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EUROPEAN MIDDAY BRIEFING - Stocks Fall as -2-

10/12/2021 | 07:01am EST

Lonza Group AG on Tuesday provided new midterm financial targets and said it will continue to pay a dividend of 25% to 40% of its net income, but anticipates no extraordinary capital return as it will prioritize investment opportunities.

The Swiss life-sciences company, which is holding its capital-markets day later on Tuesday, said it has updated its 2024 outlook and expects sales at a constant exchange rate to grow in the low teens, while its core earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization margin is projected to be in the range of 33% to 35%.

Givaudan Booked Rising Sales in 3Q

Givaudan SA said Tuesday that third-quarter sales rose thanks to a good performance across its regions and segments.

The Swiss flavor-and-fragrance company booked 1.69 billion Swiss francs ($1.82 billion) in sales during the July-September period, up from CHF1.57 billion the year prior, it said.

Stellantis to Relocate Maserati Production, Create EV Hub in Turin

Stellantis NV said late on Monday that it will create an electric-vehicle production center in Turin, Italy, and move production of its Maserati brand there.

The car maker will create a new electrified platform for the Maserati brand, with a view to creating three electric Maserati models between 2022-24.

UK Competition Regulator Probes Suez, Veolia Merger

The U.K. competition and markets authority, known as CMA, said Tuesday that it has announced to French waste-and-water-management companies Suez SA and Veolia Environnement SA that it has launched a merger inquiry into their deal.

The CMA "is considering whether it is or may be the case that this transaction has resulted in the creation of a relevant merger situation." "If so, whether the creation of that situation has resulted, or may be expected to result, in a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services, " it said.

In Poland, Protesters Fear Court Ruling Points to EU Exit

WARSAW-Tens of thousands of protesters marched through Warsaw and other Polish cities late Sunday to oppose a court ruling that European Union legal judgments have become incompatible with the Polish constitution, a decision protesters fear could prompt Poland to follow the U.K. out of the bloc.

Waving EU and Polish flags, demonstrators held banners reading "I'm Staying in Europe" and "No Polexit!"

GLOBAL NEWS

Wall Street Firm Makes Wager on Carbon-Offset Forests

A big player in high finance is hunting for $500 million worth of forestland with the aim of harvesting carbon offsets instead of timber.

Oak Hill Advisors LP, which manages $52 billion and is best known as a big debt investor, is teaming up on the venture with Bluesource, a firm that creates and sells carbon credits. The companies said they expect to buy roughly one million acres of North American woodlands and manage the properties to generate so-called forest offsets.

China to Let Power Prices Rise in Bid to Fix Electricity Crunch

China said it would allow the price of coal-fired power to rise more sharply, in the hope that market forces can address a power crunch that has threatened growth and caused ripple effects around the world.

The decision by the government's economic-planning arm amounted to an acknowledgment that price controls have warped the market. Power producers have been hit with sharply rising costs for the coal they need to fire their generators, yet government rules have largely prevented them from passing on those higher costs to their customers.

Some Investors Find Stability in SPACs

Shares of special-purpose acquisition companies have lost their luster for those who recently saw them as a ticket to fast riches. That is good news for a different group of investors, who treat them as an alternative to bonds.

Known on Wall Street as SPAC arbitrage, the trade has become turbocharged of late-thanks in equal parts to the day-trader-fueled craze for special-purpose acquisition companies that materialized late last year and the more-recent slump in SPAC demand.

Oil Price Jumps Above $80 and Natural Gas Races Higher, Turbocharged by Supply Shortages

The extended climb in oil prices is leaving some other industrial commodities behind, a divergence that reflects bets that energy supply shortages will offset any slowdown in the global economy.

U.S. crude rose 1.5% to $80.52 a barrel on Monday, closing above $80 for the first time since late in 2014 and bringing its climb since the end of last October to 125%.

China Auto Sales Drop as Chip Shortage Endures

BEIJING-China's car sales declined in the third quarter from a year earlier, the first such drop in more than a year, as the global chip shortage continues to hold back the world's largest auto market.

Sales of passenger cars in September fell 17% from a year earlier to 1.58 million vehicles, the China Passenger Car Association said Tuesday, the worst decline since March last year. Sales from July to September declined 13% from a year earlier.

China to Allow Greater Fluctuation of Coal-Fired Power Prices

Beijing is set to allow greater fluctuations in coal-fired electricity prices in a move to liberalize the country's power market amid an ongoing energy crunch.

Under the reforms, prices of coal-fired power can rise or fall by up to 20% from a benchmark level based off existing local prices. That compares with the current upper limit of 10% and lower limit of 15%, according to a notice from the National Development and Reform Commission on Tuesday. The 20% upper limit won't apply to industries with high energy consumption.

Embattled IMF Chief to Stay Following Investigation Into World Bank Data Rigging

The executive board of the International Monetary Fund said it has full confidence in Kristalina Georgieva as its managing director, putting an end to weeks of uncertainty while the board investigated her role in a data-manipulation scandal at the World Bank, where she had been chief executive.

The investigation centered on whether Ms. Georgieva had tried to boost China's standing in a high-profile World Bank report.

Write to sarka.halas@wsj.com

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This article is a text version of a Wall Street Journal newsletter published earlier today.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

10-12-21 0700ET

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