News Archive


Alibaba aims to launch share sale in early September: source


HONG KONG (Reuters) – Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is planning to launch its New York stock market debut in the week of Sept. 8, a person briefed on the matter told Reuters on Saturday.

The much-anticipated sale or initial public offering (IPO) could raise more than $20 billion, making it the biggest technology listing in the United States.

The company is still awaiting final approval from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to kick-off the listing, the person said, adding that the date was still a moving target.

The source declined to be identified as the information is not public.

The IPO ‘roadshow’ – when a company meets with potential investors – had previously been expected to be launched this coming week, with pricing of the offer set for as early as Sept. 15, the New York Times earlier reported. Pricing of the shares is now more likely to come later in that week, the paper said.

An external spokeswoman for Alibaba in Hong Kong declined to comment on the share sale plans when contacted by Reuters on Saturday.

Separately, The Wall Street Journal, citing a person familiar with the deal, said that Alibaba expected talks with the SEC to wrap up next week.

(Reporting by Elzio Barreto and Denny Thomas; Editing by Ian Geoghegan and Jane Merriman)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/V2sKSKDsFK4/story01.htm

Fiat-Chrysler sees New York stock market listing on October 13


RIMINI Italy (Reuters) – Fiat-Chrysler aims to list shares in the newly merged carmaker in New York on Oct. 13, Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said on Saturday, adding that a decision on any capital increase would be made at the end of that month.

He was speaking a day after the merger between Fiat and its U.S unit Chrysler cleared its last remaining hurdle.

Fiat bought out Chrysler at the start of 2014 and both operate as one firm. Marchionne wants to incorporate the two into Dutch-registered entity Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), paving the way for the U.S. listing he says is needed to help finance a 48-billion euro ($64 billion) five-year growth plan.

“The most likely date for the listing in the U.S. is October 13,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting in Rimini.

Marchionne is counting on the merger and the listing to help pay for a relaunch of its Alfa Romeo and Maserati brands, export Jeeps globally, and take all three to fast-growing Asian markets, where the group is currently weak.

Marchionne said the five-year business plan for the world’s No. 7 auto group presented in May did not envisage a cash call.

“But all decision on any capital increase will be taken by the board of FCA at the end of October,” he said. He also confirmed the group’s full-year guidance for 2014, adding the U.S. market was going “incredibly well.”

Targets to grow net profit five-fold and sales by 60 percent within five years look ambitious, some analysts say, arguing that the company will have to raise capital to achieve them.

Fiat had 18.5 billion euros of cash at end-June, but almost 32 billion in debt. Its financing costs are high and margins are weakening.

Fiat had so far ruled out asset sales and a share issue, but may go for a mandatory convertible bond. Marchionne had previously said any decision on financing would only be taken after FCA was created.

The merger plan could have failed if the carmaker had been asked to pay more than 500 million euros ($658 million) to dissenting investors who tendered their shares, exercising a legal right triggered by Fiat’s decision to move its registered offices away from Italy.

Fiat said on Friday it was finishing a count of shares for which cash exit rights had been validly exercised, but it could already say that the 500 million euro limit would not be exceeded, based on data calculated so far.

It plans to publish the final count by Sept. 4.

(Writing by Silvia Aloisi, editing by Louise Heavens)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/ue-hmEoGAsI/story01.htm

Fiat-Chrysler CEO says shareholders backing of merger is ‘huge step ahead’


RIMINI Italy (Reuters) – The fact that most Fiat shareholders chose not to exercise an option that could derail a merger with its U.S. unit Chrysler is a “huge step ahead” for the car maker, Fiat and Chrysler Sergio Marchionne said on Saturday.

Fiat signaled on Friday the merger would go ahead as not enough dissenting shareholders had decided to tender their shares for the tie-up to fail.

Marchionne also reiterated the carmaker had no plans to close any of its plants in Italy.

(Reporting by Paolo Biondi, writing by Silvia Aloisi)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/p5yeBXqAy3s/story01.htm

China graft watchdog probes another executive at Chinese car maker


BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s anti-graft watchdog has said it is investigating a former senior executive at FAW Group Corp. for corruption, the latest target in a widening probe against the company.

