Nissan to relaunch Datsun car brand as low-cost model

3 Oct 2012 – AAP –

Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn wants to relaunch retro-brand Datsun with a price tag as low as $US3000 ($A2910) when it hits the road in 2014, a report said.

The company will target drivers in developing nations – India, Indonesia and Russia – offering the barebones model at prices that put it well below current Nissan offerings, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The paper, citing interviews with Mr Ghosn and other executives, said Nissan is aiming for six Datsun models at between $US3000 and $US5000, a price that only a handful of Indian- and Chinese-made cars could compete with.

To cut costs, the company will source parts almost entirely from the country in which the finished product is to be made and sold.

And the absence of rigorous safety standards that would be applied to models aimed at the US or European markets will also help keep the price down, the paper reported.

“If you go to the US, it’s not going to end up being $3000,” Mr Ghosn told the paper in an article published.

The Brazilian-born Mr Ghosn said a future Datsun would be “modern and fresh” and had to appeal to buyers in developing markets because it would make “them feel good and is in their budget”.

He said the new brand will be one of Nissan’s primary “accelerators of growth”, in the campaign to grab eight per cent of the world market by 2016, up from six per cent at present.

All of which means boosting sales in emerging economies, which the company expects will account for three-fifths of all sales five years from now, compared with 43 per cent now.

The resurrection of Datsun marks the return of a car with something of a cult following, more than three decades after it was phased out.

Datsun – the first set of wheels for many adolescents – was a big seller especially in the United States where its sporty, two-door hatchbacks became synonymous with fuel-efficiency during the 1970s oil crisis.

Analysts have said the plan to reanimate the brand could help Nissan get around the problem of producing vehicles cheap enough to compete in emerging markets without polluting existing – more expensive – marques.

Nissan’s move underscores the growing importance of emerging economies, a key battlefield among global carmakers as growth in developed markets stagnates.

Japan Airlines plunges 8.73% on China worries

26 Sep 2012 – AAP –

Japan Airlines plunges 8.73% on China worries


Shares in Japan Airlines (JAL) have plunged to close down nearly nine per cent, less than a week after relisting, amid concern over a festering territorial spat between Tokyo and Beijing.

The carrier ended Tuesday at ¥3,395, down 8.73 per cent from the previous day but off an intraday low of ¥3,375 hit in late afternoon trade.

The closing price was 10.42 per cent lower than the offer price of ¥3,790 when JAL returned to the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Wednesday last week, less than three years after becoming one of Japan’s biggest ever corporate failures.

Retail investors dumped their holdings amid pessimism over Sino-Japanese relations strained over a disputed island chain in the East China Sea and the possible fallout on firms heavily exposed to the region, Dow Jones Newswires reported.

JAL said last week it would cut the number of flights to China next month to reflect a fall in demand from tourists in both countries.

Shares in rival carrier All Nippon Airways (ANA) closed down 1.13 per cent at ¥174 on Tuesday.

Nissan chief pitches electric taxis to HK

14 Sep 2012 – AAP –


Nissan President Carlos Ghosn has met with Hong Kong’s leader to pitch a proposal for the Japanese car maker to supply electric taxis to the southern Chinese city.

Ghosn’s visit with Leung Chun-ying is part of an effort to sell Nissan’s electric taxi technology to cities around the world looking to upgrade their taxi fleets to more environmentally friendly models.

Earlier this year, New York City chose Nissan’s van-like NV200 to replace older models starting October 2013, with an electric version on the cards for 2017.

Ghosn said he “proposed to offer a solution for Hong Kong, particularly into taxis or fleets” and Leung seemed “very interested”. He gave few other details.

Hong Kong’s 18,000 Toyota taxis are powered by liquefied petroleum gas. They were launched in 2001 and many are due to be replaced in the next two to three years.

Environmental and transportation officials are examining the feasibility of replacing the taxis with electric vehicles in a bid to reduce the city’s frequently heavy air pollution. The government has provided subsidies for pilot projects of electric taxi models by other carmakers including China’s BYD Co.

Nissan Motor Co. is also planning electric taxi tests in the Chinese cities of Wuhan and Guangzhou.

Winning the Hong Kong taxi contract could boost Nissan’s electric ambitions in China, which has set a goal of creating a world-beating electric car industry.

The Chinese government has set bold targets for the development of the industry, including sales of five million electric vehicles by 2020, though it has scaled back its ambitions after facing technological hurdles and lack of buyer interest.

While Hong Kong is an ideal place for electric taxis because its compact geography means drivers wouldn’t have to worry about getting too far from charging stations, the carmaker needs to figure out how to develop charging infrastructure, said Executive Vice President Andy Palmer.

