Media Focus on Multinational Corporations [2023.03.06]






Unilever shows commitment to China with 'lighthouse factory'

With a designed daily output of 9 million ice creams, Unilever's ice cream 'lighthouse factory' in Taicang of East China's Jiangsu province represents the company's long-term commitment to the China market by better satisfying Chinese consumers' demands with digital and intelligent technologies, a senior executive from the consumer goods company said.

'The 100-million-euro factory is the largest investment Unilever has made in the past decade in China, which makes our production intelligent and digitalized,' Xu Yucong, North Asia general manager of Unilever ice cream, said during an interview on Wednesday.

The factory can shorten the period for new product innovation from 12 months to three and enhance the accuracy and efficiency of product demand prediction.

The plant is more agile than conventional ones, 'allowing us to better keep up with fast-paced consumer demand in China,' Xu said.

For example, the factory can produce a maximum 9 million units of Wall's ice creams, including Magnum and Cornetto, on a daily basis.

The plant is also capable of reducing carbon emissions by 83 percent and energy and water consumption by 14 percent.

Known as the world's first 'lighthouse factory' in the ice cream industry for its place in the part of the Lighthouse Network, the World Economic Forum's community of next-generation manufacturing sites. Lighthouse sites adopt and deploy Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies to transform business operations through innovation, sustainable practices and maximized efficiency.

Euromonitor International said China's ice cream market rose from 41.58 billion yuan in 2017 to 52.28 billion yuan in sales revenue in 2022, and it projected the scale would reach 59.87 billion yuan by2027.

In recent years, Wall's saw double-digit growth annually in the China market, much higher than the Euromonitor International data, Xu said.

'There is huge potential in Chinese ice cream consumption, and we are full of confidence to benefit from this market.'

Ice cream consumption per person in China is currently the third-largest in the world, after the US and Japan.


Tesla's Plan to Cut Use of Silicon Carbide, Rare Earth Metals Has No Big Impact on Chinese Producers

March 3 -- Chinese rare earth metal and silicon carbide producers said that Tesla's plan to reduce the use of silicon carbide and eventually stop using rare earth metals will not significantly impact them in the short term.

Tony Electronics is still expanding its capacity of silicon carbide and will deliver 500,000 pieces in 2025, Cailianshe reported a staffer at the Huzhou, Zhejiang province-based silicon carbine maker as saying. The firm has not yet formulated plans for afterward, the person added.

Tesla aims to reduce the use of silicon carbide transistors by 75 percent, Vice President Colin Campbell said at the US electric vehicle maker's 2023 Investor Day presentation yesterday. The next-generation powertrain platform will feature motors built without any rare earth metal, he added.

'It is hard to judge the situation now,' a staffer at Sanan Optoelectronics, a Xiamen-based silicon carbide producer, told Cailianshe. Many things are unknown, such as what technology Tesla will use, whether it already has the new technology to replace silicon carbide, and whether Chinese carmakers will also use similar technologies, the person noted.

While Tesla's statement has tentative impacts on China Northern Rare Earth Group High-Tech's shares, it will not affect the company's operation, National Business Daily reported yesterday, citing the securities department of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region-based rare earth metal producer. Tesla said its next-gen powertrain system will feature motors without any rare earth metals but did not specify what it will use to replace them, it added.

Silicon carbide is a third-generation semiconductor material suitable for making devices with high-temperature resistance, high frequency, anti-radiation, and high power. It can help new energy vehicles lower battery costs, increase charging and mileage endurance, and shorten charging time.

It is technically possible to create a permanent magnet motor without rare earth metals, Wang Zhixin, deputy director of Shanghai Jiaotong University's Department of Electrical Engineering, told Yicai Global yesterday. What we need to observe next are Tesla's technical results and related design effects, Wang pointed out.


AstraZeneca gives rare diseases new challenge

United Kingdom-based global pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has integrated more than 10 molecular products worldwide in the rare diseases field and is promoting more than 20 clinical research programs, said an executive of the company.

The company will continue to introduce new product portfolios over the upcoming five years after announcing joining the rare diseases realm in 2021, said Hu Yiqing, vice-president of AstraZeneca China and head of its rare diseases business unit, in an interview with China Daily ahead of the International Rare Diseases Day, which fell on Tuesday this year.

Areas of focus will include hematology, nephrology, neurology, metabolic disorders and ophthalmology, she said.

