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from Breakingviews:

Hertz gears up for another financial spin

By Kevin Allison

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Carl Icahn is just the latest financier to toy with Hertz Global. The activist investor reported an 8.5 percent stake on Wednesday, saying he planned to pressure the $14 billion car rental company over recent management stumbles. But Hertz has been an investor plaything for nearly a century. Automakers, an airline, a 1960s conglomerate, private equity and public investors have all owned the business.

Launched in Chicago in 1918 and bought by its namesake, John Hertz, half a decade later, the car rental operation was swallowed up by General Motors in 1926, a decade before Icahn was born, according to a potted history on the company website. The billionaire activist was a spry 20-something when Hertz made its stock market debut in 1954, a year after being sold to bus-maker Omnibus Corp.

In 1967, it was broadcasting-to-carpets giant RCA’s turn at the wheel. As the stodgy old conglomerate was being dismantled in the 1980s, ownership passed to UAL, the parent company of United Airlines – part of an abortive attempt to diversify out of commercial air travel that also included owning hotels.

from The Great Debate UK:

Financing must improve if UK auto sector is to thrive

--Guy Walsh is Regional Director at ABN AMRO Commercial Finance PLC. The opinion expressed are his own.--

The automotive industry is the UK’s largest sector in terms of exports, generating around £30 billion of annual revenue, but many smaller players in the sector languish due to a lack of funding.

from Photographers' Blog:

Life of a crash test dummy

Landsberg, Germany

By Michael Dalder

Have you ever thought about the number of cars that are on the road every day?

According to research by WardsAuto, in 2010 the number of cars in operation around the globe grew to more than 1 billion for the very first time.

That’s a lot of cars. No doubt, it also means a lot of accidents every day. But I had the chance to witness the work of some engineers – along with their reticent assistants – whose job it is to help prevent these accidents from happening by researching car safety.

from MacroScope:

Davos Day Two — Rouhani, Lew and Lagarde

Day one in Davos showed the masters of the universe fretting about Sino-Japanese military tensions, the treacherous investment territory in some emerging markets and the risk of a lurch to the right in Europe at May’s parliamentary elections which could make reform of the bloc even harder.

Today, the focus will be on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (and his main detractor, Israel’s Netanyahu). Presumably he’s there to woo the world of commerce now sanctions are to be relaxed in return for Tehran suspending enrichment of uranium beyond a certain level. Anything he says about Syria’s peace talks, which have so far been more hostile than conciliatory, will instantly be headline news.

from Photographers' Blog:

Shopping for vintage wheels

Pierce, Nebraska

By Jim Urquhart

I think I just witnessed the biggest news event to take place in the small hamlet of Pierce, Nebraska.

GALLERY: VINTAGE CAR AUCTION

Hundreds of miles away from my Salt Lake City home in the heart of fly-over country I was assigned to cover the auctioning off of 500 vintage automobiles in a field outside of town. Ray Lambrecht had run the local Chevrolet dealership for decades before retiring in 1996. Over the years he developed a habit of not selling trade-in cars and held onto many unsold cars. What was left was a scattered collection of hundreds of cars in warehouses and fields around the town of about 2,000 people.

from Photographers' Blog:

An automotive best in show

Pebble Beach, California

By Michael Fiala

When I usually don cameras to shoot on the 18th fairway of Pebble Beach it's to cover what is considered one of the best finishing holes in golf. Stay an arm's length within the ropes, work as silently as possible and don't distract the golfers. Instead this past Sunday I weaved myself through this hallowed stretch of coastline and into the colorful automotive celebration that is the Concours d'Elegance. An annual charitable event, which was founded in 1950, of rare automobiles, competing in their class and for Best of Show.

GALLERY: CONCOURS D'ELEGANCE

The Pebble Beach Concours, which concludes a week of car-related festivities - much of it business related - attracts some of the world's wealthiest car enthusiasts, industry leaders, and celebrities. The week consists of five auctions, eight concours and exhibitions, three days of racing, concept car unveilings and manufacturer displays, all culminating Sunday on the shores of the foggy Pacific.

from Expert Zone:

Hyundai makes a grand move with the Grand i10

(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

In 1947, when India won freedom from British rule, an enterprising young man in South Korea was realizing a dream that was to become a global phenomenon. Chung Ju-yung, founder of the Hyundai group, set up a construction company at 32 and two decades later, the Hyundai Motor Company was born.

from Global Investing:

Russia’s starting blocs – the EEU

The course is more than 20 million square kilometers, and covers 15 percent of the world's land surface. It's not a new event in next month's IAAF World Championships in Moscow but a long-term project to better integrate emerging Eurasian economies.

The eventual aim of a new economic union for post-Soviet states, known as the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), is to "substitute previously existing ones," according to Tatiana Valovaya, Russia's minister in charge of development of integration and macroeconomics, at a media briefing in London last week.

from Entrepreneurial:

Q & A with Joel Jackson, founder of Mobius Motors

In February, Global Post profiled an interesting startup in Africa called Mobius Motors that is working to manufacture affordable ($6,000) cars designed specifically for Africans.

By simplifying the designs through the elimination of non-essential parts like power steering and air conditioning, the team at Mobius is able to drastically reduce the cost of the vehicle, which they hope will help small business owners in need of affordable transportation. Reuters reached Mobius founder and CEO Joel Jackson over email to ask him about his plans for the car company and some of the challenges he foresees.

from Unstructured Finance:

Gundlach doesn’t whine over his stolen wine

By Jennifer Ablan and Matthew Goldstein

Who said bonds are boring? In recent days, Jeffrey Gundlach, the new king of the fixed-income world, has been dominating headlines with his lengthy CNBC interview on everything from counterparty risk to the market’s love affair with Apple stock to talk in the blogosphere about Gundlach’s pricey Santa Monica, Calif. residence being burglarized of more than $10 million in assets.

Against this backdrop, Gundlach’s firm, DoubleLine, hit a huge milestone this week as well, hitting $45 billion in assets under management.

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