Media Focus on Multinational Corporations [2023.03.20]






UBS to take over Credit Suisse for $3.23b, assume up to $5.4b in losses

UBS agreed to buy rival Swiss bank Credit Suisse for 3 billion Swiss francs ($3.23 billion) in stock and agreed to assume up to 5 billion francs ($5.4 billion) in losses, in a shotgun merger engineered by Swiss authorities to avoid more market-shaking turmoil in global banking.

The deal includes 100 billion Swiss francs ($108 billion) in liquidity assistance for UBS and Credit Suisse from the Swiss central bank.


Apple supplier Foxconn wins AirPod order, plans $200 million factory in India

Taiwanese contract manufacturer Foxconn has won an order to make AirPods for Apple Inc and plans to build a factory in India to produce the wireless earphones, two people with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The deal will see Foxconn, the world's largest contract electronics maker and assembler of around 70% of all iPhones, become an AirPod supplier for the first time and underlines efforts by the key Apple supplier to further diversify production away from China. AirPods are currently made by a range of Chinese suppliers.

One source said Foxconn will invest more than $200 million in the new India AirPod plant in the southern Indian state of Telangana. It wasn't immediately clear how much the AirPod order would be worth.

The person, who requested anonymity as the matter was not public yet, said Foxconn officials had debated internally for months about whether to assemble AirPods due to relatively lower profit margins on making the device, but ultimately opted to go ahead with the deal to 'reinforce engagement' with Apple.

'That way, we are more likely to get orders for their new products,' the person said.

The decision to set up production in India was requested by Apple, according to the source.


Meta employees grill Mark Zuckerberg at all-hands meeting following layoffs

Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg defended his leadership of the social media giant during a staff-wide meeting Thursday morning, two days after announcing the company would be cutting 10,000 workers in a months-long restructuring and downsizing effort.

Zuckerberg was asked a question regarding how employees are expected to trust the company's leadership after two rounds of layoffs. He said that he would expect to be evaluated based on the company's performance and transparency about its mission but that leaders should be allowed to change their thinking, according to an audio live stream of the town hall obtained by The Washington Post.

'I would guess that the way people would evaluate whether you trust me and want to work at this company in whether we are succeeding in making progress toward the overall stated goals,' Zuckerberg said in the town hall. 'I think a lot of this is about the results we are able to deliver.'

Zuckerberg also talked during the hour-long meeting about why the company announced an organization-wide restructuring and layoff plan four months after the CEO told staffers in a company-wide meeting in November that he didn't anticipate having to make those kind of cuts again for the 'foreseeable future.'

The CEO said that ultimately what changed was that he thinks that the overall economic pressures facing the company will be around for a while and that he saw the November cuts seemed to boost the company's efficiency.


Huawei replaces 13,000 components in 3 years under US ban

Huawei Technologies Co's founder said the company has replaced more than 13,000 components that had been affected by the US government restrictions with parts developed either by itself or other Chinese companies in the past three years.

Ren Zhengfei, founder of Huawei, made the remarks in a late February meeting with students and experts that have helped the company solve difficult technical problems, according to an article, released online on Friday, by Shanghai Jiao Tong University whose students participated in the meeting.

Ren said more than 4,000 circuit boards have also been replaced, and the company's circuit boards have not stabilized until recently, because it finally has qualified domestic components.

According to him, the company has developed its own management system software MetaERP entirely using its own operating system, database and compiler.

MetaERP has passed the practical test of application in Huawei's various departments around the world and the annual settlement test of the company's ledger.

When talking about the ChatGPT boom, Ren said in the future, there will be ups and downs in AI large-language model industry, and Microsoft will not be the only competitive player in it.

The direct contribution of AI software platform companies to human society may be less than 2 percent, and 98 percent of their contribution will be on promoting the development industrial society and agricultural society, Ren added

The popularization of AI services requires 5G connectivity, and Huawei can only build the underlying computing platform of AI, and will not touch the application platform, Ren said.

What are the opportunities of ChatGPT for Huawei? Ren said it will boost the demand for computing and pipeline flow, and Huawei's relevant products will have more market demand.