State-owned FAW has a joint venture with Volkswagen AG. The joint venture is one of the two car-making ventures the German automaker has in China.

An Dewu, FAW’s former deputy general manager, was investigated for “suspected serious violations of the law”, the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s discipline watchdog said late on Friday.

The brief report did not give any details of the investigation. In China, the term “serious violations of the law” can be used to denote corruption. It was not possible to contact An or any of his representatives.

Officials at FAW could not be reached for comment. Li Pengcheng, a spokesman for FAW-Volkswagen, said he “does not know” anything about the investigation and referred all queries to FAW.

The investigation into An was announced several days after China’s corruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, said it was investigating another former and one current executive at the company for “seriously violating the law”.

Volkswagen’s luxury brand Audi and other foreign brands like Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz and Fiat SpA’s Chrysler have been under investigation in China over their pricing practices as Beijing steps up enforcement of its anti-monopoly laws.

Earlier this month, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China’s price regulator, said it would punish Audi and Chrysler for monopoly practices.

It was not immediately clear if the two probes were related.

Separately, the party’s corruption watchdog said late on Friday it is also investigating Ren Runhou, the vice governor of northern Shanxi province, for “suspected serious violations of the law”. Ren is the latest target amid an intensifying crackdown on graft in the province.

President Xi Jinping has said endemic corruption threatens the Communist Party’s very survival and has vowed to go after high-flying “tigers” as well as lowly “flies”.

(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Paul Tait)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/uUPq51UCN5M/story01.htm

Indian investigators drop coal scam case against billionaire Birla


NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has closed a coal scam case against billionaire Kumar Mangalam Birla and a former top bureaucrat that emerged in 2012 after an auditor’s report on revenue loss to the exchequer from allocations of coal blocks.

The CBI filed the case against Birla and former Coal Secretary P.C. Parakh last year in relation to a block allocated in 2005 to Hindalco Industries, part of the $40 billion Aditya Birla Group led by Kumar Mangalam Birla.

“The evidence collected during investigation did not substantiate the allegations leveled against the persons named in the FIR (first information report filed in the case),” the CBI said in a statement late on Friday.

India’s federal auditor had alleged that the government’s allocation of coal blocks may have cost the exchequer revenues of about $33 billion, although industry watchers and the previous government have cast doubts on the figure. Indian media has dubbed the scandal “coalgate”.

Though the CBI has dropped the name of Birla, the Supreme Court of India this week ruled that allocations of coal blocks since 1993 were illegal. That would include blocks awarded to firms including Hindalco and Jindal Steel and Power Ltd.

The court will hold a further hearing on Monday, after which it will decide whether to cancel the allocations or impose some sort of penalty.

(Reporting by Krishna N Das; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/wMEfopcPz8M/story01.htm

China graft watchdog probes another exec at Volkswagen JV


BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s anti-graft watchdog has said it is investigating a former senior executive at Volkswagen AG’s Chinese venture, FAW-Volkswagen Automotive Co Ltd, for corruption, the latest target in a widening probe against the company.

An Dewu, FAW’s former deputy general manager, was investigated for “suspected serious violations of the law”, the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s discipline watchdog said late on Friday.

The brief report did not give any details of the investigation. In China, the term “serious violations of the law” can be used to denote corruption. It was not possible to contact An or any of his representatives.

Officials at Volkswagen in China and FAW could not be reached for comment. Li Pengcheng, a spokesman for FAW-Volkswagen, said he “does not know” anything about the investigation and referred all queries to FAW.

The investigation into An was announced several days after China’s corruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, said it was investigating another former and one current executive at the company for “seriously violating the law”.

The joint venture with state-owned FAW is one of the two car-making ventures the German automaker has in China.

Volkswagen’s luxury brand Audi and other foreign brands like Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz and Fiat SpA’s Chrysler have been under investigation in China over their pricing practices as Beijing steps up enforcement of its anti-monopoly laws.

Earlier this month, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China’s price regulator, said it would punish Audi and Chrysler for monopoly practices.

