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German ministries welcome Lufthansa’s early bailout aid repayment

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November 12, 2021

By Miranda Murray and Zuzanna Szymanska

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s finance and economy ministries on Friday welcomed the early repayment by flag carrier Lufthansa of bailout aid it received during the coronavirus crisis.

The news showed Germany’s federal government made the right decision when it helped Europe’s largest airline group during the most difficult situation in its history, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told a news conference.

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“The whole thing faced a lot of criticism at the time. Many believed the government would never see the funds again. In the end, Lufthansa would become a state company,” Altmaier said.

“All of these fears, I would like to make this very clear again today, have not materialised. Lufthansa made an effort. It used the state money to get through the most difficult months of the pandemic,” he said.

Lufthansa Group was saved from bankruptcy during the coronavirus pandemic by Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Belgium with 9 billion euros ($10.30 billion) in financial support approved by the European Commission in June 2020.

Lufthansa only drew 3.8 billion euros out of that amount and on Friday, it said it had repaid the last 1 billion euros.

“It shows it was important and right for the state to help the company through difficult times and thereby secure thousands of jobs,” Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, who is on course to become Germany’s next chancellor, said in a statement.

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Rising demand for travel, downsizing and the return of the market’s confidence in the airline helped it repay the loans faster than expected, Lufthansa said.

“On behalf of all Lufthansa employees, I would like to thank the German government and the German taxpayers,” said Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr.

The ministries said the country’s pandemic stabilisation fund’s remaining stake of about 14% in Lufthansa would be sold by October 2023 at the latest.

($1 = 0.8736 euros)

(Reporting by Miranda Murray and Zuzanna Szymanska; Editing by Riham Alkousaa, Thomas Escritt, Kirsten Donovan)

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Canada’s Shopify records Black Friday sales up 21%

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November 27, 2021

(Reuters) – Canadian e-commerce company Shopify Inc recorded worldwide sales of nearly $2.9 billion on Black Friday, an increase of about 21% in comparison to last year, the company said Saturday.

New York, London and Los Angeles were among the top-selling cities, the company said, while apparel and accessories was the top-selling product category.

Shopify also said it funded 23,000+ tonnes of carbon removal to counteract emissions from the delivery of every order placed on its platform on Black Friday.

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(Reporting by Aakriti Bhalla in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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Xiaomi to open car plant in Beijing with annual output of 300,000 vehicles – Beijing govt

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November 27, 2021

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi Corp will build a plant that can produce 300,000 vehicles annually in Beijing for its electric vehicle unit, authorities in the capital said on Saturday.

The plant will be constructed in two phases and Xiaomi will also built its auto unit’s headquarters, sales and research offices in the Beijing Economic and Technological Development Zone, the government-backed economic development agency Beijing E-Town said on its official WeChat account.

Beijing E-Town said it anticipated the plant reaching mass production in 2024, a goal announced by Xiaomi’s Chief Executive Lei Jun in October.

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In March, Xiaomi said it would commit to investing $10 billion in a new electric car division over 10 years. The company completed the business registration of its EV unit in late August.

The company has been opening thousands of stores to spur domestic sales growth for its smartphone business but eventually intends to use these shops as a channel for its plans to sell electric vehicles.

(Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by William Mallard)

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Eni sells Snam 49.9% stake in Algeria gas pipelines for 385 million euros

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November 27, 2021

MILAN (Reuters) -Italian energy group Eni has agreed to sell gas group Snam 49.9% of its stake in strategic pipelines carrying Algerian gas into Italy for 385 million euros ($436 million), the two companies said on Saturday.

The pipelines will be jointly controlled by the two companies, they said in a joint statement.

Italy imports more than 90% of its overall gas needs and Algerian gas currently accounts for around 30% of flows.

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“This transaction allows us to free up new resources to be used on our energy transition path,” Eni Chief Executive Claudio Descalzi said.

Eni is working on spinning off a series of oil and gas operations into new joint ventures to help reduce debt and fund its shift to low-carbon energy.

Snam, which owns a 20% stake in the TAP pipeline that carries Azeri gas into Italy, makes most of its money from managing Italy’s gas transport grid.

It has pledged to spend more on new green business lines such as hydrogen and, like other gas grid operators in Europe, is upgrading its gas network to be hydrogen ready.

“In the future, North Africa could also become a hub for producing solar energy and green hydrogen,” Snam CEO Marco Alvera said.

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The pipeline companies involved in the deal posted net income of around 90 million euros in 2020.

($1 = 0.8836 euros)

(Reporting by Stephen Jewkes, editing by Giselda Vagnoni)

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