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Former McLaren and Ferrari engineer Pat Fry will join Renault next year, the Formula One team announced at the U.S. Grand Prix on Saturday. The Briton started out with Benetton before joining McLaren in 1993, winning world championships with Mika Hakkinen and Lewis Hamilton, before joining Ferrari as deputy technical director in 2010. "His arrival is yet another step as we build and improve our team structure," said Renault's executive director Marcin Budkowski, who worked previously with Fry at McLaren.
PARIS/MILAN, Oct 31 (Reuters) - European labour unions have called on Peugeot owner PSA and Fiat Chrysler to avoid job cuts and factory closures as the two major carmakers prepare to tie the knot, underscoring worries about the $50 billion deal as the regional economy falters. As PSA and Fiat Chrysler detailed plans on Thursday to create the world's No. 4 automaker, IG Metall, Germany's largest union by members, said it would seek to preserve the autonomy of the French carmaker's German unit Opel. The two groups have said no plants would be closed and an existing arrangement rules out forced layoffs at Opel, bought by PSA two years ago, until mid-2023.
MILAN/PARIS, Oct 30 (Reuters) - The supervisory board of Peugeot maker PSA on Wednesday gave Chief Executive Carlos Tavares the go-ahead to pursue a $50 billion merger with Italy's Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, a source familiar with the matter said, moving the companies closer to a deal that could transform the global auto industry. Fiat Chrysler's board and the directors of Exor NV , the holding company of Italy's Agnelli family, are expected to meet later Wednesday, people familiar with the situation said.
Britain's biggest trade union Unite wants a meeting with management at French carmaker Peugeot over its possible tie-up with Fiat Chrysler, saying merger talks and uncertainty over Brexit are "deeply unsettling" for workers at British plants. Peugeot-owner PSA operates a southern English van factory in Luton and a car plant in Ellesmere port, near Liverpool, building vehicles badged under the Vauxhall brand in Britain and Opel on the rest of the continent.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Right now is a highly opportune moment for PSA Group boss Carlos Tavares to negotiate a merger with rival European carmaker Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV. Shares in PSA, the owner of Peugeot, have had a great run in recent months, making them a strong deal-making currency. The flip side is that this is a reason for shareholders in Fiat to demand that any “merger of equals” actually includes a premium for them.The two carmakers have relatively similar market capitalization but the precise details matter. Crunch the duo together at their closing market values on Tuesday and Peugeot shareholders would deserve to own 55% of the combination. The snag is they would then enjoy more than half of the future value creation from a deal. That’s a bit unfair: It takes two to tango. This could be solved by giving each side 50% ownership, but shrinking Peugeot via a big dividend ahead of the deal closing. That way each side would contribute an equal amount of equity value, and own and equal share of the bigger group.But is it possible such an arrangement would still be unfair? Fiat shareholders, including the billionaire Agnelli clan, might think so based on what they’re putting in. For starters, Fiat’s sales and profits are bigger than Peugeot’s. There’s also an argument that Fiat’s share-price upside may be higher too.Fiat’s valuation is markedly lower than Peugeot’s on the common profit-multiple measures. That valuation gap, and the difference in the pair’s market values, has widened in recent months as Peugeot stock has rallied. Meanwhile, the average analyst price target on Fiat shares is more than 20% higher than where the shares closed Tuesday. Peugeot shares were pretty much at their target price.On top of that, there’s the question of who will be running the show. It’s likely Tavares will be the driving force of the combination. This risks looking and feeling like a Peugeot takeover of Fiat.The remedy for such concerns would be to give Fiat shareholders a bit more than what they appear to put in. There’s a precedent: The proposed merger between Fiat and rival French carmaker Renault SA from May. In those talks, Fiat was the larger partner based on prevailing market capitalizations, and so the plan was for a Fiat special dividend beforehand to bring it closer to a 50:50 deal. But even then, Renault shareholders would have gotten a slight premium. The terms were designed to placate feelings that Renault was chronically undervalued.Tavares should get the idea. Back then, musing from the sidelines in an internal memo to Peugeot staff, he called the proposed Renault deal a virtual takeover by Fiat. And when a merger becomes a takeover, a premium is paid. Fiat needed to address the concern that it was getting Renault on the cheap. Peugeot may now need to do the same with Fiat.To contact the author of this story: Chris Hughes at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Melissa Pozsgay at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Chris Hughes is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering deals. He previously worked for Reuters Breakingviews, as well as the Financial Times and the Independent newspaper.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
* European shares flat before Fed meeting * Fiat Chrysler and PSA confirm tie-up talks, stocks rally * Bank earnings in focus: DB, CS, StanChart, Santander * Fed seen cutting rates, focus on policy outlook Welcome to the home for real-time coverage of European equity markets brought to you by Reuters stocks reporters and anchored today by Julien Ponthus. Reach him on Messenger to share your thoughts on market moves: rm://firstname.lastname@example.org BANKS BATTERED ON BIG EARNINGS DAY (1240 GMT) Is there any hope for banks? If you looked at their performance today when banks of the size of Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse and Santander have reported their latest updates, you'd probably say no. Europe's banking index is leading sectoral fallers, tumbling 1.7% and set for its worst day in four weeks.
