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Rolls-Royce plans for take-off in flying taxi market

FARNBOROUGH, England (Reuters) – British jet engine maker Rolls-Royce has designed a propulsion system for a flying taxi and is starting a search for partners to help develop a project it hopes could take to the skies as soon as early next decade.

FILE PHOTO: PR agent Elsa Goette sits in a Rolls-Royce engine of an Airbus A350-900 of Ethiopian Airlines during a site-inspection at Fraport airport in Frankfurt, Germany, May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo

Rolls-Royce said on Sunday it had drawn up plans for an electric vertical take-off and landing (EVTOL) vehicle, or flying taxi, which could carry four to five people at speeds of up to 250 miles per hour for approximately 500 miles.

The company, which makes engines for planes, helicopters and ships, joins a variety of companies racing to develop flying taxis, which could revolutionize the way people travel.

Long the stuff of science fiction and futuristic cartoons such as “The Jetsons”, aviation and technology leaders are working to make electric-powered flying taxis a reality, including Airbus, U.S. ride- sharing firm Uber and a range of start-ups including one backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, called Kitty Hawk.

Rolls-Royce’s design will be showcased in digital form at the Farnborough Airshow, which starts on Monday. The company is looking for an airframer and a partner to provide aspects of the electrical system to help commercialize the project.

Rolls-Royce said in a statement it was well-placed to play a leading role in the “personal air mobility” market.

“The initial concept vehicle uses gas turbine technology to generate electricity to power six electric propulsors specially designed to have a low noise profile,” the company said, adding the design used its existing M250 gas turbine.

Rolls’s design would not require re-charging because the battery is charged by the gas turbine, it said, adding it could use existing infrastructure such as heliports and airports.

Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Mark Potter

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/-nniz5ynNpg/rolls-royce-plans-for-take-off-in-flying-taxi-market-idUSKBN1K50ID

Airbus in talks for new Viva Aerobus jet order: sources

FARNBOROUGH, England (Reuters) – Europe’s Airbus (AIR.PA) is in talks with Viva Aerobus for a repeat order of up to 40 of its A320neo-family jets, industry sources said on Sunday.

FILE PHOTO: A Viva Aerobus Airbus A320-200 aircraft prepares to land at Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City, Mexico January 10, 2018. Picture taken January 10, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril

The Mexican budget carrier has ordered 55 Airbus single-aisle aircraft of which 17 have so far been delivered.

An order for 40 aircraft would be worth some $4.4 billion at list prices, depending on the exact variant chosen.

Airbus declined to comment. The airline was not immediately available for comment.

Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Mark Potter

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AirAsia mulls dual Airbus jet order but how much will it pay?

FARNBOROUGH, England (Reuters) – AirAsia (AIRA.KL) is discussing the possible purchase of another 100 Airbus A321neo jets as the company’s chief executive officer, Malaysian entrepreneur Tony Fernandes, and Airbus go down to the wire in parallel negotiations for an expanded order for larger A330neo jets, industry sources said.

FILE PHOTO: Tony Fernandes, CEO of AirAsia, holds a media event in Bangkok, Thailand May 15, 2018. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun/File Photo

Fernandes may attend this week’s Farnborough Airshow where the two sides will attempt to end a rough patch in their relations and agree all or part of a complex package of wide-body and narrow-body jetliner orders, two sources said.

However, it remained unclear just how much fresh money the deal, if completed, would put in Airbus’ coffers as the low-cost carrier juggles existing orders and drives a tough bargain on prices and the size of deposits, one of the sources said.

Another said any deal could involve a significant number of conversions or “churn” between existing orders. AirAsia has ordered 600 jets, two thirds of which remain to be delivered.

Airbus declined comment. AirAsia could not be reached.

Two sources said AirAsia could place an order for up to 100 single-aisle A321neo jets worth $13 billion at list prices, as reported by Bloomberg News.

A third source suggested it could involve an upgrade from smaller models, which may trigger other orders. None of the sources, who are familiar with the matter, agreed to be quoted on confidential talks.

