News Archive

Southwest cancels about 40 flights for engine inspections

(Reuters) – Southwest Airlines Co (LUV.N) said it canceled about 40 flights on Sunday, or 1 percent of those scheduled, as it inspects engines after last week’s deadly accident in Pennsylvania.

FILE PHOTO – Emergency personnel monitor the damaged engine of Southwest Airlines Flight 1380, which diverted to the Philadelphia International Airport after the airline crew reported damage to one of the aircraft’s engines, on a runway in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania U.S. April 17, 2018. REUTERS/Mark Makela

The airline said the cancellations were the result of the company’s announcement on Tuesday that it would over the next 30 days begin inspecting other CFM56-7B engines, manufactured by CFM International, the engine involved in last week’s accident.  

At the time, Southwest said those inspections would cause some impact on operations, but it has not said how many engines it planned to inspect.

On Friday, the Federal Aviation Administration and European airline regulators ordered emergency inspections within 20 days of nearly 700 aircraft engines similar to the one involved in a fatal Southwest engine blowout earlier this week.

The engine explosion on Southwest Flight 1380 on Tuesday was caused by a fan blade that broke off, the FAA said. The blast shattered a window, killing a passenger, in the first U.S. passenger airline fatality since 2009.

Southwest has declined to answer questions about its CFM56-7B inspection program, including how many engines were inspected prior to the accident and if the engine that failed had been inspected.

A Southwest flight in August 2016 with a CFM56-7B engine made a safe emergency landing in Pensacola, Florida, after a fan blade separated and debris ripped a hole above the left wing.

After that incident, the European agency gave airlines nine months to check engines. U.S. regulators were still were considering what to do after proposing some checks.

Reporting by Dave Shepardson; Additional reporting by Nick Brown; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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Fresenius pulls out of Akorn takeover over data integrity

BERLIN (Reuters) – German healthcare group Fresenius SE (FREG.DE) said it had decided to pull out of its planned acquisition of Akorn (AKRX.O) after it found data integrity breaches at the U.S. generic drug maker.

Fresenius headquarters in Bad Homburg near Frankfurt, Germany, February 27, 2018. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

Fresenius agreed last year to buy the U.S. maker of liquid generic drugs for about $4.75 billion, but said in February it could terminate the deal if its own independent probe found Akorn breached U.S. Food and Drug Administration data integrity requirements related to product development.

The German company said on Sunday its investigation had found “material breaches” of FDA data integrity requirements relating to Akorn’s operations.

“Fresenius offered to delay its decision in order to allow Akorn additional opportunity to complete its own investigation and present any information it wished Fresenius to consider, but Akorn has declined that offer,” it said in a statement.

A spokesman for Fresenius said Akorn had violated other requirements of the acquisition agreement, including its obligation to operate the business in the ordinary course after signing of the agreement, and it had not given Fresenius reasonable access to company information.

Akorn said it disagreed with Fresenius’ accusations and planned to enforce its rights and Fresenius’ obligations under the merger agreement.

“The previously disclosed ongoing investigation, which is not a condition to closing, has not found any facts that would result in a material adverse effect on Akorn’s business and therefore there is no basis to terminate the transaction,” it said in a statement.

Fresenius had hoped the acquisition of Akorn would help it offer a wider choice of drugs to hospitals and pharmacies.

Fresenius confirmed its guidance for adjusted group sales to rise between five and eight percent in constant currencies in 2018, with adjusted net income expected to increase between six and nine percent.

Earlier on Sunday, subsidiary Fresenius Medical Care (FMC) (FMEG.DE), cut its 2018 sales target.

Fresenius is due to report full first quarter results on May 3.

Reporting by Caroline Copley, Editing by Victoria Bryan, William Maclean

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Amazon to double down on groceries; foray deeper into fresh produce in India

BENGALURU (Reuters) – Inc expects groceries and household products to account for over half of its business in India in the next five years, as it moves to broaden offerings in the segment and foray into areas such as fresh produce.

Amit Agarwal, the India head of Amazon, said in an interview on Friday that groceries and goods such as creams, soaps and cleaning products, were already the largest product category on Amazon in terms of number of units sold in India.

“I would not speculate on when we would launch AmazonFresh but, absolutely, if you ask me the next five years of vision – from your avocados to your potatoes, and your meat to your ice cream – we’ll deliver everything to you in two hours,” he said.

AmazonFresh, which launched more than a decade ago in the U.S. market, is the company’s flagship fresh grocery delivery service. In India, Amazon currently offers some groceries via a service named Pantry. It has also tied up with local vendors in four cities for Amazon Now, which promises two-hour deliveries.

