Items of interest that might have been missed in the week’s press of events:

  • Activist investor Carl Icahn is suing Occidental Petroleum over its $38 billion deal to buy Anadarko Petroleum, saying the deal is “fundamentally misguided” and claiming that he is considering pushing for a special meeting “to potentially elect new directors to ensure that Occidental is being run in the best interests of its shareholders, not directors that are interested in growth for growth’s sake.”  Icahn wants Occidental put up for sale – a fairly typical ploy of activist investors.
  • In building a robotic car, the car is the easy part.  Most of the necessary components – sensors, cameras, chips, lidar units – have been available for a while.  Most any car maker can figure out how to build a remote controlled car.  However, that’s not the issue.  The CTO at Waymo says, “Our goal is not to build a car; we’re really building a driver.”  Waymo has been working on that driver for a decade and anticipates that it will take another 10 years for the process to be completed.
  • John Elkmann, Chairman of Fiat, has proposed the merger of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV with Renault SA which would create the world’s third largest automaker, after Toyota and Volkswagen.  The proposal is driven by the need for scale to survive intense global competition and fast-changing technology.  The deal follows on the earlier work of Fiat Chrysler’s former CEO Sergio Marchionne and Renault’s longtime chairman Carlos Ghosn, both of whom are no longer in their positions, but who had talked previously about a merger.  It’s said that the success of a merger between the two companies will depend on whether their corporate cultures can meld and allow them to follow through with promised savings.  FCA and Renault have little overlap and could share technologies, lowering the need for job cuts and increasing the opportunity for cost savings.  Also seen as one of the biggest drivers of the deal is the sharing of electric car technology.  Fiat and Chrysler have little electric car technology, while Renault’s Zoe is one of the best-selling economy-size battery vehicles on the market.  It’s said that the deal will likely hinge on the companies’ ability to enunciate strategies that successfully inspire both workers and investors.

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