The range of options underscores the complexity of AirAsia’s portfolio as it expands. But despite the lure of a 100-plane order, all eyes are on whether AirAsia will confirm the A330neo, since there is no problem selling the smaller single-aisles.

AirAsia, Asia’s largest budget carrier, has been sending mixed signals for months about whether it will confirm its earlier deal for 66 of the upgraded A330neo – watched from afar by Boeing Co (BA.N), which hopes to replace the order with its 787 Dreamliner.

Delegates say Airbus needs a marketing lift for its A330neo and would relish bringing Fernandes to the widely publicized Farnborough Airshow to reconfirm and expand his order.

That’s because losing the A330neo’s biggest buyer could make bankers tighten their terms for financing the same plane for other airlines, and therefore hurt sales even more.

However, sources have said relations between the companies cooled following recent Airbus management changes.

An AirAsia order would signal that ties between Airbus and its biggest Asian customer have improved, though Airbus has signaled a drive to protect profit margins.

Financiers speculate AirAsia will push for discounts as high as 60 percent for the A321neo and two thirds for the A330neo. Standard industry discounts are closer to 50 percent.

Depending on negotiations, the amount of money handed over on day one alongside any new AirAsia order could be small.

“This deal is worthless in terms of (upfront) financial commitment,” the first source told Reuters.

Additional reporting by Victoria Bryan, Anshuman Daga, Jamie Freed; Editing by Leslie Adler

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Build-A-Bear CEO apologizes after ‘heartbreaking’ sale crowds

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Build-A-Bear Workshop Inc’s (BBW.N) chief executive on Friday apologized to disappointed customers and offered an extended discount, a day after its one-day pay-your-age event prompted massive crowds and shortages at some stores.

Sharon Price John, in an interview on NBC’s “Today” program, called the overcrowded sale event, which had to be limited on Thursday, “heartbreaking” and said the global stuffed-animal retailer would offer a sale through the summer.

“I am sorry that we were not able to provide the service that we wanted,” Price John said. “We are doing our very best and we are staying very focused on making sure that we do the best we can to make it right for people.”

She added that the company wanted to “make kids happy” and that she was sorry some families could not be served.

FILE PHOTO: A sample bear shows customers what they can create at the new Build-A-Bear store on 5th Avenue in New York July 1, 2005. REUTERS/Chip East CME/CCK

Shares of the company were trading at $7.95 early on Friday morning, up nearly 2 percent from its close of $7.80 on Thursday.

Customers in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom seeking to buy a furry friend on Thursday could buy a stuffed animal at stores for a price equaling their age, with minimum of $1 and maximum of $29, sending flocks of children and others to its outlets. Teddy bears were priced from $6 to $75 on the store’s website.

The big crowds at stores created safety concerns that led Build-A-Bear to close some stores or limit customers.

“It was beyond anything we could have ever imagined,” Price John told NBC. “There was really no way for us to have estimated those crowds. We were fully stocked, fully staffed.”

The company will offer U.S., UK and Canadian customers a $15 voucher through Aug. 31 and will still honor its pay-your-age promotion in stores for children during the child’s birthday month, she said.

St. Louis-based Build-A-Bear has some 400 stores worldwide.

Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Bill Trott

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/oqYD7AAf62o/build-a-bear-ceo-apologizes-after-heartbreaking-sale-crowds-idUSKBN1K31MR

J&J vows to overturn $4.7 billion talc verdict but experts see hurdles

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Johnson Johnson has vowed to appeal a $4.7 billion verdict awarded to 22 women who claim asbestos-contaminated talc in the company’s products gave them ovarian cancer by arguing the plaintiffs’ science was flawed and the case should not have been heard in Missouri.

But several legal experts said that even though JJ has been successful in winning appeals of other talc cases in Missouri, it will face a challenging road in appealing the verdict handed down on Thursday in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis.

John Beisner, a lawyer for Johnson Johnson, said, “One of the hardest things will be prioritizing what to appeal first.” He described to Reuters the company’s jurisdictional and scientific arguments for overturning Thursday’s verdict.

