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FCA’s $1 billion investment in Canada tied to government help

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Editor’s note: All dollar figures in this story have been translated from Canadian currency into U.S. dollars at current exchange rates.

Unifor leaders on Sunday urged Fiat Chrysler Automobiles workers to ratify a tentative contract that includes pay raises, changes to the new-hire pay grid and plans from the automaker to invest between $1 billion and $1.1 billion in its Windsor, Ontario, assembly plant.

The Windsor investment, which would lead to the production of a plug-in hybrid or battery-electric vehicle there by 2024, is contingent upon the ratification of the contract and government support, according to a letter from FCA Canada to Unifor detailing the investment plans that was included in a contract highlights brochure Sunday. Unifor President Jerry Dias indicated on Thursday that FCA was in conversations with the government on support.

“With that joint commitment, the company’s intention is to add the necessary assembly tooling and equipment to manufacture electrified vehicles for future models, currently planned for the 2025 model year,” the FCA letter reads.

Both the federal and Ontario governments have pledged money toward Ford Motor Co.’s $1.4 billion investment in Oakville, Ontario. And the federal government sounds open to doing something similar for FCA.

“We are at the table and prepared to support the future of our auto sector, particularly with regards to the development of electric vehicle and battery production here in Canada,” the federal government told Automotive News Canada in an email on Oct. 15

More than 8,000 FCA workers represented by Unifor were set to vote virtually on whether to ratify the contract beginning at 10 a.m. ET Sunday through 9:59 a.m. Monday. Ratification meetings, held online this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, were scheduled for Sunday morning.

‘Transformational talks’

Union leaders pitched the agreement as a historic one that helps to make Canada a “forerunner in green cars and green jobs” and contains economic provisions “as good as we have seen in decades.”

“This year’s auto talks will go down in history as a transformational moment for the Canadian auto sector,” reads a statement from Unifor’s Dias, FCA Master Bargaining Committee Chair James Stewart and National Secretary Treasurer Lana Payne.

“Years of government neglect, job loss and worker despair is quickly turning into optimism, hope and a very bright future. Canada is back in the game, in a very big way and Unifor members at FCA are a part of that.”

The plans for Windsor, which will continue to assemble FCA’s minivans, make up the vast majority of investment dollars FCA committed to under the tentative agreement. FCA’s Brampton, Ontario, assembly plant will receive about $38 million in investment over the life of the agreement, including “sustainment capital for the manufacturing operations” there and a commitment to install a tempered air system.

FCA plans to continue building the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger through the life of the agreement and said it plans to introduce three variants of the latter two models. In their statement, union leaders contrasted the situations at Windsor and Brampton.

“This is an important vote of confidence in Windsor — an important facility facing an uncertain future due to falling minivan sales,” the statement reads. “Alternatively, declining sales are not what is facing Brampton Assembly, where vehicle sales continue at near-record highs.”

‘Good news for Brampton’

The union pitched the capital upgrades in Brampton as “good news” as it continues to “chart a path forward on next-generation products.”

The Brampton plant’s future has long been the subject of speculation. While its Charger and Challenger models remain in demand and highly profitable for the automaker, they are built on one of the oldest platforms in the industry, and it is not clear what FCA’s plans for next-generation versions of those vehicles are.

Upon ratification, FCA also plans to invest $14.4 million in its Etobicoke Casting plant in Toronto. The plant would begin casting on parts for the Jeep Wrangler and a nine-speed transmission.

The three-year FCA contract follows the pattern set by the recently ratified contract between Unifor and Ford Motor Co. That contract was ratified in late September with 81-percent support among voting union members.

The FCA contract includes $8,500 in bonuses, including a $5,500 lump sum payment due on Nov. 20 and two $1,500 bonuses to be paid out in December 2021 and December 2022.

Full-time production workers at the full pay rate would also receive a 4 percent lump sum bonus in 2021, as well as a 2.5 percent raises in 2020 and 2022. Workers would also receive a 13-cent per-hour wage increase that “reestablishes parity” between FCA and Ford assembly workers, according to the union. Additionally, the plan calls for the 20 percent wage differential between skilled-trades workers and production workers to be reinstated by 2023.

