COMPANY NEWS IN BRIEF
22 June 2021 | Business
Forto has raised US$240 million from investors led by Softbank and will invest in expanding its platform for organising trade shipments between China and Europe.
The five-year-old Berlin firm offers a single platform for managing the journey of a shipping container from origin to destination - a task long handled with pen, paper and post-it notes, said Forto CEO and co-founder Michael Wax.
A shipment from Shanghai to a warehouse in Berlin should not be more difficult than a payment via Paypal or Stripe today," Wax told Reuters, comparing the digitalisation of logistics with that of consumer payments.
The investment round, led by Softbank Vision Fund 2, values Forto at US$1.2 billion and brings the total amount of venture funding it has raised to US$360 million.
Softbank has placed other bets on freight tech including on China's Full Truck Alliance, which has filed to do an initial public offering in New York that would value it at more than US$20 billion.
Forto, one of a crop of fast-growing German logistics start-ups that includes trucking specialist Sennder, trebled revenue last year despite the shock to world trade caused by the coronavirus pandemic. - Nampa/Reuters
American Airlines to cut 1% of July flights
American Airlines on Sunday said it would cancel around 1% of its flights in July to serve a surprise uptick in travel demand at a time when the airline struggles with unprecedented weather and a labour shortage at some of its hubs.
American Airlines said the move would bring additional resilience and certainty to its summer operations.
"We feel these schedule adjustments will help ensure we can take good care of our customers and team members and minimize surprises at the airport," the company said in a statement.
The airline said its cancellations were targeted at impacting the smallest number of customers "by adjusting flights in markets where we have multiple options for re-accommodation." The announcement was first reported by the WSJ.
Airlines and other transportation operators have seen a quick ramp up in demand as US Covid-19 vaccination rates increased and travel restrictions lifted in recent weeks.
According to data from the US Transportation Security Administration, nearly 50 million airport passengers were registered in May, up 19% from April. So far in June, the TSA has registered nearly 35 million air passengers. - Nampa/Reuters
Pershing Square to buy 10% of Vivendi
Vivendi, controlled by French billionaire Vincent Bollore, said on Sunday it had signed a deal to sell 10% of Universal Music Group (UMG) to Pershing Square Tontine Holdings.
"After the 20% equity stake acquired by the Consortium led by the Tencent group, the arrival of major American investors provides further evidence of UMG’s global success and attractiveness," Vivendi said in a statement.
"As announced, the transaction is based on an enterprise value of 35 billion euros for 100% of UMG’s share capital."
Vivendi is planning to cash in on its UMG crown jewel, the world's biggest music label with artists such as Taylor Swift, by spinning off the entity to existing shareholders. - Nampa/Reuters
Norwegian Air appoints Karlsen as CEO
Norwegian budget airline Norwegian Air has appointed its chief financial officer Geir Karlsen as chief executive with immediate effect, succeeding Jacob Schram.
The board voted on June 20 to end the tenure of Schram, who will continue to support the carrier on a full-time basis during his notice period up to March 31, the airline said.
Karlsen has been chief financial officer since 2018 and was acting CEO for six months in 2019 for the carrier, which is emerging from bankruptcy protection after the Covid-19 crisis plunged the heavily indebted airline into a financial crisis.
"Karlsen has successfully led the financial reconstruction of Norwegian and has the competencies, focus, trust and dedication that makes him the best choice as CEO of Norwegian," said Svein Harald Oeygard, the chair of Norwegian's board.
Courts in Oslo and Dublin have given their approval for Norwegian to sharply cut its debt by converting it to stock, but the rulings were conditional on Norwegian raising at least 4.5 billion Norwegian crowns (US$519 million) in additional funds. - Nampa/Reuters
Porsche to set up joint venture in Germany
Volkswagen's luxury sports car unit Porsche AG is setting up a joint venture with Customcells to produce high-performance batteries that will significantly reduce charging times, the company said on Sunday.
The partnership with Customcells, a company in southern Germany specialising in lithium-ion cells, will aim to produce car batteries with higher energy density than prototypes used in Porsche's current electric cars, the company said in a statement.
European carmakers are pushing to reduce their dependence on Asia for batteries as they roll out all-electric models to meet stricter emissions targets in the European Union.
In addition to cutting charging time, improving energy density will mean reducing the amount of raw material needed in batteries to achieve the same range.
It will also cut battery production costs, making electric cars more affordable. Porsche said it will invest a high double-digit million-euro sum in the joint venture in which it will hold 80%.
The production facility aims to have a capacity of 100 kilowatt hours, which will translate into about enough batteries for 1 000 cars a year. - Nampa/Reuters