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Volkswagen brand chief confident of finding solution to U.S. diesel issues

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<span class="focusParagraph articleLocation”>The head of Volkswagen AG’s (VOWG_p.DE) top-selling brand said on Tuesday he is confident the German automaker will reach agreement with U.S regulators to bring nearly 500,000 diesel vehicles into compliance with U.S. emissions laws.

“We are confident we will find an acceptable solution,” VW brand chief Herbert Diess said at a press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In an interview with Reuters, Diess said fixing older VW cars equipped with 2.0-liter diesel engines will be more difficult than bringing more recent models into compliance.

“The intrusion into the car will be quite significant,” Diess said of the older models. Some U.S. regulators and lawmakers have said VW may have to buy back older models. Diess did not say whether VW is discussing that, but said he is optimistic an agreement with U.S. regulators will be reached soon.

“It’s a very constructive dialogue,” he said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday that “recall discussions with the company have not produced an acceptable way forward. EPA continues to insist that VW develops effective, appropriate remedies as expeditiously as possible.”

The U.S. Justice Department on Monday sued Volkswagen for up to $48 billion for allegedly violating U.S. environmental laws.

Diesel technology will still play an important role in VW’s future products, Diess said. “Diesel still has a future in some segments,” including in sport utility vehicles, “and in some markets it will be a must,” he said. Europe will still be a major diesel market in the next decade, Diess said.

Volkswagen has admitted it installed software in certain diesel models sold in the United States, that allowed the cars to pass government emissions tests, but then emit nearly 40 times the allowed levels of pollutants on the road.

Diess said Volkswagen expects the company will be able to repair by the end of 2016 about 8.5 million diesel cars sold in Europe that do not comply with emissions standards.

Separately, Diess announced a new partnership with Mobileye, an Israeli machine vision company that is a leader in camera technology used in advanced safety features such as automatic braking or lane departure warning.

Mobileye’s camera systems will beef up the mapping systems VW cars will use to enable autonomous driving, Diess said.

Diess showed off VW’s concept for an electric, highly connected microbus, called the Budd-e, which he said could be brought to market by 2020.

(Reporting by Joe White in Detroit and David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Sunil Nair, Muralikumar Anantharaman and Bill Rigby)

Source: R-Business


Activist investor turns up heat on Yahoo, seeks leadership change

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<span class="focusParagraph articleLocation”>Activist investor Starboard Value LP on Wednesday ramped up pressure on Yahoo Inc (YHOO.O), taking aim at Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer and her leadership team and raising the prospect that a proxy battle is approaching.

Starboard in a letter to the board of directors implied that Mayer and her officers needed to go, without naming her specifically.

“To be successful, dramatically different thinking is required, together with significant changes across all aspects of the business starting at the board level, and including executive leadership,” Starboard CEO Jeffrey Smith said in the letter on Wednesday.

Starboard, which owns about 0.75 percent of Yahoo, has been pushing for changes at the Internet company since 2014, urging it to separate its Asian assets and auction off the core business.

Starboard has threatened to shake up the board if Yahoo’s stock continued to suffer.

Yahoo shares fell 0.2 percent to $32.28, far below a 12-month high of $50.41.

“Unfortunately, it appears that shareholders have no confidence that management and the board will be able to execute on a separation of these assets or improve the performance of the core business,” Smith said in the letter.

Yahoo spokeswoman Rebecca Neufeld said the company will provide more details on its turnaround plan prior to its fourth quarter earnings call later this month.

“Our board and management team engage in and maintain regular, open dialogue with all our shareholders, and consistently strive to deliver and to maximize shareholder value,” Neufeld said in an emailed statement.

Starboard, together with other shareholders, have demanded Yahoo separate the Asian assets, including stakes in Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba and Yahoo Japan Corp (4689.T), and conduct an immediate public auction of the core business, including search and advertising businesses.

