Daimler, BMW to invest $1.13 billion in venture to rival Uber

Daimler Dieter Zetsche chief executive, right, and BMW chief Harald Krueger present the merger of their car sharing activities on Friday, February 22 in Berlin. (AFP)
Updated 22 February 2019
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Daimler, BMW to invest $1.13 billion in venture to rival Uber

  • Carmakers Shifting beyond manufacturing and car sales toward pay-per-minute or pay-per-mile systems
  • Carmakers face marginalization by cash-rich technology firms unless they develop services based on vehicle usage

BERLIN: German carmakers Daimler and BMW unveiled a joint ride-hailing, parking and electric car charging business on Friday to compete with mobility services provided by Uber and other tech firms.
The luxury car firms said they would invest more than €1 billion ($1.13 billion) to expand the joint venture, shifting beyond manufacturing and car sales toward pay-per-minute or pay-per-mile systems.
Consultancy PwC has said carmakers face marginalization by cash-rich technology firms unless they develop services based on vehicle usage.
Established ride-hailing firms have been expanding. China’s Didi Chuxing aims to build its business in Latin America and Uber is gaining a stranglehold on its US market.
“Further cooperation with other providers, including stakes in startups and established players, are also a possible option,” Daimler’s Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche said.
Daimler’s Car2Go car-sharing brand will be combined with BMW’s DriveNow, ParkNow and ChargeNow businesses, with both carmakers holding 50 percent stake in the venture.
The venture has five strands: REACH NOW, a smartphone-based route management and booking service, CHARGE NOW for electric car charging, FREE NOW for taxi ride-hailing, PARK NOW for parking services and SHARE NOW for car-sharing.
“These five services will merge ever more closely to form a single mobility service portfolio with an all-electric, self-driving fleet of vehicles that charge and park autonomously,” said BMW Chief Executive Harald Krueger.
BMW and Daimler are working to develop autonomous cars, vehicles which could enable them to up-end the market for taxi and ride-hailing services.


Pakistani central bank lifts interest rate as inflation bites

Updated 20 May 2019
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Pakistani central bank lifts interest rate as inflation bites

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s central bank raised its key interest rate to 12.25% on Monday, warning that already soaring inflation risked further rises on the back of higher oil prices and reforms required for a bailout from the International Monetary Fund.
The 150 basis points increase follows a preliminary agreement last week with the IMF for a $6 billion loan that is expected to come with tough conditions, including raising more tax revenues and putting up gas and power prices. It was the eighth time the central bank has increased its main policy rate since the start of last year.
With economic growth set to slow to 2.9% this year from 5.2% last year, according to IMF forecasts, the rate rise adds to pressure on Prime Minister Imran Khan, who came to power last year facing a balance of payments crisis that has now forced his government to turn to the IMF.
Higher prices for basic essentials including food and energy has already stirred public anger but the central bank suggested there was little prospect of any immediate improvement.
Noting average headline inflation rose to 7% in the July-April period from 3.8 percent a year earlier, the central bank said recent rises in domestic oil prices and the cost of food suggested that “inflationary pressures are likely to continue for some time.”

 

It said it expected headline inflation to average between 6.5% and 7.5% for the financial year to the end of June and was expected to be “considerably higher” in the coming year. Expected tax measures in next month’s budget as well as higher gas and power prices and volatility in international oil prices could push inflation up further, it said.
It said the fiscal deficit, which the IMF expects to reach 7.2% of gross domestic product (GDP) this year, was likely to have been “considerably higher” during the July-March period than in the same period a year earlier due to shortfalls in revenue collection, higher interest payments and security costs.
Despite some improvements, financing the current account deficit remained “challenging” and foreign exchange reserves of $8.8 billion were below standard adequacy levels at less than the equivalent of three months of imports.
The central bank said it was watching foreign exchange markets closely and was prepared to take action to curb “unwarranted” volatility, after the sharp fall in the rupee over recent days that saw the currency touch a record low of 150 against the US dollar.
Details of what Pakistan will be required to do under the IMF agreement, which must still be approved by the Fund’s board, have not been announced but already opposition parties are planning protests.
As well as higher energy prices that will hit households hard, there are also expectations of new taxes and spending cuts in next month’s budget to reach a primary budget deficit — excluding interest payments — of 0.6% of GDP.
With the IMF forecasting a primary deficit of 2.2% for the coming financial year, that implies squeezing roughly $5 billion in extra revenues from Pakistan’s $315 billion economy, which has long suffered from problems raising tax revenue.

FACTOID

Pakistan’s economic growth is set to slow to 2.9% this year.