EU fines 4 German car makers $1 billion over emission collusion

EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said the companies avoided to compete and denied consumers the chance to buy less polluting cars. (AP)
EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said the companies avoided to compete and denied consumers the chance to buy less polluting cars. (AP)
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Updated 09 July 2021

EU fines 4 German car makers $1 billion over emission collusion

EU fines 4 German car makers  $1 billion over emission collusion
  • Even though the companies had the technology to cut harmful emissions beyond legal limits, they resisted competition and denied consumers the chance to buy less polluting cars: EU antitrust chief

BRUSSELS: The European Union handed down $1 billion in fines to major German car manufacturers Thursday, saying they colluded to limit the development and rollout of car emission-control systems.
Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen along with its Audi and Porsche divisions avoided competing on technology to restrict pollution from gasoline and diesel passenger cars, the EU’s executive commission said. Daimler wasn’t fined after it revealed the cartel to the European Commission.
It was the first time the European Commission imposed collusion fines on holding back the use of technical developments, not a more traditional practice like price fixing.
EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said that even though the companies had the technology to cut harmful emissions beyond legal limits, they resisted competition and denied consumers the chance to buy less polluting cars.
“Manufacturers deliberately avoided to compete on cleaning better than what was required by EU emission standards. And they did so despite the relevant technology being available,” Vestager said. That made their practice illegal, she said.
According to Vestager, the companies agreed on the size of onboard tanks containing a urea solution known as AdBlue that is injected into the exhaust stream to limit pollution from diesel engines, and also on the driving ranges that could be expected before the tank needed refilling. A bigger tank would enable more pollution reduction.

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Daimler, BMW, VW, Audi and Porsche avoided competing on technology to restrict pollution from gasoline and diesel passenger cars, the European Commission said.

Vestager said cooperation between companies is permissible under EU rules when it leads to efficiency gains, such as the faster introduction of new technologies. “But the dividing line is clear: Companies must not coordinate their behavior to limit the full potential of any type of technology,” she said.
Volkswagen said the investigation had ended with a finding that several other forms of cooperation under review were not improper under antitrust law.
“The (EU) Commission is breaking new legal ground with this decision, because it is the first time it has prosecuted technical cooperation as an antitrust violation,” the company said in a statement. “It is also imposing fines even though the contents of the talks were never implemented and customers were therefore never harmed.”
Volkswagen said that the tank sizes produced by all the carmakers involved were “two to three times” bigger than discussed in the talks. It said it was considering an appeal to the European Court of Justice.
BMW said that discussions on the AdBlue tanks had “no influence whatsoever on the company’s product decisions.” The company said it was significant that that the fine notice found there was no collusion involving earlier allegations of using software to restrict AdBlue dosing.
BMW said it set aside 1.4 billion euros ($1.7 billion) based on the commission’s initial accusations but reduced the set-aside in May due to more serious allegations in the case not being substantiated.
The case wasn’t directly linked to the “dieselgate” scandal of the past decade, when Volkswagen admitted that about 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide were fitted with the deceptive software, which reduced nitrogen oxide emissions when the cars were placed on a test machine but allowed higher emissions and improved engine performance during normal driving.
The scandal cost Wolfsburg, Germany-based Volkswagen 30 billion euros ($35 billion) in fines and civil settlements and led to the recall of millions of vehicles. The Volkswagen vehicles in the scandal did not use the urea tanks but relied on another pollution reduction technology.


Profits of SABIC Agri-Nutrients jump over 300% to $1.2bn

Profits of SABIC Agri-Nutrients jump over 300% to $1.2bn
Updated 12 sec ago

Profits of SABIC Agri-Nutrients jump over 300% to $1.2bn

Profits of SABIC Agri-Nutrients jump over 300% to $1.2bn

RIYADH: Saudi Arabian petrochemical firm SABIC Agri-Nutrients Co. has seen a nearly fourfold jump in its profits in 2021, buoyed by an increase in selling prices.

Amid global economic recovery in 2021, net profit soared to SR5.23 billion ($1.2 billion), compared to SR1.29 billion a year earlier, according to a bourse filing.

Revenues almost tripled, reaching SR9.59 billion, and the profit per share was up from SR3 to SR11.

The company, half-owned by SABIC, attributed the profit hike to higher selling prices of products.

However, profits were capped by an increase in inventory as well as general and administrative expenses, the firm said in a statement to the Saudi exchange, Tadawul.

The homegrown fertilizer producer earlier said it plans to take over 49 percent of Dubai-based ETG Inputs Holdco’s share capital amid a SR1.2 billion deal. 

 


Saudi stocks end flat amid earnings season, crude oil rally: Closing bell

Saudi stocks end flat amid earnings season, crude oil rally: Closing bell
Getty Images
Updated 27 min 29 sec ago

Saudi stocks end flat amid earnings season, crude oil rally: Closing bell

Saudi stocks end flat amid earnings season, crude oil rally: Closing bell

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s stock market was flat at the closing bell on Thursday, as investors saw a wave of earnings announcements lead to cautious trading, despite a rally in the energy market.

Brent crude oil crossed $90 per barrel, and US benchmark WTI crude oil reached $88.3 per barrel as of 3:48 p.m. Saudi time.

The main TASI index closed at 12,179 points, while the parallel market, Nomu, ended at 25,660 points.

