Showing posts with label Companies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Companies. Show all posts

Oct 21, 2020

News | Business | Companies | Tech: PayPal gets into crypto with new features for trading and shopping


Ryan Browne

The PayPal application on an Apple iPhone.

The PayPal application on an Apple iPhone. 

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

LONDON — PayPal on Wednesday announced a new feature that will allow users to buy, hold and sell cryptocurrencies, becoming the latest large financial services provider to show an interest in the space.

The company said in a press release that its new cryptocurrency service would launch in the U.S. in the coming weeks and will initially feature bitcoin, ethereum, bitcoin cash and litecoin. By early 2021, the company also plans to let customers use crypto to shop with its network of 26 million retailers.

Shares of PayPal climbed over 3% in early New York trading. Bitcoin’s price meanwhile rose almost 5% to trade at around $12,440, according to data from CoinDesk.

“The shift to digital forms of currencies is inevitable, bringing with it clear advantages in terms of financial inclusion and access; efficiency, speed and resilience of the payments system; and the ability for governments to disburse funds to citizens quickly,” PayPal CEO Dan Schulman said in a statement.

“We are eager to work with central banks and regulators around the world to offer our support, and to meaningfully contribute to shaping the role that digital currencies will play in the future of global finance and commerce.”

Central banks around the world have been exploring the idea of issuing their own digital currencies. Seven of the world’s top central banks — including the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank — recently set out a framework for how such a system could work. Meanwhile, the People’s Bank of China has been forging ahead with trials for its own proposed digital currency.

To launch the feature, PayPal said it had teamed up with cryptocurrency start-up Paxos. The firm added that it has been granted a conditional virtual currency license from regulators in the state of New York. It plans to roll out the crypto features to its Venmo mobile wallet and international markets in the first half of 2021.

The announcement comes as more financial institutions signal their entry into the nascent cryptocurrency market. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s financial technology firm Square has long offered cryptocurrency services, and recently bought $50 million in bitcoin, while investment manager Fidelity set up its own crypto division last year.

It also highlights an effort from firms to offer use cases for crypto other than speculative trading, like e-commerce and payments. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have gained a reputation for wild price swings — bitcoin notoriously climbed close to $20,000 in late 2017 before plummeting the following year. It currently trades at more than $12,400 and is up over 70% year-to-date.

Elsewhere in the space, Facebook and a number of other tech companies are working together on a digital currency called libra that they hope will enable cheaper and faster cross-border payments. The project faced a backlash from policymakers last year and its backers have had to change tack with their monetary model to appease regulators.

Oct 19, 2020

News | Business | Companies | Retail Market: Alibaba to buy controlling stake in hypermarket chain Sun Art in $3.6 billion deal


2 minutes - Source: CNBC

Logo and mascot 'Ali cattle' at the headquarters of Alibaba Group in Hangzhou.

Logo and mascot ‘Ali cattle’ at the headquarters of Alibaba Group in Hangzhou.

Zhang Peng | LightRocket | Getty Images

Alibaba Group Holdings said on Monday it will invest $3.6 billion to boost its stake in hypermarket operator Sun Art Retail Group, gaining further ground in China’s booming retail market.

The e-commerce giant is hoping to further leverage its digital presence to support Sun Art’s 481 hypermarkets and three mid-size supermarkets in China as the coronavirus pandemic accelerates the shift by customers online.

Alibaba, which already owned 21% of Sun Art through a unit, will raise its stake to around 72% through the acquisition of a similar stake in A-RT Retail Holdings, who owns 51% of Sun Art.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating the digitalization of consumer lifestyles and enterprise operations, this commitment to Sun Art serves to strengthen our New Retail vision and serve more consumers with a fully integrated experience,” Alibaba Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang said in a statement.

Alibaba added that Peter Huang would be appointed chairman of Sun Art on top of his current role as chief executive officer.

News | Business | Companies | Tech | The Ant Group: Ant Group wins approval from Chinese regulators for the Hong Kong leg of its blockbuster IPO


Arjun Kharpal

Ant Group Headquarters Hangzhou

The Ant Group Co. logo and the Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. logo are displayed behind a reception desk at the company’s headquarters in Hangzhou, China, on Monday, Sept. 28, 2020.

Qilai Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

GUANGZHOU, China — Ant Group has won approval from the Chinese securities regulator for the Hong Kong leg of its initial public offering (IPO), moving it one step closer to listing, CNBC has confirmed.

