Zephyr investment sought
Airbus SE is seeking outside investment for its high-altitude surveillance and communications drone program Zephyr, in a bid to scale the business and accelerate its commercialization, it said yesterday . The solar-powered Zephyr drone is designed to linger at an altitude of about 21km for months at a time for surveillance or to provide a temporary boost to communications. The French aircraft maker has tapped Morgan Stanley to find external partnerships for the unit, which will operate under the brand name “Aalto,” a company spokesperson said. “Airbus plans to maintain ownership in Aalto, but will consider outside investment to help accelerate the company’s objectives,” the spokesman said.
Emirates upbeat on Australia
Gulf carrier Emirates plans to flying at pre-pandemic levels to Sydney and Melbourne and restart service to Christchurch via Sydney as travel demand soars. The Dubai-based airline is to increase daily services to Melbourne from two to three from Dubai via Singapore in March, Emirates said yesterday. A third direct service to Sydney will start in May. The carrier is to restart service to Christchurch via Sydney on March 26, offering a new path across the trans-Tasman route. Emirates said it will be operating 63 weekly services to Australia by mid-year with the capacity to transport more than 55,000 passengers per week to and from its major cities.
Amazon starts India services
Amazon.com Inc is beginning air freight services in India, expanding in Asia even as global online sales growth stalls following a pandemic-era boom. The e-commerce retail giant is to use cargo capacity in a Boeing Co 737-800 aircraft operated by partner Quikjet Cargo Airlines Pvt to begin shipments in Hyderabad, Bangalore, New Delhi and Mumbai, vice president of customer fulfillment Akhil Saxena said. Amazon is trying to sell unused space in its cargo jets. The Seattle-based e-commerce company has a fleet of more than 110 planes flying to more than 70 destinations worldwide, Saxena said.
Adani plans five-plus IPOs
Asia’s richest man, Gautam Adani, plans to sell shares to the public in at least five companies between 2026 and 2028, helping the port-to-power conglomerate improve debt ratios and broaden its investor base. “At least five units will be ready to go to the market in the next three to five years,” Adani Group chief financial officer Jugeshinder Singh said in an interview. He said Adani New Industries Ltd, Adani Airport Holdings Ltd, Adani Road Transport Ltd, AdaniConnex Pvt Ltd and the group’s metals and mining units would become independent units.
Morgan Stanley confident
Morgan Stanley economists are sticking by their call for a “softish” landing in the US and reckon even if there is a recession it will be milder than most. In a report to clients yesterday, economists led by Seth Carpenter said “it is far too soon to declare victory” given higher US Federal Reserve interest rates take time to bite, but the US labor market has proved stronger than anticipated and “inflation has turned down decisively,” they said. “We continue to think that even if our baseline view is wrong, any recession that might come this year would likely be shallow,” the economists wrote.
Gates backs cow burp buster
Bill Gates has joined a slew of billionaires investing in an Australian climate technology start-up that has plans to disrupt the methane-emitting animal agriculture industry with a lab-grown feed additive. Breakthrough Energy Ventures LLC, led by the Microsoft Corp founder, and Andrew Forrest’s Harvest Road Group took part in a US$12 million Phase 2 seed funding round for Rumin8 Pty, according to a statement yesterday. The Perth-based firm is developing a supplement for livestock made from synthetically replicated bromoform, the active ingredient found in a red seaweed. Giving cows seaweed in their feed could cut 98 percent of their methane emissions, according to one study. Livestock account for almost one third of man-made emissions of methane, the biggest contributor to global warming after carbon dioxide.
EG, Asda explore tie-up
EG Group is exploring a merger of its gasoline forecourts with Asda Group Ltd to create a business valued at more than ￡10 billion (US$12.4 billion), according to the The Times. The Issa brothers and London-based TDR Capital are considering the combination with the supermarket chain to help refinance ￡7 billion of debt due in 2025, the paper said. EG’s operating profit will barely cover its interest expenses, which are set to jump by about US$120 million to US$800 million this year, the Times said, citing Roberto Pozzi, an analyst at the credit-rating agency Moody’s. The merger would create a business with 581 supermarkets, 700 gas stations and more than 100 convenience stores. The competition regulator’s view is unclear at this stage, the Times reported.
