08 January 2021 | Sakenuus
Netflix raises charges for UK subscribers

Netflix Inc raised subscription prices for millions of customers in Britain, as the video streaming giant invested heavily in local content such as "The Crown", "Sex Education" and "Top Boy".

Netflix hiked the price of the popular two-screen standard subscription by 1 pound to 9.99 pounds (US$13.60) per month and the premium subscription by 2 pounds to 13.99 pounds.

"This year we're spending over US$1 billion (736 million pounds) in the UK on new, locally made films, series and documentaries, helping to create thousands of jobs and showcasing British storytelling at its best," a Netflix spokesman said on Wednesday.

This move comes as Britain recently entered another lockdown due to a growing threat from the new variant of the coronavirus, as people once again stay at home and look to video streaming services for entertainment.

Last October, Netflix hiked prices in the United States for its standard and premium subscription plans, saying that they need to offset investments. Netflix's basic plan charges will remain at 5.99 pounds a month. - Nampa/Reuters

BP gives Caribbean refinery time to hit targets

BP Plc has given the operator of a Caribbean refinery more time to fully restart and retain its crude oil supply agreement after the plant failed to hit operating targets last year, according to people familiar with the matter.

Last month, BP threatened to walk away from a 2018 agreement to supply up to 200 000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil and buy the resulting fuels if the Limetree Bay refinery in St. Croix.

A restart of the 210 000 bpd Limetree Bay Ventures' plant was originally expected more than a year ago and was designed to profit from an international clean-air marine fuel mandate.

Limetree Bay has an undisclosed period to cure the plant's problems under its agreement with BP, according to the people familiar with the matter. Operators aim to restart completely later this month, which would allow it to produce fuels such as gasoline and diesel.

The extension may lead to a revised or new contract to keep BP as the plant's main supplier of crude oil and the buyer of its output. - Nampa/Reuters

Ford quarterly US sales fall by 9.8%

Ford Motor Corp on Wednesday posted a 9.8% fall in quarterly US auto sales, as a fall in sales of its profitable trucks outweighed higher demand for sport utility vehicles.

The automaker posted a 12.5% decline in truck sales, while passenger car sales fell 41.1% as it continues to phase out traditional sedan models in North America that have become increasingly unpopular with consumers.

"Fourth quarter represented an inflection point at Ford in our transition from cars to a much greater focus on iconic trucks, SUVs and electric vehicles," said Andrew Frick, vice president at Ford's sales in the United States and Canada.

"We are well positioned to see the benefits of our focused efforts throughout 2021," Frick added. GM reported a 4.8% increase in US sales for the fourth quarter on Tuesday, while Toyota Motor Corp and Volkswagen AG recorded a sales increase of 9.4% and 10.8%, respectively.

Industry experts expect a rebound in demand this year, fuelled by the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines, record low interest rates and healthy consumer savings as people held off spending money on large purchases and vacations during the pandemic. – Nampa/Reuters

US airlines step up safety measures

American Airlines and Delta Air Lines said they are working with law enforcement and airport agencies in the Washington area to ensure the safety of travellers and workers after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol.

American has also increased staffing at Washington-area airports "as a precautionary measure" and will not be serving alcohol on flights to and from the area, a spokesman said.

The comment followed reports of unruly passengers on flights into the DC area on Tuesday ahead of the disruption at the Capitol, raising concern about their departure from the region.

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA representing workers at 17 airlines including United Airlines, said the protesters should not be allowed to depart the Washington area on commercial flights after exhibiting "mob mentality behaviour" on flights into the region.

"The mob mentality behaviour that took place on several flights to the DC area yesterday was unacceptable and threatened the safety and security of every single person on board," she said in a statement. - Nampa/Reuters

SK Group to invest US$1.5 bln

South Korea-based conglomerate SK Group will take a 9.9% stake worth US$1.5 billion in hydrogen fuel cell maker Plug Power Inc and form a joint venture to help provide hydrogen fuel cell products to Asian markets, the companies said.

As part of deal, a US unit of SK Group will acquire about 51.4 million shares of Latham, New York-based Plug Power at a price of US$29.2893 per share.

Plug Power shares were up 20% in extended trading on Wednesday after closing 7% firmer. The agreement comes at a time of brisk demand for clean energy, signalling a gradual shift from polluting fossil fuels in the coming years.

The South Korea government in 2019 announced the Hydrogen Economy Roadmap through 2040, with ambitious goals, including over 5MM tons of hydrogen per year, and expects the cumulative economic value of its hydrogen economy to reach US$40 billion by 2040.

If a deal comes through, the SK Group-Plug Power investment is expected to close in the first quarter of 2021.- Nampa/Reuters



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