The financial technology giant, which is 33% owned by Alibaba and controlled by billionaire Jack Ma, is seeking to list in Shanghai and Hong Kong in a concurrent IPO.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission has given the green light for the Hong Kong portion, a person familiar with the matter told CNBC. A hearing with the Hong Kong stock exchange, a key part of the approval process, will take place on Monday, the person said.

IFR first reported the news. Ant Group declined to comment to CNBC.

Ant Group’s IPO could be one of the biggest of all time. Reuters has previously reported that the company is looking to raise $35 billion. One analyst previously told CNBC that Ant’s valuation could be north of $200 billion.

The Chinese firm runs the massively popular Alipay mobile payments app in China which has over 700 million monthly active users. It also has various other financial products from insurance to wealth management. But a large part of its business model is selling financial technology products and generating technology service fees.

Ant Group’s IPO process has been pushing ahead despite a report that the U.S. is trying to get the company put on a trade blacklist called the Entity List, a move experts said would be “largely symbolic.”

Oct 1, 2020

News | Business | Companies | Tech: Tech investors predict Nvidia's $40 billion Arm acquisition will be blocked


Sam Shead

Jensen Huang, president and CEO of Nvidia, speaks during the Computex Show in Taipei on May 30, 2017.

Jensen Huang, president and CEO of Nvidia, speaks during the Computex Show in Taipei on May 30, 2017.

SAM YEH | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON – Nvidia’s $40 billion acquisition of chip designer Arm will most likely be blocked, according to two technology investors and artificial intelligence experts.

In the “State of AI” report published Thursday, Nathan Benaich and Ian Hogarth list eight predictions for the industry over the next 12 months.

One of those predictions is: “Nvidia does not end up completing its acquisition of Arm.”

The U.S. chip giant announced earlier this month that it intends to buy Arm from SoftBank but the acquisition has been criticized by British lawmakers, Arm co-founder Hermann Hauser and others. Two of the main concerns from critics are that Nvidia will destroy Arm’s business model and make Arm staff redundant in the U.K.

Nvidia was not immediately available to comment when contacted by CNBC. However, the company has previously said Arm will remain headquartered in Cambridge under the deal. It has also said it will create more jobs in the U.K. and build a new supercomputer in the U.K. 

Hogarth, who sold his start-up Songkick to Warner Music Group before becoming an angel investor, told CNBC: “We wouldn’t be surprised at all if it was blocked by somebody.”

That’s because there’s been a lot more discussion about “technological sovereignty” in the last few years, Hogarth said, before adding governments seem “a lot less afraid” about having those kinds of conversations.

Benaich, general partner at venture firm Air Street Capital and founder of AI meet-up group London.AI, said: “There’s definitely a non-zero, maybe a high non-zero, chance it doesn’t happen.” 

With 6,000 staff globally and 3,000 in the U.K., Arm is widely regarded as the jewel in the crown of the British tech industry. Its chips are used by companies around the world to power millions of electrical devices. Apple uses them in iPhones and iPads, Amazon uses them in Kindles, and car manufacturers use them in vehicles.

The U.K.’s opposition Labour party has said an Arm takeover is not in the public interest and criticized the ruling Conservative Party for failing to protect the British chip designer.

On Sept. 21, Labour lawmaker Daniel Zeichner, member of parliament for Cambridge, called on the government to place clear conditions on the takeover of Arm. He wants legal guarantees on jobs, Arm’s Cambridge headquarters, and its business model. Zeichner also said it’s important to ensure the U.K.’s tech sovereignty is defended.

The deal could be blocked by either the U.K. government or the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which is responsible for regulating competition in the U.K. 

“We’re not making a call on which actor does it,” Hogarth said.

People at the heart of the Cambridge tech scene have questioned Nvidia’s commitment to a new artificial intelligence lab in the city that was announced at the time of the Arm deal.

In the State of AI report, Hogarth and Benaich also predict Alphabet-owned DeepMind will make a major new breakthrough in structural biology and drug discovery and that a wave of Chinese and European defense-focused AI startups will collectively raise over $100 million in the next 12 months.