The city has only six fast charging stations, so Nissan is thinking about donating more and setting up a test fleet, Palmer said.

Japan’s Nomura unveils massive cost costs

7 Sep 2012 – AAP –

Nomura Holdings says it would slash $US1 billion ($A984.8 million) in costs to repair its balance sheet as Japan’s biggest brokerage signalled the end of its ambitious plan to become a global powerhouse.

The Tokyo-based securities giant, which is trying to move past an embarrassing insider trading scandal, said on Thursday it would usher in the sweeping cuts across its global operations by March 2014.

About two-thirds of the reductions would come from regions including the US and Europe, it said, adding that Nomura would focus on the Asian market as it looked to triple its pre-tax profit over the next four years.

The move marked the final nail in the coffin of Nomura’s ill-fated plan to become a global investment banking giant after buying some operations of defunct Wall Street titan Lehman Brothers during the 2008 financial crisis.

The resignation last month of chief executive Kenichi Watanabe, a key driver behind the firm’s expansion, due to an insider trading scandal had also been widely viewed as a fatal blow to Nomura’s heavyweight ambitions.

On Thursday, Nomura said it would “position Asia including Japan as home market” and “shift to a global business model centred on Asia”.

“The global economy is facing various serious challenges and is in the midst of a big paradigm shift,” new chief executive Koji Nagai said on Thursday.

“The challenges which our corporate and individual clients face are getting more serious and the need for high-valued financial services is rapidly increasing.

“What Nomura must do is acutely sense the changes in our clients’ needs … and flexibly adapt.”

Focusing on Asia was the right strategy because of the “abundant funds” available for investment in a region with mature and emerging markets that were driving the global economy, the firm said.

Nomura revealed few specifics of its cost cuts, saying only that about 45 per cent of the reductions would be from “personnel expenses”.

The firm’s shares closed 2.3 per cent higher at ¥266 ($3.40) in Tokyo.

Nomura last year unveiled separate cost savings of about $1.2 billion and chopped hundreds of jobs after posting a net loss of ¥46.1 billion ($588 million) in the July-September quarter of 2011, reversing a net profit of ¥1.1 billion in the same period a year earlier.

The loss was Nomura’s first in 10 quarters and underscored how market turbulence and the eurozone crisis had dented its brokerage and investment banking business.

Nomura eyes massive cost cuts to repair balance sheet

Sept 2012 – AAP

Nomura Holdings says it will cut $US1 billion ($A975.28 million) in costs as part of a bid to repair its balance sheet as Japan’s biggest brokerage recovers from an embarrassing insider trading scandal.

The firm plans to usher in the cuts by March 2014, chopping expenses from its wholesale division, which includes investment banking, equities and fixed-income businesses.

In July, Nomura said its fiscal first quarter profit to June shrank almost 90 per cent owing to weakness in its retail and wholesale trading business.

Like many investment banks, Nomura has struggled with yo-yoing stock and bond prices, poor merger prospects and tightening regulation in the wake of the global financial crisis.

The firm held a meeting with about 450 managers in Tokyo on Friday to outline the plan, which is to be presented to shareholders this week.

Nomura shares traded 4.26 per cent higher at 269 yen on Monday afternoon.

The company confirmed that job cuts were part of the planned reductions, but declined to elaborate.

Japanese media have reported that the bulk of the cuts would come from slashing jobs in the money-losing European business acquired from Lehman Brothers in 2008.

Nomura began an aggressive expansion drive when it picked up the Lehman businesses – and thousands of employees – following the Wall Street giant’s collapse.

However, the bulked-up Nomura lost some key executives as a corporate culture clash hit.

The resignation last month of chief executive Kenichi Watanabe, a key driver behind the firm’s expansion, was widely viewed as the end of Nomura’s ambitions to be a global heavyweight.

Mr Watanabe quit in the wake of a damning internal report that said Nomura sales staff improperly tipped off clients about share sales while information often flowed freely between sales and Nomura’s investment banking and research side, which is usually barred.

Insider trading, although illegal in Japan, is widespread and carries only token fines.

However, Japanese authorities are carrying out a wide-ranging probe into the practice amid renewed pressure to crack down on lax regulations and legal loopholes, which have dented Japan’s corporate governance image.

Mr Watanabe’s resignation came several weeks after the former chief of Barclays Bank, Bob Diamond, and its chairman stepped down in the wake of a scandal over the manipulation of key inter-bank lending rates that has rocked the City of London, one of the world’s top financial hubs.