It was not immediately clear if the two probes were related.

Separately, the party’s corruption watchdog said late on Friday it is also investigating Ren Runhou, the vice governor of northern Shanxi province, for “suspected serious violations of the law”. Ren is the latest target amid an intensifying crackdown on graft in the province.

President Xi Jinping has said endemic corruption threatens the Communist Party’s very survival and has vowed to go after high-flying “tigers” as well as lowly “flies”.

(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Paul Tait)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/uUPq51UCN5M/story01.htm

U.S. auto sales seen ending summer without a sizzle


DETROIT (Reuters) – U.S. auto industry sales in August will be about even with a year ago, not quite ending the summer in a sizzling fashion but still warm enough to continue the recovery from a recession now five years in the rear-view mirror.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect monthly sales of about 1.5 million new vehicles when automakers report them on Wednesday, with a seasonally adjusted annualized sales rate of 16.6 million. It should be the sixth straight month showing an annualized rate above 16 million, a level reached only twice in 2013.

Auto sales are a closely watched indicator of consumer demand, particularly for big-ticket items, and the industry accounts for roughly one-fifth of all U.S. retail spending.

While sales would be flat with last August, the annualized rate for the month would be up from 16.1 million a year ago because there was one less selling day this year.

Profit-eroding incentives remained high in August, as dealers trimmed prices to help clear lots and make way for 2015 models. Industry research firm Kelley Blue Book said incentives, including rebates and cash-back offers, were on track to end the month between $2,700 to $3,000 per vehicle.

The biggest discounts were on mid-size sedans, which are staying on dealer lots more than 80 days before being sold, compared to 47 days for small crossover sport utility vehicles, Kelley Blue Book said.

While auto sales have strengthened to nearly pre-recession levels, there is concern among some analysts that longer-term loans and increased lending to subprime buyers may be inflating sales. Some new vehicles are being sold with 7-year loans, which could cause owners to hold onto their cars longer, because equity is not established until late in the pay-off cycle.

Chrysler Group LLC, a unit of Fiat SpA (FIA.MI), and Nissan Motor Co (7201.T) once again gained market share in August to the detriment of sales leaders General Motors Co (GM.N), Ford Motor Co (F.N) and Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T), according to analysts.

Eight analysts polled by Reuters expect Chrysler to show a monthly sales gain of 13.5 percent, while Nissan is seen ending August up 2.4 percent. Among major automakers, the two are expected to be the only winners.

Michelle Krebs, an analyst with Kelley Blue Book, expects Chrysler will only enjoy a few more months of double-digit gains. This year’s gains by Chrysler have been helped by the fact that sales of Jeep Cherokee SUVs were compared to low sales of a model it replaced in late 2013, the Jeep Liberty.

The Reuters poll showed monthly sales declines for GM, down 1.2 percent, Ford, down 1.4 percent, Toyota, down 2.3 percent and Honda Motor Co (7267.T) off 7.9 percent. Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS) and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp (000270.KS) are seen down a combined 0.8 percent.

(Additional reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Tom Brown)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/Px5HDMUKZOI/story01.htm

U.S. coal stocks could gain on Russia tension


NEW YORK (Reuters) – Beaten-down U.S. coal company stocks may receive a lift in coming weeks if deteriorating relations between Russia and the West push President Vladimir Putin to shut off Europe’s natural gas supply.

The crisis in eastern Ukraine has emboldened Europe and the United States to impose broad sanctions on Russia. But Europe finds itself in a precarious position, with almost a third of the natural gas the continent consumed in 2013 flowing from Russia, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Europe’s heightened concerns about energy security could provide an opportunity for U.S. coal companies, which have been hurt by declining domestic consumption, to step in and fill the gap as winter approaches. More than half of U.S. coal exports already reach Europe.

“Export demand will certainly increase, with the situation in Russia and Ukraine having a big impact on Europe with respect to natural gas,” said Ernie Cecilia, chief investment officer at Bryn Mawr Trust in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.

“In the short term, there’s no question that a rise in export demand will be helpful to coal stocks.”

