Norwegian cuts routes
Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA, which challenged British Airways PLC and other established rivals by launching transatlantic flights, yesterday said that it would end those services and seek government help. The budget airline, founded in 1993, has been forced to ground all but six of its 138 aircraft due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Norwegian will henceforth focus on its core Nordics business, operating a European short-haul network with narrow body aircraft,” the company said. It aims to cut its fleet to about 50 aircraft before expanding to about 70 next year, it said.
PSA sales plunge 27.8%
France’s PSA Group, which is in the process of merging with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, yesterday said that last year’s sales plunged 27.8 percent to 2.5 million vehicles as the COVID-19 pandemic shut down economies worldwide. Sales in Europe, its main market, were down 29.7 percent at 2.1 million, while in China, sales plunged nearly 58 percent to 45,965 vehicles, continuing a rapid decline from 740,000 in 2014. PSA, which groups the Peugeot, Citroen, DS, Opel and Vauxhall brands, said that the pandemic had boosted online sales and it expected to sell 100,000 vehicles this way this year, up from 40,000 last year.
Carrefour takeover chided
Minister of Labor, Employment and Economic Inclusion Elisabeth Borne yesterday said that she was against a takeover of French retailer Carrefour SA by Canadian convenience-store operator Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. “I am in favor of not questioning Carrefour’s current shareholding structure and allowing [the firm] to pursue its strategy,” Borne told Europe 1 radio. The Canadian firm’s near US$20 billion takeover approach for Carrefour — continental Europe’s largest retailer — on Wednesday ran into early opposition, with the French government raising concerns about food sovereignty and job security at one of the country’s largest employers.
Tesco posts 6.7% growth
Tesco PLC, the UK’s biggest retailer, yesterday followed rivals in reporting buoyant Christmas trading, as COVID-19 pandemic restrictions meant that people splashed out on celebrations at home. The group said that like-for-like sales growth in the UK was 6.7 percent in its third quarter to Nov. 28 last year, accelerating to 8.1 percent in the six weeks to Saturday last week. “We delivered a record Christmas across all of our formats and channels,” Tesco CEO Ken Murphy said. Tesco estimated that additional COVID-19 costs would be ￡810 million (US$1.1 billion) for this year and next year, up from ￡725 million forecast in October.
State Street snubs US ban
The worldwide largest exchange-traded fund (ETF) tracking the Hang Seng Index is to resume buying shares of Chinese companies included in a US investment ban, marking a U-turn by State Street Corp after it was criticized by former Hong Kong Monetary Authority chief executive Joseph Yam (任志剛). The US$13 billion Tracker Fund of Hong Kong, the city’s most actively traded ETF, said in a statement on Wednesday that it had reversed a decision announced just two days earlier to stop making new investments in firms included in the US ban. State Street said in a separate statement yesterday that the ban would not apply because the Tracker Fund and its manager, State Street Global Advisors Asia, are considered to be non-US entities.
From India to China to the US, automakers cannot make vehicles — not that no one wants any, but because a more than US$450 billion industry for semiconductors got blindsided. How did both sides end up here? Over the past two weeks, automakers across the world have bemoaned the shortage of chips. Germany’s Audi, owned by Volkswagen AG, would delay making some of its high-end vehicles because of what chief executive officer Markus Duesmann called a “massive” shortfall in an interview with the Financial Times. The firm has furloughed more than 10,000 workers and reined in production. That is a further blow
MOBILE SMART: The Dimensity 1200 is 22 percent better in terms of performance than its predecessor, and 25 percent more power-efficient, the handset chip designer said MediaTek Inc (聯發科) yesterday unveiled its premium 5G processors — the Dimensity 1200 and Dimensity 1100 — as it vies for a larger slice of the world’s rapidly growing 5G smartphone market. Manufactured using Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co’s (台積電) 6-nanometer process technology, the Dimensity 1200 processor performs 22 percent better than the previous generation Dimensity 1000+ processor, and is 25 percent more power-efficient, MediaTek said. Chinese smartphone brands Xiaomi Corp (小米) and Realme Mobile Telecommunications (Shenzhen) Co (銳爾覓移動通信) are to be the first adopters of the latest Dimensity chips, the companies said during a virtual media briefing. Xiaomi plans to equip its first
Answering to a reported request by Germany to help address a chip shortage in its auto industry, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) yesterday said that it was in talks with domestic chip suppliers. Foreign media over the weekend reported that German Minister of Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier had sent a request to Taipei to ask Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) to cooperate more closely with German automakers to provide microchips and sensors, to bridge a shortage that has emerged over the past few months. The MOEA said that it had not yet received the request and could therefore not elaborate
FOCUS ON FOUNDRIES: An analyst said that some investors would be disappointed because they were expecting a larger announcement of a partnership with TSMC Intel Corp’s incoming chief executive officer Pat Gelsinger on Thursday pledged to regain the company’s lead in chip manufacturing, countering growing calls from some investors to shed that part of its business. “I am confident that the majority of our 2023 products will be manufactured internally,” Gelsinger said. “At the same time, given the breadth of our portfolio, it’s likely that we will expand our use of external foundries for certain technologies and products.” He plans to provide more details after officially taking over the CEO role on Feb. 15, but Gelsinger was clear that Intel is sticking with its once mighty