Amazon said Tuesday that it would indefinitely prohibit police departments from using its facial recognition tool, extending a moratorium the company announced last year during nationwide protests over racism and biased policing.
The tool has faced scrutiny from lawmakers and some employees inside Amazon who said they were worried that it led to unfair treatment of African-Americans. Amazon has repeatedly defended the accuracy of its algorithms.
When Amazon announced the pause in June, it did not cite a specific reason for the change. The company said it hoped a year was enough time for Congress to create legislation regulating the ethical use of facial recognition technology. Congress has not banned the technology, or issued any significant regulations on it, but some cities have.
The primary suppliers of facial recognition tools to police departments have not been tech giants like Amazon, but smaller outfits that are not household names.
Still, privacy advocates cheered Amazonâs latest move.
âThis is a huge win for privacy and is the direct result of years of work by activists and advocates who have shed light on the dangerous use of this flawed technology,â the American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement posted on Twitter.
Google held its I/O developer conference on Tuesday. And, as usual, it was a dizzying two-hour procession of new features, products and services across the companyâs vast array of businesses, from its smartphone software to its artificial intelligence systems.
But each demonstration laid bare the gap between how Google wants to present itself â a tech pioneer pushing the boundaries of whatâs possible â and how politicians and regulators see the company â a deep-pocketed monopoly choking off the competition. There was no talk of the antitrust trials facing the company or the congressional hearings that have become a routine part of the calendar of Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Googleâs parent company Alphabet.
Google barely discussed any of the ways it makes money. There was almost no mention of advertising, the main driver of Googleâs revenue last year, or even up-and-coming financial engines like Googleâs cloud computing business.
Instead, Google focused on its technological vision. Mr. Pichai revealed the companyâs next so-called moonshot. Google aims to power the entire company using carbon-free energy by 2030. It will require using artificially intelligent software systems to allocate energy wisely as well as investments to tap into geothermal energy in addition to wind and solar.
âWe aim to operate on carbon-free energy 24/7,â Mr. Pichai said. âThis means running every data center, every office on clean electricity every hour of every day. Itâs a moonshot.â
As for products and software, there were new privacy controls for its Android smartphone software as well as new design elements that select a personal color palette based on a personâs photos. There were also improvements in how computers understand human communication.
In one odd demonstration of a computerâs ability to carry on a natural-sounding conversation, Google demonstrated how the language model could be used to take on the character of Pluto (the âdwarf planet,â not the Disney character) to answer questions.
Like most big tech conferences, there was an awkward celebrity cameo with the actor Michael PeÃ±a trying to find humor in quantum computers. There were inspirational examples of how Google technology was bringing information to people outside Silicon Valley with a video of an Indonesian high school student using Googleâs camera vision technology to help her with her math homework.
It was hard to pinpoint a common theme of the show-and-tell event. Mr. Pichai tried to fit everything under a big tent of âbuilding a more helpful Google for everyone,â and Google explained that there was so much to share, because the company had to call off the event last year because of the pandemic.
Traditionally, the conference has been held in an outdoor amphitheater near the companyâs Mountain View, Calif., headquarters, but this yearâs presentation was held virtually from an outdoor stage at Googleâs offices, with a handful of in-person attendees sitting in lounge chairs.
Supported by Republican governors and lawmakers as well as national and state chambers of commerce, the decision will eliminate the temporary $300-a-week supplement that unemployment recipients have been getting and will end benefits for freelancers, part-timers and those who have been unemployed for more than six months.
In Wisconsin, where the governor is a Democrat, Republicans in the Assembly and Senate have introduced legislation to end participation.
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming also plan to end federal unemployment benefits, beginning in June or early July.
âThe Texas economy is booming and employers are hiring in communities throughout the state,â Gov. Greg Abbott said in a news release. âAccording to the Texas Workforce Commission, the number of job openings in Texas is almost identical to the number of Texans who are receiving unemployment benefits.â
The moves will affect more than 3.4 million people in the 21 states, according to a calculation by Oxford Economics, a forecasting and analysis firm. Of those workers, 2.5 million currently on unemployment would lose benefits altogether, it said.