'In addition to the acquisition of Alexion, which specializes in rare disease therapies, in 2020, AstraZeneca announced the acquisition of LogicBio Therapeutics, which had a leading position in the development of gene delivery and gene editing and was committed to tackling various rare and serious diseases afflicting children and adults,' said Hu.

'Therefore, the company will expand its layout of rare diseases at the level of genomics,' she said.

In terms of research and development in the company's rare diseases therapy catalog, Hu said China and the rest of the world are developing at the same time.

'In addition to the introduction of innovative medicines that have entered the markets overseas to China, all the therapies that are under research progress will be promoted into clinical trials in China simultaneously,' she said.

China Unicom

China Unicom proposes shared 5G ecosystem at MWC

China Unicom called for more efforts to foster a 5G community featuring joint contributions and shared value, declaring it aims to work with all partners in nurturing a multi-win 5G ecosystem to unleash the potential of the digital economy.

Liu Liehong, chairman of China Unicom, said in a speech via video at the ongoing Mobile World Congress 2023, in Barcelona, Spain that '5G development should not be a 'solo', but rather a 'symphony''.

'China Unicom will leverage its balancing role to drive the growth of the communications technology industry on the one side, while on the other side boosting the development of smart devices, content and applications, connecting upstream and downstream players to create and share value together,' Liu said at the China Unicom 5G Innovation Summit held at the sidelines of MWC 2023.

The remarks came after China Unicom has made 'exciting breakthroughs' in 5G since the commercial launch of the wireless technology.

China Unicom's network quality is steadily improving, with 1.17 million 5G base stations covered in all towns accounting for 30 percent of the world's total, Liu said, adding 5G applications are being enriched as 62.5 percent of its mobile users subscribe to 5G packages and over 18,000 5G-powered industry projects.

China Unicom's 5G ecosystem continues to grow, with its 5G Application Innovation Alliance now having over 3,000 members.

According to Liu, China Unicom has implemented a new corporate strategy and identified 'big connectivity, big computing, big data, big application, and big security' as its five main business focal points, transforming the company's role from a traditional telecom service provider to serving the digital economy.


Qualcomm wows at MWC with new tech

US tech heavyweight Qualcomm Inc is showcasing its latest chips and technologies at the ongoing Mobile World Congress 2023, with many of its Chinese partners eagerly embracing its products for their 5G devices, connected cars and industrial equipment.

Frank Meng, chairman of Qualcomm China, said: 'Our Chinese partners are actively promoting products with new designs and new functions to enter the market. On the first day of MWC, many flagship smartphones based on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 mobile platform were launched.'

Chinese enterprises have the determination and courage to build themselves into world-class players, he said, adding they have actively integrated themselves into the overall landscape of global technological innovation, which has created even broader opportunities for cooperation.

Meng spoke highly of their enthusiasm to embrace new technologies and to continue to expand the international market. He expressed his belief this played a positive role in driving the development of China's industry and creating new opportunities.

At the MWC, Qualcomm announced Chinese smartphone brands Honor, Motorola, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi are working with it to develop smartphones with satellite communication capabilities leveraging its Snapdragon Satellite platform.

Snapdragon Satellite is the world's first satellite-based support for two-way messaging in premium smartphones.

Qualcomm will also cooperate with China Unicom and ZTE for advanced technology demos during the MWC, including 5G Millimeter Wave, or mmWave, which tracks automated vehicles' routes via precise positioning for industrial use.

The company is also driving the proliferation of 5G across industries with globally certified module reference designs through the support of Chinese partners including Askey, Compal and Foxconn.

AB Inbev

AB Inbev brews up prospects in China

The world's largest beer brewer is bullish about the prospects of Chinese consumption and the country's growing economy, and plans to accelerate its investments in China and focus on premium and diversified products, its top executive said during a visit to Beijing last week.

Michel Doukeris, chief executive officer of Anheuser-Busch InBev, a multinational drinks conglomerate headquartered in Belgium, said China is a destination for the company's investment in many areas, including talent, facilities, production, sourcing and sales.

Doueris met Commerce Minister Wang Wentao on Friday.

After taking trips to restaurants, bars and retailers in Beijing, where in some instances Doukeris and his team saw people waiting two hours for a table, the CEO said he was very glad to see the rebound of consumption in China.

He expressed high hopes for the growth of its business in the country. 'As the country grows, as the market develops, I think that we're gonna see our products getting more and more distribution and being present in more regions in China,' Doukeris said.

AB InBev has operated in the country since 1984, with cumulative investment of over 30 billion yuan.