Philips’ China Aircon Business Operator Is Ordered to Compensate Gree for Patent Breach

March 16 -- A court in China has ordered a Chinese firm that handles Philips' air conditioner business in the country to pay Gree Electric Appliance CNY2.5 million (USD360,000) in compensation for infringing two of the Chinese white goods giants patents.

Nanjing Zhipu Supply Chain Management should immediately stop making five Philips-branded aircon products that infringed Gree's invention patent rights and pay CNY2 million and CNY500,000 (USD72,400) within 10 days, the Xi'an Intermediate People's Court in Shaanxi province ruled in two lawsuits.

Zhuhai-based Gree sued Zhipu Supply Chain and Xian Huaxunde Trade, Philips’ distributor in China, for patent infringement in September last year.

Huaxunde Trade was not fined as it stopped selling the products in question as soon as the court informed the company.

The court rejected Grees other litigation claims. Its serious infringement” claim was not considered as such by the court.

An industry veteran told Yicai Global that because some former Gree employees had joined Philips' air conditioning team, product patent infringement was difficult to avoid.

Zhipu Supply Chain's main investor is Xu Zifa, the former general agent of Gree in Hebei province. Huang Hui, the company's shareholder and executive, was Gree's chief engineer. Moreover, the Nanjing-based firm's core management team includes former senior managers from Gree.

Gree previously filed a number of lawsuits against competitors Midea and AUX Group in patent disputes over air conditioning technology.

If the lawsuits concern low-end patents, it is difficult for companies to win because the household aircon technologies are mature and homogeneous, the industry veteran noted.


Boeing and Airbus hunting for highly-skilled talent in India

Boeing and Airbus are increasingly looking to India for highly-skilled, low-cost engineers to meet a boom in demand for aircraft and expand their manufacturing presence in the worlds fifth-largest economy.

Airbus plans to hire 1,000 people in India this year out of 13,000 globally. Boeing and its suppliers, which already employ about 18,000 workers in the nation, have been growing by some 1,500 staff every year, the US jet manufacturers India head Salil Gupte told Bloomberg News in an interview.

With about 1.5 million engineering students graduating annually, India is a rich source of talent for planemakers facing record orders from airlines as travel surges again after the Covid pandemic. Boeing can hire an engineer in Bengaluru, Indias southern tech hub, for 7 per cent of the cost of a similar role in Seattle, according to salary data compiler Glassdoor.


Luxury Fashion House Coach May Follow LV, Ralph Lauren to Open Restaurants in China

US luxury fashion house Coach may follow peers Luis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren in opening its own restaurants and coffee shops in China.

Although Coach has not yet confirmed the news, information on corporate platform Tianyancha showed that the firms unit Coach Shanghai recently entered the catering industry.

Ralph Lauren brought Ralphs Coffee to Beijing in 2020 and Shanghai in 2021. LV opened its first restaurant in Chengdu last year. IWC Schaffhausen, a Swiss luxury watch manufacturer, opened a concept store that also provides catering services in Shanghai in 2022.

Luxury brands diversified their operations to convey brand images and boost sales, a fashion industry insider told Yicai Global.

Coach has developed stably in China in recent years. It had over 360 stores in the country, Yang Baoyan, Coach Chinas president and chief executive officer, told Yicai Global in November. We plan to open 30 new outlets next year and another 100 in the next three years,” Yang noted.

In recent years, many fashion brands tapped into the dessert, coffee, chocolate, and restaurant sectors by opening outlets, acquiring shares, mergers and acquisitions, and brand cooperation. The boundaries between industries are becoming increasingly blurred, practitioners at popular fashion brands told Yicai Global.

Compared with a CNY20,000 (USD2,900) bag and a CNY100,000 (USD14,515) watch, the average expense per person at luxury houses’ restaurants and cafes is only several hundreds of Chinese yuan, but brand owners can popularize fashion and turn diners into brand users,” the practitioners added, noting that this is an effective and feasible strategy.