Although business owners and managers have complained that unemployment benefits are discouraging people from answering help-wanted ads, the evidence is mixed. Vaccination rates are picking up but less than half of adults are fully vaccinated. In surveys, people have cited continuing fear of infection. A lack of child care has also prevented many parents from returning to work full time.
Arizona, Montana and Oklahoma are offering newly hired workers an incentive bonus.
Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut, a Democrat, said this week that his state would offer $1,000 bonuses to 10,000 workers who have experienced long-term unemployment and obtain new jobs. His state is not dropping the federal benefits.
Fox News Media, the Rupert Murdoch-controlled cable group, filed a motion on Tuesday to dismiss a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit brought against it in March by Dominion Voting Systems, an election technology company that accused Fox News of propagating lies that ruined its reputation after the 2020 presidential election.
The Dominion lawsuit and a similar defamation claim brought in February by another election company, Smartmatic, have been widely viewed as test cases in a growing legal effort to battle disinformation in the news media. And it is another byproduct of former President Donald J. Trumpâs baseless attempts to undermine President Bidenâs clear victory.
In a 61-page response filed in Delaware Superior Court, the Fox legal team argues that Dominionâs suit threatened the First Amendment powers of a news organization to chronicle and assess newsworthy claims in a high-stakes political contest.
âA free press must be able to report both sides of a story involving claims striking at the core of our democracy,â Fox says in the motion, âespecially when those claims prompt numerous lawsuits, government investigations and election recounts.â The motion adds: âThe American people deserved to know why President Trump refused to concede despite his apparent loss.â
Dominionâs lawsuit against Fox News presented the circumstances in a different light.
Dominion is among the largest manufacturers of voting machine equipment and its technology was used by more than two dozen states last year. Its lawsuit described the Fox News and Fox Business cable networks as active participants in spreading a false claim, pushed by Mr. Trumpâs allies, that the company had covertly modified vote counts to manipulate results in favor of Mr. Biden. Lawyers for Mr. Trump shared those claims during televised interviews on Fox programs.
âLies have consequences,â Dominionâs lawyers wrote in their initial complaint. âFox sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process.â The lawsuit cites instances where Fox hosts, including Lou Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo, uncritically repeated false claims about Dominion made by Mr. Trumpâs lawyers Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sidney Powell.
A representative for Dominion, whose founder and employees received threatening messages after the negative coverage, did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday night.
Fox News Media has retained two prominent lawyers to lead its defense: Charles Babcock, who has a background in media law, and Scott Keller, a former chief counsel to Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas. Fox has also filed to dismiss the Smartmatic suit; that defense is being led by Paul D. Clement, a former solicitor general under President George W. Bush.
âThere are two sides to every story,â Mr. Babcock and Mr. Keller wrote in a statement on Tuesday. âThe press must remain free to cover both sides, or there will be a free press no more.â
The Fox motion on Tuesday argues that its networks âhad a free-speech right to interview the presidentâs lawyers and surrogates even if their claims eventually turned out to be unsubstantiated.â It argues that the security of Dominionâs technology had been debated in prior legal claims and media coverage, and that the lawsuit did not meet the high legal standard of âactual malice,â a reckless disregard for the truth, on the part of Fox News and its hosts.
Media organizations, in general, enjoy strong protections under the First Amendment. Defamation suits are a novel tactic in the battle over disinformation, but proponents say the strategy has shown some early results. The conservative news outlet Newsmax apologized last month after a Dominion employee, in a separate legal case, accused the network of spreading baseless rumors about his role in the election. Fox Business canceled âLou Dobbs Tonightâ a day after Smartmatic sued Fox in February and named Mr. Dobbs as a co-defendant.