In a statement responding to the verdict, JJ reiterated its position that its products never contained asbestos and were not carcinogenic.

Thursday’s verdict is the largest to date arising from lawsuits alleging talc-based products like JJ’s baby powder have caused cancer. The jury reached its decision in less than a day, following five weeks of expert testimony from both sides.

The stakes are potentially high for JJ, which is facing 9,000 cases nationwide over talc. The company has had previous success in overturning large verdicts in talc cases as well as others alleging harm from its products.

But several legal experts said Missouri courts, including at the appellate and supreme court level, were historically plaintiff-friendly and could prove unreceptive to JJ’s arguments.

“JJ has strong arguments, but unless they get to certify this case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which are very long odds, this decision is likely to stand,” said Lars Noah, a law professor at the University of Florida.

He said he expected JJ would go through the appeals process but would ultimately wind up settling the case.

Beisner said he was not aware of any interest in settlement. “Our attention will remain focused on the appeals from this and the other trials awaiting review.”

Beisner said jurisdiction will be one major basis for JJ to appeal Thursday’s verdict. Most of the 22 plaintiffs were not Missouri residents, and he said they should not have been allowed to sue New Jersey-based Johnson Johnson in St. Louis under a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that severely restricted state courts’ jurisdiction over injury lawsuits brought by non-residents against out-of-state companies.

JJ seized on that decision to successfully overturn previous talc verdicts in Missouri.

Mark Lanier, the plaintiffs’ lawyer who won Thursday’s verdict, said he was ready for that argument.

Lanier said his team amassed “hundreds of pages of evidence” showing lobbying efforts and baby powder focus groups JJ conducted in the state. He also spotlighted the claim by 15 of his non-resident clients that they used a specific short-lived JJ talc-based product manufactured by Missouri-based contractor.

“I hope they focus their appeal on jurisdiction because I’m confident we’ll win that,” Lanier said. He did say that he expects the punitive damages award to be halved during the appeals process due to a Missouri state law that caps such damages, but is confident the verdict would stand overall.

The $4.69 billion in total damages includes $550 million in compensatory damages and $4.14 billion in punitive damages.

Elizabeth Burch, a law professor at the University of Georgia, said that even under the new Supreme Court guidance, the women’s claim that they used the specific product, if true, provided “a pretty strong link to Missouri.”

At trial JJ had unsuccessfully sought to cast doubt on the 15 women’s claims to have used the same product that was only available for a few months, depicting it as a ruse designed to bypass the jurisdiction issue. Beisner said JJ would make the same argument on appeal.

Along with jurisdictional arguments, Beisner said the company would continue to put forth its case that scientific studies overwhelmingly show talc itself is safe and the company’s talc-based products never contained asbestos.

“None of plaintiffs’ experts were able to put forward a valid theory and there is simply no science to support what they call asbestos in the product,” said Beisner.

JJ says decades of testing by laboratories and independent agencies, including a study by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, support its position. The company said plaintiffs’ tests showing asbestos contamination were “junk science.”

But Lanier argued that it was the agencies and labs cited by JJ that used flawed testing methods that failed to detect asbestos.

Noah said Missouri judges have historically applied a lower standard than federal court for admitting scientific evidence. Last year the state passed a law requiring its courts to adopt the federal standard, but he said state courts would be interpreting that requirement for years to come.

“Missouri judges aren’t going to suddenly change their tune,” Noah said.

FILE PHOTO: A Johnson Johnson building is shown in Irvine, California, U.S., January 24, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Reporting by Tina Bellon; Editing by Anthony Lin and Leslie Adler

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/ouiCluAMmoI/jj-vows-to-overturn-4-7-billion-talc-verdict-but-experts-see-hurdles-idUSKBN1K32T8

Republican Senator Rubio slams lifting of U.S. ban on China’s ZTE

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio criticized on Friday the decision by the United States to lift a ban on suppliers selling to ZTE Corp 000063.SZ), allowing China’s second-largest telecommunications equipment maker to resume business.

