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General Motors’ China business is hurting, and it’s not just because of Covid



A worker checks the quality of a vehicle before rolling off the assembly line at the production workshop of SAIC General Motors Wuling in Qingdao, East China’s Shandong province, Jan. 28, 2023. (Photo credit should read

CFOTO | Future Publishing | Getty Images

General Motors is losing ground in China, its top sales market for more than a decade and one of two main profit engines for the Detroit automaker.

The company’s market share in the country, including its joint ventures, has plummeted from roughly 15% in 2015 to 9.8% last year — the first time it has dropped below 10% since 2004. Its earnings from the operations also have fallen by nearly 70% since peaking in 2014.

The coronavirus pandemic, which originated in China, is partially to blame. However, the declines started years before the global health crisis and are growing increasingly more complex amid rising economic and political tensions between the U.S. and China.

There’s also growing competition from government-backed domestic automakers fueled by nationalism and a generational shift in consumer perceptions regarding the automotive industry and electric vehicles.

Take, for example, Will Sundin, a 34-year-old science teacher who told CNBC he never envisioned buying a Chinese-branded vehicle when he moved to the country in 2011. More recently Sundin purchased a Nio ET7 electric vehicle as his daily driver in Changsha, the capital city of China’s Hunan Province.

“I wanted something big and comfortable, but I also wanted something that was a bit quick,” he said. “I like the look of it.”

Sundin, who moonlights as a YouTube car reviewer, knows the Chinese vehicle industry well. He purchased his Nio over models from rival Chinese automakers Xpeng, Li Auto and IM Motors. He said the vehicle’s ability to swap out the battery for a fresh one, rather than recharging, “put it ahead pretty quickly.”

Not on his consideration list? American brands such as GM’s Cadillac and Buick, which initially led the automaker’s growth in China.

“Cadillac has a good image in China, but it’s expensive,” said Sundin, who previously owned a 2012 Ford Focus. “I think the problem they face is that they have competition, new competition, a lot of new competition, from different directions that they weren’t expecting.”

Will Sundin, who lives in Changsha and is standing in front of his new Nio ET7 electric vehicle.

Source: Will Sundin

That competition is increasingly becoming a problem for GM, which has acknowledged such issues with its Chinese business. However, the company has not offered much assurance on how to reverse the trend other than the promise of new EVs and a new business unit called The Durant Guild that will import pricy vehicles with high margins from the U.S. to China.

While many U.S. brands aren’t performing well in China, GM’s decline is especially notable. GM’s operations in the country are much larger than those of its crosstown rival Ford Motor, for example. It also has a much smaller footprint globally after shedding its European operations and shuttering operations elsewhere to largely focus on North America, China and, to a lesser extent, South America.

Being overly reliant on only a few markets can be risky. But it has led to record earnings for GM, as the company under CEO Mary Barra has done away with underperforming operations. Electric vehicles could be a new opportunity for GM to grow globally, but experts say it would be an uphill battle compared with recovering in China in the years to come.

“With the changes that they put in place, with a refocus on North America and China, the pull out of Europe, essentially, that does create a risky scenario now that you have some issues, multiple issues, going on in the Chinese market,” said Jeff Schuster, executive vice president of LMC Automotive, a GlobalData company.

Downplaying results

GM has been downplaying the role of its operations in China in recent quarters, including CFO Paul Jacobson saying China is “not decisive” to GM’s financial performance when he discussed earnings in October.

Barra said in December that China is an important part of GM’s business but that the company also is paying attention to other issues, which then included the government’s now-defunct “zero Covid” policy and recent protests.

“We still see opportunity there … obviously, we also watch the geopolitical situation. We can’t operate in a vacuum,” she said during an Automotive Press Association meeting. “But we continue to see opportunity there and we’ll continue to evaluate the situation, but our plans are to be in a leadership position in EVs.”

A bright spot for GM in China has been its Wuling Hongguang Mini, made by a joint venture, which is the bestselling EV in the market. Since going on sale in mid-2020, the economy car has sold more than 1 million units.

SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile Co. electric vehicles are plugged in at charging stations at a roadside parking lot in Liuzhou, China, on Monday, May 17, 2021.

Qilai Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Still, Jacobson earlier this year said China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and surging Covid cases accounted for the nearly 40% drop in equity income for the operations in 2022.

GM reports its earnings from China as equity income because the country mandates joint ventures for non-Chinese automakers — other than Tesla, which was granted an exemption. GM has 10 joint ventures, two wholly owned foreign enterprises and more than 58,000 employees in China. Its brands include Cadillac, Buick, Chevrolet, Wuling and Baojun.

“We see a lot of Covid cases in China right now that slowed down the consumer. So we expect it’ll be a little bit of a slow buildup but hopefully, working its way back up to levels that we’re used to over time,” he told reporters on Jan. 31 during an earnings call.

Not just Covid

But it’s not just related to the pandemic. Equity income from GM’s Chinese operations and joint ventures has fallen 67% since its peak of more than $2 billion in 2014 and 2015. That includes a decline of about 45% from then to 2019 — prior to the coronavirus crippling China’s economy and vehicle production. In 2022, GM’s Chinese operations garnered equity income of $677 million for GM.

“This is not Covid. This started well before Covid,” Michael Dunne, CEO of ZoZo Go, a consulting firm focused on China, electrification and autonomous vehicles. “It also coincides with escalating tensions between the United States and China. There’s no question, and it’s impossible to measure, but it’s definitely a factor.”

Dunne, president of GM’s Indonesia operations from 2013-15, said the decline of GM and other nondomestic automakers comes alongside China’s market growth slowing, Chinese automakers becoming increasingly more competitive and the shift to all-electric vehicles — which has been massively subsidized by government agencies.

“They’ve all really taken it on the chin in the last five years as middle market brands. The Chinese consumers are increasingly buying Chinese brands,” he said. “That’s a seismic shift … the mindset has changed.”

Employees work on the assembly line of Buick Envision SUV at a workshop of GM Dong Yue assembly plant, officially known as SAIC-GM Dong Yue Motors Co., Ltd on November 17, 2022 in Yantai, Shandong Province of China.

Tang Ke | Visual China Group | Getty Images

Domestic startups and automakers have helped Beijing realize its goal of boosting penetration of new energy vehicles — a category that includes electric cars. More than one-fourth of passenger cars sold in China last year were new energy vehicles, according to the China Passenger Car Association, which predicts penetration will reach 36% this year.

Local companies rushed to grab a slice of that growth in an auto market that was slumping overall. Startups such as Nio helped promote the idea of electric vehicles as part of an aspirational lifestyle and status symbol in China. And the rising quality of domestic-made electric vehicles helped support — and tap — growing nationalistic pride among China’s consumers.

Chinese brands have grown market share by 21% since 2015 to roughly half of all passenger vehicles sold in China last year, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. For comparison, sales of American brands in the U.S. during that time have been level at about 45%.

“Obviously the market has just been in a different place; a lot of it is policy-driven,” Schuster said.

The impact of Chinese nationalism

LMC Automotive reports Chinese companies accounted for half of the top 10 automakers in sales in the country last year, up from only three in 2015. The most notable is BYD Auto, an electric automaker that has skyrocketed from sales of roughly 445,000 units since then to nearly 2 million last year, making it one of the top five automakers by sales in China.

“I think the No. 1 reason for GM’s decline is this tilt toward Chinese nationalism,” Dunne said. “That takes the form of China has declared that it wants to be the global dominator in electric vehicles and it’s doing everything in his power to cultivate national champions like BYD.”

Aside from GM, America’s other legacy automakers — Ford and Chrysler-descendent Stellantis — have not fared much better. Both have experienced significant downturns in sales; however, neither has communicated any plans on giving up on the market.

In February, Ford named Sam Wu, a former Whirlpool executive who joined the automaker in October, as president and chief executive of its China operations, starting March 1.

Ford’s market share in China has been about 2% since 2019, down from 4.8% in 2015 and 2016, according to the company’s annual filings.

