COMPANY NEWS IN BRIEF

24 September 2021 | Business

Exxon, Chevron not disclosing payments

US oil majors Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp have failed to meet a core transparency standard set by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, a global anti-corruption body on which the companies have board seats, EITI said on Wednesday.

Exxon and Chevron have declined to publicly disclose taxes and other payments they have made to governments in the countries where they operate that are not EITI members, the group said in a spreadsheet detailing member company adherence to its standards.

Norway-based EITI, which was founded two decades ago and has about 55 country members, implements voluntary global standards to promote the open and accountable management of oil, gas and mineral resources to help prevent corruption in all resource-rich countries.

Countries that Exxon has operated in that are not EITI members include Qatar, Pakistan and India, according to its company website. Non-EITI countries that Chevron has operated in include China and Angola.

ConocoPhillips, which is not on the EITI board, is another member that does not disclose the payments to countries not in EITI, the group said. -Nampa/Reuters

United Airlines being accused

United Airlines Inc is facing claims that it unlawfully denied religious and medical exemptions from a requirement that employees receive Covid-19 vaccines after allegedly making it difficult for workers to apply for them.

Six United employees filed a class action in Texas federal court on Tuesday claiming that workers who sought exemptions from the vaccine mandate were subjected to intrusive inquiries about their medical conditions or religious beliefs, including a requirement that they obtain letters from pastors.

Chicago-based United in a statement said the lawsuit was without merit, and that it has seen an overwhelmingly positive response from employees since announcing its vaccine requirement last month. More than 97% of United's US-based employees are vaccinated, the airline said.

The lawsuit highlights the thorny legal issues faced by employers in mandating vaccines, and comes as President Joe Biden is seeking to require companies with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforces are fully vaccinated or tested for Covid-19 weekly.

The plaintiffs on Wednesday asked the court to temporarily bar enforcement of United's mandate for employees who request exemptions. -Nampa/Reuters

JPMorgan faces oil bribery probe

Brazilian authorities are investigating whether JPMorgan Chase & Co played a role in an alleged bribery and money laundering scheme that dated back to 2011 and involved state-run oil company Petrobras, according to documents reviewed by Reuters and two law enforcement sources.

So far, police have focused their attention on purchases of roughly 300 000 barrels of Petrobras fuel oil by JPMorgan in 2011 according to the court documents and sources, who requested anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

The documents, which were seen by Reuters, include email messages among alleged co-conspirators, witness testimony and bank records. The authorities are working to determine if the alleged bribery continued in subsequent years, the sources added.

The court documents viewed by Reuters include witness testimony from a former Petrobras fuel trader named Rodrigo Berkowitz.

The probe, which is in preliminary stages, is part of a larger investigation by Brazilian authorities who have been examining wrongdoing across the commodity trading industry for years. -Nampa/Reuters

Freshworks valued at over US$12 bln

Enterprise software maker Freshworks Inc was valued at US$12.2 billion in its Nasdaq debut on Wednesday after shares opened 21% above the initial offering price, indicating strong demand for firms that have thrived during the pandemic.

Shares of the Salesforce.com rival opened at US$43.50 compared with the IPO price of US$36 per share. Freshworks joins a wave of tech listings this week, as the company sees higher demand from customers embracing the hybrid work model.

Founded in the Indian city of Chennai, Freshworks has a suite of products that helps businesses with customer management, such as a messaging platform and an artificial-intelligence powered chatbot for customer support.

"Our products are even more relevant today in the post pandemic world", said Girish Mathrubootham, chief executive at Freshworks.”

The listing is also widely celebrated by the tech community in India, who sees Freshworks as the first homegrown software as a service (SaaS) company to go public in the US. -Nampa/Reuters

Volocopter to sell 150 aircraft to China

German flying taxi start-up Volocopter said on Wednesday it would sell 150 electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft to its joint venture with a unit of Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group.

Volocopter, which counts Daimler, BlackRock and Intel Capital as some of its investors, said it expects the partnership to bring eVTOL aircraft to China within the next three to five years.

China represents the "biggest single market opportunity" for the urban air mobility industry, said Florian Reuter, Volocopter's chief executive officer, in a statement.

Volocopter did not disclose any financial details of the sale. The company in April had announced the formation of the joint venture with Zhejiang Geely's Aerofugia.

Volocopter, which has raised EUR 322 million from its investors, added that Zhejiang Geely's top boss Daniel Li Donghui had joined its advisory board. -Nampa/Reuters

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