Elliott takes Salesforce stake
Hedge fund Elliott Investment Management has taken a substantial activist stake in Salesforce Inc, making its move after layoffs and a deep stock swoon at the enterprise software giant. Elliott, which often pushes for strategic changes and seeks board representation, took a multibillion-dollar stake in the company, according to a person familiar with the matter. The San Francisco company’s market capitalization is now US$151 billion, down from a peak of more than US$300 billion in 2021. “Salesforce is one of the pre-eminent software companies in the world, and having followed the company for nearly two decades, we have developed a deep respect for Marc Benioff and what he has built,” Elliott managing partner Jesse Cohn said in a statement. “We look forward to working constructively with Salesforce to realize the value befitting a company of its stature.”
Mexico pact at ‘dead end’
Ecuadoran President Guillermo Lasso said on Sunday that negotiations for his nation to reach a free-trade accord with Mexico are at a “dead end.” Such a free-trade deal would have been a stepping stone for Ecuador to enter the broader Pacific Alliance, but Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador “has told me that the banana and shrimp producers in Mexico don’t want shrimp and plantains or bananas from Ecuador arriving there,” Lasso said. “We are at a dead end.” Ecuador warned last month that it would be “impossible” to sign a free-trade accord with Mexico unless a deal included shrimp and bananas, its major exports after petroleum. However, the failure to get a trade accord with Mexico “is not so serious” since Ecuador has expanded and intensified trade talks elsewhere, he said.
CONSIDERATIONS: The NSTC instructed the park to assist laid-off workers and urge companies to use furlough programs to ease the effects of falling demand Firms in the Hsinchu Science Park (新竹科學園區), which houses major tech companies, reported laying off 496 employees last month amid weakened global demand, Hsinchu Science Park Bureau director-general Wayne Wang (王永壯) said yesterday. Wang told a news conference that 48 companies in the science park laid off employees last month, including one hard disk supplier which let go 241 employees as part of a plant closure due to falling demand. Other companies reported sporadic layoffs as they adjusted to weakening demand, he said. Wang made the remarks after local media reported the layoffs over the weekend. Although the global economy is struggling with high
DEJA VU: Echoing the probe into real-estate giant Evergrande Group, the bank is under Beijing police scrutiny after last week, telling investors it is ‘severely insolvent’ Chinese authorities said they recently opened criminal investigations into Zhongzhi Enterprise Group Co’s (中植企業) money management business, days after the embattled shadow banking giant revealed a shortfall of US$36.4 billion in its balance sheet. Police in Beijing said in a statement on WeChat that they took “criminal mandatory measures” against multiple suspects, identifying one by their last name, Xie (解). They urged investors to report cases or provide leads to the authorities, including filing complaints online. Xie Zhikun (解直錕), the group’s founder, died in 2021, but several of his relatives are executives at the company. The statement did not elaborate on what
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and German Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck have promised to solve investment subsidy issues for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) and Intel Corp, despite the country’s budget woes. Uncertainty over the funding to TSMC and Intel has arisen after a ruling by the German Federal Constitutional Court, which cast doubt over subsidies for construction of local semiconductor chip plants. On Nov. 15, the court ruled that the German government’s decision last year to reallocate 60 billion euros (US$65.74 billion) of unused funding from COVID-19 pandemic support measures to its Climate and Transformation Fund
NEW TREAD: The Taiwanese shoe brand paired with TSMC to turn silicon waste into a circular economy good, following its success making shoes from coffee grounds Ccilu International Inc (馳綠國際), a Taiwan-based footwear brand, has become the first company in the world to turn silicon waste from contract chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) into eco-friendly shoes. Last year, the global footwear industry saw the first pair of pressure-relief slippers made from recycled silicon waste by Ccilu. The brand continued to unveil follow-up collections, including sports shoes and massage slippers made from the same materials. In an interview with CNA, Ccilu CEO Wilson Hsu (許佳鳴) recalled the company’s innovation of the first pair of slippers made from silicon waste after its silicon waste treatment partner, Semisils Applied Materials