Jonah E. Bromwich contributed reporting.
JPMorgan Chase named two female executives as joint heads of its largest division, potentially paving the way for the nationâs largest bank to be led by a woman.
Marianne Lake, chief executive of the consumer lending division, and Jennifer Piepszak, chief financial officer, both age 51, were named heads of JPMorganâs consumer and community bank, the sprawling division that handles auto loans, mortgages and private wealth management for bank customers. Their promotions are effective immediately.
In a message to employees on Tuesday, Jamie Dimon, JPMorganâs longtime chief executive, praised both Ms. Lake and Ms. Piepszak, who will now run a division that takes in more than $50 billion per year in revenue and competes neck and neck with the bankâs corporate and investment bank for dominance.
âWe are fortunate to have two such superb executives who are both examples of our extremely talented and deep management bench,â Mr. Dimon wrote. âThey have proven track records of working successfully across the firm.â
The two executives step into a role previously held by Gordon Smith, the firmâs co-president and chief operating officer, who said he would retire at the end of the year. His retirement also paves the way for Daniel Pinto, the other co-president and chief operating officer, as well as the head of its corporate and investment bank, to become the sole No. 2. Jeremy Barnum, currently global head of research for the corporate and investment bank, will succeed Ms. Piepszak as chief financial officer.
Tuesdayâs announcement brings renewed attention to what has been a hotly debated question within financial circles for years: who would replace Mr. Dimon, the charismatic C.E.O. who led JPMorgan through the financial crisis and is the longest-tenured bank leader on Wall Street. Mr. Dimon, 65, took on his role in late 2005 and has since quadrupled the bankâs stock price. He has said that leading JPMorgan is his calling, adding on more than one occasion that he planned to stay at the helm for at least another five years. But over the past decade, as a number of executives once viewed as potential successors have exited, concerns about who might replace Mr. Dimon have mounted.
The marketâs reaction to the announcements was modest, suggesting that investors didnât expect imminent changes at the top of the bank.
âObviously, with each year that goes by, how could he not be a year closer,â Glenn Schorr, a banking analyst who covers JPMorgan for Evercore ISI, said of Mr. Dimonâs retirement. At the same time, he added, the elevation of Ms. Lake and Ms. Piepszak doesnât necessarily mean that the chief executiveâs departure is any closer. âIâve seen this so many times,â Mr. Schorr said. âIt doesnât mean that at all.â
âThe board has said it would like Jamie to remain in his role for a significant number of years,â Joseph Evangelisti, a JPMorgan spokesman, said in a statement.
If Ms. Lake or Ms. Piepszak were eventually named to succeed Mr. Dimon, neither would be the first woman to run a Wall Street bank. That distinction belongs to Jane Fraser, who took the top role at Citigroup earlier this year.
A sell-off near the close of trading on Tuesday caused the S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite to end the day lower.
The S&P 500 fell 0.9 percent, and the Nasdaq composite lost 0.6 percent. The Nasdaq had been in positive territory for most of the day.
Shares of Apple, which has the biggest weight in the S&P 500, lost 1.1 percent, mostly in the last 10 minutes of trading. The next six largest companies in the index â including Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook and Alphabet, Googleâs parent company â all had similar dips.
Energy prices fell, with West Texas Intermediate crude oil, the U.S. benchmark, down 1.2 percent, to $65.49 a barrel. The S&Pâs energy sector fell 2.6 percent, led by Chevron, with a 3 percent drop.
AT&T, which fell 2.6 percent Monday after it announced it was spinning off its WarnerMedia division and becoming more of a strictly telecommunications company, was the worst-performing stock in the S&P 500, with a decline of 5.8 percent.
In Asia, the Nikkei in Japan gained 2.1 percent the same day the government reported that the economy had contracted in the first quarter, after two consecutive quarters of growth.