TASI was pushed higher by gains in Saudi Kayan Petrochemical Co. but weighed down by National Petrochemical Co., known as Petrochem, and the Saudi Industrial Investment Group, even as all three firms reported earnings.

Saudi Kayan saw its share price soar over 2 percent, after it turned from losses into profits of SR2.39 billion ($640 million) in 2021.

Shares in Petrochem and the Saudi Industrial Investment Group were down 1.2 and 0.9 percent respectively, despite seeing major profit hikes on an annual basis.

The Kingdom’s largest valued bank, Al Rajhi Bank, and one of its leading petrochemical firms, Sipchem, were down 0.7 and 2.9, respectively.

Saudi Automotive Services Co., known as SASCO, soared nearly 10 percent, topping the gainers for a second consecutive day.

SASCO had earlier acquired 80 percent of gas station operator NAFT Services Limited Co. for SR1.1 billion.

Allied Cooperative Insurance Group led the fallers, with its shares declining almost 4 percent.


Rising costs, pandemic curbs take a bite out of McDonald’s profit

Rising costs, pandemic curbs take a bite out of McDonald’s profit
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 35 min 28 sec ago

Rising costs, pandemic curbs take a bite out of McDonald’s profit

Rising costs, pandemic curbs take a bite out of McDonald’s profit
  • Sales rise in Italy, Germany, France, the US and the UK boosted total revenue by 13 percent to $6.01 billion in the three months ended Dec. 31

McDonald’s Corp. missed revenue and profit expectations on Thursday, as higher costs and dismal sales in its over 4,500 restaurants in Australia and China due to pandemic-led curbs ate into gains from growth in the United States in the fourth quarter.


Operating costs rose 14 percent to $3.61 billion as supply chain bottlenecks led the world’s largest burger chain to spend more for ingredients such as chicken and beef, as well as packaging material, while it also raised wages in the United States.


Shares fell nearly 3 percent as sales in China contracted after some cities banned dining in restaurants to control fresh outbreaks ahead of the Winter Olympics. In Australia, sales growth remained muted compared to a year earlier.


“COVID-19 continued to result in varying levels of government restrictions on restaurant operating hours, limited dine-in capacity and, in some cases, dining room closures,” McDonald’s said.


Sales rise in Italy, Germany, France, the US and the UK boosted total revenue by 13 percent to $6.01 billion in the three months ended Dec. 31, but still the company missed market expectation of $6.03 billion, according to Refinitiv data.


Meanwhile, expenses for the burger chain that has more than 40,000 restaurants in over 100 countries have been rising. While McDonald’s had raised prices in 2021, higher costs continue to weigh on profit as it was forced to increase wages to retain workers in the United States, its largest market.


On a per share basis, McDonald’s earned $2.23, but missed analysts’ average estimate of $2.34.


Its US same-store sales increased 7.5 percent compared to analysts’ estimate of a 6.8 percent rise, thanks to the launch of special menu items such as McRib, loyalty program-driven growth in digital sales and higher prices.


Global same-store sales jumped 12.3 percent, compared with Wall Street estimates of a 10.73 percent rise. 


UAE’S First Abu Dhabi Bank books profits of $3.4bn

UAE’S First Abu Dhabi Bank books profits of $3.4bn
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 27 January 2022

UAE’S First Abu Dhabi Bank books profits of $3.4bn

UAE’S First Abu Dhabi Bank books profits of $3.4bn
  • The outstanding performance reflects indicators of economic recovery and positive momentum for the bank's core business

RIYADH: Largest bank in the UAE, First Abu Dhabi Bank announced its financial results of the last fiscal year with profits of 12.5 billion dirhams ($3.4 billion).

This figure compares to 10.6 billion dirhams in 2020, representing a 19 percent increase, according to a statement.

The outstanding performance reflects indicators of economic recovery and positive momentum for the bank's core business, the statement revealed.

Moreover, the group’s revenue saw a 17 percent surge thanks to strong trading performance and growth in fee-generating business. This contributed to alleviating the repercussions of low interest rates, the statement said.

Operational costs rose when compared to the corresponding period in 2020. This comes as a result of the persisting investments in digital and strategic initiatives as well as taking into consideration Egypt’s Bank Audi business.

Asset quality maintained adequate rates thanks to the proper management of risks and stimulus measures. These were within the framework of the comprehensive economic support plan tailored for the country’s central bank.

The group also maintained strong levels of liquidity, financing, and capital altogether.

Founded in 2017, FAB provides financial solutions, products, and services through its corporate and investment banking and personal banking franchises. 


Gold’s Gym Saudi Arabia jumps into the Kingdom’s IPO market  

Gold’s Gym Saudi Arabia jumps into the Kingdom’s IPO market  
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 27 January 2022

Gold’s Gym Saudi Arabia jumps into the Kingdom’s IPO market  

Gold’s Gym Saudi Arabia jumps into the Kingdom’s IPO market  

RIYADH: A leading fitness player in the Kingdom and globally, Gold’s Gym Saudi Arabia, has appointed a financial advisor amid plans to list on Saudi Exchange’s parallel market, Nomu.

To manage and lead the initial public offering, the fitness club selected BMG Financial Group, according to a statement by BMG.

US-based Gold’s Gym has several branches across Saudi Arabia, which are all owned by Jeddah's Batterjee Holding Co.