Nissan says phasing out gas-powered cars depends on customer demand

Nissan says phasing out gas-powered cars depends on customer demand
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Updated 07 December 2021

Nissan says phasing out gas-powered cars depends on customer demand

Nissan says phasing out gas-powered cars depends on customer demand

DUBAI: Nissan is eco-friendly but also consumer-led, a top official from the Japanese automaker said in the wake of the company not signing a COP26 global pledge to phase out gas-guzzling cars. 

As many as 30 national governments joined the deal struck in Glasgow last month, as the transportation industry races to fix decades of environmental damage due to carbon emissions.

They were joined by six automotive giants, including Ford and Mercedes-Benz, but Nissan, with its French partner Renault, skipped the pact. 

“If customers say remove it (gas-fueled vehicle production), we will remove it,” Ashwani Gupta, Nissan’s chief operating officer told Arab News on Tuesday. 

“If (a customer) doesn’t find any more excitement in internal combustion engines cars; if he doesn’t find any price competitiveness in ICE cars; if he has to pay a CO2 penalty, why will he keep it?”

Gupta, who was in Dubai for a media tour, emphasized the importance of making the transition smooth for Nissan’s customers.

“I think it’s up to us how to make it competitive, so customers will naturally do it,” he explained, adding: “In Europe, it will happen very soon.”

The Japanese automaker is ramping up efforts to introduce new electric car models in the next 10 years, aiming for a 50 percent electrification mix by 2030, as it also doubles down on being carbon neutral across the life cycle of its products by 2050. 

Last week, it announced a $17.6 billion investment to develop solid-state batteries for its planned electric model line-up, as well as to establish a pilot plant by 2024, with production starting by 2028. 

Europe is the company’s biggest market for electrification, and it plans to increase sales of electric vehicles in the region by more than 75 percent — followed by Japan, China, and the US. 

As for the Middle East, Gupta said the region has the vision for sustainability and global excellence. 

“Timing could be different because other markets started before, but the Middle East is starting now,” he said.

In an earlier statement, Gupta said his company’s vision is focused on creating “customer pull through an attractive proposition.”

The company is planning to localize manufacturing and sourcing to make electric vehicles more competitive — starting with its core markets of Japan, China, and the US, drawing from its EV Hub concept in the UK. 

“Nissan is working for the future,” Gupta said, downplaying remarks of former Chairman Carlos Ghosn, who said the carmaker is “visionless.” 

 


Saudi Chemanol to expand methanol production

Saudi Chemanol to expand methanol production
Updated 17 sec ago

Saudi Chemanol to expand methanol production

Saudi Chemanol to expand methanol production

RIYADH: Saudi Arabian chemical producer Chemanol plans to expand its methanol plant, aiming to increase its production capacity to 331,000 tons.

The company said it has signed an agreement on Jan. 23 for the plant’s basic engineering design.

Additional output, which amounts to 100,000 tons, will be used as feedstock for future initiatives, including a dimethyl disulfide plant and a methyl diethanolamine factory, in line with Saudi Vision 2030.

The step is crucial for the company’s growth strategy and is expected to have a positive impact of lower production costs, it said in a bourse filing.

Earlier in 2020, Chemanol received the Ministry of Energy’s approval to allocate the required feedstock for the expansion.

 


Lebanon’s government holds budget meeting, 1st in months

Lebanon’s government holds budget meeting, 1st in months
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 32 min 24 sec ago

Lebanon’s government holds budget meeting, 1st in months

Lebanon’s government holds budget meeting, 1st in months
  • Lebanon’s economic crisis has been described by the World Bank as one of the worst in the world since the 1850s

Lebanon’s government met on the budget Monday for the first time in more than three months as talks with the International Monetary Fund about the country’s economic meltdown were poised to resume.


The developments were aimed at controlling Lebanon’s worst economic crisis in its history.

The Cabinet meeting at the presidential palace was held after the powerful Hezbollah and its main Shiite ally ended their boycott and were poised to participate in the design of a recovery plan.


The draft budget for 2022 is expected to propose increasing taxes and fees in a country struggling to deal with soaring poverty levels and hyperinflation.


