COMPANY NEWS IN BRIEF

14 January 2021 | Business

Walmart suspends contributions to US

Walmart Inc, the world's biggest retailer, joined other major companies in indefinitely suspending donations to US lawmakers who voted against President-elect Joe Biden's election certification.

The Arkansas-based company said that in light of last week's attack on the US Capitol, its "political action committee is indefinitely suspending contributions to those members of Congress who voted against the lawful certification of state electoral college votes."

A spokesman for the retailer had said on Sunday that it conducts a review of its political giving after every election cycle and that last week's events would be factored into the company's process. The issue will remain under review over the next few months, the spokesman added.

Blue-chip companies including AT&T Inc, Amazon.com Inc and Mastercard Inc announced similar moves in the past several days.

The announcements indicate that some corporate donors, which usually give money to Republicans and Democrats alike, are re-assessing their strategy after supporters of outgoing Republican President Donald Trump attacked the Capitol last week, aiming to prevent Congress from certifying Biden's win. - Nampa/Reuters

Visa, Plaid call off US$5.3 bln deal

Visa and financial technology company Plaid said that they would terminate their US$5.3 billion merger agreement following a US government lawsuit aimed at stopping the proposed transaction on antitrust grounds.

The US Justice Department had sued to stop the deal in November, saying that Visa was a "a monopolist in online debit transactions" and that the proposed acquisition "would eliminate a nascent competitive threat" to that monopoly.

The deal, which was proposed in January 2020, was scrapped to avoid protracted litigation, said Al Kelly, chairman and CEO of Visa Inc.

"We are confident we would have prevailed in court as Plaid's capabilities are complementary to Visa's, not competitive," he added.

Visa said in January it had agreed to buy privately held Plaid in a US$5.3 billion deal aimed at boosting the payments giant's access to the booming financial technology sector. - Nampa/Reuters

Tesla to register a company in India

Tesla Inc has moved a step closer to its launch in India later this year by registering a company in the country, a regulatory filing showed on Tuesday.

Tesla Motors India and Energy Private Limited was incorporated on Jan. 8 with its registered office in the southern city of Bengaluru, a hub for several global technology companies.

The filing shows the Indian unit has three directors including David Feinstein, who is currently a senior executive at Tesla, according to his LinkedIn profile.

India's transport minister Nitin Gadkari told a local newspaper in December the US electric carmaker would start with sales and then might look at assembly and manufacturing.

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has tweeted several times in recent years, including as recently as October 2020, about an impending foray into India.

The move comes as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is promoting the production and use of electric vehicles to reduce the country's oil dependence and cut down on pollution.

To boost investment, India plans to offer US$4.6 billion in incentives to companies setting up advanced battery manufacturing facilities, according to a government proposal seen by Reuters. – Nampa/Reuters

GM to launch electric delivery vehicle business

General Motors Co staked its claim in the growing electric delivery vehicle business on Tuesday, with Chief Executive Mary Barra outlining plans for its first BrightDrop commercial vans to be delivered to FedEx by year-end.

The move will put GM squarely in competition in the commercial sector with crosstown rival Ford Motor Co as well as start-ups such as Rivian, Arrival and Canoo that are developing electric commercial vehicles for customers from Amazon to Hyundai Motor.

Fuelled in part by the Covid-19 pandemic, GM estimates the US market for parcel and food delivery will climb to more than US$850 billion by 2025.

Barra said BrightDrop will offer delivery and logistics customers such as FedEx a range of products and services that leverage the automaker's expertise in electrification and fleet management.

The BrightDrop EV600 will use a version of GM's Ultium battery system that will power many of the company's future electric vehicles, including the Hummer EV pickup and the Cadillac Lyriq crossover. Barra introduced BrightDrop in an online keynote address at the annual tech and gadget show CES. - Nampa/Reuters

Google launches US$3 mln fund

The Google News Initiative on Tuesday launched a global open fund to fight misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines, worth up to US$3 million.

The "Covid-19 Vaccine Counter Misinformation Open Fund" aims to support journalistic efforts to effectively fact-check misinformation about the Covid-19 immunisation process, the initiative belonging to Alphabet's Google said in a blog post.

The fund will accept projects looking to expand the audience of fact-checks, particularly to groups disproportionately hit by misinformation.

Applications will be reviewed by team of 14 jurors from across the academic, media, medical and non-profit sectors, as well as representatives from the World Health Organisation.

In December, the Google News Initiative pledged US$1.5 million to fund a Covid-19 vaccine media hub to support fact-checking research. - Nampa/Reuters

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