In Taiwan, the stock market jumped more than 5 percent after the government recently imposed restrictions to control a coronavirus outbreak. Reuters reported that Taipeiâs top official in Washington was in talks with President Biden about securing doses of vaccine from the United States.
The fallout from one of the most prominent retail bankruptcies of the pandemic continues.
The billionaire Italian former owners of Brooks Brothers have been sued in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York by TAL Apparel and Castle Apparel Limited, manufacturing companies based in Hong Kong and the retailerâs former minority shareholders, claiming more than $100 million in damages.
The lawsuit, which was filed Monday, claims that Claudio Del Vecchio, the former chief executive of Brooks Brothers, and his son, Matteo Del Vecchio, who was the companyâs chief administrative officer, âput their own financial interests ahead of those of the companyâ by refusing to pursue acquisition bids solicited in 2019 âthat would have yielded hundreds of millions of dollars for Brooks Brothersâ shareholders.â Instead, they held on to the brand and then were forced into bankruptcy proceedings last year.
TAL, a longtime Brooks Brothers supplier that claims to make one out of every six shirts sold in the United States, became an investor in 2016. It claims that the reason for what the lawsuit termed âbad faithâ was a clause in the shareholder agreement that made the Del Vecchios responsible for paying back the balance of TALâs $100 million investment if the company was sold for less than its $652 million valuation at the time of investment. The suit claims that the Del Vecchios wanted to avoid that eventuality at all costs and opted to âroll the diceâ with a Chapter 11 declaration.
Brooks Brothers, which was founded in 1818 and is known for its suits and preppy clothes, is the oldest apparel brand in continuous operation in the United States. It was bought for $225 million in 2001 by the elder Del Vecchio, whose father, Leonardo, is one of the richest men in Europe. Despite Brooks Brothersâ storied past (it has dressed all but five U.S. presidents), it struggled to adapt to the casualization of workplace dress codes and the digital era. In 2019, Claudio Del Vecchio hired the investment bank PJ Solomon to explore the possibilities of a sale or further investment, and a restructuring plan was put together.
In 2020 he told The New York Times that none of the sale and investment discussions âmatched the needs we saw.â The TAL lawsuit, which also names the Del Vecchio familyâs holding company, Delfin, as a defendant, claims that none of the discussions were shared with the board or the shareholders. Like many global apparel suppliers, TAL, which owns 11 factories and employs over 26,000 people, according to the lawsuit, was hard-hit by the volatility caused by the onset of the pandemic. At one point, the slump in demand from retailers saw garment production fall to just 30 percent of group capacity, prompting the permanent closure of several factories and a shift toward manufacturing personal protective equipment.
In August 2020, after the forced store closures of lockdown wreaked havoc on their balance sheet, Brooks Brothers was sold for $325 million to SPARC group, a joint venture between Simon Property Group, the biggest mall operator in the United States, and Authentic Brands Group, a licensing firm. TAL is also an unsecured creditor in the bankruptcy litigation.
Paul Lockwood of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, a lawyer for Claudio Del Vecchio, said, âThe allegations in the complaint are false and we expect the court to dismiss the case.â Katie Jakola of Kirkland & Ellis, the law firm representing TAL, said they were looking forward to their day in court.
Some observers doubt it will come to that, however.
âThis seems like two rich parties airing grievances,â said William Susman, managing director at Threadstone Advisors. âBrooks Brothersâ owners have taken their pain already. TAL is a large, sophisticated company. Hard to feel they were swindled. Sounds like a settlement is in everyoneâs future.â
Elizabeth Paton contributed reporting.
Walmart reported a strong first quarter on Tuesday, as its e-commerce business continued to drive sales and customers were helped by stimulus checks.
The retail giant said its sales in the United States in the first quarter increased 6 percent to $93.2 billion, while operating profit grew about 27 percent to $5.5 billion.
