joint venture


Uber wins $1bn investment from Toyota, SoftBank fund

TOKYO: Japanese car giant Toyota and investment fund SoftBank Vision Fund on Friday unveiled an investment of $1 billion in US company Uber to drive forward the development of driverless ridesharing services.

The latest cash injection, expected to close in the third quarter this year, came amid fevered anticipation of Uber’s public share offering which is expected to be the largest in the tech sector for years.

Toyota has already invested $500 million in Uber as the firm races Google-owned Waymo and a host of other companies, including major automakers, to develop self-driving vehicles.

The latest investment, which also involves Japanese parts maker DENSO, will go to Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group in a bid to “accelerate the development and commercialisation of automated ridesharing,” the firms said in a statement.

Toyota and DENSO are stumping up $667 million and SoftBank Vision Fund, the investment arm of Japanese tycoon Masayoshi Son’s SoftBank, will pour $333 million into the venture. It is already the top shareholder in Uber, holding 16 percent.

The Japanese car firm said it would also contribute “an additional $300 million over the next three years to help cover the costs related to these activities.”

Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said driverless cars would “transform transportation as we know it, making our streets safer and our cities more liveable.”

His firm is aiming to go beyond car rides to becoming the “Amazon of transportation” in a future where people share, instead of own, vehicles.

If all goes to plan, commuters could ride an e-scooter to a transit station, take a train, then grab an e-bike, share a ride or take an e-scooter at the arriving station to complete a journey — all using an Uber app on a smartphone.

Uber is also seeing growing success with an “Eats” service that lets drivers make money delivering meals ordered from restaurants.

‘Sharing economy’

Last week, Uber filed official documents for its much-anticipated public share offering.

The filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission said it operates on six continents with some 14 million trips per day and has totalled more than 10 billion rides since it was founded in 2010.

The filing contained a “placeholder” amount of $1 billion to be raised but that figure is expected to increase ahead of the initial public offering (IPO) expected in May.

The Wall Street Journal said earlier this month that Uber was seeking to raise $10 billion in what would be the largest stock offering of the year.

Media reports said the ride-hailing giant was likely to seek a market value of close to $100 billion.

Uber is the largest of the “unicorns” or venture-backed firms worth at least $1 billion to list on Wall Street, and is one of the key companies in the “sharing economy” based on offering services to replace ownership of cars, homes and other commodities.

Its revenue grew 42 percent last year to $11.2 billion but it continued to lose money from its operations. A net profit was reported for the year from a large asset sale, but operational losses were more than $3 billion.

And some analysts have voiced caution over the forthcoming IPO given a relative lacklustre debut for Lyft, the main US rival.

Khosrowshahi has promised greater transparency as he seeks to restore confidence in the global ridesharing leader hit by a wave of misconduct scandals.

In October, Toyota and SoftBank announced the creation of a joint venture to create “new mobility service” including driverless vehicles for services such as meal deliveries.

The new company — called “Monet”, short for “mobility network” — is majority owned by SoftBank.

SoftBank started as a software firm but has increasingly been pushing into investments under tycoon Son, one of Japan’s richest men.

‘No negative impact from cancellation of Vietnam JV’

PETALING JAYA: The cancellation of the joint venture (JV) to form a low cost carrier in Vietnam will not negatively affect AirAsia Group Bhd’s expansion plan, said MIDF Research.

“While the cancellation of the JV may appear to negatively impact AirAsia’s expansion plan, we do not think that this is the case. In early April 2019, AirAsia introduced Can Tho to its network of routes with a weekly frequency of four flights. In fact, this is the first ever international flight to Can Tho, indicating AirAsia’s lead as an international airline for that destination,” it said in its report today.

It noted that Can Tho is AirAsia’s sixth destination in Vietnam while new services between Bangkok and Can Tho are set to commence in May 2019.

With 8.5 million visitors visiting the Mekong Delta in 2018, it opined that this destination has the potential to attract more visitors which will positively flow to AirAsia’s load factor thus, it is not imperative for AirAsia to set up a JV carrier in Vietnam.

Today, AirAsia told Bursa Malaysia that its wholly owned subsidiary AirAsia Investment Ltd, together with Gumin Company Ltd and Hai Au Aviation Joint Stock Company had amicably agreed to terminate and release each other from all obligations under the transaction agreements in relation to the proposed JV in Vietnam.

AirAsia drops Vietnam joint venture, to seek other opportunities

PETALING JAYA: AirAsia Group Bhd has scrapped its joint venture (JV) plan to set up a low-cost carrier (LCC) n Vietnam with local partners.

