Company news in brief

11 January 2019 | Economics

Apple cuts current-quarter production plan

Apple Inc, which slashed its quarterly sales forecast last week, has reduced planned production for its three new iPhone models by about 10% for the January-March quarter, the Nikkei Asian Review reported on Wednesday.

That rare forecast cut exposed weakening iPhone demand in China, the world's biggest smartphone market, where a slowing economy has also been buffeted by a trade war with the United States.

Many analysts and consumers have said the new iPhones are overpriced.

Overall planned production volume of both old and new iPhones is likely to be cut to a range of 40 million to 43 million units for January-March period, from an earlier projection of 47 million to 48 million units, the Nikkei reported, citing one source familiar with the situation. Apple did not respond to a Reuters request for comment. – Nampa/Reuters



Alibaba buys German data analysis start-up

China's Alibaba Group Holding has acquired German data analysis firm Data Artisans, the Berlin-based start-up said, in a deal reported to be worth around 90 million euro (US$103 million).

The transaction marks the first full takeover by a Chinese company on Berlin's growing start-up scene. In the last significant deal, Alibaba's rival Tencent Holdings participated in a US$160 million funding round for online bank N26 in March 2018.

Data Artisans CEO Kostas Tzoumas said Alibaba would also invest an undisclosed sum in the company to develop Apache Flink, its open-source software that can process large data volumes, and to expand into new business areas.

The price of the deal was reported to be 90 million euro in the media, including German newspaper Handelsblatt. Data Artisans declined to comment on the purchase price. – Nampa/Reuters



Protests hit Air France KLM

Air France KLM said anti-government protests in France had hit its revenue, taking the shine off a rise in its overall December passenger traffic figures and knocking its shares.

Analysts said the latest passenger data showed that the Dutch KLM airline was again doing better than Air France, with KLM and the smaller Transavia division flying fuller planes.

Air France KLM said the "yellow vest" protests, which have been marred by violence and disrupted shopping areas and the transport network, were estimated to have had a negative revenue impact of around 15 million euro (US$17 million).

A spokeswoman for Air France KLM said it had arrived at the estimate by taking into account last minute cancellations of bookings that had occurred as a result of the protests, which started in mid-November but intensified and grew more violent over the course of December.

The airline said in a statement that it carried around 7,7 million passengers in December, up 3,6% from a year earlier, while for the whole of 2018 it flew around 101 million passengers, 2,8% higher than the previous year. – Nampa/Reuters



Fiat Chrysler to pay millions over diesel emissions claims

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV will pay more than US$700 million to resolve lawsuits from the US Justice Department and diesel owners over claims it used illegal software to allow 104 000 diesel vehicles to emit excess emissions, three people briefed on the matter said.

Fiat Chrysler will pay US$311 million in penalties to the Justice Department, at least US$75 million to states investigating the excess emissions and additional funds to offset excess emissions. It will also pay US$280 million to settle a lawsuit by owners, the sources said. Fiat Chrysler declined to comment. – Nampa/Reuters



Danske Bank, ex-CEO sued over money-laundering scandal

Danske Bank A/S and four former top executives have been sued by a US shareholder that accused Denmark's largest bank of defrauding investors and inflating its share price by hiding and failing to stop widespread money laundering at its Estonian branch.

The complaint was filed in the US District Court in Manhattan by a New York pension fund that is seeking class-action status and damages for investors in Danske's American depositary shares from January 9, 2014 to October 23, 2018.

Danske was accused of being "intentionally less than forthcoming" to Danish regulators even after a whistle-blower alerted the Copenhagen-based bank to suspected money laundering, while overstating its legitimate profitability and ability to thwart misconduct.

The bank did not immediately respond to requests for comment after market hours in Europe on behalf of the defendants, who include former chief executive Thomas Borgen, former chairman Ole Andersen, and two former chief financial officers.

Authorities in Denmark, Estonia, Great Britain and the United States are investigating the payments, including in a criminal probe by the US Department of Justice. Danske has said it has been cooperating with authorities. – Nampa/Reuters

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