The CEO, who lived in China between 2010 and 2017, said the company has used China as a source of inspiration for other markets and operations they have globally.

'ometimes you see innovations in Asia and in China specifically that do not exist in other markets. So today, there is cross-learning that we adapt through the communities that we have inside the company,' he added.

Some of the most advanced breweries in the world, technologically and in terms of productivity, are in China, the CEO said.

'And every year we bring our people from other parts of the globe to learn what we are doing in China and how we can copy and adapt some of these best practices to other markets,' he said.

'Making beer inclusive, natural and local' is one of the key messages the brewery has conveyed through their product portfolio.

Hoegaarden, for instance, is a beer that has huge consumption among women and young people, Doukeris said.

The company will continue to focus on 'premiumization' and innovation to meet diversified consumer needs, including continued trends such as the She Economy and healthy lifestyles.

Efforts will also be made to strengthen the company's digitization strategy and e-commerce channels, the executive said.


CNPC's 65b yuan petrochemical project fully operational in Guangdong

A petrochemical project of China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), China's leading oil and gas producer, has become fully operational in southern province of Guangdong this week.

The project, with a total investment of 65.4 billion yuan ($9.41 billion), processes 20 million tons of crude oil per year, while producing 1.2 million tons of ethylene products and 2.6 million tons of paraxylene.

As a key project to support the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area strategy, the Guangdong petrochemical project is a refining and chemical integration capable of producing a full range of petrochemical products, including more than 20 kinds of oil products and 200 kinds of chemical products.

The project will significantly reduce the dependence of Guangdong's industries, such as household appliances and electronics, on chemical materials from external sources, and will nurture middle and downstream industries worth about 560 billion yuan in the province.


BP and Partners Confirm GTA LNG Phase 2 Expansion Concept

BP and its partners have agreed to further progress the development concept for the Greater Tortue Ahmeyim (GTA) liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in the deep waters on the maritime border between Mauritania and Senegal.

According to BP, gravity-based structure (GBS) will be evaluated as basis for the Phase 2 expansion project (GTA2). The expansion would add between 2.5 and 3 million tons per annum of LNG. BP and its partners, Petrosen, Société Mauritanienne des Hydrocarbures (SMH) and Kosmos Energy, have decided to take this concept to the next stage of evaluation.

GBS LNG developments have a static connection to the seabed with the structure providing LNG storage and a foundation for liquefaction facilities, BP said in its statement.

The concept design will also include new wells and subsea equipment, integrating with and expanding on existing GTA infrastructure. The partnership will consider powering LNG liquefaction using electricity to help drive operational emissions lower. BP and its partners are now working with contractors to progress the concept towards the pre-FEED stage, the statement reads.

We aim to build on our strong collaboration with our partners, and the Governments of Mauritania and Senegal, to further develop a long-term, successful energy hub in West Africa. GTA continues to underpin our strategy to develop the most resilient hydrocarbons to help provide energy security today,said Gordon Birrell BPs executive vice president for operations and production.


BP launches green hydrogen cluster in Spain

BP has announced plans to develop a green hydrogen cluster in Valencia, Spain, the British energy giant announced on Tuesday.

The project dubbed HyVal will be located at BPs Castellón refinery and will see 2 GW of electrolysis capacity installed by 2030 to produce hydrogen.

The public-private initiative will be led by BP, with investments by the company of up to USD 2.12 billion.

The first phase is expected to be operational by 2027, which will produce 200 MW and up to 31,200 tonnes per year of hydrogen.

BP intends to produce between 500,000 tonnes and 700,000 tonnes of hydrogen from its global assets by 2030.

In September 2022, the EU approved spending USD 5.7 billion in EU public funding on hydrogen projects.

The bloc aims to produce 10 million tonnes of clean hydrogen per year and import a further 10 million tonnes by 2030.

In January 2022, Germany decided to connect to the proposed H2MED hydrogen pipeline linking production hubs in Portugal and Spain to France.

Portugal and Spain are considered ideal locations for green hydrogen production due to the Iberian regions abundance of sunshine and wind.


Shell Considered Relocating To The U.S. In Pursuit Of Higher Value

Two years ago, Shells executive leadership discussed relocating to the U.S. in order to boost the companys valuation.

There is a stark difference in valuation between European and U.S. oil majors, a difference that analysts believes is related to ESG factors and energy transition plans.

BP recently backtracked on some of its energy transition promises, resulting in its stock price climbing 10%.