Nowadays, social media are an essential part of peoples lives, so consumers are more willing to share details of their visits to high-end and popular restaurants, which is an effective marketing concept for brands, independent fashion observer Wang Xiao said.


Chinese Precision Parts Maker Anjie to Build USD50 Million Base in Mexico

March 13 -- Anjie Technology plans to build a new production base in Mexico for USD50 million to cut output and shipping costs and expand into overseas markets, the Chinese maker of precision parts and electronic gear said today.

Anjie intends to set up a subsidiary called AJ Mexico to run the project, the Suzhou-based company said. The move will help Anjie meet demand in the new energy vehicle and consumer electronics industries, and is in line with the firms long-term development strategy, it added.

The USD50 million will be used to build and operation the base, including but not limited to fixed asset investment such as acquiring land and building plants, as well as initial working capital, Anjie said, without disclose the source of the funds.

Established in 1999, Anjie has branches in Singapore and the United States and it set up a production base in Thailand in early 2005. Its new plant for US new energy vehicle customers is in Texas, Anjie said two days ago, adding that the factory is expected to gradually come on stream in the second quarter.

Shares of Anjie [SHE: 002635] rose 0.4 percent to close at CNY14.06 (USD2.05) each today. The wider Shanghai market climbed 1.2 percent.

China Energy Investment Corp

China Energy's massive hydropower station to open in March 2024

Maerdang hydropower station, the highest-altitude facility of its kind on the upper reaches of the Yellow River, is currently under construction and is expected to begin operations in March 2024, said its operator China Energy Investment Corp, also known as China Energy.

Located at 5,000 meters above sea level along the Yellow River in Qinghai province, the station — with a total installed capacity of 2.2 million kilowatts — is expected to generate an average of more than 7.3 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year once becoming fully operational, cutting 2.56 million metric tons of standard coal equivalent consumption and 8.16 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, it said.

The project is also the company's first integrated clean energy facility to include hydropower, solar power and energy storage. It will take better advantage of the abundant clean energy in the western parts of China while benefiting the energy-hungry eastern regions, the company said.

Li Hongxin, deputy director of Qinghai Maerdang Co Ltd, a unit of China Energy, said the project is almost completed. The company vows to make sure the project is put into operation in time despite COVID-19 impacts during the past few years.


CATL to Build Battery Swap Stations in Fujian for Trucks

March 17 -- Contemporary Amperex Technology, the world's biggest electric vehicle battery manufacturer, has teamed up with a highway operator in southeastern China's Fujian province to construct battery swap stations for heavy-duty trucks.

CATL and Fujian Provincial Expressway will first build four stations between Ningde, the hometown of the battery firm, and the port city of Xiamen, the former said in a statement on its WeChat account yesterday, without disclosing any financial details about the project. The distance between the two cities is almost 350 kilometers.

This is not the first project of heavy-duty truck battery swaps in Fujian for CATL. Evidently, the firm and Chinese heavy machinery giant Sany Heavy Industry opened a pioneering battery exchange service for electric dump trucks in February 2022. The service is active between Ningde and Fuzhou, the provincial capital, and the distance between the two cities is about 175 kilometers.

CATL chose heavy-duty trucks as a target for battery replacement because it is highly feasible, an industry insider told Yicai Global when the Ningde-Fuzhou project was launched. Commercial truck routes are usually fixed, making the cost of building stations along the routes relatively low with less complicated technological requirements, especially for short distances, the person added.


China is an important driver of global economic growth, says Corning China senior executive

China is an important driver of global economic growth and Corning Inc, one of the world's leading innovators in materials science, is confident about China's economic growth and its own development here, said Liu Zhifei, president and general manager of Corning Greater China.

The US glass and ceramics maker's history of development in China dates back to 1980 when its first sales office opened in this country. Today, the company has established 21 manufacturing facilities, a research center and a technology center in 17 Chinese cities, hiring over 6,000 employees.

