Global business

 

Volkswagen’s new chief executive, Matthias Mueller, presented to a board committee the first findings of an internal investigation into the carmaker’s cheating of emissions tests. Mueller was the boss of Porsche, a subsidiary of VW, before the resignation of Martin Winterkorn as Volkswagen’s CEO over the affair, who was placed under criminal investigation by German prosecutors. VW also recalled up to 11 million vehicles worldwide to refit the emission-cheating software. It has lost around a third of its market value since the scandal broke.

 

It was also another bad week for Glencore, which saw its share price fall by a third after investment-bank analysts issued grim warnings about the mining and commodity-trading company’s balance-sheet if commodity prices do not rebound. Investors are worried by Glencore’s high levels of debt. Its insistence that it is “operationally and financially robust” and has access to strong lines of credit sent its shares up again.

 

Alcoa said it would split in two, a move that had been long anticipated given the decline of aluminum and other commodity prices. The company’s aluminum and mining divisions will retain the Alcoa logo; its metal-products business, which serves the car and aerospace industries, will go by a new name that has yet to be decided.

 

The oil industry absorbed Shell’s decision to abandon plans to drill in Arctic seas off the Alaskan coast, because the results of initial tests were disappointing. Environmentalists, who had rallied against the decadelong project under the banner of “Shell No!”, were delighted. But it is one of the most costly failures to date in the energy industry, for which Shell will take a big write-down, leading to many job cuts in Alaska.

 

Tesla Motors delivered the first Model X cars, two years behind schedule. The pioneering electric-car company thinks the Model X, a sport-utility vehicle, will help it reach its target of selling half a million cars worldwide by 2020, ten times more than it expects to sell this year. It has opened a factory in the Netherlands, its first in Europe, to speed deliveries of its Model S saloon to European buyers. But in Denmark the government said it was ending a tax break on electric cars, which will up the price of a Tesla by 180 percent

 

Political economy

 

Russia, which recently stunned the West by deploying fighter jets to Syria, used them for the first time, striking targets near Homs within hours of a parliamentary vote in Russia to authorize action. The attacks were said by the Russians to be aimed at Islamic State, but the area where they took place is not held by the jihadist group. The Russians gave America, which is bombing IS, just an hour’s notice. Their military forces have not operated in such proximity since 1900.

 

Saudi Arabia’s campaign against rebels fighting the government in Yemen became even bloodier. An airstrike killed more than 130 people at a rural wedding.

 

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, announced at the U.N. that he considered himself to be no longer bound by the 1993 Oslo accords with Israel, which established the Palestinian Authority he heads. It was not clear what practical effect this would have, as Abbas did not follow through on earlier speculation that he was planning to dissolve the authority.

 

Thousands marched in South Africa against corruption. The protest coincidentally took place soon after Hitachi, a Japanese engineering firm, agreed to pay $19 million to settle charges brought by American regulators over payments made to the African National Congress, South Africa’s ruling party, in connection with contracts to build power stations.

 

In Burkina Faso, troops loyal to the government attacked the barracks of an army unit that had participated in a coup but which then refused to disarm when it was quashed.

 

Catalan nationalists in Spain won a majority in the regional parliament based on a vote of 48 percent. Moves toward independence have gathered further momentum but failure to win a majority of votes is so far limiting the secessionists.

 

Sepp Blatter, the head of FIFA, football’s world governing body, was put under criminal investigation in Switzerland over two instances of “mismanagement and misappropriation.” One of them involves a payment to Michel Platini, the head of Europe’s football federation and, until last week, the favorite to succeed Blatter in February.