Business Briefs: German regulator probes Daimler, Volkswagen on collusion

Business Briefs: German regulator probes Daimler, Volkswagen on collusion

August 8th, 2017 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

German regulator probes Daimler, VW on collusion

Germany's financial regulator said it is checking whether automakers Daimler and Volkswagen violated securities disclosure rules by not telling investors about any self-reporting they may have done to regulators about possible collusion.

Media reports have said the companies self- reported to competition authorities as a way of limiting any fines if they are found to have restrained competition. The EU competition authority has said it is evaluating the information.

The BaFin agency said Monday it was checking if the companies violated requirements to tell shareholders as soon as they have information that could affect the stock price.

Der Spiegel magazine reported German auto companies colluded for years on technical matters including limiting the size of the tanks holding the urea solution used to neutralize pollutants in exhaust gases.

Local gas prices rise over the past month

Chattanooga gas prices rose an average of 4.3 cents per gallon last week, raising the price at the pump for a gallon of regular gas by 15.6 cents per gallon from a month ago when July 4th travelers enjoyed some of the lowest holiday gas prices in decades, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 170 gas outlets in Chattanooga.

But Chattanooga still remained among the 25 cheapest major cities in the United States. Gas said the average price of gas in Chattanooga on Sunday of $2.05 per gallon this week was still 27 cents per gallon less than the U.S. average of $2.33 per gallon.

Including the change in gas prices in Chattanooga during the past week, prices Sunday in Chattanooga were 26.6 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago.

Netflix agrees to buy comic book publisher

Netflix said it made its first acquisition, comic book publisher Millarworld, with plans to turn its characters into new films and shows for the video streaming service.

Millarworld's graphic novels "Kick-Ass," "Wanted" and "Kingsman" have already been turned into movies by major studios.

Netflix didn't disclose Monday how much it paid for Millarworld.

Netflix already has made a hefty commitment to comic-book series with "Daredevil," "Jessica Jones" and "Luke Cage," among others based on Marvel characters. The streaming service ventured outside the Marvel universe with the recently announced series based on "The Umbrella Academy," published by Dark Horse Comics.

Netflix reported in July that it had more than 100 million subscribers worldwide.

Wells Fargo agrees to pay $108 million on fraud claim

Wells Fargo & Co. has agreed to pay $108 million to the federal government to settle two metro Atlanta whistleblowers' allegations the bank charged fraudulent fees on veterans' home refinancing loans.

The settlement award, disclosed by an Atlanta firm representing the whistleblowers, is the largest so far to result from the 11-year-old lawsuit. Two former metro Atlanta mortgage brokers sued eight banks or mortgage lenders on behalf of the government.

"We're glad it's over, at least as to Wells Fargo," said Victor Bibby, who sued along with whistleblower Brian Donnelly.

In 2012, SunTrust Banks, JP Morgan Chase, Countrywide Home Loans and three other major lenders agreed to pay $162 million to settle similar allegations by the whistleblowers.

A Wells Fargo spokeswoman said the bank changed its methods for handling Veterans Administration refinancing loans several years ago to fix the alleged problems and settled the lawsuit to "put the matter behind us."

Tesla raising cash for new electric car

Tesla is raising $1.5 billion as it ramps up production of the Model 3 sedan, its first mass market electric car.

The company said Monday it planned to offer senior notes due in 2025 and would use the offering's proceeds to further strengthen its balance sheet during rapid scaling of the Model 3.

Tesla delivered the first 30 Model 3s to employees at the end of July. At the time, CEO Elon Musk worried some investors when he warned Tesla was about to embark on "at least six months of manufacturing hell" as it attempts to get Model 3 production to 5,000 cars per week by December.

But last week, Musk clarified his comments, and said Tesla should be able to overcome any supplier issues and other potential obstacles. Musk said investors should have "zero concern" about whether Tesla will be able to meet its goal of making 10,000 Model 3s per week by next year.

But that will cost money, and Tesla is burning through cash at a rapid rate. The company spent $1.2 billion in the second quarter preparing for the Model 3's arrival.