âOur optimism is higher than it was at the beginning of the year,â Walmartâs chief executive, Doug McMillon, said in a statement. âIn the U.S., customers clearly want to get out and shop.â
Walmart is among a group of larger retailers that have experienced blockbuster sales during the pandemic, particularly for online groceries. The companyâs e-commerce sales increased 37 percent in the first quarter.
The question now is whether Walmart can continue its pace of growth as shopping habits start to normalize.
Mr. McMillon said although the second half of the year âhas more uncertainty than a typical year, we anticipate continued pent-up demand throughout 2021.â
Sales in the companyâs international division declined 8.3 percent in the first quarter, as Walmart divested from some of its subsidiaries in places like Japan and Argentina. The companyâs total revenue increased 2.7 percent to $138.3 billion.
Walmart raised its financial guidance for the rest of the year, projecting âhigh single digitâ growth in operating income in its United States operation, with sales up in the single digits.
AT&T is painting a rosy picture for the future of its media business, which it will spin off and merge with Discovery. That new streaming giant is a formidable stand-alone competitor to Netflix and Disney. The move leaves AT&T to focus on its telecom business, which looks less bright after being overshadowed by its expensive â and ultimately futile â deal-making binge in media and entertainment under its previous chief, Randall L. Stephenson.
The DealBook newsletter explains how AT&T got here, in three key deals:
A $39 billion bid to buy T-Mobile. After regulatory pushback, in 2011 AT&T walked away from an effort to become the countryâs largest wireless company. T-Mobile paired up instead with Sprint, and the two went on to buy huge amounts of spectrum in the high-stakes battle for 5G, leaving AT&T behind as it lobbies regulators to step in. The failed deal hit AT&T with a $3 billion dollar breakup fee, at the time the largest ever.
The $67 billion acquisition of DirectTV. In 2015, AT&T bet on cable TV as a way to amass customers whom it could eventually convert to streaming. But DirectTV bled subscribers as customers cut the cord, and AT&T unloaded a stake in the company last year to TPG that valued DirectTV at about a third of its acquisition price. The deal also cost AT&T about $50 million in advisory fees, according to Refinitiv.
The $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner. In 2018, Mr. Stephenson called the deal a âperfect match,â but the combined group struggled to invest in its telecom business while also spending enough to compete with the entertainment specialists at Netflix and Disney. Three years later, AT&T is now spinning off the company so it can (re)focus on its quest for 5G market share. AT&T paid $94 million in advisory fees to put the two companies together and an estimated $61 million to split them apart.
After all of that deal-making, AT&T is sitting on more than $170 billion in debt. As part of the deal with Discovery, AT&T will get $43 billion to help reduce its debt load. (The spun-off media business will begin its independent life with $58 billion in debt.)
AT&T also said it would reduce its dividend payout ratio â effectively cutting the amount it pays in half, according to Morgan Stanley. âYou can call it a cut, or you can call it a re-sizing of the business,â said John Stankey, AT&Tâs chief executive, in an interview. âItâs still a very, very generous dividend.â
AT&Tâs shares closed down 2.7 percent on Monday. They lost another 5.8 percent on Tuesday, bringing the total decline in market capitalization since the deal was announced to nearly $20 billion. âBased on our conversations with investors today, sentiment seems mostly negative,â analysts at Barclays wrote in a research note on the day of the deal, citing overly optimistic cost savings targets and cash flow forecasts, among other things.
Market watchers expect the deal to kick off more consolidation among content providers as they race for scale to compete against another giant. Candidates include what John Malone, a Discovery board member (and not the chairman as was previously reported here), calls the âfree radicalsâ â like Lionsgate, ViacomCBS and AMC, as well as NBCUniversal and Fox. Meanwhile, Amazon is in talks to buy another independent studio, MGM.
In a sign of the pressure that players face to spend big to bulk up, shares in Comcast, the telecom company that owns NBCUniversal, fell 5.5 percent on Monday.
Long working hours are leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths per year, according to a new study by the World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization.
