Company news in brief

11 October 2021 | Business

First Berlin Teslas expected next month

The first cars to emerge from Tesla's new Berlin factory should roll off the production line as early as next month, CEO Elon Musk said at the site of the plant on Saturday, but added that volume production would take much longer to achieve.

Musk hopes to get the green light in coming weeks to start production at the site. The latest consultation on public concerns towards the site closes on Oct. 14, after which the environment ministry will make a decision.

He said volume production would amount to 5 000 or "hopefully 10 000" vehicles per day, and battery cells would be made there in volume by the end of next year.

Brandenburg's economy minister has put the chances of the factory gaining approval to operate at 95%.

Tesla has submitted plans to invest 5 billion euro (US$5.8 billion) in a battery plant with 50 GWh capacity next to the site, outstripping Volkswagen's planned 40GWh capacity site in Salzgitter. – Nampa/Reuters

Evergrande creditors fear imminent default

China Evergrande Group offshore bondholders are concerned that it is close to defaulting on debt payments and want more information and transparency from the cash-strapped property developer, their advisers said.

Evergrande, which could trigger one of China's largest defaults as it wrestles with debts of more than US$300 billion and whose troubles have already sent shockwaves across global markets, missed payments on dollar bonds, worth a combined US$131 million, that were due on Sept. 23 and Sept. 29.

With Evergrande staying silent on US dollar debt payments and prioritising onshore creditors, offshore investors have been left wondering if they will face large losses at the end of 30-day grace periods for last month's coupons.

A group of bondholders have enlisted investment bank Moelis & Co and law firm Kirkland & Ellis to advise them.

Offshore bondholders want to engage "constructively" with the company, but are concerned about lack of information from what was once China's top-selling property developer, said Bert Grisel, a Hong Kong-based managing director at Moelis. – Nampa/Reuters

Tata regains control of Air India

Tata Sons will resume control of Air India after bidding US$2.4 billion, including equity and debt, the government said on Friday, marking the end of years of struggle to privatise the financially troubled airline.

A successful sale of the loss-making national flag carrier will be a major victory for prime minister Narendra Modi as it had cost tax payers an average of nearly US$3 million a day for the past decade. It would also bode well for planned stake sales in a slew of state-run firms to bolster government coffers and make India a fully market-driven economy.

Talace Pvt Ltd, a unit of Tata Sons - the holding company for the autos-to-steel Tata conglomerate which owns luxury carmaker Jaguar Land Rover - will acquire 100% of Air India, Tuhin Kanta Pandey, secretary of the department of investment and public asset management, said.

The deal, which is expected to be finalised by the end of the year, puts Air India back in the hands of the group which founded it as Tata Airlines in 1932 before it was nationalised in 1953.

The bid amount includes Tata taking on US$2 billion of Air India's US$8.2 billion total debt, resulting in an equity value for the government of only about US$400 million. – Nampa/Reuters

IBM mandates all US employees on vaccines

IBM said on Thursday it requires all US employees to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by Dec. 8, or they will face unpaid suspension.

This comes in the light of US president Joe Biden's mandate last month ordering all federal workers and contractors to be vaccinated, with a few exceptions, and private employers with 100 or more workers to require employees to be vaccinated or tested weekly.

IBM, which is a federal contractor, has tens of thousands of US employees.

IBM had previously said it would allow only fully vaccinated US employees to return to offices. However, the new policy applies to all US employees, even those working from home. Some can, however, claim exemption from the rule on medical and religious grounds.

With the resurgence of cases due to the Delta variant of the coronavirus, major tech companies including Facebook Inc, Google and Microsoft Corp have also mandated vaccinations for employees. – Nampa/Reuters

Australia's Woolies settles class action

Australia's biggest grocery chain Woolworths Group Ltd said on Friday it has provisionally settled a class action lawsuit filed against it by a Canberra law firm in 2019 for underpaying supermarket workers.

Adero Law filed the class action in November 2019 on behalf of Woolworths Supermarkets employees after the retailer disclosed it had underpaid thousands of supermarket workers for years.

Woolworths is facing another civil proceeding by Australia's industrial relations watchdog, the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO).

The retailer said on Friday the class action settlement is subject to court approval and the outcome of the FWO proceedings.

Woolworths also said it would make an ex-gratia payment of A$2 500 plus retirement benefits to its about 20 000 current and former salaried team store members, who worked with the retailer for at least six months between January 2010 and September 2013. – Nampa/Reuters

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