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Trade war hits Volvo Cars IPO plans; Tesla shuffles executive team amid exits

TOP NEWS

* Volvo Cars CEO Håkan Samuelsson said an IPO of the Swedish carmaker, which was expected to occur before 2018-end, will "not happen immediately" as present market conditions such as the ongoing global trade disputes "are not optimal to give certain upside for the investors," the Financial Times (London) reported. Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd.-owned Volvo Cars was recently reported to be fretting about institutional investors valuing the company at about $12 billion to $18 billion, much lower than the company's expectation of $16 billion to $30 billion. Samuelsson, who separately extended his contract with the company until 2022, reportedly added that any final decision on the IPO will be taken by Geely's billionaire owner, Li Shufu.

* Tesla Inc. promoted Jerome Guillen, head of vehicle engineering and global sales and service, to president of its automotive division. Guillen led the creation of a makeshift general assembly line under a tent, a move that proved critical to the company's ramp-up of Model 3 production. Musk promoted Kevin Kassekert to vice president of people and places and promoted Chris Lister to vice president of Tesla's Gigafactory operations. Tesla's shares closed at $263.24, down 6.30%, on Sept. 7 following the departure of Chief Accounting Officer Dave Morton from the company after less than a month in the role and confirmation that Chief People Officer Gaby Toledano had extended a several-month leave of absence "for personal reasons."

CARMAKERS

* British luxury-car maker Aston Martin Holdings (UK) Ltd. reaffirmed its IPO plans and picked its board members ahead of its London public offering, naming former Coca-Cola Co. executive Penny Hughes as the nonexecutive chair. Richard Solomons, former CEO of InterContinental Hotels Group PLC, was named senior independent director and chair of the board's audit and risk committee, while Aston Martin President and CEO Andy Palmer and the company CFO Mark Wilson will serve as executive directors. The carmaker said the price range for the IPO, the maximum number of shares to be sold and any other outstanding information will be updated in due course and made available in the prospectus, which it expects to release on or around Sept. 20.

* Volkswagen AG CFO Frank Witter said a probable listing of its luxury car segment "is a legitimate question" that "might be down the road" but not a priority for VW management at present, Bloomberg News reported. Witter said the German automaker is focused on preparing its trucks unit for a potential public offering, besides improving efficiencies across its 12 automotive brands.

* Volkswagen said it has appointed Christian Dahlheim, a board member at Volkswagen Financial Services AG overseeing sales, as its head of group sales, effective Oct. 1. Dahlheim will replace Fred Kappler, who is retiring. Lars Santelmann, chairman of Volkswagen Financial Services, will take over Dahlheim's vacated role as an additional responsibility.

* Toyota Motor Corp. said it plans to restart production at its vehicle assembly lines in Japan between Sept. 11 and Sept. 13, which were halted on power supply problems and parts shortages due to the earthquakes that hit the country's Hokkaido Island on Sept. 6. The resumption will begin in stages, with operations at all of the automaker's unit-producing factories slated to begin Sept. 11, while Toyota Hokkaido unit's productions will resume Sept. 10.

* General Motors Co. promoted Christopher Hatto to vice president, controller and chief accounting officer of the carmaker, effective Sept. 1. Most recently, Hatto was GM's CFO for its U.S. sales operations since January 2016.

REGULATIONS AND SAFETY

* Ford Motor Co. denied President Donald Trump's tweet that the carmaker's move to scrap its plan to sell the China-built Focus in the U.S. would mean that the Focus Active "can now be BUILT IN THE U.S.A. and Ford will pay no tariffs!" Ford spokesman Mike Levine said the company has no such plans and it would "not be profitable" to build the Focus Active in the U.S. "given an expected annual sales volume of fewer than 50,000 units and its competitive segment."

* The Braunschweig higher regional court in Germany began proceedings against Volkswagen AG, brought about by VW shareholders representing 1,670 claims and seeking €9.2 billion in compensation for the automaker's alleged failure to inform them earlier about its diesel emissions scandal, Reuters reported. VW, which already has paid penalties and fines amounting to €27.4 billion, reportedly said in a statement it is "confident" that the company "complied with its disclosure obligations toward shareholders and the capital markets."

AUTO PARTS AND EQUIPMENT

* Auto components manufacturer DENSO Corp. agreed to buy a stake in Japanese consumer electronics company Tohoku Pioneer EG Corp., which is owned by Pioneer Corp., and supplies factory automation production systems for automotive and other industries. Denso said the investment will help in its goal of developing better factory automation systems as part of the company's long-term plan 2025.

* Italian tiremaker Pirelli & C. SpA said it is closing its factory in the city of Guacara in Venezuela, effectively ceasing all its activities in the Latin American country. Pirelli said the move has no financial impact on the group.

AUTOMOTIVE RETAIL

* Jaguar Land Rover Ltd. said it sold 36,629 vehicles in August, down 4.9% year over year, because of the present uncertainty due to tariffs and trade tensions in the Chinese market, where sales dropped 38.1% year over year. The Tata Motors Ltd.-owned British luxury-car maker, however, expects China slashing import duties on cars to be helpful over the full year. "Concerns over diesel and Brexit continue to weigh on the industry in the U.K. and Europe," JLR's Chief Commercial Officer Felix Brautigam said.

* Mercedes-Benz posted August global sales of 155,918 vehicles, down 8.5% year over year, due to "challenges relating to vehicle availability" like model changes and delays in vehicle certification in some markets. The Daimler AG-owned luxury-car maker's monthly sales in Europe dropped 10.7% year over year to 54,989 units. For the first eight months of 2018, Mercedes-Benz delivered 1,512,268 vehicles globally, an uptick of 1.1% year over year.

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The day ahead

Early morning futures indicators pointed to a higher opening for the U.S. market.

In Asia, the Hang Seng was down 1.33% to 26,613.42. The Nikkei 225 rose 0.30% to 22,373.09.

In Europe as of midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.36% to 7,304.01, and the Euronext 100 was up 0.48% to 1,034.28.

On the macro front

The consumer credit report and the TD Ameritrade Investor Movement Index are due out today.

Click here to read about today's financial markets, setting out the factors driving stocks, bonds and currencies around the world ahead of the New York open.

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