Saturday, 28 Mar 2020

GM to pull out of Australia, New Zealand and Thailand

British Airways loses two top execs

LONDON — Two top executives at British Airways, the U.K. flag carrier, are leaving the company in the wake of a damaging pilot walkout last year and amid a transition at the carrier’s parent to a new chief executive.

British Airways’ chief operating officer and its director of people are leaving the carrier after last year’s tense standoff with pilots, which led to the airline’s first strike in decades.

COO Klaus Goersch and People Director Angela Williams will both step down, the company confirmed in a statement to The Wall Street Journal. BA’s pilots reported directly to Mr. Goersch, while Ms. Williams was in charge of industrial relations.

The dispute with BA’s pilots last year over pay terms and benefits led to a 48-hour walkout in September, the first in about 40 years. The carrier was forced to cancel around 1,700 flights, disrupting travel for some 200,000 passengers.

The executive changes follow an announcement last month that Willie Walsh, chief executive of BA’s parent company, International Consolidated Airlines Group SA, would be stepping down in late March and retiring at the end of June, marking 2020 as a transitional year for the group’s leadership.

Former Director of Engineering Jason Mahoney has been appointed as new COO at BA, the company said. Former people director at IAG Cargo, Stuart Kennedy, will take over the role at BA.

Write to Benjamin Katz at [email protected]

Germany orders Tesla order to stop tree-clearing at factory site

A German court has temporarily halted the site preparation for Tesla Inc.’s first electric car factory in Europe.

The Higher Administrative Court for Berlin-Brandenburg ordered Tesla TSLA, -0.49%  to stop clearing trees on the wooded site near Berlin until it considers an environmental group’s appeal. In a statement Sunday, the court said it had to issue the injunction because otherwise Tesla might have completed the work over the next three days.

A lower court in Germany ruled last week that Tesla could clear the trees for its factory. But the environmental group Green League Brandenburg appealed, citing the potential for the factory to pollute the area’s drinking water and other issues. In its statement, the higher court said there is no reason to assume that the Green League’s appeal won’t succeed.

German officials celebrated in November when Palo Alto, California-based Tesla decided to build its first European factory in the country. Tesla said the new plant will build batteries and vehicles, starting with the upcoming Model Y SUV. The company had hoped to complete the factory in the middle of next year.

Last month, German officials said 187 pounds of World War II ammunition had been found at the site as Tesla began clearing it.

Tesla has two other vehicle factories in the U.S. and China.

Focus Montreal: Feb. 16, 2020

This week on Focus Montreal, Global takes a look at Montreal’s on-going recycling crisis, a play touring Montreal that honours Black History Month and the Action Centre’s new fundraising campaign. Watch below.

Japan ready to take steps vs virus impact on tourism – econmin

TOKYO, Feb 17 (Reuters) – Japanese Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said on Monday the government was ready to take all necessary steps flexibly with an eye on the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the economy and tourism.

“The government had hoped Japan’s economy would continue a moderate recovery. But we must be vigilant against the impact of the coronavirus on domestic and overseas economies,” Nishimura said in a statement after the release of October-December gross domestic product (GDP) data. (Reporting by Leika Kihara Editing by Chang-Ran Kim)

IN PHOTOS: Storm Dennis wreaks havoc in the U.K.

Storm Dennis has been battering Britain all weekend, with the U.K.’s national weather service, the Meteorological Office, issuing a red warning — the highest level of warning — for rain in South Wales on Sunday.

Thailand Cuts Growth Forecast as Coronavirus Hits Tourism

Thailand lowered its growth outlook for this year as its tourism-reliant economy takes a knock from the spread of the coronavirus.

Growth is seen in a range of 1.5%-2.5% this year, down from a previous projection of 2.7%-3.7%, the National Economic and Social Development Council said on Monday. Gross domestic product grew 2.4% in 2019, the slowest pace in five years.

The economy was already under strain before the coronavirus began spreading early this year, with growth weighed down by budget delays, drought and a relatively strong currency. GDP rose 1.6% in the fourth quarter from a year ago, lower than the 1.9% median estimate in a Bloomberg survey and down from a revised 2.6% in the third quarter.

First-quarter economic growth should be significantly impacted by the virus outbreak, and improve in the second quarter, Thosaporn Sirisumphand, the secretary general of the council, said in a briefing in Bangkok.

Travel curbs on Chinese visitors, the biggest source of tourism revenue in Thailand, are likely to take a hit, as tourism makes up about a fifth of GDP in the country.

The Bank of Thailand earlier this month cut its key interest rate to a new record low to support the economy, while the government is considering more measures to spur domestic tourism and consumption.

— With assistance by Tomoko Sato

GM to pull out of Australia, New Zealand and Thailand

DETROIT — General Motors says it’s pulling out of Australia, New Zealand and Thailand as part of a strategy to exit markets that don’t produce adequate returns on investments.

The company said in a statement Sunday that it will wind down sales, engineering and design operations for its historic Holden brand in Australia and New Zealand in 2021.

It also plans to sell its Rayong factory in Thailand to China’s Great Wall Motors and withdraw the Chevrolet brand from Thailand by the end of this year.

CEO Mary Barra says the company wants to focus on markets where it can drive strong returns. She says GM GM, -1.50%  will support its employees and customers in the transition.

The company said it will scale back operations in all three countries to selling niche specialty vehicles. It also will make the same move in Japan, Russia and Europe, where “we don’t have significant scale.”

“We are pursuing a niche presence by selling profitable high-end imported vehicles supported by a lean GM structure,” International Operations Senior Vice President Julian Blissett said in the statement.

GM said it will honor all warranties in the markets, and it will continue to provide service and parts. Local operations also will handle recalls and any safety-related issues, the company said.

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