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BMW claims victory over Mercedes in global luxury-sales race

BMW AG says it beat Mercedes-Benz in global premium-car sales last year, the first time it has trumped its German archrival since 2015.

“Proudly claiming number one position in the global premium automotive segment for the BMW brand in 2021,” BMW’s head of sales Pieter Nota wrote in a post on LinkedIn Monday, crediting the win to the company’s product lineup and operational performance.

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BMW didn’t yet detail full-year sales numbers, but deliveries have been tracking ahead of the Daimler AG brand for much of this year. The Munich-based automaker has been less affected by the global shortage of semiconductors that has snarled production lines globally.

A number of carmakers who had signaled the worst of the chip crunch to be over after a tough third quarter have started to walk back those expectations. Mercedes on Monday said scarce supply of the components will continue to grip the industry during the first half of the year and urged more capacity to be added globally.

BMW will report its full-year sales numbers on Jan. 12, according to a spokeswoman. The automaker delivered 1.7 million BMW-branded vehicles through the first nine months of the year, it said previously, exceeding Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz by more than 112,000 vehicles.

Read more: BMW ramping up move into electric cars

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Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel and titan of silicon valley, dies at 94 

Gordon Moore, a pioneer in the microprocessor industry and a cofounder of Intel, which at one time was the world’s largest semiconductor maker, died on Friday at the age of 94, Intel said.

Moore was a giant in the technological transformation of the modern age, helping companies bring evermore powerful chips to smaller and smaller computers.

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An engineer by training, he cofounded Intel in July 1968, eventually serving as president, chief executive and chairman of the board.

Intel, based in Santa Clara, California, said Moore died “surrounded by family at his home in Hawaii.”

In its early days, Intel was known for continuous innovation, growing to become one of the biggest, most important companies in technology.

In an article in 1965, Moore first coined a theory that later became known as “Moore’s Law.” It stated that integrated circuits would essentially double in power every year. He later revised the law to say the doubling would occur every two years.

The axiom held true for decades and became synonymous with the rapid rate of technological change in the modern world.

“All I was trying to do was get that message across, that by putting more and more stuff on a chip we were going to make all electronics cheaper,” Moore said in a 2008 interview.

After earning his PhD from CalTech, Moore and a colleague in 1957 joined Fairchild Semiconductor Laboratory, one of the earliest firms to manufacture commercially viable transistors and integrated circuits.

As the company grew, the seeds were planted for the transformation of the peninsula of land south of San Francisco into what became known as Silicon Valley.

Moore and longtime colleague Robert Noyce struck out on their own in 1968, bringing along a third, Andy Grove, who would become a future Intel CEO.

Moore retired from Intel in 2006.

Over his lifetime, he donated more than $5.1 billion to charitable causes through the foundation he set up with his wife of 72 years, Betty.

“Though he never aspired to be a household name, Gordon’s vision and his life’s work enabled the phenomenal innovation and technological developments that shape our everyday lives,” said Harvey Fineberg, president of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Leaders of Intel heaped tribute on Moore.

“He was instrumental in revealing the power of transistors, and inspired technologists and entrepreneurs across the decades,” said Intel chief executive Pat Gelsinger.

“He leaves behind a legacy that changed the lives of every person on the planet. His memory will live on,” Gelsinger added on Twitter.

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Credit Suisse, UBS among banks in DOJ Russia-sanctions probe

Credit Suisse Group AG and UBS Group AG are among banks under scrutiny in a US Justice Department probe into whether financial professionals helped Russian oligarchs evade sanctions, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Swiss banks were included in a recent wave of subpoenas sent out by the US government, the people said. The information requests were sent before the crisis that engulfed Credit Suisse and resulted in UBS’s proposed takeover of its rival.

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Subpoenas also went to employees of some major US banks, two people with knowledge of the inquiries, said.

The Justice Department inquiries are focused on identifying which bank employees dealt with sanctioned clients and how those clients were vetted over the past several years, according to one of the people. Those bankers and advisers may then be subject to further investigation to determine if they broke any laws.

Credit Suisse and UBS both declined to comment. UBS fell as much as 7.2 percent and was 5.5 percent lower as of 10:14 a.m. in Zurich on Friday.

Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine resulted in expanded sanctions, Credit Suisse was well-known for catering to wealthy Russians. At its peak, the bank managed more than $60 billion for Russian clients, who generated between $500 million and $600 million a year in revenue.

