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Tesla EV sales boom in Singapore, pushing rivals’ models off the streets

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October 28, 2021

By Chen Lin

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – In wealthy Singapore, where new vehicle registration is tightly controlled to manage the city state’s traffic and pollution, Tesla Inc is having a moment: surging sales are gobbling up rivals’ market share.

The buying frenzy in one of the world’s most expensive places to own a vehicle – Tesla’s most basic Model 3 costs nearly S$200,000 ($148,300) in Singapore, largely due to an ownership levy, compared with less than $40,000 in the United States – underscores the U.S. firm’s ascent in the global auto industry.

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This week, Tesla surpassed $1 trillion in market value, overshadowing the combined value of five of its biggest rivals, Toyota Motor Corp, Volkswagen AG, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Co and General Motors.

The number of new Teslas on Singapore roads has risen more than ten-fold to 487 in the third quarter, from just 30 in the first half, data from Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) showed.

“I bought the car because I’m a supporter and shareholder of the company,” said software engineer Tim Shim, who reserved a Model 3 five years ago but received just recently as sales began this year in the city-state.

Helped by Tesla fans like Shim, the company became Singapore’s sixth-most popular car brand in September, outselling Nissan, Audi and Kia.

Experts say there is no single cause for the surge, although Singapore did announce this year up to S$45,000 subsidy for buyers of electric cars. Because Tesla seems to have fared better than other companies at weathering supply chain issues, it may simply be able to deliver more cars than competitors.

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“Pent up demand is relatively large. Now the supply is in place and Tesla is most likely working through a large backlog,” said Niels de Boer, an electromobility expert at Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

There were 314 Teslas registered last month in Singapore, almost on par with Hyundai and trailing top brands Toyota Motor Corp’s 778 and Honda Motor’s 466.

Tesla declined to comment on its performance in Singapore.

Its website shows new buyers still have to wait 4-12 weeks to get their cars.

TESLA’S GAIN IS OTHERS’ LOSS

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Singapore’s strict limits on car registrations until early 2025 mean Tesla’s market share gain comes at the cost of its rivals in the tiny and competitive country, which runs 50 km (31 miles) from east to west and 27 km from north to south.

Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz and Nissan saw a average monthly new car registrations decline in the third quarter, down 45% and 27% respectively from the first half of this year, according to a Reuters calculation.

Although monthly car registration dropped 15.8% on average last quarter from the first half, only Tesla and Korean car makers Hyundai and Kia bucked the trend among major vendors. Hyundai and Kia reported 13.6% and 25% sales rises respectively.

Analysts and industry experts said factory disruptions caused by a global chip shortage also probably affected deliveries and sales in recent months. Hyundai and Tesla are among a handful of carmakers that fared better than rivals in managing disruptions.

(For graphic on Top brands vs Tesla’s performance in 2021 – https://graphics.reuters.com/TESLA-SINGAPORE/gdpzywlwdvw/chart.png)

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“A Tesla car is cheaper to own when compared to equivalent class sedans from other famous Western brands like Mercedes and BMW,” said Andy Seo, who switched to Tesla from a Volvo. He said it costs about S$20-S$30 to fully charge a Model 3 near his home.

NTU’s de Boer expects the Tesla frenzy to fade longer term as competition heats up, but said it could help broaden adoption of electric vehicles (EVs).

“I think Tesla will help with the shift: this is buying an EV while being cool and trendy,” he said.

(For graphic on Top three car brands in Singapore vs Tesla (Jan-Sept 2021)- https://graphics.reuters.com/TESLA-SINGAPORE/egvbkmxmwpq/chart.png)

Tesla made up 1.4% of 36,629 new car registrations in Singapore this year, compared with top player Toyota’s 20.4%.

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Singapore, which Tesla CEO Elon Musk once criticised for not being supportive of EVs, plans to phase out all internal combustion engine vehicles https://www.reuters.com/article/us-singapore-economy-budget-autos-idUSKBN20C15D by 2040 and is encouraging drivers to switch to EVs through a range of measures, including more tax breaks and subsidies.

($1 = 1.3483 Singapore dollars)

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Top brands vs Tesla’s performance in 2021 https://tmsnrt.rs/3jEF9SD

Top three car brands in Singapore vs Tesla (Jan-Sept 2021) https://tmsnrt.rs/31aMLpx

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(Reporting by Chen Lin in Singapore; Editing by Miyoung Kim and Gerry Doyle)

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Arnault-backed group launches second SPAC listing

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December 7, 2021

By Emma-Victoria Farr

LONDON (Reuters) – France’s richest man Bernard Arnault and former UniCredit head Jean Pierre Mustier will publicly list a second blank cheque vehicle in Amsterdam, raising 200 million euros ($226 million), the bookrunners on the deal said.

Earlier this year, the duo raised half a billion euros from their special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), Pegasus Acquisition Company Europe B.V., which is searching for takeover targets in the financial sector.

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On Tuesday, the same group of backers announced they would list a second vehicle with a similar focus, Pegasus Entrepreneurial Acquisition Company Europe, in Amsterdam.

SPACs are listed on a stock exchange by a group of entrepreneurs, who use the money raised to target a private company – allowing the target to get a stock market listing without the arduous process of launching a public listing.

Mustier is working with former Bank of America banker Diego De Giorgi and entrepreneur and investor Pierre Cuilleret in launching the 200 million euro listing.

Several SPACs have listed in Amsterdam, potentially boosting the Dutch financial capital’s credentials as a hub for fast-growing companies. London has only hosted one major SPAC in 2021, after updating its rules to make them easier.

Pegasus is backed by institutional sponsors Tikehau Capital and Financière Agache and by sponsors De Giorgi, Cuilleret and Mustier. Citi, Goldman Sachs and BNP Paribas are the bookrunners on the deal.