Shells executive leadership discussed leaving Europe and relocating to the United States, the Financial Times has reported, citing unnamed sources familiar with the discussion.

According to the FTs sources, the supermajors new chief executive, Wael Sawan, was part of a team of top executives that two years ago considered moving Shells headquarters to the U.S. and listing the company there, too.

The relocation idea was ultimately dropped but the FT notes that Shells chief executive remains worried about the difference in valuation between Shell and its U.S. peers.

Indeed, there has been a stark difference in the valuations of European and U.S. Big Oil majors. According to analysts, there are two primary reasons for this: the first is the greater clout that ESG investing has in Europe and the other is that neither ESG-focused nor traditional investors seem to be particularly convinced of European Big Oils transition plans.

Meanwhile, at least one European Big Oil major has indicated it will not stick to its transition plans unwaveringly. BP said at the release of its latest financial results that it had revised its emission-reduction plans and now eyes a smaller oil and gas production cut as a means of reducing emissions.

Were grossly undervalued,BPs Bernard Looney said at around the same time his company announced plans to actually boost oil and gas production over the medium term.

Barrons reported earlier this month that BP, Shell, and TotalEnergies are trading at around five to seven times their expected profits for this yearafter the record profits they booked for 2022.

Meanwhile, Exxon and Chevron are trading at 11 times their expected 2023 earnings, Barrons noted. The FT, for its part, reported that Shells Sawan and other company executives had been stunnedby BPs production plan announcement and the fact its stock gained 10 percent following that announcement.

Saudi Aramco

Saudi Aramco Looks To Invest In LNG Export Facility Abroad

Saudi Aramco is interested in investing in an LNG export facility outside Saudi Arabia and is in early talks with developers aiming to secure a stake in a project in the United States or Asia, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, quoting sources familiar with the matter.  

The Saudi oil giant, the worlds largest oil company by both production and market capitalization, prefers an LNG plant that could easily export the fuel to Asia, according to Bloombergs sources.

Apart from investing in a stake, Aramco is also reportedly looking to secure a long-term off-take agreement with the project developer, the sources added.

Going into LNG trading could be another lucrative business for the Saudi oil giant, considering that LNG demand is only set to grow in the coming years as Europe ditches the largger producer's gas and Asia looks to use more natural gas instead of coal.

Amid soaring spot prices, the value of global LNG trade surged to an all-time high in 2022 to $450 billion, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Tuesday in its quarterly Gas Market Report Q1-2023.

Despite rising by a mere 5.5% in volumetric terms, the value of global LNG trade doubled in 2022 to an all-time high,the agency noted.

Natural gas supply security is now taking centre stage amid a new wave of market reforms in Europe and developed Asian economies, the IEA said.

The significantly higher LNG demand in Europe is set to intensify competition with Asia in the short term and to dominate LNG trade in the longer term, Shell said in its annual LNG outlook last month.

European countries, including the UK, saw their LNG imports jump by 60% last year to 121 million tons, Shell, the worlds largest LNG trader, said as it issued a bullish outlook on the fuel through 2040.

The supermajor warned that another supply-demand gap could be looming in the late 2020s without new investment in additional supply.



Huawei showcased digital twin project for Tianjin Port at MWC 2023

Huawei Technologies Co showcased its latest smart road and smart port solutions at the ongoing Mobile World Congress 2023, as part of its broader push to leverage digital technologies, such as 5G and artificial intelligence, to advance industrial digital transformation.

Huawei's smart horizontal transportation solution is one of the company's key solutions for smart ports. The Tianjin Port Second Container Terminal has used the solution to build a smart port powered by 5G and Level 4 autonomous driving.

At the Tianjin port, 76 intelligent guided vehicles have been routinely operating autonomously for over a year, relieving shortages in drivers and increasing the port's efficiency.

York Yue, CTO of Huawei's smart road, waterway and port business unit, said smart horizontal transportation using 5G networks and IGVs is ideal for container terminals. Section C of the Beijiang Port Area in the Tianjin Port is the first terminal to deploy Huawei's Smart Horizontal Transportation Solution, which has achieved large-scale, commercial and regular operations.

This marks progress for the entire port industry. Huawei hopes that Tianjin Port's experience can be used as a reference for industry development and inspire innovative ideas.

Huawei's 5G+ Smart Port Project won the Best Mobile Innovation for Connected Economy from GSMA at MWC 2022.