* European shares flat before Fed meeting * Fiat Chrysler and PSA confirm tie-up talks, stocks rally * Bank earnings in focus: DB, CS, StanChart, Santander * Fed seen cutting rates, focus on policy outlook Welcome to the home for real-time coverage of European equity markets brought to you by Reuters stocks reporters and anchored today by Julien Ponthus. "They (investors) seem to be worried about a repeat of the painful de-risking seen in November and December last year, but we believe it is unlikely to materialise," Barclays equity strategists led by Emmanuel Cau say in a note. Here's a chart on high 2020 earnings expectations and market's de-risking in late 2018, when 2019 expectations came of rails: (Thyagaraju Adinarayan) ***** UK HOUSEBUILDERS ON ELECTION WATCH (0945 GMT) So now we have an election date -- Dec. 12 -- and housebuilders are among the sectors that could be affected.
European shares eked out gains on Wednesday, buoyed by upbeat results from L'Oreal which defied Chinese slowdown fears, although weak earnings from some of the bloc's biggest lenders such as Deutsche Bank and Santander kept a lid on gains. The pan-European STOXX 600 index was up 0.1%, with a 1.5% rise in the personal & household goods sector leading gains.
(Bloomberg) -- Explore what’s moving the global economy in the new season of the Stephanomics podcast. Subscribe via Pocket Cast or iTunes.France’s economy grew more than expected in the third quarter, a sign it’s avoiding some of the global manufacturing malaise that’s probably pushed Germany into a recession.France, the euro area’s second-largest economy, is standing out from the European gloom as it’s less exposed to trade difficulties and more reliant on domestic demand, which the government has spurred with tax cuts. Gross domestic product increased 0.3% from the second quarter, thanks to accelerating household spending and business investment.The euro rose slightly after the report and traded at $1.1118 as of 10:04 a.m. Paris time.The country’s performance provides some reassurance for a European economy beset with low growth, wavering investment and rising uncertainty.In his final press conference last week as president of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi warned of risks things will get worse, even after he unleashed fresh monetary stimulus in September.Data for the euro area are expected to show Thursday that the economy expanded only 0.1% in the third quarter, which would be the weakest performance in over six years. Germany, the largest economy in the bloc, probably slipped into a technical recession, although that won’t be confirmed until mid-November.Separate figures on Wednesday showed German jobless claims resumed their increase in October, rising by a more-than-forecast 6,000. The unemployment rate remained at 5%.Economists also forecast a closely watched survey due later will see confidence in the euro area at its lowest level since 2015.What Bloomberg’s Economists Say“Weakness in manufacturing is likely to have spread to services, prolonging the slowdown. Leading indicators are consistent with growth remaining slow at least until early 2020, but don’t signal a deep downturn.”\--Jamie Rush, Maeva Cousin and David Powell. Read the EURO-AREA PREVIEWThe strength of France’s GDP numbers came exclusively from domestic demand, while trade was a drag on growth.It “shows that government handouts to households can provide an effective and welcome boost to the economy in the face of external shocks,” said Maeva Cousin, a euro-area economist at Bloomberg Economics. “After banking most of the fiscal giveaways in the first half, French consumers opened their wallets, with car purchases in particular helping to offset the deterioration in net trade.”Yet the outlook for the French economy is mixed. While data for October shows a rebound in services and solid consumer sentiment, a gauge of manufacturing confidence has slipped below its long-term average for the first time in four years.There are also uncertain signals coming from French companies. Renault SA has slashed its revenue and profit outlook as weakening economies are dampening sales and the French carmaker struggles with emission rules that have already hobbled German rivals. At the same time, equipment suppliers in the auto sector have stuck to their guidance for this year.With the outlook deteriorating, much of the focus is on the need for fiscal action to add to the ECB’s monetary stimulus. Incoming ECB President Christine Lagarde told French radio RTL on Wednesday that growth globally is “precarious” and “fragile,” and countries with fiscal space “haven’t really made the necessary efforts.”“We are of course thinking of countries that have chronic budget surpluses like the Netherlands and Germany and a few others in the world,” she said. “Why not use this fiscal surplus and invest in infrastructure. Why not invest in education, in innovation to have a better re-balancing in the face of current imbalances.”(Updates with German jobless in seventh paragraph.)\--With assistance from Barbara Sladkowska and Catherine Bosley.To contact the reporter on this story: William Horobin in Paris at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Fergal O'Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org, Jana RandowFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