At the time it discontinued its business with individual Russian clients last May, Credit Suisse held about $33 billion for them, 50 percent more than UBS, despite the latter’s larger wealth management business.

The probe by US regulators may prompt UBS to further scrutinize its smaller rival’s client list after the emergency takeover. Credit Suisse has seen a number of relationships blow up in recent years, from Bill Hwang at Archegos Capital Management to Lex Greensill at his eponymous finance company and Luckin Coffee founder Lu Zhengyao.

The Justice Department last year launched its KleptoCapture task force to enforce sanctions on wealthy Russians who are political allies of President Vladimir Putin. The US government has since seized a number of yachts, private planes and luxury properties.

Last month, the US moved to seize homes in New York, Florida and the Hamptons owned by sanctioned oligarch Viktor Vekselberg.

A number of individuals have also been charged with helping oligarchs hide assets — British businessman Graham Bonham-Carter was arrested in October on charges that he illegally transferred $1 million to maintain US properties for sanctioned billionaire Oleg Deripaska. A former senior Federal Bureau of Investigation agent was also charged with helping Deripaska violate sanctions in January.

Banks can face serious penalties for violating US sanctions. BNP Paribas in 2014 agreed to pay nearly $9 billion after pleading guilty to US charges for processing transactions for sanctioned Sudanese, Iranian and Cuban entities. In 2019, Standard Chartered Bank agreed to pay more than $1 billion to settle a Justice Department probe, in which a former bank employee pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate US sanctions on Iran.

As the Credit Suisse rescue plan emerged over the weekend, UBS expressed general concern about taking on its rival’s potential legal liabilities. While the Swiss government has said it will guarantee up to 9 billion francs ($9.8 billion) in losses UBS might incur from the deal, it indicated that funding is earmarked for the wind down of “difficult-to-assess assets.”

US Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco in early March said the Justice Department was responding to the “uncertain geopolitical environment by beefing up its national security division, which enforces sanctions violations.

“Corporate crime and national security are overlapping to a degree never seen before, and the department is retooling to meet that challenge,” Monaco said.

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UBS seeks dealmaking revival in Middle East with Credit Suisse takeover 

UBS Group AG may use its takeover of Credit Suisse Group AG as an opportunity to rebuild its investment banking business in the Middle East after recently shuttering its regional dealmaking and advisory operations, according to people familiar with the matter.

In what would be a U-turn for the Swiss bank, UBS executives have been exploring ways to revive the bank’s deal business in Dubai after it effectively closed its on-the-ground dealmaking operations in 2022, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private.

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Senior executives at UBS are keen to take advantage of heightened deal activity in the region and want to leverage the lender’s private banking relationships with wealthy royals and family-owned businesses to win deals, the people said. Discussions are in the early stages and it’s not clear if they will result in an agreement, the people said.

Credit Suisse has about 40 investment bankers in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Representatives for UBS and Credit Suisse declined to comment.

UBS currently covers deals in the Middle East and North Africa region by flying bankers and specialists from jurisdictions such as the US and UK into the region. The Swiss lender still has a local presence through other divisions, including its global trading and wealth units, where it has continued to hire.

UBS wealth boss Iqbal Khan is among senior bankers supporting the plan, the people said. He knows Credit Suisse’s business in the Middle East well.

Before moving to UBS in 2019, Khan was the bank’s head of international wealth management, with responsibility for markets including the Middle East.

He’s also talking with private bankers from Dubai to Doha as he tries to hang onto the stricken firm’s top talent, Bloomberg News has reported. In recent years, UBS has poached several wealth managers from Credit Suisse, including a team to cover the United Arab Emirates and Israel.

UBS wants to cherry pick top dealmakers from Credit Suisse’s investment bank instead of supporting an ambitious plan to build a new independent firm under the leadership of high-profile dealmaker Michael Klein, Bloomberg News has reported.

The Swiss lender’s interest in the Middle East comes after the region has become a key destination of capital globally with its cash-rich sovereign wealth funds deploying money at a record pace. The region has also been a rare bright spot for initial public offerings at a time overall volumes are at a record low across the world. Still, Middle Eastern investors are becoming more cautious of making fresh investments in global banks after emerging as some of the hardest hit in the Credit Suisse crisis.

Before the hastily arranged deal with UBS, Credit Suisse itself had been bolstering its investment banking business in the Middle East and Africa. It hired senior banker Hazem Shawki from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in 2019 and then Morgan Stanley dealmaker Tara Luthra to expand its operations.

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