GM WANTS TO SEE DOCUMENTS UAW GAVE TO FEDS IN CORRUPTION PROBE
General Motors Co. is demanding to see the 1.9 million documents the United Auto Workers has supplied to federal investigators amid a years-long corruption probe, along with internal communications involving collective bargaining, as the Detroit automaker pursues a racketeering case against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV. The details come as the UAW on Thursday joined Fiat Chrysler in requesting a judge delay a subpoena demanding a "staggering" amount of documents concerning GM's allegations that a bribery conspiracy between the Italian American automaker and UAW officials corrupted three rounds of labor bargaining.
Source: The Detroit News
ASTON MARTIN SELLS STAKE TO CANADIAN BILLIONAIRE LAWRENCE STROLL
Aston Martin secured a deal to sell a minority stake in the struggling company to billionaire Lawrence Stroll, providing the luxury U.K. automaker with much needed funds to build a new SUV. A consortium led by Stroll will pay 182 million pounds ($239 million) for a 16.7 percent stake, while a subsequent rights issue supported by major shareholders including Stroll will raise a further 318 million pounds, Aston Martin said in a statement on Friday. Stroll's stake could rise to 20 percent upon completion of the rights issue. The move will "immediately improve liquidity and reduce leverage," Aston Martin said. "This follows the disappointing performance of the business through 2019."
Stroll, a Canadian investor who owns a Formula One racing team, won the backing of Aston Martin's board after rival suitor Geely cooled on the idea of investing in the sports-car maker. Geely, which controls Sweden's Volvo, Britain's Lotus Cars and holds a stake in Daimler, had been interested in a technology-sharing deal, sources said. Geely wanted to instigate more fundamental change than the plan outlined on Friday, a person familiar with the talks told Reuters. Aston Martin is mainly owned by Italian and Kuwaiti private equity groups. The fundraising plan hands the automaker a lifeline that will ease funding strains as it prepares to start building its first SUV, the DBX. The DBX is meant to give the automaker a profit generator it can sell in higher volumes than the stylish sports cars made famous in the James Bond movies. Nevertheless, the cash influx dilutes some of the existing shareholders, punctuating the disappointing turn of events since Aston Martin went public in October 2018. At the time, the company was touting a turnaround under CEO Andy Palmer, a former Nissan executive, helped by private-equity backing. Its share price has plummeted since the company was floated.
Aston Martin this month warned its 2019 profit would almost halve as tough trading conditions continued through its peak month of December. Wholesale volumes fell 7 percent last year as the automaker sought to reduce dealer stocks.
On Friday, Palmer said Stroll and the consortium he will lead bring several benefits to the automaker. "He brings with him his experiences and access to his Formula 1 team," Palmer said. "We have talked a lot in the past few years about wanting to be clearly rooted in luxury and obviously Mr. Stroll knows an awful lot about luxury," Palmer said.
Stroll, 60, who owns a fleet of vintage Ferraris, made his fortune building and selling two fashion brands. He and his partner, Silas Chou, took Tommy Hilfiger public in 1992 and later sold it to private-equity buyers. In 2011, they listed the Michael Kors brand, eight years after acquiring majority control. He led a group of investors who took over the Force India Formula One team after it was forced into administration. Renamed Racing Point, it is based in the U.K. and gets its engines from Mercedes-Benz. Stroll's son Lance is a driver for the team. Under Friday's agreement, Stroll's Racing Point will become the Aston Martin F1 works team from the 2021 season. Stroll will join Aston Martin's board as executive chairman, replacing Penny Hughes, who will step down.
The consortium that is led by Stroll is likely to include several other people such as JCB Chairman Anthony Bamford, entrepreneur Andre Desmarais, Michael de Picciotto, telecoms investor John McCaw and Hong Kong fashion sector investor Silas Chou, all of whom have worked with Stroll before. "I look forward to working with the board and management team to continue to invest in the development of new models and technologies and to start to rebalance production to prioritize demand over supply," Stroll said.
Aston Martin shares surged as much as 30 percent after the announcement.
Source: Bloomberg & Reuters
BMW DELAYS MINI
BMW has delayed the development of its next generation Mini as it seeks to cut costs and as uncertainty over Britain's trade relations with the European Union make long-term investment decisions harder. The German carmaker has developed three generations of the Mini since buying the marque from Rover Group in 1994, keeping each vehicle in the market for about six years. The current Mini hatch model, which has been on the market since 2014, is built on the company's technological platform called UKL1.