* European shares open little changed before Fed meeting * Fiat Chrysler and PSA confirm tie-up talks, stocks rally * Bank earnings in focus: DB, CS, StanChart, Santander * Fed seen cutting rates, focus on policy outlook Welcome to the home for real-time coverage of European equity markets brought to you by Reuters stocks reporters and anchored today by Julien Ponthus. Reach him on Messenger to share your thoughts on market moves: email@example.com OPENING SNAPSHOT: PSA AND FIAT CHRYSLER STEALS THE SHOW (0828 GMT) It's the main headline of the day so it's only fair in a way that PSA and Fiat Chrysler get the spotlight this morning with their shares surging 8.7% and 7.5% respectively.
MILAN/PARIS, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Talks between Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot owner PSA over a potential tie-up that could create a $50 billion car giant gathered pace on Wednesday, with one source saying a deal could be announced as early as Thursday. Under the proposed deal Fiat Chrysler would pay shareholders a 5.5 billion euro special dividend, people familiar with the discussions said. Peugeot would spin off its stake in auto parts maker Faurecia valued at around 3 billion euros while Fiat Chrysler could dispose of its stake in factory robot maker Comau valued at about 250 million euros, these people said.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- The automotive M&A carousel is taking another turn, with Peugeot SA and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV hopping aboard this time. The two companies confirmed on Wednesday that they are in talks about a potential merger that would create a $47 billion auto giant. This comes just a few months after Fiat abandoned talks to merge with Peugeot’s French rival Renault SA. And yet the news isn’t the least bit surprising: Peugeot and Fiat have both made clear in the past that they’re keen on consolidation, and indeed they’ve discussed working together before.Providing the two partners are willing to take tough decisions and politics doesn’t get in the way (again), the stars might just align this time. If anyone can make a go of a hugely complex trans-Atlantic auto merger, Peugeot’s self-assured CEO Carlos Tavares is surely that person.The main reason these two companies are talking is that they’re both sub-scale compared with industry giants Volkswagen AG and Toyota Motor Corp. That matters when the industry is spending heaps on things like electrification and autonomous driving. Neither company is a leader in these technologies, but sharing the financial burden would certainly help. It’s also helpful that their respective stock market valuations aren’t that far apart. This makes an all-share merger of equals conceivable and avoids one party having to shell out for a big premium.Renault long seemed the more logical partner for Fiat because roughly 80% of Peugeot’s sales are in Europe, where Fiat struggles to make money and has tried to diversify away from. However, Renault has drifted since the arrest of former boss Carlos Ghosn, its cash flow has deteriorated and its alliance with Nissan Motor is in need of repair. In short, it’s not a tremendously appealing partner right now.In contrast, Peugeot is in good health. Tavares has shown his mettle by rapidly turning around the Opel/Vauxhall business that Peugeot acquired from General Motors. And even Germany’s luxury carmakers are struggling to match the almost 9% operating profit margins that Peugeot is achieving, despite a pretty tepid European car market.While Fiat’s balance sheet isn’t as strong as Peugeot’s, there’s still plenty there to tempt Tavares. In Jeep and Ram, Fiat has a very profitable SUV and trucks business, and that U.S. footprint would be helpful if Peugeot decides to re-enter the U.S. market. So what could go wrong? Plenty. Fiat and Renault’s merger talks fell apart because the French state, a Renault shareholder, couldn’t get comfortable. And unfortunately for Tavares, France also owns a 12% stake in Peugeot.In theory France should welcome consolidation that strengthens a key domestic manufacturer. But the greatest financial benefits of a merger would come from rationalizing their respective manufacturing footprints — and that means cutting jobs.Still, Fiat Chairman John Elkann, head of the billionaire Agnelli clan, has doubtless learned a few lessons from his earlier entanglements with French politics. Once bitten, twice wiser? One way or the other, we’re about to find out. (Updates with confirmation of the talks.)To contact the author of this story: Chris Bryant at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Niemi at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Chris Bryant is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering industrial companies. He previously worked for the Financial Times.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Mixed earnings reports kept a lid on European stocks, with London's midcap index suffering from doubts over whether British lawmakers will back the government's Brexit bill on Tuesday. The pan-European STOXX 600 finished up just 0.1%, with a weaker pound helping London's exporter-laden FTSE 100 outperform with a 0.7% gain. The FTSE 100 was also lifted by a 24% jump in food delivery firm Just Eat after Dutch internet conglomerate Prosus made an unsolicited $6.3 billion cash bid.