Corning has witnessed the rapid development of the Chinese market over the past decades, Liu said, adding that he was impressed by the strong resilience and great vitality of the Chinese economy. At the same time, the company has also been developing well, with its sales and manufacturing system and ability here becoming very complete and advanced.

'China is the only geographic market where we have a business presence for all of our five market access platforms and emerging business outside the United States,' said Liu, who stressed that China is one of the most important strategic markets of Corning.

In recent years, with its business in China showing strong resilience, Corning has continued to invest in China in areas including emission control products, pharmaceutical glass tubing, display glass and automotive glass.

In 2020, Corning settled its largest global investment of the year in China to establish a pharmaceutical glass tubing factory in Bengbu of East China's Anhui province.

And in January this year, it settled the intelligent drug synthesis project in Suzhou of East China's Jiangsu province.

Liu said that the continuous improvement of China's business environment over the recent years is an important reason for Corning's rapid development here.

'China is promoting institutional opening up, which is very attractive to foreign-funded enterprises that are deeply engaged in Chinese market, and will continue to enhance their confidence in China's economic development,' he said.

Liu said that Corning will focus on the long-term trend of China's economic growth to serve Chinese customers and deepen its strategic cooperation with Chinese enterprises to share opportunities of this market.

Saudi Aramco

Aramco, Linde Engineering to develop ammonia cracking technology

Saudi Arabias Aramco and Linde Engineering have signed an agreement to jointly develop a new ammonia cracking technology.

The two companies also plan to build a demonstration plant in northern Germany to showcase the new ammonia cracking technology.

Ahmad Al Khowaiter, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Aramco, said: This agreement is part of our ongoing technology and business development efforts to establish a commercially viable lower-carbon hydrogen supply chain. We believe the advanced ammonia cracking technology we are co-developing with Linde Engineering will play a key role in realising our objectives.

John van der Velden, Senior Vice President Global Sales & Technology at Linde Engineering, said: Effective ammonia cracking technology supports the worlds urgent need for decarbonisation. By completing the missing link in the export chain, cleaner energy can be shipped from regions with high renewable and clean energy potential to those with more limited resources. We look forward to working closely with Aramco to develop and commercialize this important technology, creating new business opportunities for Linde Engineering and Aramco.

Linde Engineering is a global leader in the production and processing of gases, and intends to offer this new ammonia cracking technology to current and new customers, creating new commercial opportunities within the global lower-carbon energy supply chain.

A potential differentiator of this new technology is the ammonia cracking catalyst, jointly developed by Aramco and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), which will be evaluated against other catalysts.


Tristar supports RTAs Golden Rules for Generational Safety

The Traffic and Roads Agency at RTA in collaboration with the Tristar Group recently launched the Golden Rules for Generational Safety’ at the Zayed Education Complex in Al Barsha. The campaign aims to raise awareness among 100,000 young students in Dubai regarding school safety guidelines via e-mail.

An approximate 10,000 school children will be directly targeted when Tristar sets up a mobile traffic village or a Kids Traffic Arena at various educational institutions. The initiative also involved the distribution of innovative gifts with road safety messages and educational brochures accompanied by scientific questionnaires to measure students’ awareness and knowledge trends. About 250 school children participated at the Zayed Educational Complex last March 9. Tristar will be visiting five other schools until May.

Tristar Group CEO, Eugene Mayne opened the Kids Traffic Arena with officials of the Traffic and Roads Agency and the Zayed Educational Complex. He was accompanied by Tristar officers led by Road Transport and Warehousing GM Shivananda Baikady, Corporate Communications Senior Manager, Arthur Los Banos, HSEQ and Sustainability Group Manager, Srinivasalu Sridhar, Business Applications Manager, Prasad KM, HR Administration Manager, Sanjit Roy, and senior staff, Syed Mehdi and Yakhoob Ahmed.

This is the second school children road safety awareness partnership between the Traffic and Roads Agency and Tristar. The first was during the 48th UAE National Day, when Tristar sponsored 10,000 car air freshener kits with a safety message addressed to parents. The company brought its Kids Traffic Village to the Dubai Modern Education School on November 26, 2019, and the JSS International School on February 23, 2020.

