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Mercedes-Benz, Geely launch EV venture; Ghosn lawyers question Nissan's probe


* Daimler AG-owned Mercedes Benz and China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. Ltd. agreed to invest 2.7 billion yuan each to set up a venture called Smart Automobile, which will focus on "premium and intelligent electrified" vehicles in China. The 50/50 joint venture was formally established after receiving regulatory approvals. The JV will be led by Geely's Tong Xiangbei and based in Ningbo, with three executives from each carmaker named to the venture's board.

* Carlos Ghosn's legal team accused Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. of using a "flawed, biased" system to investigate the financial misconduct charges against the executive, resulting in a "gross perversion of the truth," Reuters reported. They said Nissan "never once" interviewed or shared information with Ghosn, adding that the charges were meant to stop Ghosn's plans to merge Renault and Nissan. Separately, Nissan added former acting CEO Yasuhiro Yamauchi and former senior executive Hitoshi Kawaguchi to its taskforce to handle accusations by Ghosn, Reuters reported, citing three sources.


* The head of Volkswagen AG's Seat brand, Luca de Meo, stepped down. Renault SA reportedly offered de Meo the CEO position in December 2019. Carsten Isensee, Seat's vice president for finance, will take over as president for the Spanish carmaker while performing his regular duties until further notice.

* Volkswagen said it is seeking more than €100 million in damages from its former components supplier Prevent USA Corp. amid an ongoing legal dispute between the two, Reuters reported. Prevent sued the German carmaker in a district court in Michigan on Nov. 18, 2019, accusing the company of "anti-competitive and tortious tactics" in order to "maintain its stranglehold" over car parts suppliers and to stop Prevent from acquiring smaller rivals.


* Calif.-based software company Wind River said it will team up with Chinese search engine Baidu to develop self-driving car solutions. The companies said they developed a proof of concept with an AUTOSAR Adaptive–based software architecture built for Baidu's self-driving platform Apollo.

* South Korea's LG Electronics and Swiss tech company Luxoft said they agreed to form a venture for in-vehicle infotainment, The Korea Herald reported. The venture will be based in Santa Clara, Calif., and launch in the first half of 2020.

* Aptiv PLC unveiled its Smart Vehicle Architecture, or SVA, designed to handle self-driving software and connected-car applications.


* Tokyo prosecutors raided the office of Junichiro Hironaka, one of Ghosn's lawyers, and seized a computer to find details on how Ghosn escaped, MarketWatch reported.


* Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. said it allocated $100 million to a new venture capital fund that will invest in future mobility services and technologies over the next 10 years. Goodyear Ventures will focus on startups involved in electric and autonomous technologies, connected mobility solutions, next-generation public mobility, next-generation aviation mobility, future transportation infrastructure, maintenance and operations, emerging technologies and new tire materials, the company said.

* Bridgestone Corp. said it won an infringement lawsuit it filed against Chinese rivals Shandong Huasheng Rubber and Shandong Hongsheng Rubber in the Shanghai Intellectual Property Court. Bridgestone said Huasheng and Hongsheng's tread patterns infringed on its design rights, adding that it received 900,000 Chinese yuan in damages.

* Lear Corp. said it invested an undisclosed amount in Autotech Ventures, which seeds mobility-related startups.


* Bayerische Motoren Werke AG saw 2019 sales climb to a record 2.5 million vehicles, Reuters reported, citing sales head Pieter Nota, who added that it expects to break its record in 2020.

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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 lost 0.83% to 28,087.92, and the Nikkei 225 fell 1.57% to 23,204.76.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 slid 0.02% to 7,572.52, and the Euronext 100 shed 0.04% to 1,152.67.

On the macro front

The ADP employment report, the U.S. Energy Information Administration Petroleum Status Report and the U.S. consumer credit 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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