Welcome to the home for real-time coverage of European equity markets brought to you by Reuters stocks reporters and anchored today by Joice Alves. Mario Draghi's statement about "mild signs" of overvaluation in the euro zone financial and property markets sent jitters through markets late this afternoon, and probably wasn't what traders wanted to hear ahead of a potential Brexit "Super Monday" of trading. It's impossible to know what will happen in the UK parliament tomorrow, but there's little doubt that the Brexit saga has never disappointed so far in terms of drama.
* Renault down 12% Welcome to the home for real-time coverage of European equity markets brought to you by Reuters stocks reporters and anchored today by Joice Alves. A profit warning sent Renault on track for its worst day in over three years but surprisingly, Brexit or the trade war weren't to blame. Renault said turmoil in emerging markets - Argentina and Turkey - caused the setback, fuelling fresh political worries to investors who so far were mainly concerned with the spat between the U.S. and China and the UK's ongoing saga to leave the EU.
* Danone, Thales fall 5-7.7% Welcome to the home for real-time coverage of European equity markets brought to you by Reuters stocks reporters and anchored today by Joice Alves. A final Brexit deal approved by the parliament could bring fresh capital to European equities, but it is too soon to declare love to the UK after the three-year impasse has sapped companies' appetite and financial firepower to invest in growth. Berstein says a final Brexit deal if approved tomorrow will bring capital into European equities and it's moving to overweight for the region, but it has cautioned that earnings growth is still expected to be below zero over the next 12 months.
Gloomy earnings reports from French carmaker Renault and food group Danone drove European shares lower on Friday, rounding off a tumultuous week that left investors waiting anxiously for the next twist in the Brexit saga. The pan-European STOXX 600 index finished 0.3% lower and Paris-listed shares lagged the most with a 0.65% decline, hit by weak quarterly results. Renault dropped 11.5% to become the biggest decliner on the STOXX 600, after the company cut its full-year revenue and profit forecast, the latest to suffer in an auto market downturn.
* Danone, Thales fall 4-6% Welcome to the home for real-time coverage of European equity markets brought to you by Reuters stocks reporters and anchored today by Joice Alves. Warnings from Renault, Thales and Danone have cast a pall over European stocks this morning, sending the STOXX 600 down 0.1% and reinforcing concerns about the health of corporate Europe as Q3 earnings season kicks off and the U.S.-China trade spat dents demand for everything from hotel rooms to cars.
European stocks pulled back slightly on Wednesday from their strongest closing high in more than a year as clashing headlines on Britain's last-minute efforts to forge a divorce deal with the European Union left investors hanging on the outcome. Hopes of a breakthrough took the pan-European STOXX 600 to its highest close since May 2018 on Tuesday, but the index closed down 0.1% with London's exporter-laden FTSE 100 , which tends to fall when the pound gains, lagging the most with a 0.6% decline. A report that the main stumbling block to a deal had been removed to news that the talks had hit a "standstill" made for a choppy trading session, but expectations of a no-deal Brexit faded.