FILE PHOTO: Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) arrives for a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing evaluating the Intelligence Community Assessment on “Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections” on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

“ZTE should be put out of business. There is no ‘deal’ with a state-directed company that the Chinese government and Communist Party uses to spy and steal from us where Americans come out winning,” Rubio said in a statement following the U.S. Department of Commerce’s lifting of the ban.

Reporting by Ginger Gibson; Editing by Leslie Adler

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/akrvIm_PLZU/republican-senator-rubio-slams-lifting-of-u-s-ban-on-chinas-zte-idUSKBN1K32XH

Papa John’s to remove founder from promotions; Yankees cuts ties

(Reuters) – Papa John’s International Inc (PZZA.O) will remove founder John Schnatter from its promotions, the pizza chain said on Friday, and baseball team New York Yankees suspended business relationships with the company.

FILE PHOTO: John Schnatter (R), founder and chief executive of Papa John’s Pizza, arrives at the 2011 American Music Awards in Los Angeles November 20, 2011. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

Schnatter on Wednesday resigned from the company as chairman of the board after he used a racial slur on a conference call.

Papa John’s said its decision to remove Schnatter from advertisements is the first of several steps to rebuild trust “from the inside-out”.

Chief Executive Officer Steve Ritchie said the company would hire an independent expert to audit all of its processes, policies and systems related to diversity and inclusion.

“In response to the reprehensible remarks made by Papa John’s founder and owner, the New York Yankees are suspending their relationship with the company,” it said in a tweet.

Baseball team Seattle Mariners in a tweet said on Thursday it would cut ties with the pizza chain.

Schnatter, who founded the company in 1984, also came under fire in November after he criticized the National Football League’s leadership over national anthem protests by players.

Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/TyIHdl1OTTA/papa-johns-to-remove-founder-from-promotions-yankees-cuts-ties-idUSKBN1K32UZ

Citigroup executives see better growth ahead, but not yet

(Reuters) – Citigroup Inc (C.N) is still on track to hit its goals for efficiency and revenue growth, executives said on Friday, as analysts pressed them to explain how those expectations line up with second-quarter results.

Although Citigroup beat Wall Street profit expectations, its revenue fell short of forecasts and businesses like branded credit cards and retail banking in Mexico are not yet generating the kind of revenue investors want to see.

During a conference call, Chief Executive Officer Michael Corbat touted progress Citigroup has made toward goals he set last year to grow revenue faster than expenses and return more capital to shareholders.

Although some businesses are not operating at their full potential, management has confidence in longer-term growth prospects, Chief Financial Officer John Gerspach said.

Analysts asked how Citigroup will improve performance without having to spend a lot more on those businesses. Wells Fargo’s Mike Mayo, the fourth analyst to bring up a question about costs, wondered whether management would need to spend more on digital banking to attract customers.

“I don’t think there’s anything we’re going to surprise you with in terms of new investments,” said Corbat.

Expenses accounted for 58 percent of Citigroup’s revenue in the second quarter, marking the seventh straight period of improvement, but remained well above the “low-50s” range Corbat wants to reach by 2020.

FILE PHOTO: The Citigroup Inc (Citi) logo is seen at the SIBOS banking and financial conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

Since taking the helm almost six years ago, Corbat has struggled to get Citigroup’s profit engine humming. The bank has been recovering from the 2007-2009 financial crisis, which left it with a $45 billion bailout bill, a diluted stock, and an assortment of businesses around the globe.

Corbat set about divesting underperforming businesses and amplifying others worth keeping, but Citigroup is still far less profitable than rivals.

JPMorgan Chase Co (JPM.N), which also released earnings on Friday, generated a return on assets of 1.28 percent last quarter compared with 0.94 percent at Citigroup. JPMorgan’s return on common equity was 14 percent, compared with 9.2 percent at Citigroup.

Citigroup’s share price reflects the difference, trading at 93 percent of book value, while JPMorgan investors pay 1.6 times what the bank says its assets are worth.

