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Elliott opposes Hyundai restructuring plan; Mazda promotes Americas chief to CEO

TOP NEWS

* U.S.-based activist investor Elliott Management Corp. called on shareholders of Hyundai Motor Group, the parent company of Hyundai Mobis Co. Ltd, Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp., to reject the South Korean conglomerate's proposed restructuring plans as they neither provide an efficient business case nor simplify Hyundai Motor's corporate structure. The company's Vice Chairman Chung Eui-sun, who took over from his father in 2009, reportedly told Bloomberg News that he is not fazed by Elliott, and the company will listen "carefully" before reviewing the firm's proposals.

* Mazda Motor Corp. named Akira Marumoto, head of its Americas operations, as its new president and CEO, replacing Masamichi Kogai, who will become the Japanese automaker's new chairman. Kogai will succeed Seita Kanai, who is set to retire as chairman, while current head of R&D Kiyoshi Fujiwara will replace Marumoto as the head of Americas. The new appointments will take effect June 26. The executive reshuffle comes within weeks of Mazda announcing a U.S.-based manufacturing joint venture with Toyota Motor Corp. in a bid to expand its presence in North America.

CARMAKERS

* Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. chose Citigroup Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley for its Swedish carmaker unit Volvo Cars' IPO in 2018, Bloomberg News reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter. The company is reportedly figuring on a valuation range of $16 billion to $30 billion. Geely, Citi, Goldman and Morgan Stanley declined to comment, Bloomberg News said.

* Volkswagen AG's Audi AG will sit out of the 2019 North American International Auto Show in Detroit and said it will evaluate future events "on a case by case basis" in tandem with product launch schedules and overall business value, Automotive News reported. Although a spokesman for parent Volkswagen confirmed its participation, Audi is the fourth German automaker after Daimler AG-owned Mercedes-Benz, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, or BMW Group, and Porsche Automobil Holding SE to skip the event, The Detroit News reported.

* Japan's Subaru Corp. forecast a dip in sales and profit for fiscal 2019 ending March 2019 due to a stronger yen and changes in accounting policies after its fiscal 2018 net income dropped 22% from the previous year's ¥282.35 billion but beat S&P Capital IQ-compiled consensus estimate of ¥212.20 billion. The carmaker expects 2019 sales to be ¥3.250 trillion, down 4.6% year over year from ¥3.405 trillion in fiscal 2018. The company projected its net income to dip 0.2% year over year to ¥220 billion from ¥220.4 billion in fiscal 2018 ended March 31.

* German carmaker Daimler AG is among a group of new investors that have committed to backing SoftBank Group Corp.'s SoftBank Vision Fund, people briefed on the negotiations told London's Financial Times. Other new investors reportedly include Japanese banks MUFG, Mizuho and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., as well as Oracle Corp. co-founder Larry Ellison and the sovereign wealth fund of Bahrain.

* Ford Motor Co. appointed Jeff Lemmer as its new vice president and chief information officer, effective June 1. Previously, Lemmer served in various leadership positions within the company, including as vice president and COO of the U.S. carmaker's IT division. The Detroit carmaker's transportation services business Ford Smart Mobility LLC also appointed Gavin Sherry as the CEO of its Autonomic unit, while former Autonomic CEO Sundeep Madra will now serve as a board member and adviser for the company.

ELECTRIC AND AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES

* Japan's Panasonic Corp. could partner with Tesla Inc. to make battery cells in China if the U.S. electric car maker starts full-fledged production in the country, Reuters reported, quoting Panasonic CEO Kazuhiro Tsuga at an earnings briefing. The company forecasts battery cell sales to be the core driver for its operating profit outlook of ¥425 billion in fiscal 2019, estimated to grow 44.5% year over year from 2018.

REGULATIONS AND SAFETY

* U.S. President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet 10 automakers, including General Motors Co., Honda Motor Co. Ltd., Toyota Motor Corp. and Ford Motor Co., at the White House on May 11 to discuss the proposed revision of emissions standards through 2026, Reuters reported. The companies have indicated in the past their preference for a common national set of fuel efficiency requirements that avoids a protracted legal tussle between the federal government and California.

AUTO PARTS AND EQUIPMENT

* Canadian automotive supplier Magna International Inc. raised its 2018 earnings forecast as it reported first-quarter profit that increased to $660 million, or $1.83 per share, up from $577 million, or $1.51 per share, in the prior-year period. For 2018, Magna expects its net income to be between $2.4 billion and $2.6 billion, up from the previous guidance range of $2.3 billion to $2.5 billion, while total sales are projected to be between $40.9 billion and $43.1 billion, higher than the earlier forecast range of $39.3 billion to $41.5 billion. The company earned $1.84 per share on an adjusted basis in the quarter ended March 31, beating the consensus EPS estimate of $1.70 compiled by S&P Capital IQ.

* South Korean auto parts maker Hankook Tire Co. Ltd. has acquired a 51% stake in Seoul-based prototypes maker Model Solution Ltd. from British electronic components manufacturer Laird PLC for 46.67 billion South Korean won, according to a filing by Laird to the London Stock Exchange. Model Solution specializes in precision prototyping, design support, tooling, low volume manufacturing and 3D printing for various industries, such as aerospace, automotive, consumer, medical and industrial.

TRUCKS AND MOTORCYCLES

* Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd. reaffirmed its outlook for fiscal 2018 after the Japanese motorcycle maker posted a 2% year-over-year increase in net income at ¥32.39 billion for the first quarter ended March 31, surpassing a consensus estimate of ¥28.03 billion according to S&P Capital IQ. Quarterly sales grew 5.1% year over year to ¥405.568 trillion, compared with ¥386.045 trillion a year earlier.

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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 rose 1.02% to 31,122.06, and the Nikkei 225 climbed 1.16% to 22,758.48.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.09% to 7,693.397, and the Euronext 100 was down 0.19% to 1,068.34.

On the macro front

The import and export prices report, the consumer sentiment report and the Baker-Hughes Rig Count report are due out today.

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