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Showing posts with label Technology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Technology. Show all posts
July 17, 2018

Walmart, Microsoft in partnership to use cloud tech

Walmart, Microsoft in partnership to use cloud tech
FILE PHOTO: Shopping carts are seen outside a new Wal-Mart Express store in Chicago

Retail giant Walmart (NYSE:WMT) Inc said on Tuesday it entered into a strategic partnership with Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:MSFT) for wider use of cloud and artificial intelligence technology, in a sign of major rivals of Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) coming together.

The five-year agreement will leverage the full range of Microsoft's cloud solutions, including Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365, to make shopping faster and easier for customers, the Bentonville Arkansas-based company said.

As part of the partnership, Walmart and Microsoft engineers will collaborate to migrate a significant portion of walmart.com and samsclub.com to Azure, Walmart added.

While Walmart is doubling down on its e-commerce presence to better compete with Amazon, Microsoft has been working on a technology that would eliminate cashiers and checkout lines from stores, Reuters reported last month.

Microsoft's technology aims to help retailers keep pace with Amazon Go, the ecommerce giant's highly automated store format.

The Windows software maker has also shown the sample technology to retailers from around the world and has had talks with Walmart about a potential collaboration, Reuters reported.

Through the partnership, Walmart plans to defend itself from Amazon's retail ambitions and expertise in data, and boost its online presence.

IBM seeks $167 million from Groupon in dispute over early internet patents

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo for IBM is displayed on a screen on the floor of the NYSE in New York
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo for IBM is displayed on a screen on the floor of the NYSE in New York

By Jan Wolfe

WILMINGTON, Del. (Reuters) - International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM) Corp on Monday asked a U.S. jury to award it $167 million in a lawsuit accusing e-commerce marketplace operator Groupon Inc of using patented technology without authorization.

IBM lawyer John Desmarais told a jury in federal court in Delaware that Groupon infringed patents describing foundational e-commerce technology that had already been licensed to Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) Inc, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Inc's Google for between $20 million and $50 million per company.

"Most big companies have taken licenses to these patents," Desmarais said. "Groupon has not. The new kid on the block refuses to take responsibility for using these inventions."

Groupon lawyer J. David Hadden argued that IBM was overreading the scope of its patents and claiming ownership of building blocks of the internet.

"A key question for you in this case is whether these patents cover the world wide web," Hadden told jurors. "They do not and that is because IBM did not invent the world wide web."

An IBM executive is expected to testify during the two-week trial about licensing deals with technology companies like Amazon and Google, providing a rare glimpse into IBM's efforts to derive revenue from its large patent portfolio.

The Armonk, New York-based company invests heavily in research and development and has secured more U.S. patents than any other company for the past 25 years.

IBM sued Chicago-based Groupon in 2016, alleging infringement of four patents.

Two of the four patents at issue relate to Prodigy, a late-1980s forerunner to the internet, developed by IBM and others, that describe a system for showing applications and advertisements that reduces server loads.

IBM also said it patented so-called "single sign on" technology that allows consumers to log in to a retailer's website with their Facebook or Google account.

Desmarais told jurors IBM is a prolific innovator and seeks to license its patents on reasonable terms. IBM had no choice but to sue Groupon after it refused to negotiate a licensing deal, he said.

Hadden countered IBM was unreasonably seeking money from every significant internet company.

"We are here because IBM has another business that IBM does not talk about in its commercials," he said. "In that business IBM uses its huge stock of patents as a club to get money from other companies."

KKR agrees to buy stake in AppLovin at $2 billion valuation

KKR agrees to buy stake in AppLovin at $2 billion valuation
KKR agrees to buy stake in AppLovin at $2 billion valuation

By Joshua Franklin

Private equity firm KKR & Co (N:KKR) said on Monday it will acquire a minority stake in AppLovin Corp for $400 million, just months after the U.S. mobile marketing firm was forced by Washington to scrap a deal to be acquired by a Chinese buyout firm.

The KKR deal values AppLovin at $2 billion, up from $1.4 billion in November, when China's Orient Hontai Capital invested in the debt of AppLovin. Orient Hontai had originally agreed to buy a majority stake in AppLovin, but the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States objected to the deal on national security grounds.

The investment is a bet by KKR on two fast-growing industries, mobile advertising and mobile gaming, according to KKR's head of technology, media and telecom, Herald Chen.

"This deal is an opportunity to play both those trends," Chen said in a telephone interview on Monday.

The mobile gaming market is seen reaching $70.3 billion in sales in 2018, according to a report by market research firm Newzoo.

