Business briefing

The daily business briefing: December 14, 2021

Toyota speeds up its shift to EVs, MGM Resorts agrees to sell Mirage to Hard Rock International for $1.1 billion, and more

1

Toyota changes course with faster shift to EVs

Toyota said Tuesday it would accelerate its commitment to electric vehicles by offering 30 EV models by 2030 and selling 3.5 million battery EVs globally by 2030. The Japanese automaker also said it would make all of its luxury Lexus brand vehicles fully electric by 2035, with battery EVs accounting for all its Lexus sales in Europe, North America, and China by 2030. Toyota said it would fuel the push by investing $17.6 billion in battery technology. The announcement came as well-funded startups such as Lucid, Fisker, Rivian, and Canoo rush out new EVs and trailblazer Tesla ramps up mass production. Toyota President Akio Toyoda, once a skeptic about the shift to EVs, said the company wanted to reduce carbon emissions as fast as it can.

2

MGM Resorts to sell Mirage to Hard Rock International for $1.1 billion

MGM Resorts International has agreed to sell the Mirage hotel on the Las Vegas Strip to Hard Rock International for nearly $1.1 billion in cash, MGM said in a Monday news release. MGM said it would net $815 million in cash from the sale. The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close in the second half of 2022. MGM has owned the Mirage, one of the Strip's first mega-resorts, for 21 years. It put the property up for sale in November, saying it didn't want to invest any more money in it. MGM still owns about a dozen Las Vegas properties, including the Bellagio, MGM Grand, and Mandalay Bay. Under the deal, it will give Hard Rock a royalty-free license for the Mirage name for up to three years while the new owner works on rebranding it. 

3

Harris announces investments to ease Central America migration root causes

Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday announced that seven private companies have committed to investments in Central America to help address the root causes of a wave of migrants seeking to enter the United States over the southern border. Harris, who is overseeing the Biden administration's response to immigration issues, said PepsiCo, MasterCard, and Cargill were among the companies that had pledged to invest $1.2 billion in the region, which is struggling with poverty and violence. The news came as Harris faces increasing pressure to show results as recent staff departures have fueled concerns that her office is being hampered by internal turmoil.

4

Stock futures edge lower after Monday's losses

U.S. stock index futures fell slightly early Tuesday after concerns about economic fallout from the Omicron coronavirus variant dragged down shares on Monday. Futures tied to the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq were down by 0.2 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively, at 6:30 a.m. ET. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were flat. Tesla shares fell by 2.3 percent overnight after CEO Elon Musk announced he was selling $906 million in shares. Ford, which is spending $11.3 billion on three new electric-vehicle battery plants, dropped by 2.2 percent after Toyota announced it was accelerating its shift to EVs. Toyota shares fell by 3.4 percent. Investors will be watching fresh inflation data on Tuesday and the Federal Reserve's Wednesday decision on unwinding its recovery-boosting bond purchases.

5

'Time' names Elon Musk its Person of the Year

Time magazine announced Monday that it had chosen Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk as its Person of the Year. In 2021, Musk became the richest person in the world as enthusiasm for electric vehicles drove Tesla's stock price to record levels, and SpaceX launched the first-ever mission to Earth's orbit with only tourists on board, followed by a flight for professional astronauts. "He is reshaping life on Earth and possibly life off Earth, as well," Edward Felsenthal, Time's editor-in-chief, said Monday on NBC's Today show. Critics said Musk was an inappropriate choice for several reasons, including his early downplaying of the danger of COVID-19, his opposition to unions, and his rejection of a "billionaire's tax" targeting the wealthiest Americans.

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