Company news in brief

14 January 2019 | Ekonomie
AB InBev considers partial IPO of Asian business

Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest brewer, is considering floating part of its Asian operations, an Asian banking source said on Friday, in a deal that would help to ease its debt burden. The Belgium-based maker of Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois has been discussing a possible multi-billion-dollar listing in Hong Kong, the banker said. AB InBev declined to comment on the matter. "In line with our culture, we always look at opportunities to optimise our business and drive long-term growth and we are very committed to our business in the Asia-Pacific region and excited about the potential of this geography," an AB InBev spokeswoman said. Bloomberg reported on Friday that AB InBev was considering at initial public offering (IPO) that could raise more than US$5 billion, with the whole of the Asian business valued at about US$70 billion. About a third of AB InBev's Asia-Pacific profits come from China, with the rest mostly from Australia. -Nampa/Reuters

Nissan China chief resigns amid broadened Ghosn probe

Nissan Motor Co Ltd's head of China operations Jose Munoz has resigned following reports that the Japanese automaker has broadened its investigation into ousted chairman Carlos Ghosn's alleged financial misconduct. Reuters reported on Friday that the Japanese automaker was looking into decisions made in the United States by Munoz who led Nissan's North American operations from 2016 to 2018. In a LinkedIn post on Friday, Munoz said: "I am proud to have played a role in achieving 74% growth in North America, gaining market dominance in Mexico, getting the China market share on the growth path, and helping the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance become the highest volume group in the world." Earlier this year, Nissan tapped Munoz to oversee its operations in China where it plans to ramp up sales over the next few years. Since then, the world's largest auto market has been showing signs of a slowdown, prompting the automaker to cut local production plans in the coming months. China is Nissan's second-largest market, accounting for roughly one-quarter of its annual global vehicle sales. Last year the company planned to boost sales to make China its biggest market in terms of vehicle sales by 2022. -Nampa/Reuters

New Petrobras CEO pushes to oust board members

The new chief executive of Brazil's Petroleo Brasileiro SA is pushing for the ouster of two of the state-controlled oil company's board members, three people with knowledge of the matter said on Friday. Roberto Castello Branco is seeking the resignation of two Petrobras board members, Segen Estefen and Durval Soledade, whose mandates were only supposed to end in 2020. Brazilian newspaper Valor Economico was the first to report that Castello Branco was pushing for their exit. The people, who asked for anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, said that if the board members do not agree to resign, the government can call for a shareholders' meeting to elect new board members. One of the sources said the pressure for the directors' resignation is viewed within Petrobras as a threat to corporate governance rules approved as the company sought to shield itself from undue political influence. Such influence was found to be a big factor in the kickbacks and graft uncovered at Petrobras in Brazil's largest ever corruption probe. Petrobras did not reply to requests for comment. -Nampa/Reuters

GM bucks gloomy earnings forecast trend

General Motors Co executives on Friday bucked gloomy forecasts for growth and sent the automaker's shares soaring, promising investors stronger 2019 earnings and outlining ambitious plans for its Cadillac brand to challenge Tesla Inc in the growing electric vehicle market. GM said that despite forecasts of decline in US and China passenger car sales, the company expects 2018 profit to exceed Wall Street expectations, and promised higher earnings per share in 2019. Chief executive Mary Barra, in her presentation to investors on Friday, stood her ground on cost-cutting actions that have provoked threats of retribution from US President Donald Trump and outrage from unions and elected officials in the affected states. GM's bullish outlook coincided with new cost-slashing actions by rival Ford Motor Co, which on Thursday outlined plans to cut thousands of jobs in its European operations and kill an experiment in providing van rides. Barra and her lieutenants have spent the last two years pushing a strategy to exit unprofitable markets in Europe and developing markets, restructuring money-losing operations in South Korea, and killing unprofitable car lines in North America. In November it put five North American factories, including four in the United States, on notice for closure, and cut almost 15 000 jobs. -Nampa/Reuters

Volkswagen delivered 10.8 million vehicles in 2018

Volkswagen Group's deliveries rose 0.9% to a record 10.83 million last year, the German company said on Friday, putting it neck-and-neck with Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi in the race to be the world's biggest vehicle manufacturer. Rivals Toyota Motor and Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi have not released 2018 registration figures, but the Franco-Japanese alliance sold 10.6 million vehicles in 2017 and racked up sales of 5.54 million in the first half of 2018. Toyota last month released a forecast for total global sales of 10.55 million vehicles last year, but has yet to confirm official numbers. "If we assume that the 10.8 million sales VW have reported is confirmed, it is very likely to be enough to place Volkswagen Group in the number one spot," said David Oakley, an analyst at LMC Automotive. That would be the fifth consecutive year the Volkswagen Group has held the position, Oakley said, adding it was too early to say whether Toyota or Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi would be in second place, because registration figures have not yet been published for all markets. -Nampa/Reuters

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