Palo Alto, California-based AppLovin has said it reaches more than 300 million daily active users and drives over 1 billion downloads for gaming companies each year. Last month, it launched a media division, Lion Studios, to work with developers to promote and publish apps.

Funds from the deal, provided by KKR's $13.9 billion Americas XII fund, will be used to grow AppLovin organically while also helping to fund potential acquisitions, Chen said.

AppLovin also sees KKR helping it grow while putting the structures in place to potentially become a public company, according to AppLovin's chief executive officer and co-founder, Adam Foroughi.

"Our company is successful enough already to be a public company, so we wanted to start laying the groundwork for the public markets in the next couple of years so that we can be ready in case an initial public offering makes sense for us," he said in an interview.

AppLovin will also use some of the funds from KKR's investment to purchase a portion of Orient Hontai Capital's stake.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch (NYSE:BAC) is serving as AppLovin's financial adviser, and Raine Group acted as financial adviser to KKR.

(This version of the story corrects the name to Lion Studios, not Lion Studies in paragraph six)

Didi to spin off car services unit in up to $1.5 billion deal: sources

Didi to spin off car services unit in up to $1.5 billion deal: sources
FILE PHOTO: Logo of Didi Chuxing is seen at its headquarters building in Beijing

By Julie Zhu and Kane Wu

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing Technology Co Ltd is looking to spin off its car services unit in a deal worth up to $1.5 billion ahead of its expected initial public offering, people with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

Didi is hoping to raise between $1 billion and $1.5 billion for the unit and has tapped investors including SoftBank Group (T:9984), an existing investor in the firm, the sources said.

The unit is mainly involved in car rental and maintenance services and also provides drivers with optimized gas station deals, the people said, adding Didi is currently valuing the unit at between $2 billion and $3 billion.

Didi declined to comment, while SoftBank did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The people declined to be named as the information was confidential.

Didi cemented its spot as China's biggest ride-hailing company when it bought Uber's operations in the country in 2016.

It has since expanded into a number of markets worldwide, including Southeast Asia, Brazil, Mexico and Australia, by either taking stakes in local ride-hailing firms or rolling out its own services.

The company has also launched a food delivery service to compete with Meituan-Dianping, China's dominant startup in that area, which is planning its own IPO of more than $4 billion in Hong Kong in the coming months.

Didi is also expected to go public at some point in what is expected to be one of the biggest IPOs of recent years given the company's current $56 billion valuation. The company has never confirmed its IPO plan.
July 16, 2018

ZTE's HK shares set to open up 5.5 percent after U.S. lifts supplier ban

ZTE's HK shares set to open up 5.5 percent after U.S. lifts supplier ban
FILE PHOTO: A ZTE smart phone is pictured in this illustration

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Shares of China's ZTE Corp (HK:0763) were set to rise 5.5 percent in Hong Kong on Monday after the United States lifted a ban on American companies selling parts to the telecommunications equipment maker that had crippled its business.

The U.S. Commerce Department removed the ban shortly after ZTE deposited $400 million in a U.S. bank escrow account as part of a settlement reached last month. The settlement also included a $1 billion penalty that ZTE paid to the U.S. Treasury in June.

ZTE's Hong Kong-listed shares were set to open up 5.5 percent at HK$14.50. That is still more than 40 percent lower than its last trading price in April when its shares were suspended for two months.
July 13, 2018

U.S. sanctions seen barring IT platform of insurer Lloyd's for Iran trade

U.S. sanctions seen barring IT platform of insurer Lloyd's for Iran trade
FILE PHOTO: The Lloyd's of London building is lit by winter sun in the City of London financial district in London

By Carolyn Cohn and Jonathan Saul

LONDON (Reuters) - New U.S. sanctions are likely to prevent the use of a Lloyd's of London IT platform for any Iran insurance, adding to difficulties for European insurers providing cover for the country.

European insurers, reinsurers, brokers and shipping firms have been winding down Iranian business as the United States reimposes sanctions on insurance and reinsurance from Nov. 4 after Washington withdrew from a nuclear deal with Iran in May.

Lloyd's of London and other European insurers provided marine, energy and trade credit cover for Iran after the United States lifted so-called secondary sanctions in January 2016 after the nuclear deal between world powers and Iran was reached in 2015. The European Union also lifted sanctions in January 2016.

Lifting secondary sanctions meant European firms could trade with Iran without being penalized in the United States. It also allowed foreign subsidiaries of U.S. firms to trade with Iran.