Ford’s problems in China aren’t just overseas. The company said in February it will collaborate with Chinese supplier CATL on a new $3.5 billion battery plant for electric vehicles in Michigan. The deal has been criticized by some Republicans, including Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who requested the Biden administration review Ford’s deal to license technology from CATL.

Ford CEO Jim Farley on Feb. 13, 2023 at a battery lab for the automaker in suburban Detroit, announcing a new $3.5 billion EV battery plant in the state to produce lithium iron phosphate batteries, or LFP, batteries.

Michael Wayland/CNBC

The joint venture between Stellantis and Guangzhou Automobile Group producing Jeep vehicles in China filed for bankruptcy in late 2022 following a decision to dissolve the partnership and import its SUVs into the country.

Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares has said the company is pursuing an “asset-light” approach in the country, focused on boosting profits and not necessarily sales, which declined 7% in 2022.

“It’s also important that you realize that our financials in China have been improving significantly,” he told reporters during a call last month, saying the company is “cleaning up the place.”

While the American-focused automakers regroup, China’s local automakers continue to gain ground in their home market.

“People in China are proud,” said Nio owner Sundin.

“The same way as ‘American Made’ is in the USA and all the patriotism behind that, in China, [it’s] the same thing: ‘Finally, we can make a phone or we can make a car that’s as good or better than foreign automakers.'”

— CNBC’s Evelyn Cheng contributed to this report.

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From Cartel to Evangelist: The Inspiring Journey of Juan Reyes, Puerto Rico’s Entrepreneur and Author



Juan Reyes

In the realm of entrepreneurship, few stories are as captivating and inspiring as that of Juan Reyes, a self-made entrepreneur and author hailing from Juncos, Puerto Rico. Despite being born into a low-income family, Reyes defied the odds and carved his path to success through sheer determination, hard work, and an unwavering commitment to his goals. From establishing thriving businesses to becoming a renowned author, Reyes’s journey exemplifies the transformative power of entrepreneurship and the indomitable spirit of an individual driven by faith and dedication.

A Journey Born out of Necessity

Growing up in Juncos, Puerto Rico, Juan Reyes faced significant challenges stemming from his family’s financial limitations. To support himself and contribute to his family’s well-being, Reyes began working from a young age. However, he never allowed his circumstances to dampen his dreams or extinguish his ambition. Determined to change his destiny, Reyes embarked on a path that would not only uplift his own life but also inspire countless others.

A Multifaceted Entrepreneur

Reyes’s entrepreneurial acumen led him to establish several successful ventures that have made a profound impact. Among his notable accomplishments are King of Credit Repair LLC, KCL Clothing Inc, and Shalom Renovation LLC. These enterprises not only generated substantial revenue but also provided employment opportunities for others. Reyes’s astute understanding of business markets, coupled with his expertise in real estate, notary services, modeling, and preaching, contributed to his ability to transform businesses from scratch into multi-million dollar ventures.

Authorship and Beyond 

In addition to his entrepreneurial pursuits, Juan Reyes is also a respected author. His debut book, “From the Cartel to the Evangelist,” has garnered significant attention and acclaim. This captivating literary work chronicles Reyes’s personal journey, from overcoming adversity to finding redemption and purpose through his faith. The book serves as a testament to Reyes’s resilience and unwavering determination, inspiring readers to believe in their own potential and navigate their own paths to success.

From Cartel to Evangelist

Sponsored by Christian Faith Publishing

Reyes’s literary endeavors have received a significant boost through the sponsorship of Christian Faith Publishing. This collaboration has allowed Reyes to reach a wider audience with his powerful message of transformation, faith, and the pursuit of entrepreneurship. The partnership between Reyes and Christian Faith Publishing (visit the website here) has opened doors for him to inspire and motivate aspiring entrepreneurs and individuals seeking personal growth.

Empowering Others

Recognizing the significance of his own journey, Juan Reyes has made it his mission to give back to society and uplift others. Through speaking engagements and mentoring programs, Reyes shares his knowledge, unique ideas, and experiences with business leaders and young individuals alike. His teachings have become a beacon of hope for those who have faced similar challenges and made similar mistakes, demonstrating that even a fallen business can rise to great heights.

