Japan’s Panasonic says ready for $8.4 billion M&A spree as profit jumps

A visitor looks at a display showing Panasonic network loudspeakers during the IFA Electronics show in BerlinBy Ritsuko Ando TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese electronics supplier Panasonic Corp said it was ready to spend 1 trillion yen ($8.4 billion) on acquisitions over the next four years, emboldened by a stronger profit outlook for its automotive and housing technology businesses. Chief Executive Kazuhiro Tsuga said at a briefing on Thursday that Panasonic doesn't have specific acquisition targets in mind for now. Tsuga has spearheaded a radical restructuring at the Osaka-based company that has made it one of the strongest turnaround stories in Japan's embattled technology sector. Tsuga previously told Reuters that company was interested in M&A deals in the European white goods market, a sector where Panasonic has comparatively low brand recognition.

Jaguar Land Rover to invest £600 million in Britain

The British car brand, which was bought by India's Tata Motors for $2.3 billion from Ford in 2008 at the height of the global financial crisis, said the investment showed its commitment to Britain's resurgent car industryIndian-owned luxury car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover announced a £600 million ($894 million, 814 million euros) investment in advanced car manufacturing in Britain on Thursday. The British car brand, which was bought by India's Tata Motors for $2.3 billion from Ford in 2008 at the height of the global financial crisis, said the investment showed its commitment to Britain's resurgent car industry. "Jaguar Land Rover continues to demonstrate its unwavering support to the British automotive industry through sustained investments in advanced research, technology and innovation," Jaguar Land Rover chief executive Ralf Speth said in a statement.

KKR, Baidu, Coatue to invest $170 million in China online used-car platform

Women walk past Volkswagen and Honda cars on display at an automobile market in BeijingHONG KONG (Reuters) – Private equity firm KKR & Co LP, search engine Baidu Inc and hedge fund Coatue said on Wednesday they will jointly invest $170 million in Chinese online used-car auction firm Uxin, aiming for a piece of the booming used-car market. Uxin will use the funds to expand a newly launched platform where auto retailers sell used cars to individuals, the companies said in a joint statement. …

SpaceX says boosting output, on track for 13 rocket launches this year

The unmanned Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from launch pad 40 the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape CanaveralBy Andrea Shalal and Irene Klotz WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, is rapidly increasing production of the engines that power its Falcon 9 rocket and expects to meet its target of 13 launches and two test flights this year, President Gwynne Shotwell told Reuters. SpaceX, the technology upstart founded by entrepreneur Elon Musk, is stepping up hiring of engineers and other workers to help boost production, including many from other sectors such as the automotive industry and the military, company officials said. This year, the company expects to produce at least 180 engines, with that number set to increase to 240 next year, and 400 in 2017, Shotwell told Reuters in an interview late last week. Shotwell said increasing production put the company on track to complete 13 launches this year.

China probes top executive of auto giant FAW: watchdog

FAW Group CEO Xu Jianyi talks to German Chancellor Angela Merkel during her visit to the FAW-Volkswagen plant in Chengdu, southwest China's Sichuan province on July 6, 2014China is investigating the top executive of one of the country's biggest automakers FAW, the Communist Party's corruption watchdog said, as a prolonged graft crackdown targets more state-owned companies. The chairman and party secretary of China FAW Group, Xu Jianyi, had been placed under investigation for "severe" violations of discipline and the law, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said Sunday, using a phrase that typically refers to corruption. FAW, originally known as First Automotive Works, is China's third biggest automaker with sales of more than three million vehicles last year, according to an industry group.

Delphi plans coast-to-coast demo of its self-driving car

By Paul Lienert DETROIT (Reuters) – Delphi Automotive PLC aims to demonstrate its growing prowess in self-driving cars with what it bills as the “longest automated drive ever attempted in North America” – a 3,500-mile coast-to-coast excursion in a specially rigged Audi SQ5 that will mostly drive itself. Delphi, one of the largest suppliers of automotive electronics and safety systems, is using the long journey in the Audi crossover to acquire real-world data from a sophisticated array of cameras, radar and lidar — a laser mapping technology — as well as wireless connected-vehicle technology. Delphi also wants to test and demonstrate its active safety systems, which are being developed with such suppliers as Mobileye NV, an Israeli maker of computer vision and collision avoidance systems, and software provider Ottomatika, a spinout from Carnegie Mellon University’s self-driving car program. The Delphi drive will kick off March 22 near San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, with plans to wind up in New York City just before the annual auto show opens there on April 3.

California car battery recycler to close in deal with feds

This Monday, March 10, 2015 photo shows the entrance of the Exide Technologies recycling plant in Vernon, Calif. The battery recycler at the center of a long public fight over its toxic output has agreed to shutter its plant. The closure comes under a deal Wednesday, March 11, 2015 with federal prosecutors and will result in the "immediate and permanent" closure of the recycling plant.(AP Photo/Nick Ut)LOS ANGELES (AP) — A battery recycling plant that violated hazardous waste laws and spewed toxic emissions for decades on the outskirts of Los Angeles will close and spend $50 million to clean the site and surrounding neighborhoods, federal prosecutors announced Thursday.