Lloyd's Chairman Bruce Carnegie-Brown told Reuters the re-imposition of sanctions meant insurers "probably" would not be able to process Iran-related business through the Lloyd's platform, partly owned since last year by U.S. firm DXC.

"You can do it through Lloyd's through other settlement mechanisms outside DXC, it's just more complicated and more expensive to do it that way," he said.

"There is a bit of an evaluation going on about what business opportunities there are, in any event."

A Lloyd's spokeswoman said it had advised insurance syndicates "to consider obtaining legal advice before engaging in Iran-related activities, to assess and mitigate their sanctions risk".

DXC provides data processing and other back office services to Lloyd's and other London insurers through two firms, XIS and XCS, that are jointly owned by DXC's British subsidiary Xchanging, Lloyd's and the International Underwriters' Association.

The U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) last month revoked licenses which had allowed foreign subsidiaries of U.S. firms to trade with Iran.

"DXC, Xchanging, and our JV (joint venture) partners are evaluating the impact ... on the continued ability of XIS and XCS to process Iran-related premiums and claims, and the timing of processing changes required during the wind-down period," DXC said in an e-mailed statement.

It said a "wind-down" license issued by OFAC at the end of June gave firms until November to phase out their Iran-related activities. "XIS and XCS will issue guidance to the market in the near future," DXC said.

Lloyd's insurers and brokers with Iran business included Chaucer, Ed Broking, RFIB and UIB, sources told Reuters.

Chaucer, Ed Broking and RFIB declined to comment. UIB did not respond to a request for comment.

TRADE DISRUPTION

Iran's economy, heavily reliant on its oil industry that Washington wants to shut down with sanctions, needs marine insurance to ensure the smooth flow of maritime trade for both its exports and imports.

Efforts to upgrade Iran's creaking oil infrastructure also require insurance, alongside investment capital.

Tehran had faced logistical difficulties until Western sanctions were lifted after the 2015 nuclear deal.

Responding to the U.S. decision to withdraw from the nuclear pact, Germany insurer Allianz (DE:ALVG) said in May it planned to wind down its "minimal" amounts of Iran business and French reinsurer Scor said on Friday it would not write new Iran business or renew business.

Other European insurers and reinsurers with Iran business include France's AXA, Germany's Munich Re, Swiss Re and European subsidiaries of U.S. firms Gallagher and PartnerRe, according to sources and company filings.

When asked by Reuters, Swiss Re, Gallagher and PartnerRe said they were assessing the sanctions situation. AXA and Munich Re declined to comment.

Renewed sanctions on Iranian port operators could also make it "practically impossible for vessels to call at and use Iranian ports", said Andrew Bardot, executive officer of the International Group of P&I Clubs.

The International Group is an association of customer-owned ship insurers which protect 90 percent of the world’s ocean-going fleet against pollution and personal injury claims.

European ship classification firms LR, Bureau Veritas and DNV GL said they were evaluating the implications of the sanctions.

Without verification from such bodies, ships are not allowed to call at international ports or to secure insurance.

Apple launches $300 million green energy fund in China

Apple launches $300 million green energy fund in China
FILE PHOTO: The Apple logo is seen on a computer screen in the illustration photo taken in Bordeaux

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Apple Inc (O:AAPL) will launch a $300 million clean energy fund in China, the firm said in a statement on Friday, working with its suppliers to invest in renewable energy projects that could power close to 1 million homes in the country.

China's government has made cutting pollution a key priority, putting pressure on local and international firms to help reduce high levels of smog in its major cities and clean up the country's waterways and polluted soil.

The investment from the iPhone maker, which will be made along with 10 suppliers including Pegatron Corp (TW:4938) and Wistron Corp (TW:3231) over a four-year period, also comes as the United States and China lock horns over trade.

Apple's chief executive Tim Cook earlier this year called for calm heads in Washington and Beijing as the world's two largest economies have veered towards a trade war and exchanged tit-for-tat tariffs on billions of dollars of goods.

The U.S. firm makes most of its products in China, which are shipped around the world, including to the United States. China is also one of Apple's most important end markets, although it has faced a rising challenge from local smartphone rivals.

Apple has been making a broader push in renewable power. Earlier this year it said that its global facilities were now fully powered by clean energy.
July 12, 2018

Pacific leaders sign on to Australian internet cabling scheme, shutting out China

 Pacific leaders sign on to Australian internet cabling scheme, shutting out China
Pacific leaders sign on to Australian internet cabling scheme, shutting out China

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Pacific nations Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands have signed on to a joint undersea internet cable project, funded mostly by Australia, that forestalls plans by Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd to lay the links itself.