“Probably in the next five years groceries and consumables would be more than half of our business,” he told Reuters.

Agarwal said Amazon had already started experimenting with a few fresh groceries in India, already home to its largest active customer base outside of the United States.

India’s e-commerce market is tipped to grow to $200 billion in a decade, according to Morgan Stanley, as cheap mobile data makes online shopping increasingly accessible.

And Amazon, which already has over 100 million registered users in India, is looking to cash-in on the opportunity.

“We want to get the next hundred million customers shopping with us,” said Agarwal, adding that Amazon plans to woo new clients with product exchange and staggered payment offerings.


With almost 500 million Indians using the Internet in 2018, India, Asia’s No. 3 economy, is a huge e-commerce battleground.

Retail giant Walmart is inching closer to here buying a controlling stake into home-grown e-commerce player Flipkart, which is already backed by big name investors like SoftBank, Tencent and Microsoft. [nL3N1RX5C6]

“I feel extremely excited that e-commerce is attracting so much funding,” Agarwal said. “Otherwise, we’d have been wrong in going about it in such as big way.”

Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos told shareholders in a letter last week that Amazon India is the fastest growing marketplace in the country. He said Amazon added more members to its Prime loyalty program in India in its first year, than any previous geography in Amazon’s history.

Still profitability in India is years away for Amazon, admits Agarwal, as logistics, payments and other infrastructure needed to address the long-term opportunity are still being built.

He said the $5 billion Bezos had committed (here) to investing in India was just a signal of intent, and the company was ready to invest significantly more to achieve its goals.

“Our ambition is so big it would be futile for us to think about anything other than to ensure we keep investing to bring the next 100 million customers online,” Agarwal said.

Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal and Euan Rocha; editing by David Evans

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HNA cuts stake in Deutsche Bank: filing

BERLIN (Reuters) – Chinese conglomerate HNA has cut its stake in Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) to 7.9 percent, according to a U.S. regulatory filing.

FILE PHOTO: A HNA Group logo is seen on the building of HNA Plaza in Beijing, China February 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

HNA, the aviation-to-financial services conglomerate, has been selling overseas real estate and some of its biggest financial and strategic investments following a $50 billion acquisition spree over the past two years.

It had already reduced its stake in Deutsche Bank down to around 8.8 percent from roughly 10 percent in February.

HNA’s stake in Deutsche Bank is handled by asset manager C-Quadrat.

Reporting by Victoria Bryan; editing by David Evans

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China’s ZTE seeks resolution of U.S. export ban

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s ZTE (0763.HK) (000063.SZ) is seeking a resolution to a U.S. ban on selling it parts and software that it has said threatens its survival.

FILE PHOTO: A ZTE smart phone is pictured in this illustration taken April 17, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/Illustration/File Photo

ZTE “has learnt from its past experiences on export control compliance and attaches significant importance to the work on export control compliance,” the mobile phone and telecoms company said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

ZTE “is making active communications with relevant parties and seeking a solution to the U.S. export denial order,” it added in the statement.

U.S. authorities last week banned American companies from sales to ZTE for seven years, saying the Chinese company had broken a settlement agreement with repeated false statements – a move that threatens to cut off ZTE’s supply chain.

The action was sparked by ZTE’s violation of an agreement that was reached after it was caught illegally shipping U.S. goods to Iran.

ZTE said on Sunday it had set up a compliance management committee led by its chief executive officer.

It also said it had invested in export control compliance, provided compliance training to staff and cooperated with the work of independent compliance monitors, the company added.The U.S. Commerce Department has granted a request from ZTE to submit more evidence after the agency imposed the ban, a senior Commerce official said on Saturday.

Reporting by Twinnie Siu and Elias Glenn; Editing by Keith Weir

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Treasury chief may visit China as trade tensions simmer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Saturday he may travel to China, a move that could ease tensions between the world’s two largest economies, as international policymakers acknowledged Beijing needs to change its trade practices.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin speaks at a news conference during the IMF/World Bank spring meeting in Washington, U.S., April 21, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

The United States has threatened to impose tariffs on up to $150 billion of Chinese imports to try to force changes in Beijing’s industrial policies, which Washington says are aimed at acquiring American intellectual property.

Mnuchin told reporters he was continuing to have discussions with his Chinese counterparts to try to resolve the differences over trade, but said he may go to Beijing.

“A trip is under consideration,” Mnuchin said at a news conference during the International Monetary Fund and World Bank spring meetings in Washington.

“I am not going to make any comment on timing, nor do I have anything confirmed, but a trip is under consideration.”

Mnuchin also declined to say what he wants from a trade deal with China, adding, “If we have a deal, you’ll know what it looks like when we have it.”

