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Despite crisis, automakers kept investing in assembly plants – Automotive News

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The assumption of 2020 was that the year would be a washout when it came to automakers making big, new investments in assembly plants. Given the cataclysm of the coronavirus pandemic, the halt in industry production, the crash of the U.S. economy, the scramble for cash reserves, the new uncertainty over the health and safety of industrial workplaces and the very real fear that Americans would be in no hurry to buy a new vehicle, it was logical that nobody needed to spend money on an auto factory.

But things turned out differently.

Despite the early worries, automakers pressed ahead with new investments, expansions, retoolings and undeveloped land in 2020. These were the largest projects in the January-November period, as tabulated by the Center for Automotive Research of Ann Arbor, Mich., for its industry-tracking Book of Deals database.

$1.45 billion
Ford: Oakville, Ontario
Retooling and preparation for production of battery-electric vehicles

$1.2 billion
FCA: Windsor, Ontario
Retooling and preparation for the production of plug-in hybrids and battery-powered vehicles

$1.1 billion
Tesla: Austin, Texas
A manufacturing plant on undeveloped land to produce the Tesla Cybertruck, Semi, Model 3 and Model Y for the eastern half of North America

$1 billion
General Motors: Spring Hill, Tenn.
An expansion to introduce production of electric vehicles, including the all-new Cadillac Lyriq

$1 billion
General Motors: Oshawa, Ontario
Capital investment for retooling to implement a new, flexible assembly module for the production of heavy-duty and light-duty T1XX pickups

$830 million
Mazda Toyota Manufacturing USA: Huntsville, Ala.
Additional investment at the plant project to incorporate new manufacturing technologies into production lines and provide enhanced training for its work force

$170 million
Toyota Motor Corp.: Apaseo el Grande, Guanajuato, Mexico
Additional investment to expand capacity at the newly opened Corolla assembly plant to add the Tacoma pickup

$158 million
Subaru of Indiana Automotive: Lafayette, Ind.
Expansion of manufacturing, addition of transmission assembly and construction of a new service parts facility

$115 million
Ford Motor Co.: Windsor, Ontario
Investment in two powertrain plants, Windsor Engine and Essex Engine, to launch a new 6.8L engine in 2022 at Windsor, and to enhance production of 5.0-liter engines and Nano cylinder heads at Essex

$100 million
General Motors: Lansing, Mich.
Retooling for production of the GMC Acadia

$85 million
General Motors: St. Catharines, Ontario
Investment to modify the assembly plant and production tooling to introduce a new transmission and variants

$53 million
Mercedes-Benz U.S. International: Vance, Ala.
Construction of a storage and sequence facility for parts used in the plant’s coming U.S. production of EVs

$46 million
Arrival: Rock Hill, S.C.
Vehicle assembly plant on undeveloped land for the U.K.-based manufacturer of electric buses

$39 million
General Motors: Toledo, Ohio
Upgrade and enhancement in the production of GM’s eight-speed rear-wheel-drive transmissions

$39 million
FCA: Brampton, Ontario
Upgrades in existing assembly operation

$32 million
General Motors: Defiance, Ohio
Additional investment to support engine component casting

$32 million
General Motors: Flint, Mich.
Expansion for production of heavy-duty Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups

Source: Center for Automotive Research, Book of Deals. January-November 2020

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More China coal investments overseas cancelled than commissioned since 2017

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More China-invested overseas coal-fired power capacity was cancelled than commissioned since 2017, research showed on Wednesday, highlighting the obstacles facing the industry as countries work to reduce carbon emissions.

The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) said that the amount of capacity shelved or cancelled since 2017 was 4.5 times higher than the amount that went into construction over the period.

Coal-fired power is one of the biggest sources of climate-warming carbon dioxide emissions, and the wave of cancellations also reflects rising concerns about the sector’s long-term economic competitiveness.

Since 2016, the top 10 banks involved in global coal financing were all Chinese, and around 12% of all coal plants operating outside of China can be linked to Chinese banks, utilities, equipment manufacturers and construction firms, CREA said.