“We expect Citigroup to be a relative underperformer as concerns still linger about long-term revenue growth in the company’s cards business,” KBW analysts wrote in a report on Friday. “In addition, loan growth missed estimates and that is opposite of what we have seen at peers that have reported today.”

Citigroup shares fell 2.3 percent to close at $67 on Friday. The stock is down 10 percent for the year, compared with a 3.0 percent drop in the SP 500 Banks index .SPXBK.

Overall, Citigroup’s net income rose 16 percent to $4.5 billion, or to $1.63 per share, compared with $3.9 billion, or $1.28 per share, in the second quarter of 2017. The boost was driven by lower taxes and more revenue from providing treasury and trade services to corporations, as well as consumer banking.

Analysts had expected Citigroup to report $1.56 per share in earnings, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose about 2 percent to $18.47 billion, slightly below the average expectation of $18.51 billion. Its loan book grew 5.0 percent to $671 billion from $641 billion.

Reporting by Sweta Singh in Bengaluru and David Henry in New York; editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Clive McKeef

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/z8mWxtjXUv8/citigroup-executives-see-better-growth-ahead-but-not-yet-idUSKBN1K31NX

U.S. stocks rise on industrials; dollar flattens

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The benchmark SP 500 index hit a more than five-month high on Friday on gains in industrial stocks and energy companies, while the safe-haven U.S. dollar flattened after touching a two-week high.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., July 13, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Gold slipped to seven-month lows and Treasury prices rose after the Federal Reserve reinforced views of strong U.S. economic growth in a report to Congress, reinforcing expectations of higher interest rates.

The U.S. central bank reiterated that it “expects that further gradual increases” in interest rates would be appropriate given “solid” growth.

An absence of rhetoric overnight about a U.S.-China trade war helped industrial stocks, as did remarks on Thursday from U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who said that the United States and China might reopen trade talks.

“Despite the ominous headlines about a trade war with China, we’re comfortable with U.S. equities at current prices amid favorable macro trends and surging earnings growth,” said Mike Bailey, director of Research at FBB Capital Partners in Maryland.

Gains from Boeing (BA.N), Caterpillar (CAT.N) and 3M (MMM.N) helped offset a drop in financials after three big Wall Street banks reported mixed quarterly earnings.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 94.52 points, or 0.38 percent, to 25,019.41, the SP 500 .SPX gained 3.02 points, or 0.11 percent, to 2,801.31 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 2.06 points, or 0.03 percent, to 7,825.98.

For the week, the Dow added 2.3 percent, the SP rose 1.5 percent and the Nasdaq gained 1.79 percent.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 rose 0.26 percent and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe .MIWD00000PUS gained 0.21 percent.

The greenback initially got a boost from the Fed report and from data showing China’s trade surplus with the United States swelled to a record high in June, which could further inflame a trade dispute between Beijing and Washington.

The dollar fell after touching its highest since June 29. Against a basket of major currencies, the dollar index .DXY slipped 0.1 percent.

Spot gold XAU= dropped 0.4 percent to $1,241.30 an ounce.

While China has vowed to retaliate against the proposed new U.S. tariffs – 10 percent on $200 billion of Chinese goods – the lack of a specific response to date has sparked global relief.

The yield curve on U.S. Treasuries once again reached its flattest in 11 years, with the spread between 2-year and 10-year notes falling to 24.46 basis points. Prices moved higher on the Fed report.

Benchmark 10-year notes US10YT=RR last rose 7/32 in price to yield 2.8271 percent, from 2.853 percent late on Thursday.

In commodity markets, oil prices had a wild week of price swings, with both main benchmarks at one point suffering heavy losses as traders focused on the return of Libyan oil to the market.

Even so, oil rose on Friday. U.S. crude CLcv1 rose 0.47 percent to $70.66 per barrel and Brent LCOcv1 was last at $74.90, up 0.6 percent.

Additional reporting by Richard Leong and James Thorne in New York and Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and James Dalgleish

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/r7dQE-i9vqI/u-s-stocks-rise-on-industrials-dollar-flattens-idUSKBN1K3017