It also projects spending more than 49 trillion pounds while revenues stand at just over 39 trillion pounds, with a deficit of about 21 percent.

Critics say that the deficit will be covered by printing money, in what would lead the Lebanese pound that has lost more than 90 percent of its value over the past two years to lose more in the coming months.


It is not clear what exchange rate the government will use for the budget as there are several rates around the country.

The official rate still stands at 1,500 pounds to the US dollar while the black market rate is about 23,000 pounds.

Several other rates are used for withdrawal of bank deposits.


Lebanese economist Alia Moubayed described the draft budget as “malignant and dangerous,” with problems ranging from the use of several exchange rates to indirectly legalizing the transfer of foreign currency deposits into Lebanese pounds.

Also of concern, she tweeted, is the government’s failure or refusal to recognize the “disastrous” economic and social status that resulted from decades of corruption and mismanagement by Lebanon’s political class.


Lebanon’s economic crisis has been described by the World Bank as one of the worst in the world since the 1850s.

The meltdown has left three-quarters of the population of 6 million people, including 1 million Syrian refugees, in poverty.


The government is expected to discuss the draft budget every day until Friday. If approved, it will be sent to Parliament for discussion and will need majority vote to pass.


The meeting is the first since Oct. 12, when Hezbollah and its ally, the Amal party of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, demanded changes in the national probe of the devastating August 2020 explosion in Beirut’s port and effectively paralyzing the government.


Hezbollah had called for the investigative judge in the port blast to be removed, accusing him of bias.

Judge Tarek Bitar has meanwhile faced a slew of legal challenges and lawsuits calling for his removal, which forced him to suspend the probe at least four times.

The probe is currently suspended.


Bitar had summoned and charged several senior officials on charges of intentional negligence that led to the explosion, which killed more than 200 people and injured thousands.

The two Shiite groups vowed to continue their efforts to remove the judge.


Deutsche Bank expected to break profit run in fourth quarter

Deutsche Bank expected to break profit run in fourth quarter
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 42 min 3 sec ago

Deutsche Bank expected to break profit run in fourth quarter

Deutsche Bank expected to break profit run in fourth quarter
  • That compares with a profit of 51 million euros a year earlier

Deutsche Bank is expected to swing to a net loss when it reports fourth-quarter earnings on Thursday amid a slowdown in revenue at its investment bank, based on analysts’ consensus estimates.


A loss would be a setback for Germany’s largest bank after reporting five consecutive quarters of profit through the third quarter, its longest streak in the black since 2012.


But the loss is expected to be a blip in the bank’s recent profit run rather than a sign of something more serious.

Analysts are forecasting full-year net profits for 2022 and 2023, based on the consensus forecast published last week by the bank.


Deutsche’s return to profit in the past few quarters has shown how a 9 billion euro overhaul by CEO Christian Sewing, begun in 2019, is paying off.

Sewing has got the bank back into profit after a string of regulatory failings and billions in losses logged over the previous decade.


Part of Deutsche’s overhaul involved reducing dependence on the investment bank’s more volatile income.

But in the past few quarters the division has been the bank’s biggest revenue earner, generating around 40 percent of the bank’s turnover by benefiting from a pandemic trading boom, as well as dealmaking fees.


The investment bank has become a fairly stable business, said Andreas Thomae, a portfolio manager at Deka, an investor in the German bank.


“Most importantly,” Deutsche has “won back customers in Germany and Europe who were a little skeptical before,” he said.


For the fourth-quarter, the bank is expected to report a net loss attributable to shareholders of around 130 million euros ($147.20 million), based on analysts’ estimates.

That compares with a profit of 51 million euros a year earlier.


Revenues for the bank as a whole as well as for its investment bank are forecast to have slipped around 4 percent from a year earlier.


Some of the big US banks’ fourth-quarter results have disappointed investors partly because of ballooning expenses, hurting profit growth.


UBS analysts said costs would be a focus for Deutsche’s fourth-quarter earnings, noting that the bank has said it wants to “clear the decks of transformation charges and other costs” this year.


2022 is a crucial year for Deutsche as it marks the deadline for the bank to meet targets set out in 2019, such as return on tangible equity.