Toyota Mtor Corp.'s luxury Lexus brand posted a double-digit sales gain last year, taking its 30th anniversary in stride as strength in China and Europe offset stalled demand in North America. The brand, which debuted in 1989, grew 10% to 765,330 vehicles worldwide, Toyota said in a statement Monday, powered by strong sales of its UX subcompact crossover and best-selling RX sports utility vehicle.
DIGITAL USED VEHICLE SALES PUTTING THE BYTE ON DEALERSHIPS
What this all comes down to is a growing number of consumers who would very much like to purchase an SUV, pickup truck or crossover but in a world where average transaction prices creep closer to $40,000, can't afford them. They're not only looking for less expensive alternatives but less stressful ways of making those purchases. While digital used vehicle research and purchases are increasing, the McKinsey research is explicit in pointing out traditional dealerships check several important boxes for a great number of shoppers.
Ferrari NV boosted its 2020 forecasts for sales and earnings after the supercar maker posted record deliveries, a sign that Chief Executive Officer Louis Camilleri's model-range renewal is bearing fruit. The Italian company launched a record five new models in 2019, including the Roma Coupe with a mid-front-mounted 620-horsepower engine, which helped the Maranello-based manufacturer boost sales over 10,000 units a year for the first time.
FORD SHARES DIVE - CARMAKER POSTS Q4 LOSS, DISAPPOINTING 2020 OUTLOOK
Investors sent Ford Motor Co shares skidding on Tuesday after the company delivered a weaker-than-expected 2020 forecast, warning of higher warranty costs, lower profits at its credit arm and continued investments in future technology such as self-driving cars. Shares in the No. 2 U.S. automaker plunged 9.4% in after-hours trading, shaving more than $3 billion off the company's value. In comparison, electric carmaker Tesla closed up nearly 14%, pushing its market cap to $160 billion, more than four times the size of Ford's $36.4 billion.
GM SEES WEAK AUTO MARKETS MOSTLY WIPING OUT GAINS FROM NEW SUVS
General Motors Co. forecast that earnings will be flat this year as unfriendly market conditions in the U.S. and China offset the benefits of new truck and big SUV models. Adjusted earnings per share will be roughly level with 2019 when excluding the effects of last year's 40-day labor strike and other factors. GM's projection for a range of $5.75 to $6.25 a share compares with analysts' average estimate for $6.24. The walkout that ended in October erased some $3.6 billion in profit and resulted in a close to break-even fourth quarter.
FORD SAYS Cdn. AGENCY INVESTIGATING EMISSIONS CERTIFICATION PROCESS
Ford Motor Co. said Wednesday Canadian officials have opened a preliminary investigation into the automaker's emissions certification process. Ford said Environment and Climate Change Canada has opened a probe into the matter after the automaker disclosed early last year that the U.S. Justice Department had opened a criminal investigation into the issue.
In February 2019, Ford disclosed an issue with emissions to the EPA and California regulators. Ford hired an outside law firm and experts to investigate its vehicle fuel economy and testing procedures after employees raised concerns about analytical modeling that is part of its fuel economy and emissions compliance process. Ford did not immediately comment on the status of its investigation of its U.S. emissions certification process. Ford has said the "potential concern" does not involve the use of defeat devices. Environment Canada also did not immediately comment.
The company said Wednesday in its release it has notified a "number of other state and federal agencies" about the issue and continues "to cooperate fully with these government agencies."
In April, Reuters reported Ford had held meetings with the California Air Resources Board and EPA and turned over documents related to its review and had submitted a testing plan that has been approved by regulators, citing a person briefed on the matter. Ford potentially faces significant financial penalties as regulators have taken a tough line on emissions issues. Ford has said it does not know whether it would have to correct data provided to regulators or consumers.
U.S. and California regulators have been cracking down on automakers for emissions cheating following revelations in 2015 that German automaker Volkswagen Group had used defeat devices to make models equipped with diesel engines appear to comply with emissions standards when they emitted far more pollution than allowed in real-world driving. In January 2019, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles agreed to an $800 million settlement to resolve claims by the U.S. Justice Department and the state of California that it used illegal software to produce false results on diesel-emissions tests. A criminal investigation is pending.
BBVA: EXPECT 5 MILLION LEASE RETURNS ANNUALLY FOR NEXT 3 YEARS
Used-vehicle sales, which various analysts have predicted to either decline slightly or remain steady, should remain north of 39 million units this year and continue to be a bright spot for dealers. And among the tailwinds pushing the used-car sales market, along with credit access and pricey new vehicles, says BBVA, is what the financial institution calls a "robust supply" of vehicles coming off lease. Citing its own research and Bloomberg, BBVA Research projects in its latest U.S. Auto Sales Chartbook that off-lease return and supply will reach 5.34 million units this year.
Source: Auto Remarketing
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