Wednesday's pact comes as China pushes for influence in a region Australia views as its backyard, amid souring ties after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last year accused Beijing of meddling in Canberra's affairs.

Australia will pay two-thirds of the project cost of A$136.6 million ($100 million) under the deal, signed on a visit to Brisbane by Solomon Islands Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela and Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill.

"We spend billions of dollars a year on foreign aid and this is a very practical way of investing in the future economic growth of our neighbors in the Pacific," Turnbull told reporters about the deal.

The project, for which Australian telecom firm Vocus Group Ltd is building the cable, will link the two nations to the Australian mainland, besides connecting the Solomons capital Honiara with the archipelago's outer islands.

For years, Western intelligence agencies have worried over Huawei's ties to the Chinese government and the possibility that its equipment could be used for espionage.

Australia, which is poised to ban Huawei from its domestic 5G mobile network on the advice of its intelligence services, raised "concerns" that scuppered a Huawei offer for cabling to the Solomons, Houenipwela has previously told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Huawei has said it was never informed of any security problems with its planned cables for the Solomons, where Chinese activity has attracted additional attention, as it is one of six countries in the Pacific to maintain ties with Taiwan.

China claims self-ruled Taiwan as its own and has never renounced the use of force to bring under its control what it sees as a wayward province.

Walmex's new e-commerce VP eyes groceries to propel online business

Walmex's new e-commerce VP eyes groceries to propel online business
Walmex's new e-commerce VP eyes groceries to propel online business

By Daina Beth Solomon

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Wal Mart de Mexico's (MX:WALMEX) new e-commerce head plans to play to its strengths in grocery deliveries to help the country's largest retailer stand apart from rivals, like Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) and his former employer MercadoLibre Inc, he said in an interview Wednesday.

Ignacio Caride, who joined the company as a vice president last week, said internet food or household orders can encourage shoppers to seek non-grocery goods from the website or mobile app of Walmex, as the company is known.

"Leveraging the food and supermarket delivery part adds a very big competitive advantage," said Caride, who spent 13 years at online marketplace MercadoLibre. "It generates a shopping habit."

Online and brick-and-mortar businesses alike have been boosting e-commerce investments in Mexico, pressuring retailers to stay ahead with efficient logistics, broad inventories and fast shipping.

Just 3 percent of all retail sales in Mexico are online, according to market research firm Euromonitor International, providing growth opportunities for retailers as internet and banking access for Mexican shoppers improves.

Walmex is the biggest aiming to dominate both the online and brick-and-mortar worlds.

Mexican retailers Soriana and La Comer also offer online grocery orders but lag behind Walmex in sales, according to Euromonitor.

Walmex, with 2,390 stores across Mexico, is positioned to churn out speedy grocery deliveries, a goal shared by its parent company Walmart (NYSE:WMT) Inc in the United States, particularly faced with competition from Amazon.

The global rival to Walmart purchased upscale grocer Whole Foods last year for $14 billion and offers grocery deliveries from Instacart in as little as an hour.

For Walmart, challenging Amazon in the United States has been bumpy. Last May, it ended grocery delivery partnerships with ride-hailing services Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] and Lyft, without explaining the change.

In Mexico, it partners with start-up Cornershop, a delivery service for various grocery chains.

Leveraging online sales of perishables like lettuce and frozen burgers marks a new challenge for Caride, who reports to Walmex Chief Executive Guilherme Loureiro and had helped push Mexico's growth for Argentina-based MercadoLibre, which operates across Latin America.

Despite Walmex's proximity to shoppers, Banorte analyst Valentin Mendoza said the company needs to make sure goods such as televisions and T-shirts arrive just as fast as ingredients for dinner.

"If you commit to having the groceries arrive in one day at your house, it's possible consumers will expect to also get a television in one day," he said.
July 11, 2018

Australia prepares to ban Huawei from 5G project over security fears

Australia prepares to ban Huawei from 5G project over security fears
Australia prepares to ban Huawei from 5G project over security fears

By Colin Packham

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia is preparing to ban Huawei Technologies Co Ltd from supplying equipment for its planned 5G broadband network after its intelligence agencies raised concerns that Beijing could force the Chinese telco to hand over sensitive data, two sources said.

Western intelligence agencies have for years raised concerns about Huawei’s ties to the Chinese government and the possibility that its equipment could be used for espionage. But there has never been any public evidence to support those suspicions.

Huawei, the world’s largest maker of telecommunications network gear and the No. 3 smartphone supplier, has promised that Canberra will have complete oversight of 5G network equipment, which could include base stations, towers and radio transmission equipment.