Working more than 55 hours a week in a paid job resulted in 745,000 deaths in 2016, the study estimated, up from 590,000 in 2000. About 398,000 of the deaths in 2016 were because of stroke and 347,000 because of heart disease. Both physiological stress responses and changes in behavior (such as an unhealthy diet, poor sleep and reduced physical activity) are âconceivableâ reasons that long hours have a negative impact on health, the authors suggest. Other takeaways from the study:
Working more than 55 hours per week is dangerous. It is associated with an estimated 35 percent higher risk of stroke and 17 percent higher risk of heart disease compared with working 35 to 40 hours per week.
About 9 percent of the global population works long hours. In 2016, an estimated 488 million people worked more than 55 hours per week. Though the study did not examine data after 2016, âpast experience has shown that working hours increased after previous economic recessions; such increases may also be associated with the Covid-19 pandemic,â the authors wrote.
Long hours are more dangerous than other occupational hazards. In all three years that the study examined (2000, 2010 and 2016), working long hours led to more disease than any other occupational risk factor, including exposure to carcinogens and the non-use of seatbelts at work. And the health toll of overwork worsened over time: From 2000 to 2016, the number of deaths from heart disease because of working long hours increased 42 percent, and from stroke 19 percent.
Dr. Maria Neira, a director at the W.H.O., put the conclusion bluntly: âItâs time that we all, governments, employers and employees, wake up to the fact that long working hours can lead to premature death.â
Investment in new oil and natural gas projects must stop from today, and sales of new gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles must halt from 2035. These are some of the milestones that the International Energy Agency said Tuesday must be achieved for the global energy industry to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
These conclusions seem surprisingly stark for the agency, a multilateral group whose main mandate is helping ensure energy security and stability. But it has increasingly embraced a role in combating climate change under its executive director, Fatih Birol.
In a news conference, Mr. Birol said he wanted to address the gap between the ambitious commitments on climate change that government and chief executives have been making and the reality that global emissions are continuing to rise strongly.
Just a year ago, the agency was deeply concerned about the disruptive implications of the collapse of the oil market from the effects of the pandemic. At the time, Mr. Birol referred to April 2020 as âBlack April.â
Now Mr. Birolâs analysts are outlining in a report what looks like decades of disruption for the global energy industry. Oil production, for instance, will need to fall from nearly 100 million barrels a day to around 24 million a day by 2050, the report says.
The agency acknowledges that the disruption for the global energy sector, which produces three-quarters of greenhouse gas emissions, could threaten five million jobs. âThe contraction of oil and natural gas production will have far-reaching implications for all the countries and companies that produce these fuels,â the Paris-based group said in a news release.
Oil-producing countries may see different affects. This report, for instance, is likely to lead to further calls from environmental groups for the British government, which heads the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), to end new oil and gas drilling to set a global example. A halt would threaten jobs in Britainâs declining but still large oil and gas industry.
On the other hand, members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries are likely to see their share of a much-reduced market rise from about a third to more than 50 percent, the agency said, as nations with less efficient, higher-cost oil industries cut back.
At the same time, Mr. Birol said, there would be major economic benefits from the trillions of dollars in investment in wind, solar and other sources of renewable energy. Doing so could create 30 million jobs,and add 0.4 percent year to world economic growth, he said.
Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen called on American business leaders on Tuesday to support the Biden administrationâs proposals for making robust infrastructure investments that would be paid for by raising taxes on corporations, arguing that the plan would ultimately strengthen U.S. firms.
The comments, made at an event sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, came as the Biden administration is pressing ahead with negotiations with lawmakers over the scope of an infrastructure and jobs package. The White House has been exchanging proposals with Republicans in Congress and is under pressure from Democrats not to scale back its ambitions.