The students were given the opportunity to drive around in pedal cars and are taught traffic rules like stopping before a pedestrian crossing and wearing seat belt all the time. The idea behind the campaign was to increase road safety awareness among school children who can remind their parents who drive to follow basic traffic rules and road safety guidelines like not using mobile phone while driving.


Microsoft unveils AI for its office suite in increased competition with Google

Microsoft on Thursday trumpeted its latest plans to put artificial intelligence into the hands of more users, answering a spate of unveilings this week by its rival Google with upgrades to its own widely used office software.

The company previewed a new AI copilot” for Microsoft 365, its product suite that includes Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations and Outlook emails.

Going forward, AI can offer a first draft in Microsofts applications, speeding up content creation and freeing up workers’ time, the company said.

We believe this next generation of AI will unlock a new wave of productivity growth,” Satya Nadella, Microsofts chief executive, said in a livestreamed presentation.

This weeks drumbeat of news including new funding for AI startup Adept reflects how companies large and small are locked in a fierce competition to deploy software that could reshape how people work. At the center are Microsoft and Google-owner Alphabet Inc, which on Tuesday touted AI features for Gmail and a magic wand” to draft prose in its own word processor.

The frenzy to invest in and build new products began with the launch last year of ChatGPT, from the Microsoft-backed startup OpenAI. Chatbot showed the potential of so-called large language models, technology that learns from past data how to create content anew. It is rapidly evolving. Just this week, OpenAI began the release of a more powerful version known as GPT-4.


Goldman backs Saudi fintech Tamara with $150 million facility

Saudi financial technology company Tamara secured a $150 million debt facility from Goldman Sachs Group, defying a funding slowdown in the global venture capital sector.

Founded less than three years ago, Tamara has emerged as one of the Gulf regions leading buy now, pay later” companies, having now raised $366 million in debt and equity. It counts a subsidiary of Saudi Arabias sovereign wealth fund and, one of Europes most valuable startups, among its investors.

Tamara will use Goldmans $150 million receivables warehouse facility” - which it says is a first in the Middle East - to fund expansion across product lines in shopping, payments and banking, according to a statement on Thursday. The Riyadh-based startup has a customer base of 6 million and more than 350 employees spread across offices in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Germany and Vietnam.

Tamara facilitates payments for thousands of merchants, including brands like IKEA and H&M. It continues to see significant potential for growth in the region, where credit card usage lags more mature markets.

Regionally, the firm competes with the likes of Dubai-based Tabby - which has also attracted significant foreign capital, including from investors such Sequoia Capital India. A $58 million funding round earlier this year valued the startup at almost $700 million.

The Goldman facility comes at a time when startups around the world are battling headwinds including rising interest rates. The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank sent further shock-waves through the sector.

The fintech sector is undergoing a rapid transformation and has received significant global investment in recent years,” said Abdulmajeed Alsukhan, Tamaras chief executive and co-founder. The GCC, especially Saudi Arabia, continues to exhibit strong growth despite the global macroeconomic slowdown,” he said.


Chinas EV brand BYD launches in UAE, signs up with Al Futtaim Electric Mobility Co.

The Chinese electric carmaker BYD is launching in the UAE through an alliance with Al-Futtaim, thus opening more options and price range for UAEs car owners when it comes to EVs.

BYD recorded unit sales of 1.86 million NEVs (or New Energy Vehicle) in 2022, and sees the Gulf markets as offering the right sort of conditions to pursue more growth outside of China. The models are already retailing in Europe, Japan, South Korea and the US.

As with Tesla, BYD too takes direct control over all aspects of the production and the battery to power the vehicles.

As for Al Futtaim, the company has launched a new entity – Al Futtaim Electric Mobility Company – to oversee what should be an expanding interest in the EV space.

The new company was not just created to respond to a market demand,” said Hasan Nergiz, Managing Director for the entity. It has been created to address a growing call from global governments, and especially the UAE leadership, to create actionable strategies for sustainable mobility and make a valuable contribution towards Net Zero objectives.