That sort of oversight model has been accepted by other countries – notably the U.K., where a special laboratory staffed with government intelligence officials reviews all Huawei products.

Other Western countries, including the New Zealand, Canada and Germany, also say they have sufficient safeguards for assuring that Huawei equipment does not contain “back doors” or other mechanisms for secretly monitoring or collecting information.

But Australian intelligence agencies have told lawmakers that oversight will not allay their concerns, two political sources who have been briefed on the matter told Reuters.

“It is a Chinese company, and under Communist law they have to work for their intelligence agencies if requested,” said one of the government sources. “There aren’t many other companies around the world that have their own political committees.”

Both sources declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Huawei has already been mostly shut out of the giant U.S. market over national security concerns. Its business serving small, rural telecom operators is now at risk after new attacks on the company in recent weeks by some U.S. lawmakers. The move to ban Huawei in Australia comes as tensions mount over China’s growing power and ambitions in the region.

Relations between the two countries are at an all-time low after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last year accused Beijing of meddling in Canberra’s affairs, and China responded by slowing some Australian imports.

Australia’s 5G service will require a dense network of towers that would then be leased to mobile providers such as Telstra Corp (AX:TLS).

Mobile carriers typically have access to sensitive personal information, such as internet search history or emails. But in Australia and most other countries, there are strict laws governing when and how they can do so.

Australia’s intelligence agencies fear that if mobile operators rely on Huawei’s equipment, the Chinese company could develop a means of collecting data or even undermining the stability of the network. Chinese law requires organizations and citizens to support, assist and cooperate with intelligence work.

Huawei Australia’s chairman, John Lord, said that law does not apply to its operations outside of China.

“That law has no legitimacy outside of China,” Lord said. “Within that country, any information coming through us and any equipment we put into their national infrastructure is safe to the best of our ability, and it’s secure.”

AMERICAN INFLUENCE

In 2012, Australia banned Huawei from supplying equipment to the country’s National Broadband Network, which has been hampered by technological failures. Australia believes that the 5G network, which will provide mobile internet speeds 50 to 100 times faster than current technology, will be the cornerstone for future innovations such as driverless cars. That makes it crucial to keep the network secure.

Turnbull in February received briefings from the U.S. National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security on the threat from Huawei, one source familiar with the meeting told Reuters.

“The U.K. and New Zealand, they have decided that the risk of Huawei is worth it for the benefits of the network. For the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and the U.S., it is not worth the risk,” a second political source said.

AUSTRALIA-CHINA TENSIONS

Although Australia’s intelligence agencies are unwavering in their advice, Turnbull has yet to formally sign off on the Huawei ban.

One of the sources familiar with the process said the government is “in no great rush to confirm the ban.” “It is going to highlight the anxiety that Australian lawmakers have about the rise of China, and it is not going to do any good for the Australian-China relationship,” said Adam Ni, visiting fellow in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University.

Despite the trade pressure, Turnbull can ill afford to overrule the country’s security authorities amid a rise of Chinese hawks within Australia’s government. In rare public testimony, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation director general Duncan Lewis this year warned that foreign espionage, interference or sabotage could inflict “catastrophic harm” on the nation’s interests – remarks that were widely considered a thinly veiled reference to China. The warning spurred a backbench lawmaker, who sits on the country’s important parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee, on June 18 to urge Turnbull to reject Huawei, a source familiar with the details of the party-room meeting of the ruling government told Reuters.

Turnbull did not directly address the comment, the source said, leaving his own party uncertain of his leanings.

In legislation seen as aimed at China, Australia will soon require lobbyists to declare connections to foreign governments.

Canberra has also called for increased international aid to the Pacific to counter what it says is Beijing’s attempt to exert greater influence.

Uber executive Hornsey resigns in email to staff following discrimination probe

Uber executive Hornsey resigns in email to staff following discrimination probe
The Uber logo is displayed on a screen during the Women In The World Summit in New York

By Salvador Rodriguez

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Uber Technologies Inc's Chief People Officer Liane Hornsey resigned in an email to staff on Tuesday, following an investigation into how she handled allegations of racial discrimination at the ride-hailing firm.

The resignation comes after Reuters contacted Uber on Monday about the previously unreported investigation into accusations from anonymous whistleblowers that Hornsey had systematically dismissed internal complaints of racial discrimination.

Hornsey is head of Uber's human resources department and one of the firm's top spokespeople on diversity and discrimination issues. She had been in the role for about 18 months.

Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi praised her in an email to employees, which was seen by Reuters, as "incredibly talented, creative, and hard-working." He gave no reason for her departure.