China has threatened retaliation against U.S. exports if Washington pushes ahead with the tariffs. The row, which comes as the world economy records its strongest growth in years, cast a pall over the semi-annual gathering of the world’s finance officials.

IMF Managing Christine Lagarde warned this week that a U.S.-China trade war threatened to damage confidence, investment and growth. On Saturday, she told a news conference there would be no winners from such a conflict.

“It is important that as a global community we keep trade open, we ensure that we work within the multilateral system that we have to make sure if there are disputes, these disputes are resolved,” she said.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin speaks at a news conference during the IMF/World Bank spring meeting in Washington, U.S., April 21, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Mnuchin said he met China’s new central bank governor, Yi Gang, during the IMF and World Bank meetings and discussed the potential for China to open its markets to more foreign competition.

“I did meet with the Chinese here. The discussions were really more around the governor’s actions at the PBOC (People’s Bank of China) and certain actions they’ve announced in terms of opening some of their markets, which we very much encourage and appreciate.”

In a statement on Saturday to the International Monetary and Financial Committee, Yi said China would “vigorously” push forward the reform and opening of its financial sector, significantly relax market access restrictions, create a more attractive investment environment, strengthen the protection of intellectual properties and actively expand imports.

On Sunday, China’s commerce ministry said it would welcome U.S. officials to discuss trade and economic issues.

“The Chinese side has received information that the U.S. side hopes to come to Beijing to discuss economic and trade issues. China welcomes this,” the ministry said in a statement on its website.

Beijing announced on Wednesday that it would gradually eliminate ownership caps on foreign manufacturers of autos, aircraft and ships.

Regarding trade with Japan, Mnuchin said the Trump administration wants a bilateral trade agreement and has had discussions with Tokyo about such talks.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin speaks at a news conference during the IMF/World Bank spring meeting in Washington, U.S., April 21, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Japan wants the United States to rejoin the multilateral Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, as it fears opening talks for a bilateral free trade agreement could put it under pressure to open up politically sensitive markets like agriculture.


A year after U.S. President Donald Trump first rankled multilateral finance meetings with his “America First” trade agenda, some officials are starting to acknowledge he has changed the conversation on trade, even if they disagree with his tariff plans.

“No one can be in any doubt that the U.S. has a valid point about intellectual property theft” by China, British finance minister Philip Hammond said on Friday. “It’s been going on, on an industrial scale, over many years and we’ve been targets of it just as the U.S. has.”

At the same time, Hammond said using tariffs was the wrong way to settle trade disputes, and he was urging China to do more to open its markets to foreign competitors, particularly in services.

A senior Japanese government official drew a clear distinction between Japan’s trade issues with the United States and the U.S.-China dispute.

“It’s a separate issue,” the official said on condition of anonymity. “If Trump can help change China’s behavior, there is room for Japan to benefit.”

A European official at the meetings said policymakers were trying to reduce trade pressures during the talks, but added that they wanted to “make sure there is a level playing field on trade, that China is in the same framework that others share.”

Mnuchin said he was not trying to “recruit” allies to put pressure on China, but having discussions with other countries that have similar issues. “A lot of these issues are not unique to the United States.”

A number of officials expressed a desire for clarity on what the United States ultimately wants from China, and whether Trump will settle for lower Chinese auto tariffs, a short-term reduction in the U.S.-China trade deficit or hold out for fundamental changes in industrial policy.

“I hope it is a negotiating strategy. But they need to articulate actions to be taken,” said Robert Holleyman, a former deputy U.S. Trade Representative in the Obama administration.

Additional reporting by David Chance, Jan Strupczewski, Koh Gui Qing, Rodrigo Campos and Makini Brice, Gao Lianging in BEIJING; Writing by David Lawder; Editing by Paul Simao

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Newtrax breaks through with Gold Fields Down Under

Newtrax is an emerging IoT technology leader in the niche underground hard rock mine market.

It was selected by Gold Fields to provide a mine-wide asset tracking and proximity detection system at the Invincible gold mine, part of the company’s large St Ives camp near Kambalda in Western Australia.

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The sale is strategically important for Newtrax as it builds its presence outside the Americas. It faces stiff competition from domestic suppliers in key markets such as Australia.

In a press release, Newtrax said Invincible, which transitioned from surface to underground mining last year, was set to be Gold Fields’ “mine of the future, envisioned to be fully autonomous and remotely operated”.

“The Newtrax Personnel and Equipment Tracking solution, which runs on the patented MineHop network, will be deployed on all of St Ives Invincible underground equipment, and used by all underground miners,” the supplier said.

