COMPANY NEWS IN BRIEF

30 September 2020 | Business

Huawei rises investment in China

Huawei Technologies has built up stakes in Chinese semiconductor companies and other tech businesses as the world’s largest telecoms equipment maker bolsters its supply chain in the face of pressure from the United States.

Habo Investments, set up by Huawei in April 2019, has closed 17 deals for stakes in Chinese tech companies since August last year, public records show.

The investment arm was established in response to what Huawei’s rotating chairman, Guo Ping, last week described as “suppression” by the United States after escalating restrictions that have cut off Huawei’s supplies of many overseas chips and effectively barred it from building its own.

“Since Huawei is only one company, we use investment and technology to help our supply chain partners become mature,” he said.

The company has emerged as a focal point in deteriorating US-China relations with President Donald Trump’s administration alleging that its equipment could be used by Beijing for spying, which the Chinese company has denied repeatedly. – Nampa/Reuters

US Covid-19 aid gives airlines hope

A US$2.2 trillion draft bill for coronavirus aid unveiled by Democrats in the US House of Representatives late on Monday gave airlines some hope for a second bailout before tens of thousands of layoffs occur on Thursday, although tough hurdles remained.

“I’m hopeful. I’m not necessarily optimistic,” chief executive Nicholas Calio of trade group Airlines for America told “PBS NewsHour” in an interview.

Washington insiders said passage by Thursday, when an initial US$25 billion that protected airline jobs through September expires, was unlikely, and the airline group did not detail the congressional action it hoped to see.

An option would be a quick standalone bill for the airlines, although senior Democratic congressional aides said that was also difficult given that many industries are seeking help.

International President of Flight Attendants-CWA Sara Nelson called the proposal, which includes $25 billion for airlines to keep workers on the payroll for another six months, “a significant and serious move in negotiations.” – Nampa/Reuters

US pension funds sue Allianz

Pension funds for truckers, teachers and subway workers have lodged lawsuits in the United States against Germany’s Allianz, one of the world’s top asset managers, for failing to safeguard their investments during the coronavirus market meltdown.

Market panic around the virus that resulted in billions in losses earlier this year scarred many investors, but no other top-tier asset manager is facing such a large number of lawsuits in the United States connected to the turbulence.

In March, Allianz ALVG.DE was forced to shutter two private hedge funds after severe losses, prompting the wave of litigation the company says is "legally and factually flawed".

Together, the various suits filed in the US Southern District of New York claim investors lost a total of around US$4 billion. The fallout has also prompted questions from the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Allianz has said.

A spokesman for Allianz Global Investors said in a statement to Reuters: “While the losses were disappointing, the allegations made by claimants are legally and factually flawed, and we will defend ourselves vigorously against them.” – Nampa/Reuters

Fiat to pay US$9.5 million fine

Fiat Chrysler will pay a US$9.5 million (£7.4 million) civil penalty to settle allegations for misleading investors by not disclosing that it conducted only a limited internal review of its compliance with emissions regulations, the top US securities regulator said.

Fiat Chrysler, which did not admit or deny wrongdoing to resolve the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) probe, declined to comment on the fine that stems from the automaker’s diesel emissions scandal.

The Italian-American automaker in January 2019 agreed to a settlement worth about US$800 million to resolve claims from the US Justice Department and California Air Resources Board (CARB) that it used illegal software that produced false results on diesel-emissions tests.

The SEC said in February 2016 that Fiat Chrysler said it conducted an internal audit that confirmed its vehicles complied with emissions regulations but did not sufficiently disclose the limited scope of its internal audit.

The US government has stepped-up enforcement of vehicle emissions rules after Volkswagen AG admitted in September 2015 to intentionally evading emissions rules and has now incurred more than US$30 billion in penalties and other costs. – Nampa/Reuters

Devon Energy to buy shale-oil rival

US oil and gas producer Devon Energy Corp said it will buy shale-oil rival WPX Energy Inc for US$2.56 billion as it looks to boost its presence in the top US oilfield.

The all-stock deal comes as US shale companies have posted big losses on weak crude prices amid the Covid-19 pandemic and have struggled to raise new capital to restructure debt.

But as producers seek out combinations to survive the coronavirus-induced slump in demand, deals at little or no premium are becoming the norm.

“This cycle was driven by Covid-19, but you never know when the next cycle will happen, so we’re building a combined company that has the capabilities to withstand all the headwinds but can really prosper in better times,” Rick Muncrief, chief executive of WPX, told Reuters.

Investors cheered the deal: WPX shares closed up 16.4% at US$5.17, while Devon rose 11.1% to US$9.80. -Nampa/Reuters