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Tesla board to pore over privatization plan; Bridgestone cuts 2018 outlook

TOP NEWS

* Tesla Inc.'s board reportedly plans discussions with financial advisers the week of Aug. 13 as it looks to formally weigh CEO Elon Musk's proposal to take the company private, CNBC reported, citing unnamed sources. The board reportedly may ask Musk to recuse himself from the discussions and may also create a special committee of independent directors to evaluate the buyout details. The board, however, has not yet received a detailed financing plan on the privatization proposal and is seeking more information from Musk, Reuters reported. Tesla did not immediately respond to S&P Global Market Intelligence's request for comment.

* Japan's Bridgestone Corp. cut its fiscal 2018 forecast as the tire maker posted lower-than-expected net income of ¥134.62 billion in the first six months ended June 30. The S&P Global Market Intelligence analysts' consensus net income estimate for the half was ¥141.50 billion. Bridgestone now expects 2018 net sales to be ¥3.7 trillion, lower than its prior estimate of ¥3.8 trillion, and profit attributable to owners of the parent to come in at ¥305 billion from the previously forecast profit of ¥308 billion. Diluted EPS grew 5.4% year over year to ¥178.76 in the first half.

CARMAKERS

* Hong Kong-based carmaker Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. is considering investing £1.5 billion to revive British car brand Lotus Cars, Bloomberg News reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Geely told the news agency in an email that it is "fully committed to restoring Lotus into being a leading global luxury brand" but declined to comment further. The sources reportedly said that Geely plans to raise its 51% ownership in Lotus and is in talks with its Malaysian partner, Etika Automotive Sdn Bhd., which holds the remaining shares.

* Hyundai Motor Co. decided to end production of the diesel variants of its Sonata sedan, i30 hatchback, Grandeur sedan and Maxcruz SUV models due to "low demand," The Chosun Ilbo reported, quoting a Hyundai spokesman. "In the long term, diesel versions are available for some popular SUV models only," the company representative reportedly said. The South Korean carmaker reportedly aims to launch a new large SUV at the end of 2018 to replace the Maxcruz model.

* Porsche Automobil Holding SE confirmed its profit outlook for fiscal 2018 as the company reported a 2% year-over-year rise in group result of €1.90 billion in the first half of the year, helped by gains from Porsche's cross-holding at Volkswagen AG. Porsche SE owns 52.2% of Volkswagen, and its results are largely dependent on results of the German carmaker.

* Volkswagen AG's luxury car unit Audi AG and the group's namesake brand both reported a rise in global sales in July but warned of challenging next few months due to the implementation of the worldwide harmonized light vehicles test procedure from September. Audi's global sales rose 7% year over year in July to 165,350 automobiles amid increased deliveries in Europe and China, while Volkswagen brand sales grew 8.4% to 505,900 units, chiefly led by a 30.2% year-over-year jump in European sales to 162,500 vehicles in July.

* Volkswagen AG's sports car unit, Porsche AG, said its Taiwan CEO, Martin Limpert, is leaving the company and will be succeeded by Mathias Busse beginning Sept. 1. Previously, Busse was chairman of the managing board for the Porsche centers in Hamburg.

ELECTRIC AND AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES

* Doug Field, a former Apple Inc. executive, has rejoined the tech giant to work on its electric car project, Titan, Reuters reported. Field was previously Tesla's senior vice president of engineering, leading Tesla's Model 3 production, before Tesla CEO Elon Musk took direct control of the project.

* Tesla CEO Elon Musk has "agreed to do everything" to improve the electric-car maker's aftersales service in Norway, Tesla's biggest market per capita, Electrek reported, quoting an email sent by the company to customers in the country. The company reportedly increased hiring in its service team by 30% in 2018, introduced additional shifts at some centers and is trying to have full-fledged Tesla mobile service vans, among other measures, to help offset the issues.

REGULATIONS AND SAFETY

* An unspecified number of Daimler AG-owned Mercedes-Benz GLE and GLS cars have been impounded by Shanghai customs authorities due to a "safety risk" with their rear brakes, which are "insufficient," Reuters reported, citing a Chinese customs document. A Daimler spokeswoman reportedly said the German carmaker is "working with the relevant authorities to resolve the issue." The news comes as the company was reported to be trying to find ways of offsetting export tariffs on the Alabama-made GLE SUV.

* Honda Motor Co. Ltd. will recall 69,090 UR-V SUVs in China over a cold-climate engine issue, Reuters reported, citing the country's Defective Product Administration Center of State Administration of Market Regulation agency. The move comes after the Japanese carmaker called back 96,900 Avancier SUVs in China due to the same problem and had said it was also investigating whether the issue is affecting its Honda Jade car and Honda UR-V models.

AUTO PARTS AND EQUIPMENT

* German automotive lighting company Hella GmbH & Co. KGaA has agreed to sell the company's 50% ownership in Behr Hella Service thermal management business to joint venture partner Mahle GmbH, according to separate company announcements. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The transfer of Behr Hella Service, effective Dec. 31, 2019, subject to antitrust approval, is part of Hella's move to restructure its aftermarket business to be "more consistently" aligned with its original equipment capabilities, particularly in lighting and electronics.

* Aisin Seiki Co. Ltd. President Kiyotaka Ise forecasts the Japanese parts maker to take a hit of ¥30 billion to ¥40 billion as a result of proposed auto import tariffs by the U.S., Reuters reported, quoting Ise at a briefing with reporters. It would be a "concern" if Aisin, which already had to factor in higher annual expenses of about ¥1 billion due to the earlier tariffs on steel and aluminum, has to face "any dramatic change" in tariffs, Ise reportedly said.

* Amazon.com Inc. rolled out a software development kit to help integrate its voice-enabled digital assistant, Alexa, into in-vehicle infotainment systems. The Alexa Auto SDK features auto-focused functions, in addition to the regular ones, such as a media streaming player, local calling service and a navigation system.

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Tesla could thrive as private company but feasibility remains murky: Analysts

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng was down 0.84% to 28,366.62, and the Nikkei 225 declined 1.33% to 22,298.08.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.76% to 7,682.32, and the Euronext 100 was down 1.10% to 1,066.65.

On the macro front

The Treasury Budget report, the Baker-Hughes Rig Count report and the consumer price 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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