The Pride of Juncos, Puerto Rico

Juan Reyes remains deeply connected to his roots in Juncos, Puerto Rico. His success story has not only become a source of pride for the local community but also an inspiration for the youth in the neighborhood. Reyes’s achievements serve as a testament to the transformative power of entrepreneurship, instilling hope and motivating aspiring entrepreneurs to strive for greatness despite their circumstances.


Juan Reyes’s journey from a humble upbringing in Juncos, Puerto Rico, to becoming a renowned entrepreneur and author is a testament to the triumph of resilience, determination, and faith. Through his businesses, writing, and mentorship, Reyes exemplifies the boundless potential that lies within every individual. He reminds us that with unwavering dedication and a strong belief in oneself, anyone can rise above adversity and create a life of purpose and success. Juan Reyes is an inspiration, not only to entrepreneurs but to all those who dare to dream big and overcome the odds.

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Disney CEO Bob Iger rips Ron DeSantis over ‘anti-Florida’ retaliation



Bob Iger, CEO, Disney, during CNBC interview, Feb. 9, 2023.

Randy Shropshire | CNBC

Bob Iger on Monday called Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ actions against The Walt Disney Co. retaliatory, “anti-business” and “anti-Florida.”

The feud between DeSantis and the company escalated earlier Monday, when the governor asked the state’s inspector general to determine whether the House of Mouse’s sly move to retain control over the outer limits of Orange and Osceola counties is legal – and whether any of the company’s executives were involved in the scheme.

During the company’s annual shareholder meeting Monday, Disney CEO Iger addressed investor inquiries about the ongoing dispute between the company and Florida legislators. He noted that Disney has more than 75,000 employees in the state, and has created thousands of indirect jobs, as well as brings around 50 million visitors to Florida every year and is the state’s largest taxpayer

“A year ago, the company took a position on pending Florida legislation,” Iger said, apparently referring to what critics called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. “And while the company may have not handled the position that it took very well, a company has a right to freedom of speech just like individuals do.”

He added: “The governor got very angry about the position Disney took and seems like he’s decided to retaliate against us, including the naming of a new board to oversee the property and the business. In effect, to seek to punish a company for its exercise of a constitutional right. And that just seems really wrong to me.”

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Iger said Disney plans to spend more than $17 billion in investments at Walt Disney World over the next decade, which would create around 13,000 jobs at the company and generate even more taxes for Florida.

“Our point on this is that any action that supports those efforts simply to retaliate for a position the company took sounds not just anti-business, but it sounds anti-Florida,” he said. “And I’ll just leave it at that.”

Last week, DeSantis’ newly appointed board of the Reedy Creek district, now named the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, revealed that the previous Disney-allied board signed a long-lasting agreement that drastically limits the control that can be exercised over the company and its district.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during ‘The Florida Blueprint’ event on Long Island, New York, United States on April 1, 2023. Ron DeSantis made comments on the Grand Jury’s indictment of Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States in Manhattan, New York. 

Kyle Mazza | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The agreement was signed on Feb. 8, the day before the Florida House voted to put DeSantis in charge. DeSantis replaced all of the Disney-allied board members with five Republicans on Feb. 27. It was only then that Disney’s new binding agreement was discovered.

The agreement includes a clause that dates back to 1692 in Britain. The “Declaration shall continue in effect until 21 years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles III, King of England, living as of the date of this declaration,” the document said.

The governor’s letter calls the board’s agreement an attempt to “usurp the authority of the CFTOD board” and “nullify the recently passed legislation, undercut Florida’s legislative process, and defy the will of Floridians.”

He said at the agreement also has “legal infirmities” including inadequate notice, improper delegation of authority and ethical violations.

Disney, however, has said that all of the board’s maneuvers were completely legal — the agreement was discussed and approved in open, noticed public forums, in compliance with Florida’s Sunshine law.

The development in DeSantis’ conflict with Disney marks just the latest move in one of several partisan battles being waged by the Republican governor.