âWe are confident that the investments and tax proposals in the jobs plan, taken as a package, will enhance the net profitability of our corporations and improve their global competitiveness,â Ms. Yellen said. âWe hope that business leaders will see it this way and support the jobs plan.â
Business leaders have been supportive of government investment in infrastructure but are wary of paying for it with higher taxes. The Biden administration wants to raise the corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 21 percent. It has been working on an agreement with other countries to raise their corporate tax rates, believing that a global minimum tax will help countries raise revenue and allow the United States to raise its rate without making its companies less competitive.
âWith corporate taxes at a historical low of 1 percent of G.D.P., we believe the corporate sector can contribute to this effort by bearing its fair share: We propose simply to return the corporate tax toward historical norms,â Ms. Yellen said. âAt the same time, we want to eliminate incentives that reward corporations for moving their operations overseas and shifting profits to low-tax countries.â
Ms. Yellenâs pitch was met with wariness from the nationâs largest business lobbying group. The Chamber has been arguing against the corporate tax increase and making the case that raising the rate would be bad for small businesses.
Immediately after Ms. Yellenâs remarks, Suzanne Clark, chief executive of the Chamber of Commerce, offered a rebuttal.
âItâs always an honor to hear from the Treasury secretary, including and maybe even especially when we disagree, as we do on taxes,â Ms. Clark said. âThe data and the evidence are clear: The proposed tax increases would greatly disadvantage U.S. businesses and harm American workers. And now is certainly not the time to erect new barriers to economic recovery.â
Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics heavyweight best known for making Appleâs iPhones, has found a big new partner for its auto-industry ambitions: the European-American car giant Stellantis.
The two companies on Tuesday announced a joint venture for building in-car digital systems and software, which automakers believe will be an increasingly important selling point for consumers in the coming decades.
âThis is core to the future of Stellantis,â the automakerâs chief executive, Carlos Tavares, said during a conference call with reporters. The new partnership, he said, âis about putting software at the core of the company.â
Stellantis was created in January from the merger of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and PSA, the French maker of Peugeot, CitroÃ«n and Opel cars. The tie-up was motivated in part to put the companies in a stronger position to develop electric cars as fossil fuel-burning vehicles become history.
The 50-50 venture with Foxconn, which is called Mobile Drive, will supply so-called digital cockpits not only to Stellantis brands like Jeep and Maserati, but to other automakers as well, the two companies said on Tuesday. Mobile Drive will make digital systems for gas-powered cars in addition to electric ones.
Foxconn is moving rapidly to claim a bigger role in the car business, betting that its expertise in gadgets will give it a leg up as auto making fuses with electronics.
In October, the company released a kit of technology and tools aimed at helping automakers develop electric vehicles. Last week, it finalized an agreement with the California-based automaker Fisker to develop a new electric car that the companies aim to begin manufacturing in the United States in 2023.
During Tuesdayâs call, Stellantis and Foxconn executives declined to say whether the two companies would also explore contract car manufacturing as part of their cooperation.
Eurostar, the high-speed train service between London and cities on the continent that has been financially crippled by the pandemic, said on Tuesday it had received a refinancing package of 250 million pounds, or $355 million, from a group of banks and its shareholders.
The package includes Â£150 million in loans guaranteed by its shareholders, including SNCF, the French national rail service, which owns 55 percent. The financing notably did not include the British government, which in 2015 sold its stake in the rail company and last month declined to back a bailout package.
âEveryone at Eurostar is encouraged by this strong show of support from our shareholders and banks,â said Jacques Damas, chief executive of Eurostar International. The company said the backing would help it meet its financial obligations âin the short to mid term.â
The Eurostar once ran at least 17 trains a day linking Britain and France. The pandemic and lockdowns forced it down to one train a day between London and Paris, and one a day between London and Brussels and Amsterdam. But next week, it is scheduled to expand to two daily trains between Paris and London, and then three a day beginning the end of June.
Today in the On Tech newsletter, Shira Ovide talks to Jack Nicas about The New York Times investigation into the compromises that Apple makes to stay in the good graces of the Chinese government.