Merkel’s rival slams car bosses in bid to revive campaign

Martin Schulz
Updated 13 August 2017
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Merkel’s rival slams car bosses in bid to revive campaign

BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief challenger in a September election, Martin Schulz, has launched a stinging attack on the country’s dieselgate-tainted car industry as he sought to turn around a flagging campaign.
The leader of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) said drivers should not have to pay for the mistakes made by “irresponsible managers” with six-figure salaries.
“The problem is that we are in a situation where managers worth millions, at Volkswagen, at Daimler, have slept through the future... and did not invest where they should have,” he said in an interview with public broadcaster ZDF.
Germany’s crucial automaking sector is facing an unprecedented crisis following Volkswagen’s admission in 2015 that it installed software in 11 million diesel engines to cheat emissions tests and make the vehicles seem less polluting than they were.
The scandal has deepened on recent revelations that a group of carmakers for years colluded on technical specifications, including emissions technology.
The growing controversy has fueled public anger and intensified calls to get dirty diesels off the road, making it impossible to ignore on the campaign trail.
Schulz, whose party is trailing Merkel’s conservatives by 14 points according to the latest poll, said diesel drivers should not have to “foot the bill” for software updates and trade-ins.
He has also proposed an EU-wide quota for electric cars.
Merkel on Saturday also slammed car executives, accusing them of “gambling away incredible trust.”
But she dismissed the idea of quotas as too difficult to implement.
With six weeks to go until the September 24 vote, the latest Emnid poll for the Bild am Sonntag newspaper put support for Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU block at 38 percent, followed by the SPD at 24 percent.
Schulz, the former European Parliament president, has fallen far behind in the polls despite an initial surge of popularity after joining the race in January.
Observers say there seems to be little appetite for change in Germany, putting Merkel firmly on track for a fourth term as chancellor.
But Schulz, who is campaigning on the promise of a fairer Germany, insisted he was still in the race.
“The campaign battle lasts until the last minute,” he told ZDF.
“I still think I have a good chance to lead the next government.”
Asked whether he would be interested in another left-right coalition with Merkel, he said: “I have nothing against a grand coalition under my leadership if the CDU wants to be the junior partner.”
In a second appearance on German television Sunday, a townhall-style event on RTL television, Schulz told the audience he would stick to his principles.
“I would never go against my conscience just to get a coalition agreement. Everyone who votes for me should know that.”


Saudi Aramco in talks for stake in world’s no. 4 chemical firm

Updated 19 July 2018
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Saudi Aramco in talks for stake in world’s no. 4 chemical firm

  • Aramco made the invitation for the SABIC deal to the banks last month
  • The oil giant is expanding its footprint globally by signing downstream deals and boosting the capacity of its plants

DUBAI: Saudi Aramco said on Thursday it is looking to buy a stake in Saudi petrochemical maker SABIC, a move that could boost the state oil giant’s market valuation ahead of a planned initial public offering.
Aramco said in a statement that it was in “very early-stage discussions” with the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund to acquire the stake in SABIC via a private transaction. It has no plans to acquire any publicly held shares, it said.
In a separate statement, the PIF also said that talks about a sale were in early stages. “There is a possibility that no agreement will be reached in relation to this potential transaction,” it said.
Reuters reported on Wednesday that Saudi Aramco had invited banks to pitch for an advisory role on the potential acquisition of a strategic stake in Saudi Basic Industries Corp, citing two sources with direct knowledge of the matter.
Aramco wants to develop its downstream business as the government prepares to sell up to 5 percent of the world’s largest oil producer, possibly by next year. Boosting its petrochemicals portfolio further could help attract investors for the IPO.
Riyadh-listed SABIC, the world’s fourth-biggest petrochemicals company, is 70 percent owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), Saudi Arabia’s top sovereign wealth fund. It has a market capitalization of 385.2 billion Saudi riyals ($102.7 billion).
The Aramco IPO is the centerpiece of an ambitious plan championed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy beyond oil.
Aramco made the invitation for the SABIC deal to the banks last month, said the sources, declining to be identified due to commercial sensitivities.
Aramco plans to boost investments in refining and petrochemicals to secure new markets for its crude, and sees growth in chemicals as central to its downstream strategy to lessen the risk of a slowdown in oil demand.
The oil giant is expanding its footprint globally by signing downstream deals and boosting the capacity of its plants.
Aramco’s push into chemicals also includes a mega project it is building at home with SABIC. The $20 billion project would build a complex that converts crude oil into chemicals directly, bypassing the refining stage.