* Optimism on Brexit and the trade war drive stocks higher * STOXX up 1.3%, Irish stocks jump 2.8% outperforming rest of Europe * Publicis sinks after results, drags WPP down * Hugo Boss shares slump 13%, pulling down Burberry Welcome to the home for real-time coverage of European equity markets brought to you by Reuters stocks reporters and anchored today by Julien Ponthus. Reach him on Messenger to share your thoughts on market moves: firstname.lastname@example.org BREXIT AND TRADE: EASY TIGER! THE FAT LADY AIN'T SINGING YET! (1120 GMT) Calls for caution and reality checks are coming left, right and centre from our contacts while stocks and the pound are high on optimism towards Brexit and the trade war.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- During the past 12 months Renault SA has looked more like a soap opera than a carmaker. The French company served up an ill-tempered denouement on Friday when it sacked Chief Executive Officer Thierry Bollore, who said he was the victim of a “coup.”Bollore only took the job in January after his predecessor Carlos Ghosn was arrested for alleged impropriety around his pay and resigned. Since then, Renault’s alliance with Japan’s Nissan Motor Co. has been in turmoil and the French company’s cash flow and share price have skidded.Renault compounded the dramatics earlier this by trying to merge with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, only for the French state to torpedo the union.These events have created a profound sense of drift at the manufacturer, for which Bollore and his chairman Jean-Dominique Senard are probably equally to blame. It’s Bollore who’s been given the shove, though, and Renault now has (yet another) opportunity to start afresh. Clotilde Delbos, the finance director, has been appointed interim CEO while the company looks for a permanent replacement.The first priority must be to tone down the histrionics. As at Nissan, which appointed a new CEO this week, Renault needs to focus on operational matters, not creating newspaper headlines. Boardroom bust-ups are never helpful but this one is especially ill-timed. Car markets are weakening and anti-pollution regulations and the shift to electric vehicles require heavy spending.Unfortunately Renault isn’t starting out from a position of strength. It is reasonably well positioned in electric vehicles (with the Zoe) and in emerging markets such as Brazil and Russia. Its low-cost Dacia business performs well. However, Renault can no longer rely on chunky profit contributions and dividends from Nissan because its Japanese partner is also battling slumping sales. Renault’s balance sheet isn’t the strongest: the group had just 1.5 billion euros ($1.65 billion) of industrial net cash at the end of June And its core automotive business eked out a meager 4 percent operating return on sales in the first six months of the year. Its local rival Peugeot SA achieved twice that. Overall, net income will probably fall by about one-quarter this year. Looking ahead, Renault targets 70 billion euros in yearly revenue by 2022, about one-fifth higher than last year. Yet with car demand plateauing it’s unlikely to get anywhere near that. Sales will rise only slightly to about 59 billion euros in 2021, according to analysts polled by Bloomberg.Fresh leadership at Renault and Nissan might at least help the two partners work more harmoniously. Then perhaps Senard and Fiat’s scion John Elkann can start talking again about a merger (Nissan wasn’t happy about the lack of consultation on the idea). But in view of the bad blood and false starts of the past 12 months, neither seems likely in the short term. Renault doesn’t need another distraction.The company’s shares jumped 4 percent on Friday but Renault shareholders remain pretty downbeat. Subtract the value of Renault’s 43% stake in Nissan, its stake in Germany’s Daimler AG and its net cash, and you’ll see they ascribe only about 2.5 billion euros of value to the core business.Bollore claims he’s been treated shabbily, but his successor inherits a lousy valuation, a trunk full of strategic problems and a chairman and French state stakeholder second-guessing their every move. His departure feels like an act of mercy.To contact the author of this story: Chris Bryant at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Chris Bryant is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering industrial companies. He previously worked for the Financial Times.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Welcome to the home for real-time coverage of European equity markets brought to you by Reuters stocks reporters and anchored today by Julien Ponthus. Reach him on Messenger to share your thoughts on market moves: email@example.com ON THE RADAR: BIG MOVES FOR PUBLICIS AND HUGO BOSS (0648 GMT) Optimism on both the trade war and the Brexit fronts is seen lifting European stock markets this morning. There’s also plenty of corporate news likely to trigger sharp moves at the open such as for France’s Publicis, which had to cut its full-year sales target for a second time and has seen its rating cut by SocGen.