GM cuts ties with Europe, North Korea fires missiles and the secret life of the Shard

General Motors sells its lossmaking Opel division to Peugeot owner for €2.2bn

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General Motors has sold its lossmaking Opel division to Peugeot owner PSA for €2.2bn. The agreement comes after months of negotiations between the two carmakers that have occasionally stumbled over the issue of Opel’s pension deficit and the ability of PSA to use GM’s electric car technology. The deal will see GM, which operates under Vauxhall in the UK and Opel in Europe, finally cut its ties with Europe after racking up more than $8bn in losses there since 2010.

To make a success of the deal, PSA must stem the losses at Opel and drive aggressive cost savings from integrating the two business. Merging the two carmakers could yield annual savings of €1.7bn by 2026, according to an estimate from UBS. But there are fears that this could lead to job losses in the UK and Germany. (FT, Bloomberg)

In the news

Juppé bows out (again) Former French prime minister Alain Juppé has decided “once and for all” that he will not stand in France’s presidential election, disappointing members of his Republican party hoping to jettison their candidate, François Fillon. Mr Fillon’s campaign has been plagued with scandal but he said on Sunday that he had no intention of standing down. However, former president Nicolas Sarkozy has called for a meeting to convince him to “find a dignified and credible way out” as the polls show dwindling support for the party. (Reuters, Politico, FT)

North Korea fires missiles Pyongyang launched four projectiles into the Sea of Japan on Monday, in a move likely to escalate tensions in the region. Pyongyang warned last week that it would conduct more missile tests in response to the ongoing Foal Eagle military drills between Seoul and Washington. Separately, South Korea is quadrupling the cash reward it gives to people leaving their isolated neighbour with sensitive information to Won1bn ($860,000), in an effort to encourage more top-level officials to flee. (FT, NYT)

The UK’s biggest asset manager Aberdeen Asset Management and Standard Life have agreed a merger, creating Europe’s second-largest fund manager, with £660bn of assets. Standard Life will pay £3.8bn for its rival. The deal is the latest defensive move by active asset managers grappling with fee pressure from cheaper passive funds that often outperform them. (FT, Sky News, Guardian, Bloomberg)

Trump’s wiretap claims James Comey, director of the FBI, has asked the US Justice Department to publicly refute Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that he had been wiretapped by Barack Obama before the election. James Clapper, the top US intelligence official from 2010 to 2017, at the weekend said there was no wiretap of Mr Trump or his campaign during his tenure. Some observers argue that Mr Trump’s accusation is a ploy to distract from the Russian scandal surrounding his administration. Here is an in-depth look “inside Trump’s fury”. (NYT, FT, Guardian, WaPo)

Laundering $800m Prosecutors in Milan believe that two $400m payments were wired through JPMorgan in London, with half used to pay bribes in Nigeria. The deal involves Shell, Eni and two ex-MI6 officers hired as “business and investment advisers”. (Guardian)

It’s a big day for

EU leaders French President François Hollande will host the leaders of Spain, Italy and Germany this week at a “mini-summit” in Versailles to prepare for a larger EU meeting later in the month that will mark the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. Perhaps they’ll speak about the UK’s 85-page residency form for Europeans. (FT)

Benjamin Netanyahu The Israeli prime minister is expected to be questioned by police for the fourth time over allegations of corruption over gifts received by him and his wife Sarah. (Haaretz)

Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s WeekAhead.

Food for thought

The secret life of the Shard Meet the people who work in western Europe’s tallest building. Here’s how skyscrapers will transform working life (and how working will transform skyscrapers). (FT)

China’s battle for the battery market Beijing is investing billions to try to squeeze out Japanese and South Korean rivals for the ultimate prize of the electric car market. Its approach has echoes of the one it took on solar power a decade ago. (FT)

Erasing history in Mecca The Middle East’s largest development project has seen skyscrapers soar over Islam’s holiest site as the Saudi government makes way for the millions of pilgrims who flock to Mecca each year. But critics accuse the authorities of Islamic Maoism for destroying the city’s heterogeneous past. (Economist)

The geopolitical implications of Hong Kong’s leadership race How the city’s chief executive vote is a proxy for US-China relations. (NAR)

Why do we let Warren Buffett get away with sexism? The FT’s Lucy Kellaway on how the Sage of Omaha tells old and unfunny jokes without recrimination. “He controls an unconscionable amount of money — his Berkshire Hathaway fund is worth about $450bn. If he is out of touch with modern ways it matters very much indeed. Either he should get in touch, or he should retire.” (FT)

Video of the day

A look at the week ahead Vanessa Kortekaas provides a briefing on the key stories to watch in the week ahead, including the UK Budget, employment data from the US and annual results from insurers including Aviva and Legal & General. (FT)

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