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Essential IR Insights Newsletter - February 2023

BMW faces SEC probe over sales practices; electric-SUV maker Rivian raises $1.3B


* The SEC is investigating Bayerische Motoren Werke AG's sales reporting practices, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a person familiar with the matter. The SEC is reportedly probing whether the carmaker is involved in "sales punching," a technique that boosts sales figures by showing dealers' registered cars as sold when the vehicles are still on car lots. A company spokesman confirmed the investigation to the Journal.

* Rivian Automotive LLC, a maker of electric sports utility vehicles, said it secured $1.3 billion in an investment round led by funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates Inc. Inc., Ford Motor Co. and funds managed by BlackRock Inc. also participated in the round. The company has raised $2.85 billion during the year.


* Jun Seki, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.'s vice-COO who was appointed to the position on Nov. 1, is leaving the company to join automotive components maker Nidec Corp. as president, Reuters reported, citing an interview with the executive. "I love Nissan and I feel bad about leaving the turnaround work unfinished, but I am 58 years old, and this is an offer I could not refuse. It's probably my last chance to lead a company too," Seki reportedly told Reuters. Seki will likely depart in January after three decades at Nissan, including a stint heading its China business.

* Chinese carmakers SAIC Motor Corp. Ltd. and Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. Ltd. agreed to jointly invest and collaborate on technologies and platforms related to electric vehicles, auto intelligence and connectivity, and lightweight vehicles, Gasgoo reported, citing announcements from the companies' WeChat accounts.

* Chinese SUV manufacturer Great Wall Motor Company Ltd. will invest 1.61 billion yuan to set up an engine manufacturing base at Jiangsu Yangzhong Auto Parts Industrial Park, Gasgoo reported, citing a report from the Department of Ecology and Environment of Jiangsu Province. Upon completion, the facility will reportedly be capable of manufacturing 400,000 engines per year.


* The New Delhi Government has passed an electric vehicle policy that aims to register at least 500,000 EVs by 2024, The Economic Times (India) reported, citing Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Under the new policy, the government will reportedly provide subsidies, including 5,000 Indian rupees per kWh of battery capacity, and has waived road tax and registration fees for all battery-operated vehicles.

* Beijing has permitted road tests of autonomous passenger and cargo vehicles, becoming the sixth Chinese city to allow such tests, Gasgoo reported, citing an official statement by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The ministry also specified that autonomous vehicles will be applied commercially in limited areas and specific scenarios by 2025, such as logistics and ports, the report said.


* The Supreme Court of State of New York ruled in favor of Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc., repealing the limit set by New York City on time that drivers spend cruising the streets in congested Manhattan without passengers, Reuters reported, citing Judge Lyle Frank. The New York mayor reportedly is evaluating legal options, including an appeal.


* Ford Motor Co.'s Australian arm issued a recall of 216 Ford Courier vehicles due to faulty airbags fitted with Takata Corp. NADI 5-AT propellant inflator. The company said the propellant could result in misdeployment of the airbag during a collision.


* Auto parts maker Koito Manufacturing Co. Ltd. agreed to acquire 29.9% stake that it did not already own in its Indian subsidiary India Japan Lighting Pvt. Ltd. for about 1.5 billion Indian rupees from T V Sundram Iyengar & Sons Pvt. Ltd.


* North Carolina-based Advance Auto Parts Inc. acquired DieHard automotive battery brand from Transform Holdco LLC, the owner of Sears and Kmart stores, for $200 million in cash. The acquisition will enable the automotive retailer to expand its other battery categories, such as marine and recreational vehicles.

* New car sales are forecast to decrease by 8% to 9% in China in 2019 and another decrease is expected for 2020, the Nikkei Asian Review reported, citing a senior official from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. Sales of electric cars are also estimated to fall due to a slowdown in the Chinese economy, the report said. Auto sales fell for the 17th consecutive month in November.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng decreased 0.15% to 27,864.21, and the Nikkei 225 was up 0.04% to 23,830.58.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.09% to 7,630.15, and the Euronext 100 climbed 0.13% to 1,154.45.

On the macro front

The Redbook index for retail sales and Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index reports 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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