COMPANY NEWS IN BRIEF

13 January 2021 | Sakenuus
Ford to close three plants in Brazil

Ford Motor Co said it will close its three plants in Brazil this year and take pre-tax charges of about US$4.1 billion as the Covid-19 pandemic amplified the company's under use of its manufacturing capacity.

Ford officials said the action was part of the US$11 billion global restructuring previously forecast by the US automaker, of which it had accounted for US$4.2 billion through the third quarter of 2020. The plant closures affect about 5 000 employees, mostly in Brazil, Ford spokesman T.R. Reid said on a conference call with reporters.

Industry vehicle sales fell 26% in Brazil last year and are not expected to rebound to 2019 levels until 2023 with an emphasis on less profitable fleet sales, Ford said.

"We know these are very difficult, but necessary, actions to create a healthy and sustainable business," Ford Chief Executive Jim Farley said in a statement.

Ford officials said the plant closures are part of the company's strategy to achieve 8% global operating margins. Ford, which has operated in Brazil for more than a century, has begun discussions with its unions and others about the layoffs. – Nampa/Reuters

Facebook has no plans to lift Trump ban

Facebook Inc's operations chief Sheryl Sandberg said the world's largest social network had no plans to lift its block on the accounts of US. President Donald Trump, as the company clamped down on a phrase that has become a rallying cry for the president's supporters.

Sandberg, speaking during the Reuters Next conference, said she was glad that Facebook had frozen Trump's accounts, which came as tech giants scrambled to crack down on his baseless claims about fraud in the US presidential election amid riots in Washington last week.

Hours later, the company banned the phrase "stop the steal" altogether, citing use of the term to organize events contesting the outcome of the US presidential election that have a propensity for violence.

If Trump wanted to appeal the removal of his content, that could happen through the company's new Oversight Board, she added. Facebook said Trump could not appeal the actual suspension through the board.

Facebook executives have long taken a light touch to policing speech posted by politicians, maintaining that people have a right to see statements from their leaders. - Nampa/Reuters

Telecom debuts on green bond market

Telecom Italia (TIM) raised 1 billion euros (US$1.2 billion) with its first green bond, one of the lead managers said on Monday, as Italy's biggest phone group strives to upgrade its networks.

The sale of the eight-year issue, which marks TIM's return to the bond market after a nearly two-year absence, attracted over 2.8 billion euros in final orders, the lead manager added.

The former phone monopoly is working to modernise its fixed and mobile grids to improve energy efficiency as it targets carbon neutrality by 2030. Green bonds allow borrowers to raise funds for projects that benefit the environment.

Final guidance on price was set on a yield of 1.75%, according to the lead, down from initial indications of a yield of around 2.25%, equivalent to a spread of 255-260 basis points over the mid-market swap rate.

"The issue reached a wide range of investors, with orders coming from over 350 accounts. We are very satisfied considering that before today's deal TIM had been absent from the market since April 2019," said Carolina Marazzini, co-head of debt origination at UniCredit. -Nampa/Reuters

Chipotle to hire 15 000 workers

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc said it would hire 15 000 workers in the United States, as the fast-casual burrito chain benefits from strong demand during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The move comes about five months after Chipotle said it planned to add 10,000 more people to its more than 85 000-strong workforce. It now employs about 94 000 people, most of them in the United States.

Fast food chains mainly pizza and Mexican restaurants have seen sales remain strong during the pandemic as customers crave comfort food and order in more. Chipotle had posted a 14% jump in revenue in its latest reported quarter.

Chipotle in October had said it would open about 200 restaurants. The company had over 2 700 restaurants, as of September.

Major pizza chains, including Papa John's International Inc and Domino's Pizza Inc, and other big names such as McDonald's Corp have hired thousands of people in recent months to meet heightened demand even as family-owned restaurants have had to shut shop. - Nampa/Reuters

Vodafone to put stake in Vantage Towers

Vodafone said it would put its 50% stake in Cornerstone, its UK towers joint venture with Telefonica, into its new European infrastructure unit Vantage Towers after reaching a new commercial agreement with the Spanish company.

Cornerstone will be the preferred supplier of new tower sites for the two mobile operators' UK units for an initial eight years from the start of this month with three eight-year renewal periods under the new deal, Vodafone said on Monday.

Vodafone spun out its European towers last year to take advantage of investor appetite for infrastructure assets, which offer a long-term secured income stream.

It plans to list the unit in Frankfurt in the coming months, and will use the proceeds to reduce its debt. Vodafone's 50% stake in Cornerstone would add 62 million euros (US$75.5 million) to Vantage Towers' pro forma financial year 2020 adjusted core earnings after leases, Vodafone said. – Nampa/Reuters

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