DeSantis is widely believed to be laying the groundwork to launch a 2024 presidential campaign. That move is expected to come not long after the current Florida legislative session ends in early May. Polls show that DeSantis is the most competitive of the potential opponents for former President Donald Trump in a GOP primary.

The Florida governor took aim at Disney after the company publicly balked at Florida’s HB 1557 law early last year. HB 1557, which critics called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, limits early education teachings on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Republican state Rep. Randy Fine told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” last April that the bill dissolving Reedy Creek wasn’t retaliatory, but then said “when Disney kicked the hornet’s nest, we looked at special districts.”

Until recently, there had been no major public discussion about dissolving Disney’s long-established special district, which it’s occupied for 55 years, leading DeSantis’ critics to question its timing and the speed at which the governor acted against the company.

The fight between DeSantis and Disney shows no signs of slowing down. During a book tour stop in Georgia last week, DeSantis told attendees “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

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WWE near deal to be sold to UFC parent Endeavor, sources say



World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. Chairman Vince McMahon appears in the ring during the WWE Monday Night Raw show at the Thomas & Mack Center August 24, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ethan Miller | Getty Images

Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment is in advanced talks to be sold to Ari Emanuel’s Endeavor Group, the parent company of UFC, according to people familiar with the matter.

A deal could be announced as soon as Monday. UFC and WWE are expected to form a new publicly traded company as part of the agreement, according to the people, who declined to be named due to the confidential nature of the discussions.

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Endeavor is slated to own 51% of the new combat sports and entertainment company, while WWE shareholders would get 49%, according to the people. The Endeavor deal gives WWE an enterprise value of $9.3 billion, they said.

Emanuel is expected to act as chief executive of both Endeavor and the new company. McMahon, likewise, is expected to be executive chairman, while Endeavor President Mark Shapiro will also work in the same role at the new company. Dana White will remain as president of UFC, while WWE CEO Nick Khan will serve as president of the wrestling business.

The development comes during the same weekend WWE hosts its flagship live event, WrestleMania, in California. The company has spent the past several months looking for a buyer. McMahon returned to the company as chairman in January to oversee the process. Shares of WWE are up more than 33% so far this year, giving it a market value of more than $6.79 billion.

The deal will effectively end WWE’s decades-old status as a family-run business. McMahon’s father founded WWE in its original incarnation during the middle of the 20th century, and McMahon is the controlling shareholder in the company. McMahon bought the company from his father in 1982. Since then, the company has grown into a global phenomenon, spawing stars suck as Hulk Hogan, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Dave Bautista and John Cena.

McMahon, 77, retired from the company in July following a string of revelations that he paid several women millions of dollars over the years to keep them quiet about alleged affairs and misconduct. His daughter, Stephanie McMahon, became co-CEO alongside Khan. Paul Levesque, who’s both Stephanie McMahon’s husband and the wrestler known as Triple H, took over creative duties from Vince McMahon.

When Vince McMahon came back in January, Stephanie McMahon stepped down and Khan fully assumed the CEO role. The elder McMahon recently locked in a two-year employment contract, according to a securities filing.

Khan in recent weeks has been making the media rounds to discuss the potential sale. He told CNBC’s Morgan Brennan on Thursday that it’s been a robust sale process, drawing many interested buyers.

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WWE brings with it a robust media and live events business, along with its decades worth of intellectual property. The company generated $1.29 billion in revenue last year, driven mainly by its $1 billion media unit.

UFC has paid off for Endeavor. Last year, the MMA league helped Endeavor’s sports business make $1.3 billion in revenue. Endeavor’s market cap stood at about $10.53 billion as of Friday’s close. The Endeavor-WWE deal values UFC at more than $12 billion.

WWE, at least at a glance, would also fit well with the cultures at Endeavor and UFC. McMahon has a brash public persona, making him an apparently good match for Emanuel and White, who are also known for their outsized personalities.

White, like McMahon, is no stranger to scandal, either. Earlier this year, video emerged showing the UFC boss slapping his wife during a public argument at a New Year’s Eve party in Mexico. White apologized.

Disclosure: Peacock, the streaming service owned by CNBC parent NBCUniversal, carries WWE events such as WrestleMania.

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