KKR to buy Axel Springer for 6.8 billion euros
KKR & Co. KKR, +0.33% is making a public takeover offer for the shares of Axel Springer SE (SPR.XE) after reaching an agreement with the German media company.
KKR will offer all Axel Springer shareholders 63 euros ($71.31) a share in cash, Axel Springer said Wednesday in a press release. The takeover offer will be subject to a minimum acceptance of 20%, Axel Springer said.
According to FactSet, Axel Springer has 107.9 million shares. Based on this, the private-equity firm’s offer values the company at EUR6.8 billion.
Axel Springer’s executive and supervisory board said they will support KKR’s takeover offer, and KKR has entered a shareholder agreement with Friede Springer, widow of the company’s founder and Chief Executive Matthias Doepfner. They won’t accept the public takeover offer and will continue to be involved in Axel Springer to the same extent as before, Axel Springer said.
Axel Springer shares closed at EUR56.00 on Tuesday. Last month, shares in the company surged after it said it was in talks with KKR for a strategic investment that could take the company private.
Axel Springer on Wednesday also lowered its 2019 view.
China auto sales drop for 11th month
SHANGHAI–China’s auto sales declined for the eleventh straight month in May, falling 16.4% from a year earlier to 1.91 million as the prolonged downturn in the country’s automotive sector showed no sign of abating.
For the first five months of 2019, vehicle sales fell 13% from a year ago, the government-backed China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said Wednesday. Passenger-car sales were down 15.2% during the period, while sales of commercial vehicles were off by 1.3%.
Electric-vehicle sales continued to grow strongly, however, reaching 464,000 in the January to May period, up 41.5% from the previous year. With 104,000 units sold last month, EVs accounted for 5.4% of total vehicle sales.
Market saturation in China’s wealthiest cities and a credit crunch in smaller cities have combined with weak confidence in the Chinese economy to depress sales since mid-2018. While some analysts expect a rebound later this year, tough new emissions regulations–which come into force across much of China on July 1–are disrupting the industry’s efforts to stage a fight-back, according to officials at the manufacturers’ association.
The regulations have left dealers scrambling to shift thousands of older vehicles before selling them becomes illegal at the end of this month, often by offering steep discounts. While that could deliver a temporary boost in unit sales, it is likely to worsen financial losses for auto makers already struggling in China, analysts said.
Write to Trefor Moss at [email protected]
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Huawei postpones new laptop launch as U.S. ban starts to weigh
HONG KONG—China’s Huawei Technologies Co. canceled the launch of a new laptop and paused production at its personal-computer business due to restrictions on buying U.S. components, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The moves marks Huawei’s first tangible setback caused by the U.S. Commerce Department’s move to ban American companies from selling supplies to the Chinese company.
Huawei, the world’s No. 2 smartphone brand, has a relatively small and new personal-computer business. It makes three laptops, the first of which made its debut in 2016. It relies on Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system and Intel Corp.’s chips.
An expanded version of this report can be found at WSJ.com
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Britain to intensify fight against climate change
Britain's outgoing prime minister on Wednesday announced plans to eliminate the country's net contribution to climate change by 2050.
Theresa May said the plan will be put before Parliament later in the day. The amendment to the 2008 Climate Change Act will intensify Britain's push to drastically reduce carbon emissions.
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"Standing by is not an option," she said in a statement. "Reaching net zero by 2050 is an ambitious target, but it is crucial that we achieve it to ensure we protect our planet for future generations." She added that Britain was already taking a leading role in fighting climate change.
The government's Committee on Climate Change says the change will help public health by reducing air and noise pollution and also help biodiversity. It had urged an urgent upgrade of the government's approach.
Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, said the business community backs the government's commitment.
"This legislation is the right response to the global climate crisis, and firms are ready to play their part in combating it," she said.
May is leaving office shortly after her party chooses a replacement leader. She stepped down because of her inability to win parliamentary support for her Brexit deal.
Boohoo revenue up 39% on strong brand growth
Boohoo Group PLC (BOO.LN) said Wednesday that revenue rose 39% in the first three months of fiscal 2020 on the back of strong growth across all brands and all its regions.
The U.K. online fashion retailer said revenue was 254.3 million pounds ($323.1 million) in the quarter ended May 31, compared with GBP183.6 million in the comparable period last year. It said that the U.K. grew 27% while international saw growth of 56%.
Cash at May 31 was GBP194 million, compared with GBP151 million this time last year.
The company said it expects group revenue growth to be between 25% and 30% with an adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization margin of around 10% for fiscal 2020.
"We have ambitious plans for the group, and continue to invest to ensure that our scalable multibrand platform is well positioned to disrupt, gain market share and capitalizes on the global opportunity in front of us," Chief Executive John Lyttle said.