Tuesday, January 24, 2017
More Trump pressure on US car makers to make at home; Scandal drags BT shares down 20%; An iPhone case as a drone pad
1 More Trump pressure on US car makers to make at home (BBC) US President Donald Trump has told the heads of the big three US car giants to build more vehicles in America. During a White House meeting with the companies' chief executives he promised to make investment more attractive through cuts in regulations and taxes.
Mr Trump met General Motors' Mary Barra, Ford's Mark Fields, and Fiat Chrysler's Sergio Marchionne. The president has criticised some carmakers via Twitter, warning them about expanding plants in Mexico and elsewhere and then expecting to import vehicles tariff free.
Tuesday's meeting was Mr Trump's first chance to meet the car chiefs face-to-face to press home his "buy American, hire American" policies. The executives raised the issue of fuel efficiency rules, trade policy and other regulatory matters during the hour-long meeting. Mr Marchionne said after the meeting that the president did not give them specifics on what regulations he would cut.
GM, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler, as well as foreign carmakers, have announced a string of new US jobs and investments in recent weeks. Toyota said it would add 400 jobs and invest $600m in an Indiana plant, aiming to boost production there by 10%. The Japanese company has already said it plans to invest $10bn in the UK over the next five years.
According to Reuters, US car manufacturers have collectively added more than 78,000 jobs since 2009, the year when GM and Chrysler - before it became part of Fiat - filed for bankruptcy protection as part of government bailouts during the US recession. They have invested more than $40bn in US plants during that period.
2 Scandal drags BT shares down 20% (Nick Fletcher in The Guardian) Almost £8bn, or more than a fifth, was wiped off the stock market value of BT after the telecoms group revealed that an accounting scandal at its Italian business was much worse than originally thought.
The company also warned of a slowdown in some of its other operations, with international corporate clients cutting back after the Brexit vote and UK government departments reducing their spending. As a result, profits would be £300m lower than previously expected.
The Italian problems mean the company’s remuneration committee will examine bonus payments previously paid to leading directors, including the chief executive, Gavin Patterson, which were based on targets that may not now be met.
It also emerged that Italian prosecutors were opening their own investigation into BT Italia over alleged false accounting and embezzlement. Patterson earned £5.3m last year including an annual bonus of just over £1m and share awards worth £3m.
BT’s shares fell 79.55p or 20.7% to 303p on the news, its biggest ever one day fall and its lowest level since June 2013. The company’s shares are among the most widely owned on the UK stock market, with a large number of small investors who have held on since the company was privatised in 1984.
3 An iPhone case as a drone pad (Emily Price in San Francisco Chronicle) It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s an… iPhone case? A new drone launching on Kickstarter today puts a quadcopter on the back on your iPhone case.
The idea behind the design is that you’ll be able to have the drone with you no matter where you are, rather than having to plan to bring it with you on a particular trip. The device snaps off the back of your iPhone when you want to use it, and then snaps back on when you’re done. When attached, the case is still thin enough that it fits in a pocket.
Even better, the drone flies itself, so you can focus on posing for the hovering camera. While the demo shows it being used with an iPhone, Selfly claims the device can work with both Android and iOS, and the unique case will fit any phone between 4-6inches, including the iPhone 6, iPhone 7, Galaxy S6, Galaxy S7, and Nexus 6. Images captured by the drone have an 8-megapixel resolution, and video is recorded at 1080p/ 30fps.
One thing the device is short in: battery life. The drone’s battery will only allow it to take 20 photos or shoot five minutes of video on a single charge. It also might not actually become a reality. Selfly is on Kickstarter, which means it’s raising money for production, it’s not a product already for sale.
On its Kickstarter page, Selfly claims that it has a prototype ready, and will begin mass production of the device once it reaches its funding goal of $125,000. When it does start production, it plans to ship the first devices in June of this year. You can score one of the first when you pledge $79.