But Yahoo is resisting, instead pursuing a tax-free spin off of the core business, which could take at least a year.

Some analysts think board upheaval may be in the works.

“If the board is sufficiently confident that their current management team has the right plan, then the board needs to prepare to be replaced because that’s probably going to happen,” said Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Wieser, who recommends holding the stock. “I don’t think many shareholders will get into the way of an activist slate.”

Yahoo is scheduled to report quarterly earnings on Jan. 26. The deadline for shareholders to nominate directors for the anticipated May annual meeting is expected to be in late February through March 26.


Smith said in the letter he is confident that buyers are expressing interest in Yahoo’s core business, but the company is not pursuing the suitors.

Verizon Communications (VZ.N) is among the technology, media and telecommunications companies seen as potential buyers of Yahoo’s core business. Verizon’s chief financial officer said in December such a sale could make sense though it was premature to discuss.

After heading Yahoo for more than three years, Mayer has been unable to revive growth in its revenues and faces stiff competition from the likes of Facebook Inc (FB.O) and Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google unit.

Some shareholders said they doubt whether Mayer has a robust plan to revive the struggling Internet media business.

They have criticized her for a series of ineffective acquisitions and being unable to stem a continued decline in the value of the Internet business, citing them as reasons to replace her.

In the letter Smith claimed Yahoo’s market value, without its Alibaba shares, “has collapsed and is currently trading near zero.”

The Alibaba stake, worth more than $30 billion, accounts for the bulk of Yahoo’s market value, while its 35 percent stake in Yahoo Japan is worth $8.5 billion.

The plan to spin off the Alibaba stake hit a hurdle in September when the U.S. Internal Revenue Service did not make a decision on Yahoo’s request for a ruling on whether the transaction would be tax-free. If taxable, the deal could cost shareholders billions of dollars.

In December, Yahoo shelved plans to spin off the Alibaba stake and said it would create a separate company that would house Yahoo’s Internet business and its stake in Yahoo Japan.

(Reporting by Michael Flaherty in New York, Lehar Maan and Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Richard Chang)

Source: R-Business


Cricket-De Villiers appointment revives questions about workload

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Sports | Thu Jan 7, 2016 1:16am IST


CAPE TOWN, AB de Villiers described his appointment as captain of South Africa’s test team as the fulfilment of a life-long dream but it will raise further questions about the burden on the team’s outstanding player.

De Villiers was handed the captaincy following Hashim Amla’s decision to stand down after the drawn second test against England on Wednesday.

“I’ve said this before that it is an incredible honour to captain South Africa in any format. The captaincy has obviously come at short notice and is the realisation of a lifelong dream,” De Villiers, already South Africa’s one-day international captain, said in a statement. De Villiers, who turns 32 next month, will lead South Africa into the last two tests against England, starting next week in Johannesburg, and is favourite to get the job long-term, coach Russell Domingo said. That, however, will only rekindle the debate over the workload on one of the world’s most talented batsmen, who plays an important role for his country in all formats of the game. De Villiers was last week forced to deny newspaper reports he was ready to quit the test arena to better balance time with his young family and cricketing commitments, which also include playing in the lucrative Indian Premier League.

He played as wicketkeeper in the first test against England in Durban, which South Africa lost by 241 runs, in order to allow the selectors to pick an extra batsmen but after a poor performance he quickly gave back the gloves. Cricket South Africa said it would look at ways to give him time off but have now thrust a new responsibility on to his shoulders. “At the moment my priority and focus is placed on leading this team to what can be a memorable series win against England,” De Villiers said. “This test squad is motivated and determined to turn our performances around and I’m looking forward to taking up that challenge as captain. Hashim is a good friend and close colleague and I am grateful for his support.” Amla sprung a surprise with his decision, which came just one day after he scored 201 to help drag his team back from the cusp of losing a second successive test to England. He said he felt there were better candidates to lead the team and wanted to concentrate on his batting.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

Source: R-Csports

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