Yet significant headwinds at home would likely make any comeback in coal companies’ stocks short-lived and hard-fought.

Even as the broader stock market has rebounded from the lows seen during the financial crisis, coal stocks have languished.

Shares of Peabody Energy Corp (BTU.N), the biggest U.S. producer of coal, have declined more than 27 percent since March 9, 2009, when the SP 500 hit its financial crisis nadir, closing at 676.53 points.

While the SP has nearly tripled from that day, the Dow Jones U.S. Coal Index .DJUSCL has lost 7.7 percent in that time. The last three-plus years have been particularly bad for the coal index, which has lost nearly three-quarters of its value since April 2011.

The index includes just three stocks – Peabody, CONSOL Energy (CNX.N) and Alpha Natural Resources (ANR.N). CONSOL, which is more diversified and derives around a third of its revenue from natural gas, is the only one up on the year so far. It has gained 5.3 percent, but still lags the wider SP 500 .SPX, which is up more than 8 percent.

Peabody is down around 20 percent this year, and Alpha Natural has swooned 45 percent.

CONSOL is the only one of the three expected to show a profit in the next two years, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine, which tracks corporate profit estimates.

Competition with natural gas, the emergence of renewable energy technologies and new environmental regulations contributed to a fall in U.S. coal production in 2013 to the lowest levels since 1993, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Domestic coal consumption is slated to decline by 2.7 percent in 2015, as federal standards requiring power plants to reduce air pollution expedites a shuttering of coal power plants. U.S. coal consumption peaked in 2007 and has declined nearly 37 percent since then, EIA data shows.

That may temper any gains in coal stocks, both in scale and duration.

“I just don’t know if any of this – the situation in Russia and Ukraine – would be sufficient enough to overcome significant pressure in the domestic market,” Cecilia said.

Energy stocks have overall remained favorable for investors, but not necessarily those with money in coal. The SP 500 energy sector .SPNY is outperforming the wider index with a 9.3 percent gain so far in 2014.

“We look at the domestic energy landscape, and the abundant supply of natural gas has impacted coal dramatically,” said Timothy Rooney, vice president of product management and research for Nationwide Funds.

“Generally, energy in the U.S. is a good long term investment, but that’s really being driven by oil and natural gas.”

(Reporting by Akane Otani; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/G_LuY2s9t7Q/story01.htm

Exclusive: Bitcoin promoter to plead guilty to unlicensed money transmission


NEW YORK (Reuters) – Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem has reached a plea deal to resolve U.S. charges that he engaged in a scheme to sell over $1 million of the digital currency to users of illicit online marketplace Silk Road, his lawyer said Friday.

Shrem, the former vice chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation, will plead guilty next Thursday in New York federal court to unlicensed money transmission, Marc Agnifilo, his lawyer told Reuters in an email.

Prosecutors had previously charged Shrem with operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, money laundering conspiracy and failing to file suspicious activity reports with government banking authorities.

Federal authorities shut down Silk Road last year, though a new Internet marketplace under the same name was launched in November. Prosecutors contend Silk Road enabled users to buy and sell illegal drugs and other illicit goods and services.

Soon after his arrest in January, Shrem stepped down from his role at the Bitcoin Foundation, a well-known trade group. He was previously CEO of BitInstant, a bitcoin exchange company.

A notice of a plea hearing in the case of Shrem and his co-defendant, Robert Faiella, was included in a calendar distributed by court officials earlier Friday.

It was not immediately clear if Faiella, a Florida man who faced similar charges as Shrem, will plead guilty or move ahead with trial Sept. 22. He has previously pleaded not guilty.

But Faiella, 54, is expected to fly to New York for the hearing, according to a court order filed Friday.

A lawyer for Faiella did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara declined comment.

Prosecutors are pursuing a separate case against Ross William Ulbricht, the man accused of creating and operating Silk Road under the name “Dread Pirate Roberts.” He is set to face trial Nov. 3.

The case is U.S. v. Faiella, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 14-cr-00243.

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/hDADyO3YgKQ/story01.htm