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Porsche raided over bribery scandal; Nissan 'not opposed' to Renault-FCA merger

TOP NEWS

* Prosecutors in Germany raided the offices of Volkswagen AG-owned Porsche AG on suspicion that the sports-car maker's tax adviser bribed a government auditor to obtain confidential tax information, news agency Deutsche Welle reported, citing the Stuttgart prosecutor's office. The prosecutors said Porsche managers are being investigated on suspicion of having granted "disproportionate" payments to a member of Porsche's works council. According to German publication Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Porsche CEO Oliver Blume's offices were also searched and he might be under investigation over his role in approving the payments. In a statement sent to S&P Global Market Intelligence, the Volkswagen unit confirmed the raids in the offices of Porsche in the Stuttgart area. The company did not disclose further details about the inspection but said it is cooperating fully with the authorities in this matter.

* Renault SA expects to hold a board meeting June 3 to decide on Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV's merger offer, the Financial Times (London) reported. The heads of Renault, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. met May 29 to discuss Renault's potential merger with FCA. Nissan said it is not opposed to the merger but will refrain from endorsing the deal for now since "there are still many things to discuss," the Nikkei Asian Review reported, citing sources.

CARMAKERS

* Suzuki Motor Corp. said Chairman Osamu Suzuki will forfeit pay for a year starting July 2019 after an inspection cheating scandal forced the carmaker to recall 2 million cars, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. Other executives, including the chairman's son, President Toshihiro Suzuki, will face pay cuts, with directors, the vice chairman and other executives to receive up to 40% reductions in salary for up to six months. Suzuki will see his pay cut 50% for six months and will give up bonuses for fiscal 2018 along with the carmaker's chairman and directors. Suzuki's managing officer for production, Hiroaki Matsuura, will step down at the company shareholder meeting in June.

* Nissan's luxury brand Infiniti will move its headquarters back to Japan from Hong Kong in mid-2020 as it gears up to drop all diesel models in favor of electrified ones. Infiniti said it will prioritize electrification in North America and China while ramping up research and development efforts for electric and e-power offerings.

ELECTRIC AND AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES

* France's Lebronze Alloys, or LBA, sued Tesla Inc. alleging that the electric-car maker tried to end their supply arrangements after racking up $1.77 million in overdue payments. LBA accused Tesla of breach of contract, acting in bad faith, and fraud and deceit. It also alleged that at the time of entering an amended contract on Feb. 22, Tesla "intentionally concealed the fact that it had already decided to not make further orders" at the beginning of 2019, to remove LBA from Tesla's list of suppliers and to end the contract before the maturity date of Feb. 29, 2020. Tesla shares closed at $188.70 on May 28.

* General Motors Co. is partnering with construction company Bechtel to build "thousands" of charging stations for electric cars across the country, CNN Business reported, citing executives from the two companies. Instead of co-funding the planned charging network, GM and Bechtel will create a separate company and invite other companies to invest, similar to the arrangement that Bechtel implemented for its LNG partnership with ConocoPhillips in Australia, CNN said.

* Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd.'s Yuan Cheng brand unveiled two zero-emission bus models in Beijing. The Volvo parent launched the hydrogen fuel-powered F12 and the C11 pure electric bus, with mass production ongoing in Nanchong, Sichuan, and in Jinzhong, Shanxi.

* Tesla's Chinese rival NIO Inc. secured 10 billion Chinese yuan, or nearly $1.50 billion, in investment from government-backed Beijing E-Town Capital to set up a Chinese joint venture. Under the deal, NIO will set up NIO China in Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area, which will be minority-owned by E-Town Capital. E-Town Capital will help NIO China to build or to find third-party partners to build a new manufacturing facility for its next-generation vehicles. The electric-car maker reported net loss attributable to shareholders of 2.65 billion yuan in the first quarter, with adjusted diluted net loss per share coming in at 2.42 yuan. Despite the improved results, NIO saw sales plummet 54.6% to 1.63 billion yuan after the Chinese government decided to halve electric vehicle subsidies.

MOBILITY SERVICES

* Toyota Motor Corp. is considering buying a ¥60 billion stake in Didi Chuxing Technology Co. Ltd. as it plans to establish a new mobility service in partnership with the Chinese ride-hailing giant, the Nikkei Asian Review reported without disclosing its source. Didi Chuxing has previously worked with the Japanese carmaker as one of its initial launch partners for Toyota's e-Palette concept, a next-generation electric vehicle designed for mobility as a service, leveraging electrification, connected vehicles and automated driving technologies. Toyota also joined a ride-sharing alliance formed by Didi Chuxing that use electric vehicles, the newspaper said. A Toyota spokesperson told S&P Global Market Intelligence in an email that the company has "nothing to announce at this time," while Didi Chuxing did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

POLICY, REGULATIONS AND SAFETY

* Honda Motor Co. Ltd. will recall 1,082 vehicles in the U.S. over a faulty electric water pump that could result in unexpected loss of motive power, increasing the risk of a crash. The recall, expected in early June, affects the carmaker's Clarity Fuel Cell 2017-2018 models.

TRUCKS AND MOTORCYCLES

* Volkswagen AG is expected to officially list its commercial vehicles unit Traton AG in the week of June 3 with a reduced size than initially planned, Reuters reported, citing people close to the matter. On May 13, the German car group said it resumed preparations for the planned IPO after suspending the plan in March due to market conditions.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, Hang Seng lost 0.57% to 27,235.71, while the Nikkei 225 dropped 1.21% to 21,003.37.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 shed 1.29% to 7,174.82, and the Euronext 100 declined 1.34% to 1,024.96.

On the macro front

The U.S. Redbook Index for retail sales, U.S. Richmond Fed manufacturing index and U.S. State Street investor confidence 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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