The business unit also exhibited its four solutions for smart roads at the MWC 2023, namely, multi-dimensional highway awareness, all-optical intersection, roadway networking and intelligent traffic system. The solutions draw on Huawei's leading information communications technology and extensive industry experience to support road construction, management, maintenance, operations and services. This results in smart roads that are open, shared, advanced and ready for future evolution, Huawei said.


Walmart China's Q4 points to retail health

Walmart China's strong fourth-quarter growth, propelled by its high-end membership store Sam's Club and e-commerce services, serves as a sign of steady recovery of the fast-moving consumer goods and retail sectors this year, said industry insiders.

According to the global retailer's recent financial results released on Feb 21, Walmart delivered strong revenue growth globally in the fourth quarter with strength in stores and e-commerce. Total revenue in the quarter was $164.0 billion, up 7.3 percent year-on-year.

Walmart China achieved net sales growth of 13.5 percent and comparable sales growth of 13.3 percent in the quarter.

Continued strong sales growth in Sam's Club, e-commerce and improving hypermarket performance have been attributed to the performance in the Chinese market. In the fourth quarter, e-commerce net sales, contributing 48 percent of its net sales in China, increased 70 percent year-on-year.

The reports said the Chinese market is one of the factors that have led to the increase of Walmart International's net sales of 2.1 percent to $27.6 billion.


Walmart to expand 28 stores with health care centers in 2024

Walmart plans to add more than two dozen health care centers to some of its stores next year, as the retailer moves deeper into providing primary care and other services.

The company said Thursday that it will open 28 centers in 2024, mostly in Dallas and Houston. It also will expand into the Phoenix and Kansas City, Missouri, areas.

The new centers will be built inside Walmart Supercenters and offer primary and dental care, and behavioral health and audiology help, among other services. Walmart currently runs 32 centers and is adding 17 this year in Florida.

A spokeswoman said the centers will serve patients of all ages. But Walmart also is working with the health care giant UnitedHealth Group to provide value-based care to some people with Medicare Advantage coverage.

Those are privately run versions of the federal governments Medicare program mostly for people aged 65 and older.

Value-based care is an approach to medicine that is growing popular with bill payers like the federal government. It essentially rewards doctors for keeping patients healthy instead of paying them for every service they perform.

The idea is to help patients stay on their medications, control chronic health problems such as diabetes and avoid hospital stays and other expensive care.

Last month, CVS Health said it would pay $10.6 billion to buy the clinic operator Oak Street Health, which also specializes in value-based care.

Walmart opened its first health care center in 2019 and will be operating more than 75 health centers by the end of next year. The retailer runs more than 4,700 stores in the United States and 600 Sams Club locations.


Panasonics First Hydrogen Fuel Cell Generator Project in China Starts Up

Feb. 28 -- Panasonic Groups Chinese unit announced that the Japanese companys first hydrogen fuel cell generator project in China has kicked off operations, with sales set to begin in April.

The project is based at Panasonics battery plant in Wuxi and came online on Feb. 24, Panasonic China said on its official WeChat account yesterday. The firm is using the five-kilowatt pure hydrogen fuel cells Panasonic unveiled in Japan in October 2021 in the generators that will hit the Chinese market, it added.

The 5 KW hydrogen fuel cells have a high energy utilization rate and long life and can be connected to multiple battery sets. The generators can provide electricity, cooling, and heating at the same time, improving energy efficiency and giving full play to hydrogen fuel cell capacity, Panasonic China said.

Wuxi is accelerating the clustering of cutting-edge projects, including new-generation photovoltaic, power battery, and hydrogen energy storage projects, Wuxi Daily cited Mayor Zhao Jianjun as saying at Panasonic Chinas project launch event. The company will comprehensively explore industrial applications in the hydrogen fuel cell component field in Wuxi, he added.

Zhao also said he expects Panasonic to deepen its strategic cooperation with Wuxi by stepping up the construction of key projects, promoting the early production of lithium battery and refrigerator research and development center projects, and actively introducing new technologies and products for new-generation power battery cells.

The layout of hydrogen energy in the Chinese market can bring advanced technology and funds, Zhang Xinyuan, secretary-general of Co-Found, told Securities Daily today. At the same time, Chinas growing market for hydrogen energy is also of interest to foreign investors, Zhang noted.

The development of hydrogen energy in China needs further upgrades in terms of industrialization, said Qi Haihan, president of Beijing THE Solar Tech. In some key technology fields, there is a big gap with the advanced level overseas, he added.