But although 80 gigawatts of China-backed capacity is still in the pipeline, many of the projects could face further setbacks as public opposition rises and financing becomes more difficult, it added.

China is currently drawing up policies that it says will allow it to bring greenhouse gas emissions to a peak by 2030 and to become carbon-neutral by 2060.

But it was responsible for more than half the world’s coal-fired power generation last year, and it will not start to cut coal consumption until 2026, President Xi Jinping said in April.

Environmental groups have called on China to stop financing coal-fired power entirely and to use the funds to invest in cleaner forms of energy, and there are already signs that it is cutting back on coal investments both at home and abroad.

Following rule changes implemented by the central bank earlier this year, “clean coal” is no longer eligible for green financing.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world’s biggest bank by assets and a major source of global coal financing, is also drawing up a “road map” to pull out of the sector, its chief economist Zhou Yueqiu said at the end of May.

 

(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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Bank of Montreal CEO sees growth in U.S. share of earnings

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Bank of Montreal expects its earnings contribution from the U.S. to keep growing, even without any mergers and acquisitions, driven by a much smaller market share than at home and nearly C$1 trillion ($823.38 billion) of assets, Chief Executive Officer Darryl White said on Monday.

“We do think we have plenty of scale,” and the ability to compete with both banks of similar as well as smaller size, White said at a Morgan Stanley conference, adding that the bank’s U.S. market share is between 1% and 5% based on the business line, versus 10% to 35% in Canada. “And we do it off the scale of our global balance sheet of C$950 billion.”

($1 = 1.2145 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Nichola Saminather; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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GameStop falls 27% on potential share sale

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Shares of GameStop Corp lost more than a quarter of their value on Thursday and other so-called meme stocks also declined in a sell-off that hit a broad range of names favored by retail investors.

The video game retailer’s shares closed down 27.16% at $220.39, their biggest one-day percentage loss in 11 weeks. The drop came a day after GameStop said in a quarterly report that it may sell up to 5 million new shares, sparking concerns of potential dilution for existing shareholders.

“The threat of dilution from the five million-share sale is the dagger in the hearts of GameStop shareholders,” said Jake Dollarhide, chief executive officer of Longbow Asset Management. “The meme trade is not working today, so logic for at least one day has returned.”

Soaring rallies in the shares of GameStop and AMC Entertainment Holdings over the past month have helped reinvigorate the meme stock frenzy that began earlier this year and fueled big moves in a fresh crop of names popular with investors on forums such as Reddit’s WallStreetBets.

Many of those names traded lower on Thursday, with shares of Clover Health Investments Corp down 15.2%, burger chain Wendy’s falling 3.1% and prison operator Geo Group Inc, one of the more recently minted meme stocks, down nearly 20% after surging more than 38% on Wednesday. AMC shares were off more than 13%.

Worries that other companies could leverage recent stock price gains by announcing share sales may be rippling out to the broader meme stock universe, said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Cresset Capital.

AMC last week took advantage of a 400% surge in its share price since mid-May to announce a pair of stock offerings.

“It appears that other companies, like GameStop, are hoping to follow AMC’s lead by issuing shares and otherwise profit from the meme stocks run-up,” Ablin said. “Investors are taking a dim view of that strategy.”

Wedbush Securities on Thursday raised its price target on GameStop to $50, from $39. GameStop will likely sell all 5 million new shares but that amount only represents a “modest” dilution of 7%, Wedbush analysts wrote.

GameStop on Wednesday reported stronger-than-expected earnings, and named the former head of Amazon.com Inc’s Australian business as its chief executive officer.

GameStop’s shares rallied more than 1,600% in January when a surge of buying forced bearish investors to unwind their bets in a phenomenon known as a short squeeze.

The company on Wednesday said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission had requested documents and information related to an investigation into that trading.

In the past two weeks, the so-called “meme stocks” have received $1.27 billion of retail inflows, Vanda Research said on Wednesday, matching their January peak.

 

(Reporting by Aaron Saldanha and Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bengaluru and Sinead Carew in New York; Additional reporting by Ira Iosebashvili; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila, Shounak Dasgupta, Jonathan Oatis and Nick Zieminski)

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