, ammonia and carbon capture facility is expected to produce around one billion cubic feet of low-carbon hydrogen per day, making this the largest low-carbon hydrogen project in the world at planned startup in 2027-2028. ExxonMobil’s Baytown integrated complex is home to the largest olefins plant in the United States. The site is located on approximately 3,400 acres along the Houston Ship Channel.

“ExxonMobil’s investment in carbon capture technology shows our commitment to supporting customers in their decarbonization efforts and to reducing emissions at our own operations,” said Dan Ammann, president of ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions. “The scale of this project is expected to enable up to 30% of Scope 1 and 2 emissions from our Baytown facility by switching from natural gas as a fuel source to low-carbon hydrogen.”

“The use of Honeywell’s technology enables ExxonMobil to reduce CO2 emissions at a large scale,” said Barry Glickman, vice president and general manager, Honeywell Sustainable Technology Solutions. “Our ready-now carbon capture technology works to decarbonize production processes and is effective because it can allow for significant emissions reduction that can play a major role in the energy transition.”

With more than 50 years of experience in gas processing, Honeywell has extensive experience with proven carbon capture and hydrogen technologies. Honeywell's new advanced solvent CO2 capture and hydrogen solutions allow for CO2 to be captured, transported, and stored at a lower cost through greater efficiency, while allowing for smaller equipment and lower capital operational expenses needed to run the plant compared to existing technologies.

Today, 15 MMtpy of CO2 is being captured and used in storage/utilization applications through Honeywell’s CO2 Solutions process expertise. Current Honeywell customers have the capacity to capture 40 million tons of CO2 per year through installed projects worldwide that utilize Honeywell CO2 technology3.

Honeywell is committed to achieving carbon neutrality in its operations and facilities by 2035. This commitment builds on the company's track record of sharply reducing the greenhouse gas intensity of its operations and facilities, as well as its decades-long history of innovation to help its customers meet their environmental and social goals. About 60% of Honeywell's new product introduction research and development investment is directed toward products that improve environmental and social outcomes for customers.

American Airline

Longtime leader of American Airlines steps down as chairman

American Airlines said Thursday that Doug Parker, who served as CEO for more than eight years before stepping down last year, will retire as chairman on April 30.

The new chairman will be Greg Smith, who spent more than 30 years at Boeing including the last 10 as chief financial officer.

Smith's duties at Boeing included oversight of manufacturing and quality programs during development and rollout of the 737 Max, which was grounded worldwide after two deadly crashes. He briefly served as interim CEO after Dennis Muilenburg was ousted in late 2019.

Smith, 56, retired from Boeing in a surprise move in early 2021, then joined American’s board in January 2022.

Parker, 61, was CEO of US Airways when he engineered a 2013 merger that put him and his executive team in charge of American Airlines, which was just emerging from bankruptcy protection.

Parker's tenure as CEO was mostly a highly profitable period for American, but the airline struggled with more debt than its rivals, even before the pandemic that devastated the U.S. travel industry in early 2020. Also, American's relations with its labor unions worsened, and the federal government sued to kill a partnership with JetBlue in the New York and Boston. Robert Isom succeeded Parker as CEO last March.

American also announced that longtime board members Ray Robinson and Jim Albaugh will not seek re-election this spring.


Boeing stops deliveries of jet on questions surrounding part

Boeing has again stopped deliveries of its 787 passenger jet because of questions around a supplier’s analysis of a part near the front of the plane, company and federal officials said Thursday.

Boeing said the issue does not raise an immediate safety issue for planes already in service. The Federal Aviation Administration was more cautious, saying it is working with Boeing to determine what fixes might be needed for planes recently delivered to airlines.

The discovery is the latest setback involving the two-aisle plane, which Boeing calls the Dreamliner and is mostly used on international routes. Deliveries were stopped for more than a year, until August 2022, while Boeing fixed production flaws including the fit of panels on the carbon-composite skin.

“Boeing temporarily halted deliveries of 787 Dreamliners after notifying the FAA that it is conducting additional analysis on a fuselage component,” the FAA said in a statement Thursday. “Deliveries will not resume until the FAA is satisfied that the issue has been addressed.”

A Boeing spokesperson said the company based in Arlington, Virginia, “discovered an analysis error by our supplier related to the 787 forward pressure bulkhead,” a part that separates the nose of the plane from the pressurized cabin. Boeing did not name the supplier.

“There is no immediate safety of flight concern for the in-service fleet,” the company said.

Boeing said near-term deliveries will be affected but it doesn’t expect it will change the company’s forecast of deliveries for this year.