Hornsey acknowledged in a separate email to her team at Uber, also seen by Reuters, that her exit "comes a little out of the blue for some of you, but I have been thinking about this for a while."

She also gave no reason for her resignation and has not responded to requests for comment about the investigation.

The allegations against her and Uber's human resources department more broadly were made by an anonymous group that claims to be Uber employees of color, members of the group told Reuters.

They alleged Hornsey had used discriminatory language and made derogatory comments about Uber Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion Bernard Coleman, and had denigrated and threatened former Uber executive Bozoma Saint John, who left the company in June.

They also said complaints filed to Uber’s anonymous tip line were often left unresolved or were dismissed, especially if they dealt with issues of race.

The complainants also accused the company of ignoring a board-approved recommendation by former U.S Attorney General Eric Holder that its head of diversity report directly to the company's CEO or COO.

Uber told Reuters in a statement that the complaints had been properly investigated.

"We are confident that the investigation was conducted in an unbiased, thorough and credible manner, and that the conclusions of the investigation were addressed appropriately," it said.

Ex-Apple worker charged with stealing self-driving car trade secrets

Ex-Apple worker charged with stealing self-driving car trade secrets
Ex-Apple worker charged with stealing self-driving car trade secrets

By Stephen Nellis

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - U.S. authorities charged a former Apple Inc (O:AAPL) employee with stealing trade secrets on Monday, accusing him of downloading a blueprint related to a self-driving car to a personal laptop before trying to flee the country for China, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court.

The complaint said the former employee, Xiaolang Zhang, disclosed intentions to work for a Chinese self-driving car startup and booked a last-minute flight to China after downloading the plan for a circuit board for the self-driving car. Authorities arrested Zhang on July 7 at the San Jose airport after he passed through a security checkpoint.

"We’re working with authorities on this matter and will do everything possible to make sure this individual and any other individuals involved are held accountable for their actions," Apple said in a statement.

Tamara Crepet, a lawyer provisionally appointed to represent Zhang, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The FBI also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The criminal complaint said Zhang was hired to develop software and hardware for Apple's autonomous vehicle project, where he designed and tested circuit boards to analyze sensor data.

In April, Zhang took paternity leave following the birth of a child and traveled with his family to China, according to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

When Zhang returned, he told his supervisor he planned to resign, move back to China and work for Xiaopeng Motors, an intelligent electric vehicle company headquartered there with offices in Silicon Valley, the complaint said.

Zhang's supervisor called Apple security officials, who discovered that Zhang had run extensive searches of secret databases and had come on to Apple's campus on April 28, when he was supposed to be on paternity leave, the complaint alleged.

While on campus, the complaint alleges, Zhang took circuit boards and a computer server from a self-driving car hardware lab, and his Apple co-workers showed him a "proprietary chip."

The complaint did not state whether the chip was intended for self-driving cars. About 5,000 of Apple's 135,000 employees were allowed access to information about its self-driving car project, but only 2,700 of them had access to the secret databases that Zhang had access to, according to the complaint.

Zhang told Apple officials he had taken the hardware from the lab because he wanted to transfer to a new position within Apple and thought it would be useful to him, the complaint said.

Zhang also allegedly downloaded data to a personally owned computer, including a 25-page secret blueprint of a circuit board for a self-driving car, which investigators described as "the single file" that "serves as the basis for the instant criminal charge."

FBI agents questioned Zhang and served a search warrant at his house on June 27, according to the complaint. Agents learned he had purchased a "last-minute" round-trip airline ticket for China on July 7 and arrested Zhang at the airport, according to the complaint.

Fierce competition in autonomous vehicles has spilled into the courts, with industry leaders Alphabet Inc (O:GOOGL) and Baidu Inc (O:BIDU) filing lawsuits accusing rivals of intellectual property theft.
July 10, 2018

Australian lawsuit funder files complaint against Facebook, flags suit over privacy breaches

Australian lawsuit funder files complaint against Facebook, flags suit over privacy breaches
FILE PHOTO: A Facebook panel is seen during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, in Cannes

By Tom Westbrook

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Litigation funder IMF Bentham Ltd (AX:IMF) is preparing to potentially sue social media giant Facebook Inc (O:FB) in Australia over its sharing of users' data with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

The world's largest social network said in April that data of up to 87 million people ended up in the hands of Cambridge Analytica, which was employed by Donald Trump's 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

In Australia, more than 311,000 users data may have been used without authorization, Facebook said in April, when Australia's Information Commissioner, the country's privacy regulator, began to investigate.