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($1 = 0.8860 euros)

(Reporting by Emma-Victoria Farr; editing by John O’Donnell and Louise Heavens)

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Bulls back in charge as Omicron worries wane

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December 7, 2021

By Marc Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – Waning Omicron COVID-19 variant worries and a timely booster shot of Chinese stimulus lifted world stock markets and oil on Tuesday and left traders offloading safe-haven currencies and bonds again.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index was on track for its first back-to-back run of plus 1% gains since February while Asia saw record bounces from some of China’s biggest firms such as Alibaba and Baidu. [.SS][.EU]

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The risk-on mood also helped the dollar climb against safe haven currencies such as the Japanese yen,, which had lost 0.6% overnight, as the confidence-sensitive Australian dollar also found buyers. [FRX/]

Safe-harbour government bonds went the other way with yields – which move inverse to bond prices – up 2.5% on Germany’s benchmark 10-year Bund after falling to a three-month low on Monday. [GVD/EUR]

Reports in South Africa said Omicron cases there had only shown mild symptoms and the top U.S. infectious disease official, Anthony Fauci, told CNN “it does not look like there’s a great degree of severity” so far.

“Good news relating to the severity of Omicron should be taken with a pinch of salt. Faster transmission could offset the benefits of milder symptoms,” researchers at ING said in a note. “More broadly, it is still early days, even if markets are starting to display Omicron fatigue.”

The gains also came after China’s central bank on Monday injected its second shot of stimulus since July by cutting the amount of cash that banks must hold in reserve.

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There was still uncertainty about its property sector as Evergrande teetered on the brink of default again but data showing much stronger import growth was “a positive sign on the strength of domestic demand”, RBC analyst Adam Cole said.

Elsewhere, Australia’s S&P/ASX200 rose 0.95%, while Japan’s Nikkei advanced 2.1% as risk-on sentiment pushed markets higher.

MSCI’s main Asia ex-Japan benchmark has lost about 5% so far this year, with Hong Kong markets figuring among the big losers, while Indian and Taiwan stocks outperformed.

Shares in embattled developer Evergrande edged up 1.7% after hitting a record low on Monday as markets waited to see if the real estate giant has paid $82.5 million with a 30-day grace period coming to an end.

Elsewhere, markets were supported by gains on Wall Street, where economically sensitive stocks outperformed.

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“While epidemiologists have rightly warned against premature conclusions on Omicron, markets arguably surmised that last week’s brutal sell-off ought to have been milder,” Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank, said in a note.

“After all, early assessments of Omicron cases have been declared mild, spurring half-full relief.”

Also supporting the dollar in FX markets was the expectation the Federal Reserve will accelerate the tapering of its bond-buying programme when it meets next week in response to a tightening labour market.

Oil prices jumped another 2% to $74.60 a barrel, adding to a near 5% rebound the day before as concerns about the impact of Omicron on global fuel demand eased. [O/R]

Copper prices also ticked higher while gold was steady at $1,778.5 per ounce on expectations U.S. consumer price data due later this week will show inflation quickening.

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(Additional reporting by Anshuman Daga in Singapore; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Exclusive: EU antitrust regulator seeks input on Microsoft’s $16 billion Nuance deal

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December 7, 2021

By Paresh Dave

(Reuters) – EU’s antitrust regulator is taking a deeper look into Microsoft Corp’s $16 billion deal for transcription technology company Nuance Communications Inc, asking customers and competitors to draw up a list of concerns, according to a questionnaire from last month seen by Reuters.

The previously unreported outreach is the most extensive by an antitrust authority since the companies announced the acquisition in April, according to a person familiar with the matter.

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Microsoft declined to comment, and Nuance did not respond to a request for comment.

After minimal review, the U.S. Department of Justice in June and the Australian Competition Commission in October said they would not contest the deal. The companies filed for approval from the European Commission’s competition bureau last month, and the regulator has until Dec. 21 to clear the deal or open a bigger investigation.

The companies had expected to close the deal by the end of this year, but said last month the timeline could slip to early next year.

The questionnaire asks whether Microsoft and Nuance are competitors and whether a tie-up could affect clients and rivals, including whether Microsoft could favor Nuance over competing services.

Nuance primarily sells transcription technology that is popular among doctors and call centers that want to automate note-talking. Analysts view the deal as bolstering Microsoft’s presence in the healthcare market, and bringing it new voice and medical data to train artificial intelligence offerings in health, speech and biometric security.

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Like other big tech companies, Microsoft for years has grown its business through acquisitions, such as in advertising and video gaming. But in the last decade, Microsoft has avoided the target that recently has dogged its competitors Alphabet Inc’s Google, Facebook Inc, Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc, all of which are facing antitrust lawsuits and investigations on numerous issues.

Steven Weber, a University of California Berkeley professor studying the intersection of technology and health care, said possible concerns about the pending deal could include Microsoft forcing its Office suite on Nuance customers by bundling them together.

Nuance has said it serves 77% of U.S. hospitals.

A key to its success has been has ensuring in deals with customers that it could use their data to advance its voice recognition systems, according to former chief executive Paul Ricci and another former employee.

For instance, a Nuance contract with Augusta University Medical Center, obtained by Reuters this year through a public records request, reads, “Customer shall provide Nuance access to voice and text data…and grants Nuance a perpetual, royalty-free license to copy, use and analyze such data for speech recognition research.”

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Big cloud vendors such as Amazon and Microsoft typically do not have unfettered access to customers’ data for research and development. But the opportunity to acquire those relationships and data explains Microsoft’s interest in Nuance, the former employees said.

Other providers of health transcription technologies include 3M Co and Philips.

(Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Kenneth Li and David Gregorio)

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