Company news in brief

22 December 2021 | Business

Qatar Airways sues Airbus

Qatar Airways said on Monday it had started proceedings in a UK court against planemaker Airbus in a bid to resolve a dispute over skin flaws on A350 passenger jets, bringing the two sides closer to a rare legal showdown over aviation safety.

The companies have been locked in a row for months over damage, including blistered paint and corrosion to a sub-layer of lightning protection, which Qatar Airways says has now led to the grounding of 21 A350 jets by its domestic regulator.

Airbus insists the carbon-composite passenger jets are safe to fly despite some "surface degradation," while Qatar Airways says it is too early to say whether safety has been compromised.

The dispute came to a head last week when Airbus, in what experts called an unprecedented move, accused the Gulf airline of misrepresenting the problem as a safety issue and threatened to call for an independent legal assessment.

On Monday, Qatar Airways hit back, saying it had taken its complaint against Airbus to the High Court in London.

Qatar Airways denies that the surface flaws - which witnesses say have left some of the jets with a pock-marked appearance - are properly understood and said on Monday that it wanted Airbus to mount a "thorough investigation”. - Reuters

Shell confirms delay in sale of refinery

Royal Dutch Shell confirmed a Reuters report that the sale of its controlling interest in a Texas refinery to Mexican state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos has been delayed until next year.

A review of the deal by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, an national security group chaired by the US Treasury, had been expected to wrap up this month but has been extended into next year, Shell spokesperson Curtis Smith said.

Shell in May disclosed an agreement to sell its 50% interest in the 302 800-barrel-per-day (bpd) Deer Park, Texas, refinery outside Houston to partner Pemex for about US$596 million. The closing was expected this month, officials have said.

"We were hopeful we could conclude the sale before the end of the month, however, it now looks like the full amount of time will be needed," Smith said. "We will continue to cooperate with CFIUS as they review the transaction."

The CFIUS approval process runs until Jan. 13 for obtaining regulatory approvals, according to a Pemex source familiar with the matter.

"After CFIUS approval, the transfer process will take days," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. - Reuters

Nike beats revenue estimates

Nike Inc beat quarterly revenue and profit estimates, lifted by strong demand for its sports shoes and apparel in North America, and said it was more confident of easing supply chain issues in its next fiscal year.

Nike's second-quarter sales in North America, its largest market, jumped 12%, as a reopening US economy and the roll out of vaccines gave people confidence to rush back to stores and splurge on sneakers for running and hiking.

"Nike is doing well to get in as much inventory as possible. Long term, I don't see the momentum going away from the company because the products are so highly coveted by consumers," said Jessica Ramirez, retail analyst at Jane Hali & Associates.

The company's overall revenue rose 1% to US$11.36 billion in the second quarter, beating estimates of US$11.25 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. The company expects a low single-digit rise in third-quarter revenue compared to estimates of a 2.5% increase.

Nike's profit of 83 US cents per share beat estimates of 63 US cents. - Reuters

UBS excludes Exxon Mobil from climate funds

UBS Asset Management has excluded Exxon Mobil and four other "unresponsive" energy companies from its climate aware range of funds, including one managed for UK pension scheme NEST, the firms said on Monday.

The asset management arm of UBS also divested from Imperial Oil, Kepco, Marathon Oil and Power Assets following a three-year engagement programme with 49 oil and gas companies identified as lagging on climate change performance, the firms said in a statement.

The exclusions also apply to UBS' actively-managed equity and fixed income sustainability funds. - Reuters

BHP gets approval to unify its corporate structure

Miner BHP Group said yesterday it has received all regulatory and competition approvals for the unification of its corporate structure.

The company has been listed in Australia and the UK since 2001, when it merged with Billiton Plc, but proposed in August to consolidate the two by keeping its primary base in Sydney.

The decision to consolidate BHP's structure was triggered by recent changes in the company's portfolio and a drop in the earnings contribution from UK assets.

BHP expects the unification to be complete by Jan. 31, 2022 after the shareholders' vote for both BHP Group Ltd and BHP Group Plc is held on Jan. 20. - Reuters

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