Like the Ford contract, the tentative FCA deal would shorten the wage grow-in period for new hires to eight years. Base pay percentages were also increased for each year under the contract. For instance, a new hire would earn 65 percent of the full base rate, up from 61.25 percent under the current agreement.

Retirement help

According to Unifor, FCA plans to offer a $30,300  lump-sum retirement package for up to 350 workers in early 2021, 275 of which are set aside for the Brampton plant. Allocation of the remaining packages will be discussed between the company and union at a later date, Unifor said.

FCA plans to hire up to 75 apprentices split between its two assembly plants and Etobicoke Casting. The company also confirmed plans to reverse a decision to outsource its transportation division in Windsor, according to the union.

The FCA contract also includes various changes to health-care benefits, including increased coverage reimbursement levels for vision care, higher maximums for dental care and a new annual limit of $380 for medical cannabis prescribed by a physician.

Under the agreement, Unifor and FCA’s annual business review meetings would become quarterly. The meetings would focus on “company product plans and business forecasts, including on electric, autonomous, connected vehicle and component parts development,” according to the highlights sheet.

Should workers ratify the agreement, Unifor would begin negotiations with General Motors later this week. GM-Unifor talks will cover the automaker’s St. Catharines, Ontario, engine and transmission plant and the new aftermarket parts operation at its former Oshawa, Ontario, assembly plant.

FCA ratification results were expected to be known on Monday.

Source:- Automotive News Europe

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Large federal investment announcement planned for Tecumseh – AM800 (iHeartRadio)

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An announcement on the “single largest federal investment in the history of the Town of Tecumseh” is planned for Monday morning.

Windsor-Tecumseh MPP Irek Kusmierczyk and Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara plan to reveal details at Tecumseh’s public works yard.

The news conference is planned for 9 a.m.

This is a developing story. More coming.

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Kotak Mahindra's Profit Beats Estimates on Investment Gains – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd., India’s third-largest lender by market value, posted second-quarter profit that unexpectedly grew as income from investments rose and expenses dropped.

Net income climbed 27% to 21.8 billion rupees ($295 million) for the three months ended Sept. 30 from a year earlier, the Mumbai-based bank said in a filing Monday. That beat expectations from analysts who expected a profit of 13.4 billion rupees, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The lender said it set aside 3.7 billion rupees in provisions during the quarter, compared with 4.1 billion rupees a year earlier. Indian lenders — like others globally — have been stepping up buffers to protect themselves from the financial fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

Still, Kotak Mahindra’s gross bad loan ratio fell slightly to 2.55% at the end of September, compared with 2.7% three months earlier. The ratio would have stayed at that level if India’s top court hadn’t allowed lenders to continue with a relaxation of rules around bad debt recognition, it said.

Kotak Mahindra, backed by Asia’s richest banker Uday Kotak, is exploring the takeover of smaller Indian rival IndusInd Bank Ltd., people with knowledge of the matter said this week. A deal would cement Kotak Mahindra’s position as one of India’s leading private banks, boosting its assets by about 83%.

A spokesman for Kotak Mahindra declined to comment on the takeover plans, while a representative for IndusInd denied the report.

Kotak Mahindra boosted its balance sheet earlier this year by securing nearly $1 billion in a share sale.

(Updates with details from third paragraph.)

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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Rocketship Remakes Early Stage Venture Investing – pymnts.com

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Most investors claim to follow the data, which is good investing practice and even better marketing. Besides, no really successful investor is ever going to claim blind luck or gut instinct as their secret sauce.

But letting the data drive one’s actual investment decision-making is a lot more difficult in practice than it is in theory. After all, there’s a lot of data out there, Sailesh Ramakrishnan, a partner at early-stage global venture capital firm Rocketship Ventures told Karen Webster in a recent conversation.

He said the world is awash with data all day, every day – from mobile apps, social media, ratings sites of all sorts, etc. – a stream that generates a constantly shifting sea of information for any investment firm.

But Ramakrishnan said that information breaks down into three distinct types. “There’s a bunch of day-to-day, changing data that come in, things like newspaper articles, employment history, new executives joining, funding announcements and so on,” he told Webster.