In March, Deutsche will announce a strategy review and new targets for the years ahead. 


EU plan to label gas and nuclear as green could mislead investors, advisers say

EU plan to label gas and nuclear as green could mislead investors, advisers say
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 24 January 2022

EU plan to label gas and nuclear as green could mislead investors, advisers say

EU plan to label gas and nuclear as green could mislead investors, advisers say
  • The EU taxonomy would not ban investments in assets that lack a green label

The European Union's draft plan to label gas and nuclear plants as green investments risks causing confusion and misstated financial disclosures, expert advisers to the bloc said amid criticism of the proposal from some lawmakers and nations.


In feedback due to be published on Monday, the experts urged EU authorities to rewrite the draft rules, which they said would label gas plants with relatively high CO2 emissions as sustainable, as well as new nuclear plants launched too late to help meet the bloc's 2050 climate target.


The specialist advisers, whose views were reported in a leaked draft on Friday, said the proposal would make it hard for investors to assess which investments are truly climate-friendly — the question that the EU's "sustainable finance taxonomy" was designed to provide a clear answer on.


"The implication is the market will not be able to interpret what investments are truly aligned with the climate goals and which ones are not," Nathan Fabian, chair of the expert advisory panel, told Reuters. "It would lead to misstatements in financial disclosures."


"You'd see claims in financial products that your money is being invested in a sustainable way — but it's in a gas plant that's got above the European average emissions level," he added.


If the European Commission went ahead with the draft rules, the advisers said it should require companies and financial product issuers to single out gas and nuclear in their financial disclosures, rather than grouping them together with other green investments like electric cars or wind energy.


Tougher disclosures would be needed to avoid "greenwashing", the feedback said.


The EU taxonomy would not ban investments in assets that lack a green label.

But by badging climate-friendly investments as green, it aims to make them more attractive to investors.


EU countries and lawmakers disagree on whether gas and nuclear deserve a green badge. Germany rejected including nuclear in a letter to the EU, while four other states publicly opposed the Commission proposal last week.


Meanwhile, groups representing more than 200 of the European Parliament's 700 lawmakers sent letters to the Commission raising concerns.

Some are opposed to labelling gas and nuclear as sustainable, some are seeking rules to include more gas plants, and others are calling for a public consultation on the rules.


The Commission must now publish a final proposal for the rules. A majority of European Parliament lawmakers or a super-majority of EU countries — 20 of the 27 member states — could veto them.


Higher commodity prices drive global upstream M&A deals to hit a 3-year high of $181bn

Higher commodity prices drive global upstream M&A deals to hit a 3-year high of $181bn
Updated 24 January 2022

Higher commodity prices drive global upstream M&A deals to hit a 3-year high of $181bn

Higher commodity prices drive global upstream M&A deals to hit a 3-year high of $181bn

Higher commodity prices and a healthier market prompted global upstream merger and acquisition deals to reach a three-year high of $181 billion in 2021, according to an independent energy research company.

Value of deals rebounded, returning to pre-pandemic levels, but were slightly below 2017 and 2018 levels of $205 billion and $199 billion respectively, Rystad Energy said.

The value of deals over $1 billion reached $126 billion, or 70 percent of the global total. The share of these almost tripled, with 2021 marking 35 such deals as compared to only 13 in the previous year. Out of these 35 deals, 13 were company acquisitions with a value of around $65 billion.

Two Australia-related mergers made up $22 billion of the total. One was between Santos and Oil Search and the other was between Woodside Petroleum and BHP. The remaining over-$1 billion deals were mainly focused on North American assets.

Gas made up 56 percent of all traded resources, up from 43 percent in 2020, while oil and natural gas liquids had shares of 31 percent and 9 percent, respectively. The shift in deal composition in 2021 was attributed to the North American acquisitions and was also helped by deal activity in other regions.

“With a strong potential deal pipeline, continuous pressure on companies to transform amid a global push to lower carbon emissions while simultaneously delivering profitable oil and gas production, and an average oil price of above $60 per barrel expected for 2022, the upstream M&A market is likely to stay active for the foreseeable future,” Ilka Haarmann, senior analyst at Rystad Energy, said.