IMF said it has complained to the Australian Information Commissioner alleging breaches of privacy laws over the data sharing. A class action lawsuit seeking compensation for users could follow depending on the regulator's response, IMF said.

A Facebook spokeswoman did not comment directly on Tuesday on IMF's statement but said the company was "fully co-operating with the investigation currently underway by the Australian Privacy Commissioner," using the former name of the Information Commissioner.

The London-based consultancy Cambridge Analytica filed for bankruptcy in May and was unavailable for comment. It said previously that it deleted the data and did not use it in Trump's campaign.

Facebook has faced widespread criticism from users and scrutiny around the world from regulators and lawmakers since news broke that users' data had been shared. It has also been sued.

Nathan Landis, an investment manager at IMF Bentham, said the firm already had a prime litigant, a Sydney man who did not want to be identified.

"There's just not that much precedent, certainly not for the sort of scale that we're talking about here," he said, referring to the potential number of litigants.

The information commissioner closes most investigations in a year, so IMF said it may be some time before it decides whether to pursue a lawsuit or not - with Landis adding it may wait for regulatory investigations in the European Union and Britain to conclude before making a move.

South Korea's LG Display says China approves its OLED factory plan

South Korea's LG Display says China approves its OLED factory plan
© Reuters. A man walks out of the headquarters of LG Display in Seoul

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean LG Display Co Ltd's plan to build a new organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panel production facility in China has been approved by the Chinese government, the company said on Tuesday.

The new China plant will be established through a joint venture with 2.6 trillion won ($2.33 billion) in capital, of which LG Display will hold a 70 percent share.

In December 2017, South Korea's trade ministry gave a go-ahead to the display panel maker's plan.

The output of the large-scale OLED plates will more than double to 130,000 from 60,000 plates currently, once its new Guangzhou facility starts to mass produce in the second half of next year, LG Display said in a statement.

The company said its large-size OLED production in China would help it better respond to rising demand for the screens in TVs, such as China's fast growing TV market.

LG Display is the world's No.1 LCD maker for televisions and also manufactures nearly all large OLED screens for televisions globally.
July 09, 2018

Tencent seeks to list online music unit in U.S.

Tencent seeks to list online music unit in U.S.
Tencent seeks to list online music unit in U.S.

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd said it is looking to spin off and list its online music business, China's biggest music-streaming company, in the United States.

The proposed listing is a sign that the once-flagging online music industry is getting back on track as more listeners take to streaming music through smartphone apps even as companies battle piracy and try to sign up more paying customers.

Market leader Spotify Technology SA debuted its own shares in April, structuring its listing to allow existing investors to sell directly to the public.

Spotify owns about 9 percent of Tencent Music, while Tencent Holdings owns a 7.5 percent stake in Spotify, according to calculations by Thomson Reuters publication IFR in April.

Tencent Music is seeking an initial public offering worth up to $4 billion, valuing it at about $25 billion, IFR reported in April, citing people familiar with the plans.

Terms of the proposed spin-off, including offering size, price range and entitlement of Tencent Music securities for the company's shareholders, have not yet been finalised, Tencent said in a filing on Sunday. Further statements will be made, it added. (https://

The U.S. listing is a blow to Hong Kong's ambitions of getting more tech companies onto the city's bourse by loosening listing regulations, but the new rules do not yet allow corporate entities to benefit from weighted voting rights.

Even so, the city managed to snag Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp, which recently raised $4.72 billion in its IPO -the world's biggest technology float in four years.

Xiaomi shares dropped 2.9 percent on debut on Monday.
July 08, 2018

Paypal to spend $3 billion a year on M&A: CEO to German paper

Paypal to spend $3 billion a year on M&A: CEO to German paper
Paypal to spend $3 billion a year on M&A: CEO to German paper

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - PayPal Holdings Inc is on the lookout for further acquisitions following its recent takeover of iZettle, the Swedish fintech startup, for $2.2 billion, in the U.S. payments company's biggest ever deal.

"We have a healthy balance sheet and we are ready to put it to work to buy more companies," President and CEO Dan Schulman told Germany's Handelsblatt business daily in an interview .

Paypal is ready to invest up to $3 billion a year on acquisitions that enable it to acquire specific capabilities, Schulman added.

"I wouldn't rule out that we take on a bigger deal if there's a good fit for us," the German-language newspaper quoted Schulman as saying in extracts from an interview released from its Monday edition.

Since separating from online marketplace eBay in 2015, PayPal has shifted from mostly processing online transactions for its parent company to offering a suite of digital payment services.

