EU probes antitrust suit
EU regulators stepped up their threat of antitrust action against Germany’s E.On. AG and France’s Gaz de France yesterday over allegations the two colluded to avoid selling natural gas in each other’s home markets. The European Commission sent the two companies an official complaint and asked them to explain their positions in answer to allegations the two shared out markets between them for gas piped from Russia on the MEGAL pipeline they jointly own. EU officials say this could have kept prices artificially high. If EU regulators conclude that the firms broke antitrust rules by making an illegal market-sharing agreement, they could face fines of up to 10 percent of annual global turnover for each year of the offense.
Starbucks Corp, the world’s largest coffeehouse chain, will open more than 150 outlets in European airports and train stations during the next three years with licensee SSP. The agreement awards licensing rights for its brand that are exclusive in Germany and other countries, Seattle-based Starbucks said yesterday in a Business Wire statement. SSP, a former unit of catering company Compass Group PLC, sells food at travel-linked sites in 29 nations under brands from Upper Crust to Burger King.
Caracas offers to mediate
The Venezuelan government is offering to help solve a dispute between a Coca-Cola bottler and former drivers who have halted distribution. Former contractors of the Mexican bottling company in Venezuela have been blocking four plants and 26 distribution centers since Friday. More than 11,000 ex-contractors say Coca-Cola FEMSA de Venezuela SA owes them money. The labor ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that it had offered to mediate. The government is stepping in just days after Venezuela’s Supreme Court said it had “exhausted” negotiation efforts. The company estimates it will lose US$15 million this year because of three protests by former contract workers.
US slowdown persists: Fed
US economic conditions are getting more sluggish with consumers squeezed by high energy costs and bank lending tighter, the US Federal Reserve said in its Beige Book report on Wednesday. The Fed’s latest survey of the US economy suggested price pressures are weighing on businesses amid surging food and energy costs. In the Beige Book survey of the 12 Fed regions,“economic activity remained generally weak” from late April through early last month. The latest report, to be used by the Fed at its monetary policy meeting later this month, continued a trend starting last October of each successive Beige Book showing a weakening economy.
Ford touts plug-in hybrids
A top Ford Motor Co executive urged the US government on Wednesday to make a greater commitment to the development of plug-in hybrids, warning that the US was falling behind in developing the technology critical to the advanced vehicles. Mark Fields, Ford’s president of the Americas, said at a conference on plug-in hybrids that bold incentives were needed to speed up the development of advanced batteries that are key to the vehicles. “The governments of Japan, China, Korea and India are all significantly funding the research development and deployment of plug-in hybrid vehicle technologies. This is a race we absolutely must win,” Fields said.
‘NO EQUILIBRIUM’: Taiwan’s increased defense spending is a good step, but it needs to do more to have the ability to deter aggression from China, a senior US official said The US plans to sell as many as seven major weapons systems — including mines, cruise missiles and drones — to Taiwan, four people familiar with the discussions said. Pursuing seven sales at once is a rare departure from years of precedent in which US military sales to Taiwan were spaced out and carefully calibrated to minimize tensions with Beijing. However, US President Donald Trump’s administration has this year become more aggressive with China, and the sales would land as relations between Beijing and Washington are at their lowest point in decades over accusations of spying, lingering trade tensions, disputes about the
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Several of the PLA fighter jets that crossed the median line of the Strait came within 68km of Hsinchu, drawing warnings from Taiwan, the ministry said At least 18 Chinese military aircraft yesterday flew into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on the second day of a US delegation’s visit, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that the military responded by deploying an air defense missile system to monitor their activities. A delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach on Thursday started a three-day visit to Taiwan. The ministry from Thursday started publicizing the actions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Taiwan’s ADIZ on its Web site and Twitter. According to ministry reports, 18 PLA aircraft
ON THEIR OWN: The KMT has decided not to participate as a party at this year’s forum, and if any members do go, they would not be representing the party, Alicia Wang said The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday announced that it would not send a delegation “as a political party” to this year’s Straits Forum, after a Chinese TV program described the planned visit to the annual meeting as “suing for peace.” The 12th forum is scheduled to open in Xiamen, China, on Saturday. On Tuesday last week, the KMT announced that former legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) would lead the party’s delegation to the forum, with KMT Secretary-General Lee Chien-lung (李乾龍) as deputy head. However, on Thursday last week, China Central Television’s (CCTV) Yangshipin (央視頻) program, hosted by Li Hong (李紅), included a headline
WORKING OVERTIME? NTU professor Lee Duu-jong denied that he had held a part-time position at a Chinese university or joined China’s Thousand Talents Program A candidate for the post of National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (NTUST) president yesterday dropped out of the race following a report questioning his links to Chinese academia and government programs. Lee Duu-jong (李篤中), a professor at National Taiwan University’s (NTU) chemical engineering department, was a member of China’s Changjiang Scholars’ Program in 2006 and was on the list of its Thousand Talents Program in 2017, a report by Chinese-language Mirror Media magazine said yesterday. The article said that Lee is suspected of having held a part-time job at the Harbin Institute of Technology in China and was the recipient