Company news in brief

07 February 2019 | Economics

EU rejects French/German railway merger

France's finance minister says EU authorities have decided to reject a merger between France's Alstom and Germany's Siemens railway activities. Bruno Le Maire said yesterday on the France 2 television station that he considered the decision to be "an economic mistake".

Le Maire said the ruling will block the creation of a European rail giant that could have been able to compete with Chinese giant CRRC. "It's going to serve China's economic and industrial interests," he said. EU authorities had raised concerns about competition in Europe in the rail sector. Alstom is best-known for France's TGV and Siemens for Germany's ICE high-speed trains. -Nampa/AP

Trade war, diesel woes trouble Daimler

Automaker Daimler AG says fourth-quarter net profit fell 49% to 1.64 billion euro (US$1.87 billion), as the company's Mercedes-Benz luxury car business was buffeted by diesel woes and global trade conflict. Revenue reported yesterday rose 7% to 46.6 billion euro and the company said demand for its products remained strong.

The company's luxury car division, the mainstay of its earnings, saw profit fall as it faced multiple challenges. The US-China trade war meant new import taxes on cars made in the US and sold in China. Bottlenecks in getting cars certified for emissions procedures also impacted the business. For the full year, net profit fell to 7.6 billion euro from 10.6 billion in 2017. Revenues rose 2% to 167.4 billion euro. -Nampa/AP

Japan tech giant SoftBank profits decline

Japanese technology conglomerate SoftBank Group Corp. reported a 23% decline in fiscal third-quarter profit yesterday, as adjustments in its major investment funds eroded income. SoftBank Group, which has invested in British IoT company ARM and US wireless company Sprint, had October-December profit of 698.3 billion yen (US$6.4 billion), down from 912.3 billion yen in the same period the previous year. Quarterly sales totalled 2.5 trillion yen (US$23 billion), up 4% from 2.4 trillion yen.

Late last year, SoftBank raised more than 2 trillion yen (US$18 billion) at an IPO of its Japanese mobile company. The IPO compares with some of the world's biggest, including China's Alibaba Group, which raised about US$20 billion when it went public in 2014, and Facebook, which raised US$16 billion in 2012. SoftBank offers internet and solar electricity services, and was the first mobile carrier to offer the Apple iPhone in Japan. It is also behind Pepper, the talking companion robot.

Money-laundering scandal stains ING results

Dutch bank ING posted a slight fall in profits for 2018 yesterday, following a multi-million-euro settlement with Netherlands authorities in a money-laundering investigation. Earnings fell by 4.1% to 4.7 billion euro (US$5.4 billion) last year despite growth in its client base, the Amsterdam-based lender said in a statement. In September ING paid a huge 775 million euro to settle a criminal investigation which found that ING had failed to take adequate measures to prevent money-laundering.

Despite the scandal, ING said it had expanded its client base by one million customers in 2018 to reach 38.4 million worldwide. ING posted a 2.2% rise in turnover for 2018 to 18 billion euro. The money-laundering row saw ING axe its chief financial officer Koos Timmermans after a two-year probe by Dutch authorities that found many white-collar crime suspects held accounts at the bank. The case threatened to seriously damage ING's reputation and triggered calls for the resignation of its directors. ING employs more than 52 000 people in 40 countries around the world. -Nampa/AFP

Ariane rockets telecoms satellites into orbit

Two communications satellites, one for India and another for a consortium from Saudi Arabia, Greece and Cyprus, were successfully put into orbit by the European aerospace firm ArianeGroup, the company announced. Competition by commercial operators in the lucrative rocket industry has intensified in the past few years, particularly since the launch of Elon Musk's reusable SpaceX.

An Ariane 5 rocket with a payload of nine tonnes lifted off from the Kourou space centre in French Guiana on Tuesday, the first of five launches scheduled for this year, ArianeGroup said. One satellite, belonging to a Saudi governmental scientific body and the Greco-Cypriot operator Hellas Sat, is to supply television, internet and telephone communications for the Middle East, South Africa and Europe for the next 15 years.

The other is a communications satellite designed and built by the Indian Space Research Organisation. "This first launch of 2019 demonstrates once again our capacity to perfectly adapt the Ariane 5 launcher to answer the needs of each client," said ArianeGroup executive president André-Hubert Roussel. Ariane 5 rockets are to be replaced in 2020 by the Ariane 6, which will be an estimated 40% cheaper. Still, the ArianeGroup announced in November it would cut 2 300 jobs by 2022, as the development of the new rocket nears its end and orders for new launches have slipped in the face of competition. -Nampa/AFP

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