The group told Bursa Malaysia that its wholly owned subsidiary AirAsia Investment Ltd, together with Gumin Company Ltd and Hai Au Aviation Joint Stock Company had amicably agreed to terminate and release each other from all obligations under the transaction agreements in relation to the proposed joint venture in Vietnam, effective April 17, 2019.

Despite the termination, AirAsia stressed that it remains interested in operating a low-cost airline in Vietnam due to its favourable geographical location, expanding aviation market and overall growth potential.

“The termination of the joint venture is not subject to the approval of the company’s shareholders and is not expected to have any financial impact on the net assets or gearing of the company.”

AirAsia first announced its intention to establish an LCC in March 2017 and a memorandum of cooperation was signed in December 2018.

AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes had said Vietnam is one of the last remaining countries with a large population within the region that AirAsia is not in.

AirAsia is already the largest foreign airline group in Vietnam by capacity, currently operating to five destinations in the country, including its latest addition of Phu Quoc.

Its shares gained 1 sen or 0.4% to close at RM2.48 today with 8.08 million shares changing hands.

AirAsia’s subsidiary abandons joint venture in Vietnam

KUALA LUMPUR, April 17 — AirAsia’s wholly-owned unit, AirAsia Investment Ltd, together with Gumin Company Ltd and Hai Au Aviation Joint Stock Company, have mutually agreed to terminate the agreement to set up a joint venture in Vietnam,…

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Hibiscus Petroleum unfazed by production halt at Anasuria FPSO

PETALING JAYA: Hibiscus Petroleum Bhd assured that the temporary production halt at Anasuria floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) is not expected to impact its crude oil offtake schedule or have any material effect on the group for the financial year ending June 30, 2019.

Hibiscus Petroleum was responding to a recent online article published by Upstream Online titled “Petrofac launches appeal against UK prohibition notice” that states a prohibition notice was served against Petrofac Facilities Management, which has been running the FPSO on behalf of Anasuria Operating Company (AOC), a joint venture between Hibiscus Petroleum and Ping Petroleum since 2016.

Hibiscus Petroleum told Bursa Malaysia that its indirect wholly-owned subsidiary Anasuria Hibiscus UK Ltd (AHUK) jointly operates the Anasuria Cluster via AOC with Ping Petroleum UK Ltd.

“In the subsequent to a routine visit by the health and safety executive (HSE) in late February 2019 to FSPO, Petrofac as the duty holder was instructed through the prohibition notice to temporarily halt production pending the mitigation of the risk identified by the inspectors in relation to the asset’s flare tip.”

As a result, it said production was temporarily halted at the facility for six days to mitigate any potential risk.

“Other previously planned maintenance work was also simultaneously undertaken during this period. There were no injuries or loss of containment as a result of this matter.”

Hibiscus Petroleum understands that Petrofac is appealing the issuance of the prohibition notice by the HSE.

“We wish to emphasise that Hibiscus Petroleum, AHUK and Petrofac’s priority is always the safety and welfare of all employees and contractors,” it added.

At the midday break, Hibiscus Petroleum’s share price was down 2 sen or 1.8% to RM1.11 on 23.2 million shares done.

BMW to recall 360,000 China cars over Takata airbags

SHANGHAI: Germany’s BMW will recall 360,000 vehicles in China as part of the worldwide effort to root out defective airbags made by now-defunct Japanese supplier Takata, regulators in Beijing said.

Around 20 people have died in accidents linked to defects in Takata airbags since 2013, prompting a massive worldwide recall of at least 100 million cars from a wide range of manufacturers.

The recall will affect nearly 273,000 models built by BMW’s joint venture with Chinese manufacturer Brilliance Automotive and more than 87,000 imported BMW cars, China’s State Administration for Market Regulation said.

The agency said in statement posted on its website late Tuesday that a defect could cause the airbags to eject debris at passengers if deployed.

It did not mention any specific incidents caused by the BMW-installed airbags.

The China recall affects more than two dozen different BMW models built between 2000 and 2018, including several each in the i, X and M series, along with other models.

The suspect parts will be replaced for free, the notice said.

Founded in 1933, Takata went out of business in 2017 because of the airbag crisis.

The BMW announcement came as global carmakers were gathered for the Shanghai Auto Show amid a rare sales slump in the world’s largest vehicle market.

Penang LRT project to start next year

Chow Kon Yeow

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