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Aircraft lessor SMBC Aviation nears $7 billion deal for rival Goshawk, sources say

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© Reuters.

By Anirban Sen and David French

(Reuters) – SMBC Aviation Capital, one of the world’s biggest aircraft lessors, is nearing a deal to acquire smaller rival Goshawk for about $7 billion, including debt, people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The deal between the two privately held, Dublin, Ireland-based lessors could be announced as soon as next week, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity. It would create a global aircraft leasing giant as consolidation sweeps the industry.

Last year, the world’s two largest aircraft leasing companies, Ireland’s AerCap and GE’s leasing arm GECAS, merged in a deal worth more than $30 billion.

SMBC Aviation Capital, which is owned by a consortium including Japan’s Sumitomo Corp and Sumitomo Mitsui (NYSE:SMFG) Financial Group, has a fleet of more than 750 owned, managed and committed aircraft, mostly Boeing (NYSE:BA) and Airbus short-haul models, according to its website.

Goshawk, which is a 50-50 joint venture between Hong Kong-based conglomerate NWS Holdings Limited and Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Limited, has an owned, managed and committed fleet that consists of 222 aircraft, its website showed.

A spokesperson for SMBC Aviation Capital declined comment. Goshawk did not immediately respond to a comment request.

The trade publication AirFinance Journal first reported the talks between the two companies in November.

A flurry of deals has reshaped a global air finance industry that has attracted a huge swathe of capital in recent years.

The aviation investment arm of private equity firm Carlyle Group (NASDAQ:CG) Inc agreed last year to buy aircraft leasing company Fly Leasing (NYSE:FLY) Ltd for $2.36 billion, including debt. In December, Carlyle’s aviation arm also agreed to buy Irish leasing firm AMCK Aviation’s portfolio of aircraft.

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U.S. lodges third labor complaint in Mexico, on behalf of Panasonic workers

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A logo of Panasonic Corp is pictured at the CEATEC JAPAN 2017 (Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies) at the Makuhari Messe in Chiba, Japan, October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

By Daina Beth Solomon

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -U.S. labor officials on Wednesday asked Mexico to probe whether workers at a Panasonic (OTC:PCRFY) auto parts factory were denied their rights, marking the third U.S. labor complaint under a new trade deal that aims to improve workplace conditions in Mexico.

The request from the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) follows a petition from a Mexican union asking the U.S. government to probe a Panasonic plant in the northern border city of Reynosa, alleging violations of the 2020 United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said in a letter to Mexico’s Economy Minister Tatiana Clouthier that the agency was concerned workers at Panasonic Automotive Systems de Mexico were being denied rights to free association and collective bargaining, in breach of the USMCA.

Panasonic Corp of North America said it “respects and supports” those rights and that it did not believe they had been denied. The unit of the Japanese conglomerate added it would cooperate with Mexican authorities.

Tai noted that previous USMCA labor complaints – one targeting automaker General Motors (NYSE:GM) and another against auto parts plant Tridonex – led to worker benefits.

The U.S. government reached agreements with both companies without imposing USMCA sanctions, which can include revoking tariff-free status.

“When concerns arise, we will work swiftly to stand up for workers on both sides of the border,” Tai said in a statement.

The Mexican government has 10 days to decide whether to conduct a review. The economy and labor ministries did not respond to requests for comment.

The Mexican union that requested the inquiry, SNITIS, accused Panasonic of signing a union contract behind workers’ backs and of firing several dozen employees who protested. Days after submitting the petition last month, SNITIS won a sweeping vote to become the plant’s new labor representation.

U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell, a Democrat, called for Panasonic to enter negotiations with SNITIS in good faith, and applauded the USTR complaint.

“Improving labor conditions is absolutely needed to ensure jobs here at home are not being undermined,” he said.

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Cisco shares slump as China lockdowns, Ukraine crisis hit outlook

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Cisco Systems logo is seen as part of a display at the Microsoft Ignite technology conference in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., May 4, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young

(Reuters) -Cisco Systems Inc cut its full-year earnings forecast on Wednesday after COVID lockdowns in China and the war in Ukraine dragged sales below estimates in the third quarter, sending shares down 13% in extended trading.

It also said fourth-quarter revenue would decline by 1% to 5.5%, becoming the latest U.S. company to outline a hit from Beijing’s “Zero COVID” policy that has worsened supply-chain snags and hurt demand amid rising inflation.

Executives from the company flagged severe component shortages over the coming quarters and said third-quarter revenue growth took a $200 million hit from ceasing operations in Russia and Belarus.

Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO), which sells networking equipment and software to connect devices to the internet, now expects revenue growth of 2% to 3% in fiscal 2022, compared with an earlier forecast of 5.5% to 6.5%.

Adjusted profit is estimated between $3.29 and $3.37 per share from $3.41 to $3.46 per share earlier.

“We believe that there’s going to be lots of competition for ports capacity, airport capacity,” finance chief Scott Herren told analysts.

“That, combined with the inbound efforts, trying to get raw materials back into the country, et cetera, we believe it’s going to be impossible for us to catch up on this issue in Q4.”

The dismal results pulled down shares of other networking firms in extended trading. Juniper Networks (NYSE:JNPR), F5, Arista Networks (NYSE:ANET) and Ciena (NYSE:CIEN) Corp dropped between 2.7% and 7%.

“This quarter strikes me as nothing more than a stubbed toe,” CFRA analyst Keith Snyder told Reuters.

“While guidance is disappointing, it is understandable given these headwinds. The revenue performance in the upcoming quarters is less dependent on demand and more dependent on supply availability.”

Cisco reported third-quarter adjusted profit of 87 cents on revenue of $12.8 billion, compared with expectations of 86 cents on revenue of $13.87 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

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Biden invokes Defense Production Act to increase infant formula supply

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Empty shelves show a shortage of baby formula at CVS in San Antonio, Texas, U.S. May 10, 2022. REUTERS/Kaylee Greenlee Beal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -President Joe Biden took steps on Wednesday to address the shortage of infant formula in the United States, invoking the Defense Production Act to help manufacturers obtain the ingredients needed to ramp up supply, the White House said.

Biden also directed U.S. agencies to use Defense Department commercial aircraft to bring formula into the United States from overseas.

Baby formula aisles at U.S. supermarkets have been decimated since top U.S. manufacturer Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) in February recalled formulas after complaints of bacterial infections.

On Monday, Abbott said it had reached an agreement with the U.S. health regulator to resume production of baby formula at its Michigan plant, a major step toward resolving the nationwide shortage.

In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Biden noted that the industry should be producing more formula in the coming weeks and months.

“Imports of baby formula will serve as a bridge to this ramped-up production. Therefore I am requesting you take all appropriate measures available to get additional safe formula into the country immediately,” he said.

The White House said Biden was invoking the Defense Production Act to ensure manufacturers have the ingredients to make safe formula.

“The president is requiring suppliers to direct needed resources to infant formula manufacturers before any other customer who may have ordered that good,” the White House said.

In addition, he launched “Operation Fly Formula” to hasten imports of infant formula and get more formula to stores quickly.

Biden has directed HHS and USDA to use military commercial aircraft to pick up overseas infant formula that meets U.S. health and safety standards.

“Bypassing regular air freighting routes will speed up the importation and distribution of formula and serve as an immediate support as manufacturers continue to ramp up production,” the White House said.

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