Global Business Daily: Renault losses; German GDP; RBS now NatWest
Patrick Atack in London

"There will be losers, and Tesla is an extremely successful disruptor... it's really kicked the traditional car companies quite hard in the rear. Renault is somewhat behind the curve, now." 

That's the view of Ian Henry, owner of AutoAnalysis and specialist in European car production and supply chains. He outlined some of the problems facing French car maker Renault, as it reported its first loss in ten years. 

It's been a busy week in the automotive industry; Nissan released its results yesterday, and Volkswagen revealed its Chinese business dropped in January, thanks at least in part to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

In our interview today, we hear from Anna Nichols, managing editor of The Economist Intelligence Unit. She tells us what the auto sector can expect from the coming months, and what we can expect to see from Nissan. 

In more coronavirus news, Apple has reopened some of its Beijing stores today, and emergency funds have been made available by the Chinese government, as it continues to battle the virus. 

Make sure you click through and watch our video as Mike Ryan, the WHO's executive director, told CGTN's Mark Webster how developed economies need to invest heavily to developed a vaccine. 

The name Royal Bank of Scotland goes back 300 years, but in a momentus change for the UK banking sector, RBS Group has chosen to rename itself NatWest Group, reflecting its major subsidiary business. 

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Happy Reading, 

Patrick Atack 

Digital business correspondent 

The German economy is stagnating, and did not even reach the modest expectations of 0.1 percent growth of GDP in Q4 2019. The new figure, along with an adjustment to Q2's growth, reveals an overall picture of 0.6 percent GDP growth in 2019. Spending and exports have both slowed, with automobile sales slowing globally affecting the German economy significantly.

Things aren't looking up for the German car industry, as January stats show Volkswagen deliveries to China dropped 11.3 percent thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak. The country is the group's biggest market, and the drop in sales also covers the Audi brand. 

Carmaker Renault has reported its first loss in a decade. The company made an annual loss of more than $150 million in 2019. The acting chief executive Clotilde Delbos says the shrinking of the markets and so called internal difficulties are to blame.

Volkswagen may be trying to turn 'Green' with the announcement that it will close the two coal-fired power plants at its main Wolfsburg manufacturing plant - but it's still reeling from the 'Dieselgate' controversy which emerged in 2015. Today it is understood the company's talks with consumer groups looking for compensation have collapsed over a request for legal fees amounting to $50m

The Royal Bank of Scotland Group - which is majority-owned by the UK government - has announced it will rebrand as NatWest Group. The name comes from one of the Group's subsidiaries, the National Westminster Bank, which became an RBS brand after the UK's largest ever hostile corporate takeover. 

Apple reopened some stores in Beijing today, with reduced business hours. Apple said that many of its other stores in China will remain shut as the country continues to battle the COVID-19 outbreak.

Tech giant Huawei is responding to charges levied against the company by U.S. officials.  Huawei says the indictment is part of the U.S. Justice Department's attempt to "irrevocably damage" its reputation. 

Emergency funds worth $11.5 billion are being pooled by the Chinese government, as it continues efforts to control the COVID-19 virus. 

The global aviation industry could lose as much as $5 billion thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent cancelled flights. The U.N.'s International Civil Aviation Organization said 70 airlines have cancelled all international flights to and from the Chinese mainland and a further 50 airlines have curtailed operations. 

Excerpts from a speech Mark Zuckerberg is due to give on Saturday show he may be softening his view on Facebook paying taxes in Europe. Cross-border tax rules are due to be re-written after a meeting of 137 nations chaired by the OECD in January. "We accept that... we have to pay more tax and pay it in different places under a new framework," he is due to say.


The World Health Organization has called on developed countries to finance the production of a vaccine for COVID-19 warning a new drug must be available across the globe. 



Anna Nichols, managing editor of The Economist Intelligence Unit, told CGTN about the impact of Nissan's poor 2019 results, and what caused the 80 percent drop in the Japanese car maker's operating profit. 

How serious is the situation facing Nissan? Can you put some context on this for us?

In one way, it is pretty serious. I'm not so worried about the drop in profits because profits are basically a question of when they put the restructuring costs into their accounts. What I'm really worried about is the drop in sales, particularly the sales in the US market, in the EU market. Nissan does have quite a large cash pile so it can afford to survive. 

But the bigger problem for all of the automotive industry is that this is part of a cyclical downturn in the automotive sector generally. And it's really hard to see, particularly after the coronavirus has emerged, where growth is going to come from. 

Can you expand on that last point? What impact has the COVID-19 outbreak had on the company? 

Well, first of all, it's had a slight impact in terms of its supply chains. So it's had to do a temporary stoppage at one of its plants so far. But I think the bigger impact is in terms of the future sales for Nissan, because one of the areas where it was actually outperforming the market was in China. 

So although it did see its car sales fall in China, the market itself was falling much, much faster. So in some ways, that was a minor bright spot for Nissan. But obviously now we're having to downgrade our car sales forecasts for China and for most of Asia. 

So whereas we're expecting to see a recovery this year in that region, it's very hard to see that that's going to happen. On the other hand, if the Chinese government puts a large stimulus program in place and people react to the virus by not wanting to go on public transport, there is a chance, as you saw after the SARS virus, that actually there'll be a boost in sales, at least a temporary boost.  

And how big a problem is the former boss, Carlos Ghosn?

He is somebody that people like to talk about. But he's determined to also keep himself in the headlines. That's not a big issue because Nissan's management has all moved on now. He had to go and has no influence in terms of the management. 

But in terms of reputation, it does have an effect. And arguably it's partly reputational damage that has been problematic in the US and the European markets.

It's Valentine's day, and as many people say it's the thought that counts. But increasingly it's about how much gets spent. We looked at IBIS World figures to show what UK consumers buy for their loved ones. Meals out came first, but there was a nearly 5 percent drop in spending on jewellery in 2019.

It's Valentine's day, and as many people say it's the thought that counts. But increasingly it's about how much gets spent. We looked at IBIS World figures to show what UK consumers buy for their loved ones. Meals out came first, but there was a nearly 5 percent drop in spending on jewellery in 2019.