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GM resolves Korea revamp dispute with KDB; Nissan to add external board members

TOP NEWS

* Government-owned Korea Development Bank, or KDB, will complete its $750 million investment into General Motors Co.'s South Korean arm on Dec. 26, ending controversy over GM Korea's spinoff plans for its research unit, Yonhap News Agency reported. The KDB will buy 11.9 million of GM Korea's preferred shares for about $360 million after it injected $375 million into the subsidiary in June. General Motors will also provide $3.6 billion in loans to keep its South Korean arm afloat.

* Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. plans to add an unspecified number of external board members and establish a compensation committee to improve its governance, following the Japanese carmaker's indictment over its alleged role in false disclosures by arrested ex-Chairman Carlos Ghosn, Reuters reported, citing an unnamed source. The carmaker's directors and executives could also face civil lawsuits for failing to detect the alleged financial misconduct, the Nikkei Asian Review reported, citing Tokyo attorneys.

CARMAKERS

* Nissan is said to be planning to bring back nearly $1 billion of its earnings from Chinese joint venture with Dongfeng Motor Corp. to build "financial firepower" if tensions with French partner Renault SA increases and undermines the alliance, Bloomberg News reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Nissan reportedly declined to answer whether it is moving any money from China but said, "This notion that this transfer is unusual is baseless."

* Volkswagen AG appointed Thomas Zahn president and CEO of Volkswagen Argentina SA, effective Feb. 1, 2019. Zahn replaces Hernan Pablo Vazquez Santa Cruz, who will take on a new role within the group, the German carmaker said.

* Great Wall Motor Co. Ltd. plans to build a vehicle plant in the Chinese city of Pinghu for 2 billion Chinese yuan that will produce 100,000 vehicles annually, Gasgoo reported, citing documents from the Zhejiang Provincial Development and Reform Commission. The plant reportedly will produce ORA and Haval F Series models.

ELECTRIC AND AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES

* Daimler AG will team up with electric vehicle charging startup ChargePoint to deploy charging stations at its German retail outlets for Mercedes-Benz cars, vans and trucks. The agreement comes after Daimler led ChargePoint's $125 million Series G funding round in 2017 to support the U.S. company's expansion into Europe.

* Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, Volkswagen-owned Porsche AG and other companies unveiled an electric vehicle charging station that demonstrated under three minutes of electric vehicle charging time for the first 100 kilometers, and 15 minutes for a full charge. The new charging station is part of Germany-backed FastCharge research project with a 450-kilowatt capacity being prototyped in Bavaria.

* Indian carmaker Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. signed a deal with local electric vehicle fleet operator SmartE to introduce 1,000 Mahindra Treo and Treo Yaari electric three-wheelers in Delhi NCR by March 2019. The carmaker also plans to deliver 10,000 electrified three-wheelers in India by 2020.

POLICY, REGULATIONS AND SAFETY

* Toyota Motor Corp. issued a safety recall of nearly 65,000 vehicles to replace Takata Corp. airbags in the U.S., a year ahead of the planned fifth phase of recalls. The recall covers certain Toyota 2003-2005 model year Corolla, 2002-2005 Sequoia, 2003-2005 Tundra and 2002-2005 Lexus SC vehicles in the U.S.

* South Korea will announce additional measures to revive its auto parts industry in the week Dec. 17, Yonhap News Agency reported, citing officials. The minister of economy and finance Hong Nam-Ki said the sector, which faces difficulties due to weak sales of cars, is a key part of South Korea's economy and that the government will "spare no effort" to boost the sector and foster inclusiveness.

AUTO PARTS AND EQUIPMENT

* Japanese tire maker Bridgestone Corp.'s COO and chief technology officer Kazuhisa Nishigai will step down on Dec. 31. CFO Akihiro Eto and will replace Nishigai, who will remain on the board, as COO from Jan. 1, 2019. Naoki Hishinuma will succeed Eto as CFO, while Masato Banno will succeed the Nishigai as chief technology officer Jan. 1, 2019. Bridgestone also appointed Shuichi Ishibashi and Gordon Knapp vice chairmen for the group.

* South Korea's Hyundai Motor Group said it plans to invest 1.7 trillion won, or about $1.5 billion, to support its suppliers' investment in research and development, Reuters reported, citing a company statement. Separately, the parent of Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. signed a memorandum of understanding with the country's Ulsan Metropolitan City on establishing a hydrogen fuel-cell powered infrastructure.

AUTOMOTIVE RETAIL

* BMW Group sold 222,462 vehicles worldwide for November, up 0.8% from the same month last year. The group sold 80,078 automobiles in Asia, up 2.2% year over year, driven chiefly by a 10.3% increase in China sales at 60,990 vehicles. The German carmaker sold 96,345 units in Europe, a 0.1% increase with the local market seeing a 12.6% jump in sales. The carmaker sold 31,858 in the U.S., down 0.7%, while its Latin American deliveries grew 6% to 4,853 vehicles. BMW sold 14,767 electrified vehicles, an increase of 26.1% year over year.

* Vietnamese ride-hailing service Be secured "hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars" in preparation for its launch, Reuters reported, citing a company statement. Be will debut Dec. 17 and will compete with GrabTaxi Holdings Pte. Ltd. Be Group's service aims to employ 110,000 drivers across Vietnam by 2019-end and will also offer food, delivery and e-payment services in the future. The ride-hailing service did not reveal the amount of funding or the investors' identities.

* U.S.-based used car retailer Carvana Co. debuted a car vending machine in Indianapolis. The retailer's all-glass tower spans seven stories and displays 26 vehicles. Users who shop or sell used cars at Carvana's site can request next-day pickup and delivery at the car vending machine.

* Online retailer Cars.com Inc. plans to restructure sales operations and axe over 100 jobs as it faces pressure from activist investors, AutoNews reported, citing a letter from investor Starboard Value Inc., which commented on the retailer's declining revenues and increasing operating expenses. Cars.com's CEO Alex Vetter said the company takes investor feedback seriously and will transition into a digital solutions provider.

* Tata Motors Ltd. is increasing the prices of its entire passenger vehicle range by up to 40,000 Indian rupees beginning Jan. 1, 2019, because of rising input costs and fuel prices.

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The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng rose 1.29% to 26,524.35, while the Nikkei 225 was up 0.99% to 21,816.19.

In Europe as of midday, the FTSE 100 fell 0.23% to 6,864.05, and the Euronext 100 was down 0.40% to 949.24.

On the macro front

The jobless claims report, the import and export prices report, the Energy Information Administration natural gas report, the treasury budget report, the U.S. 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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