“The Newtrax Proximity Detection system utilises MineProx’s sub-GHz RF technology to create a peer-to-peer network of equipment and miners. Not only does it give out proximity warnings, the system also provides alerts to loader operators that a truck is on its way even before it appears in its line of sight, enabling operators to prepare for the truck and improve mine production.

“Gold Fields is actively investigating disruptive technology options across all of their mines.”


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World Bank shareholders back $13 billion capital increase

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The World Bank’s shareholders on Saturday endorsed a $13 billion paid-in capital increase that will boost China’s shareholding but bring lending reforms that will raise borrowing costs for higher-middle-income countries, including China.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim attends the Development Committee meeting during the IMF/World Bank spring meeting in Washington, U.S., April 21, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

The multilateral lender said the plan would allow it to lift the group’s overall lending to nearly $80 billion in fiscal 2019 from about $59 billion last year and to an average of about $100 billion annually through 2030.

“We have more than doubled the capacity of the World Bank Group,” the institution’s president, Jim Yong Kim, told reporters during the International Monetary Fund and World Bank spring meetings in Washington.

“It’s a huge vote of confidence, but the expectations are enormous.”

The hard-fought capital hike, initially resisted by the Trump administration, will add $7.5 billion paid-in capital for the World Bank’s main concessional lending arm, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Its commercial-terms lender, the International Finance Corp, will get $5.5 billion paid-in capital, and IBRD also will get a $52.6 billion increase in callable capital.


The bank agreed to change IBRD’s lending rules to charge higher rates for developing countries with higher incomes, to discourage them from excessive borrowing.

IBRD previously had charged similar rates for all borrowers, and U.S. Treasury officials had complained that it was lending too much to China and other bigger emerging markets.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said earlier on Saturday that he supported the capital hike due to the reforms that it included. The last World Bank capital increase came in 2010.

The current hike comes with cost controls and salary restrictions that will hold World Bank compensation to “a little below average” for the financial sector, Kim said.

He added that there was nothing specific in the agreement that targeted a China lending reduction, but he said lending to China was expected to gradually decline.

In 2015, China founded the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and lends heavily to developing countries through its government export banks.

The agreement will lift China’s shareholding in IBRD to 6.01 percent from 4.68 percent, while the U.S. share would dip slightly to 16.77 percent from 16.89 percent. Washington will still keep its veto power over IBRD and IFC decisions.

Kim said the increase was expected to become fully effective by the time the World Bank’s new fiscal year starts on July 1. Countries will have up to eight years to pay for the capital increase.

The U.S. contribution is subject to approval by Congress.

Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Paul Simao

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Japan may soften trade stance as U.S. keeps up pressure

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Despite calls to resist protectionism and for the United States to rejoin a multilateral trans-Pacific trade pact, Japan is gradually shifting gear to adjust to a trade environment shaken up by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Shipping containers are seen at a port in Tokyo, Japan, March 22, 2017. Picture taken March 22, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato – RC1836DD6DA0

Japan ramped up its warning over the damage protectionism could inflict on the global economy, with Finance Minister Taro Aso saying this week that inward-looking policies would destabilize markets and benefit no country.

Tokyo also sought to play down the rift emerging between Washington and its Group of 20 counterparts, with one official saying the proceedings on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings this week were “hardly contentious.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe failed to convince Trump to rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) pact when the two men met in Florida earlier this week. Trump has made it clear that he prefers a bilateral trade deal with Japan.

Although Japan still hopes Trump will change his mind on TPP, it is hedging its bets by being more open to other forms of trade deals with Washington, according to Japanese government officials with knowledge of the negotiations.

Bickering over whether to go with a multilateral or a bilateral framework could be counter-productive, one of the officials said.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin (L) waves next to Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso at the International Monetary Fund Governors family photo during the IMF/World Bank spring meeting in Washington, U.S., April 21, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

“Whether it’s TPP or a free trade agreement (FTA), you need to negotiate similar issues,” said a Japanese finance ministry official. “What’s important is what you want to achieve, be it TPP or FTA.”

That approach is a sea change from a few weeks ago, when officials had said Japan would never agree to open talks for a bilateral FTA.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin kept up the pressure on Japan, telling reporters on Saturday that Washington wants a bilateral trade agreement for “free, fair and reciprocal” trade.

For Japan, the priority is to meet Trump’s demand for Japan to reduce its huge trade surplus with the United States.

There are ways to do this besides opening up markets, such as promising to boost investment or buying more U.S. products, the officials said on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak publicly.

“It’s better to focus on ways to reduce the U.S. trade deficit with Japan” in trade negotiations with Washington, another official said. “Japan is already buying a lot of goods from the United States. It can promise to buy more.”

Additional reporting by Kaori Kaneko in Tokyo; Editing by Paul Simao

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