On the other end of the spectrum is the static, mostly historical data about a company. And in between is the slow-changing data – quarterly performance results and the like.

“So there’s a whole continuum of data, and not only do you need different techniques to extract information, you also need different ways of combining these different streams to get an entire image,” Ramakrishnan noted.

And that is what Rocketship’s algorithm-based investment model was constructed to do. It sets multiple models keyed into different time slices against the startup ecosystem and gears the firm’s investments toward early-stage firms in their earliest investment rounds (generally the seed, A and B rounds).

The model aims to accomplish the same goal of every early-stage investor: to get in on the ground floor with the next amazing company and disburse the funds entrepreneurs need.

Following The Data To The Unexpected

Rocketship’s models are varied – some compute data every day, some every few weeks and others every few months.

Ramakrishnan said none of these models are perfect, because perfect models don’t exist. But they’re designed to learn and improve over time, filtering data into better guidance and recommendations as to where the firm should be looking to invest.

That doesn’t mean the model gets to make decisions on its own. Ramakrishnan said one of the most important realities of working with mathematical modeling is that it has its limits. Reality is full of intangibles that matter very much to a company’s success, but they’re hard to present mathematically.

“That is why we have not invested in every company that our algorithms identify,” Ramakrishnan explained. “We as human partners spend a lot of time trying to understand that ‘secret sauce’ that exists within the company, and whether that is a sustainable, resilient element.”

But it does mean that when the data point in a certain direction, the firm knows that’s the place to start looking – even if it’s not what Rocketship expected to see.

A World Of Opportunities

That was the firm’s experience almost immediately upon launching its first fund five years ago. The plan was to do what nearly every Silicon Valley investment firm was doing at the time.

Rocketship intended to start local with all the opportunities in the Valley, then down the road push out into the country at large and eventually the wider world. But when the firm actually started running its algorithmic models, Rocketship quickly found that its plan was, in a word, wrong.

What the data told the company was that its own backyard was the wrong place to play. The broader world was full of amazing companies without much regard to borders – in India, the European Union or Latin America.

Ramakrishnan said Rocketship was founded by career data scientists, all operating under one golden rule: “Never impose one’s strategy in conflict with what the data is saying.”

“Data offered us these kinds of global opportunities and we followed,” he said. “We became a global investor pretty much on day one, and were immediately very different from what most other investors were doing.”

Thriving During The Pandemic

Ramakrishnan pointed out that the world of investing is changing all around us, but in ways that play to Rocketship’s strengths.

In a world where a pandemic has shut down face-to-face meetings, everyone on Earth suddenly has to learn something that Ramakrishnan said his firm has spent the past half-decade working on: investing in firms whose founders you’ve never met in-person.

And he added that the investment landscape is still lively in an awful lot of places. For example, firms that enable cloud-shift, FinTechs that enable lending, firms specializing in employee management and neobanks/digital banks are all areas where opportunity is exploding in response to recently skyrocketing demand.

Democratizing Venture Capital

Perhaps even more interestingly, Ramakrishnan said, is that the investing landscape itself is beginning to change as it becomes more globalized and democratized. The balance of power is shifting in ways he believes will ultimately benefit the best, most innovative companies worldwide, without regard to where they were founded.

Ramakrishnan said the next amazing startup might come from Silicon Valley, but it could just as well come from Vietnam, Nigeria, Chile or Colombia. And those firms will come to market better able to build a track record of results without raising capital – which means by the time they’re talking to potential investors, “the dynamic has changed,” he noted.

The money will always be extremely important, but the data-driven investing world of the future is about more than that, he said.

“Everybody’s asking investors, ‘What can you do for me?’” Ramakrishnan said. “[But] it’s not just about if we have the dollars – it’s because of our backgrounds, our data science, our data.”

“We now have to have those reasons why you should take our money from us versus anybody else who’s offering money to you,” he said. “And I think that dynamic – where there is that recognition of the value investors play over and beyond just the dollars – is [an] essential part of this conversation.”

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NEW PYMNTS DATA: HOW WE SHOP – SEPTEMBER 2020 

The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.

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