Huawei says does not expect U.S. sanctions: press

Huawei says does not expect U.S. sanctions: press
Huawei says does not expect U.S. sanctions: press

PARIS (Reuters) - China's Huawei, the world's largest maker of telecommunication network equipment, does not see itself becoming the target of U.S. sanctions and will keep buying U.S. chips this year, one of its three rotating chairmen told a French newspaper.

Huawei, also the world's third-largest smartphone maker, is a private company but has found itself battling perceptions of ties to the Chinese government, which it has repeatedly denied.

Several U.S. lawmakers last month claimed its research funding to American universities posed a "significant threat" to national security, the latest difficulty Huawei has faced operating in the United States.

Another major Chinese telecommunications equipment maker, ZTE Corp (HK:0763), was hit last month by a $1.4 billion settlement deal after the U.S. government said the firm broke an agreement to discipline executives who conspired to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran and North Korea.

Asked if he feared his company could also be hit by sanctions, Ken Hu, one of Huawei's rotating chairmen, told Le Journal du Dimanche:

"It would be hard to imagine. Ten years ago we put in place a system to control our exports, which has become very efficient. Our policy is to closely implement all laws and regulations introduced by Europe, the United Nations and the United States."

Asked if Huawei could do without U.S. components, Hu said the company's logistical chain was international. "We must be open and choose the best technologies, the best products. We will therefore keep buying American chips this year."

Earlier this year, U.S. lawmakers asked Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Inc's Google to reconsider working with Huawei, which they described as a security threat. And a deal with U.S. telecom firm AT&T Inc (NYSE:T) T.N to sell its smartphones in the United States collapsed at the 11th hour due to security concerns.
July 07, 2018

Twitter suspends over 70 million accounts in two months: Washington Post

Twitter suspends over 70 million accounts in two months: Washington Post
People holding mobile phones are silhouetted against a backdrop projected with the Twitter logo in Warsaw

Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) suspended more than one million accounts a day in recent months to reduce the flow of misinformation on the platform, the Washington Post reported.

Twitter and other social media platforms such as Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) have been under scrutiny by U.S. lawmakers and international regulators for doing too little to prevent the spread of false content.

The companies have been taking steps such as deleting user accounts, introducing updates and actively monitoring content to help users avoid being a victim to fake content.

Twitter suspended more than 70 million accounts in May and June, and the pace has continued in July, the Post reported on Friday, citing data it obtained.

"It's hard to believe that 70 million accounts were affected when Twitter has only 336 million monthly active users (MAU)," Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter said.

Twitter's MAU is expected to grow nearly 3 percent to 337.06 in the second quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"My guess is that a large number of these suspended accounts were dormant ... it should have little impact on the company," Pachter told Reuters.

If the 70 million were mostly active accounts, the affected accounts would have been "screaming bloody murder", added the analyst.

According to a Washington Post source, however, the aggressive removal of unwanted accounts may result in a rare decline in the number of monthly users in the second quarter.

"Due to technology and process improvements during the past year, we are now removing 214 percent more accounts for violating our spam policies on a year-on-year basis," the company said in a blog post last month.

In May, it identified and challenged more than 9.9 million "potentially spammy" or automated accounts per week, compared with 6.4 million in December 2017.

Shares of Twitter fell marginally to $46.50 after the bell on Friday.
July 06, 2018

LG Electronics says second-quarter profit likely rose 16.1 percent, misses estimates

LG Electronics says second-quarter profit likely rose 16.1 percent, misses estimates
FILE PHOTO - LG Electronics' company logo is seen at a shop in central Seoul

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's LG Electronics Inc on Friday said second-quarter operating profit likely rose 16.1 percent from the same period a year earlier, falling short of market expectations.

Analysts said higher marketing expenses for new products weighed on profit.

LG, in a regulatory filing, estimated April-June profit at 771 billion won ($691.79 million), compared with an 821 billion won average of 10 analyst estimates in a Thomson Reuters survey.

Revenue likely rose 3.2 percent to 15 trillion won from 14.6 trillion won from a year earlier.

The firm did not elaborate on its performance and will disclose detailed earnings in late July.

China considering further reduction in electric-vehicle subsidies: Bloomberg

China considering further reduction in electric-vehicle subsidies: Bloomberg
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO - Charging cable is seen hooked to a car at a charging point for electric vehicles in Beijing

BEIJING (Reuters) - China is considering a further reduction in electric-vehicle subsidies next year, Bloomberg reported on Friday, citing unnamed sources.

Beijing is scaling back subsidies to push automakers to focus more on technological improvements instead of relying on fiscal policy, the report said.

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