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Denso reorganizes for EV, mobility push; KDB closes $750M investment in GM Korea

TOP NEWS

* Japanese auto parts supplier Denso Corp. said it will restructure its mobility, thermal and powertrain units to adapt to the industry's shift toward electrified, automated and connected driving. Denso will reorganize its mobility systems unit by creating separate research and strategy divisions and will consolidate its connected fleet service businesses to include trucks, buses and leased vehicles under Denso Ten commercial vehicles and taxi business. The company also will establish a new thermal management business to promote electrification and reorganize its powertrains business to meet tightening diesel-engine regulations.

* The Korea Development Bank completed its $750 million capital infusion into General Motors Co.'s South Korean unit, as part of a government-sponsored turnaround program, days after the state-run bank agreed to GM Korea's research and development spinoff plan, Yonhap News Agency reported.

CARMAKERS

* Renault SA-controlled Russian joint venture Alliance Rostec Auto BV completed the 100% acquisition of Russian carmaker OAO Avtovaz after squeezing out minority shareholders. The joint venture triggered a mandatory buyout clause in May by crossing the 75% ownership threshold in the maker of Lada cars.

ELECTRIC AND AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES

* Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the company aims to "dramatically increase" its Supercharger electric vehicle charging network within cities and is working with landlords to add home charging service in apartment buildings. The electric-car maker, which plans to double the Supercharger network to reach 95% to 100% of the population in all active markets by the end of 2019, also expects to extend its EV charging infrastructure to cover all of Europe by 2019, Musk tweeted. Musk also indicated that Tesla will start setting up Superchargers in Africa by 2020.

* California utility Pacific Gas and Electric Co. will increase its electric vehicle rebate to $800 from $500, while peer Southern California Edison Co. will raise the discount to $1,000 from $450 for customers, both effective Jan. 1, 2019, to support an EV push by the state, Electrek reported.

* Japanese electronics company Hitachi Ltd. agreed to sell its wholly owned automotive lithium-ion battery business, Hitachi Vehicle Energy Ltd., to an investor group comprising INCJ Ltd. and Maxell Holdings Ltd. for an undisclosed sum. In a related deal, Hitachi will spin off a part of its unit Hitachi Automotive System's lithium-ion battery management system business to Hitachi Vehicle Energy. Upon closing of the deals, Hitachi Vehicle Energy will become a joint-stock partnership company with an ownership ratio of 47% each held by INCJ and Maxell and 6% by Hitachi Automotive Systems, and will be excluded from the consolidated companies of Hitachi. The deal is expected to close March 29, 2019.

POLICY, REGULATIONS AND SAFETY

* Japan's Consumer Affairs Agency exempted Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. from paying ¥3.17 million in fines over selling Mitsubishi Motors Corp.-supplied mini-vehicles with fuel efficiency numbers that were allegedly manipulated, The Japan News reported. Nissan reportedly had appealed the June 2017 order with the country's internal affairs ministry, claiming that the manipulation occurred at Mitsubishi, after which the ministry ruled in late October to withdraw the fine.

AUTO PARTS AND EQUIPMENT

* South Korean lithium-ion battery maker SK Innovation Co. Ltd. aims to ramp up its battery output capacity to 55 GWh per year by 2022, a more than tenfold increase from 4.7 GWh a year in 2018, Reuters reported, citing Kim Tae-hyeon, head of the company's battery business unit. The supplier to Daimler AG and Volkswagen AG reportedly expects the battery business to break even in 2020.

* Researchers from Russia and China, working in collaboration with an industrial partner, developed a method to increase a lithium-ion battery's capacity by 15%, Russia's Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University said. The results were showcased at a scientific conference in Qingdao, China.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Nikkei 225 increased 3.88% to 20,077.62, while the Hang Seng fell 0.67% to 25,478.88.

In Europe as of midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.92% to 6,624.73 and the Euronext 100 fell 0.15% to 896.32.

On the macro front

The jobless claims report, the Federal Housing Finance Agency House Price index, the consumer confidence report, the farm prices report, the Fed balance sheet and the money supply report 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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