Sep 10, 2020

News | Business | Companies | UK Cosmetics Firms: L'Oreal launches make-up recycling across UK shops

Lora Jones 

'Recycle your make-up' Maybelline sign Image copyright Maybelline
Cosmetics giant L'Oreal is introducing make-up recycling bins across 1,000 UK stores in an environmental push.
Its Maybelline brand and recycling firm TerraCycle will install the recycling points in branches of Tesco, Boots, Sainsbury's and Superdrug.
L'Oreal's UK boss said the firm wants to "lead the way" in creating beauty recycling habits.
But Greenpeace said without reducing single-use plastic production, firms "cannot claim they are doing enough".
From Thursday, consumers can drop off empty make-up products from any brand at the recycling bins in participating Tesco and Superdrug stores, which can be found online.
Boots and Sainsbury's will follow at the end of September.
Compacts, eyeshadow palettes, foundation or concealer tubes, mascara, eyeliner and lip products will be accepted, although make-up brushes, nail polish and aerosols will not.
The used items will be collected from the shops, sorted, cleaned and recycled into plastic pellets, which can be used to make other products, such as outdoor furniture.
Chains such as The Body Shop and skincare specialist Kiehl's - also owned by L'Oreal - already offer customers rewards for returning empty products to stores to be recycled.
Vismay Sharma, country manager of L'Oreal UK and Ireland, told the BBC that the firm had the "ability to make impact at real scale".
Nearly half of make-up wearers did not know that recycling beauty products was possible, according to a recent survey of more than 1,000 consumers by Maybelline.
Asked what differentiates Maybelline and TerraCycle's new "Make-up Not Make Waste" scheme from other similar ones, Stephen Clarke, head of communications at TerraCycle, said that the number of stores participating meant it would be easier for consumers to recycle their beauty buys.
He also said the firm can recycle mixed materials, such as compacts with mirrors, as well as beauty items with pumps and triggers, which local councils won't necessarily do.

'Damaging our planet'

However, environmental campaign group Greenpeace said that "recycling will only ever get us so far".
Will McCallum, head of oceans at Greenpeace UK, said: "Given the almost daily torrent of research revealing the extent to which plastic pollution is damaging our planet, it's frustrating to see a major plastic producer like the make-up industry fail to commit to reduce its overall plastic footprint.
"Without action plans to move towards reusable packaging and reduce single-use plastic production, companies cannot claim they are doing enough."
More than 120 billion units of packaging are produced globally every year by the cosmetics industry alone, according to the Zero Waste Week campaign.
L'Oreal told the BBC that its global consumption of plastic totalled 137,000 tonnes in 2019.
The cosmetics firm has pledged that 100% of its plastic packaging will be refillable, reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.
Mr Sharma also said that the firm was dedicating €50m (£45.4m) to investing in recycling or plastic waste-related projects.

Sep 9, 2020

News || Business | Companies | Asset Managers | Robo-advertisers: Robo-advisers make slow progress gaining ground with investors

Rheaa Rao

Many large asset managers have shelled out time and money to develop robo-advisers. But, while assets invested in them are growing, only a small proportion of investors actually use such digital services, according to a report by data and analytics firm Hearts & Wallets.
Just 8 per cent of US households report having money in such services, which typically rely on portfolios made of ETFs,, the report says. The company produced its report based on a survey of 5,641 households in July 2019.
That amounts to roughly 10m households nationwide, according to Hearts & Wallets. The company came up with that figure by examining quantitative data, as well as statistics from the US Census Bureau, Federal Reserve Flow of Funds and Survey of Consumer Finances, a company official said.
Robos collectively managed $631bn in assets in the US as of June 30, or 13 per cent more than they did a year ago, according to Backend Benchmarking.
More than half of investors who use robo-advisers appear to be nudged into them by companies whose funds they already use, the Hearts & Wallets study found.
Roughly 13 per cent of Charles Schwab clients have money in a robo, including some run by Schwab and some potentially run by other companies, the company estimates. And 10 per cent of clients who own funds manufactured by Vanguard or Fidelity have money in robos, it said. Meanwhile, fewer than 10 per cent of T Rowe Price’s clients are enrolled in a robo. T Rowe offers an online programme called ActivePlus Portfolios to clients with more than $50,000 to invest, according to its website.
This article was previously published by Ignites, a title owned by the FT Group

Though it is possible that some of those customers have money in other robos, Laura Varas, chief executive of Hearts & Wallets said she suspected most are enrolled in robos from the companies they already work with because such groups have far reach. Hearts & Wallets estimates that 45 per cent, or 58m US households, are aware of or serviced by large asset managers, most of whom have robos.
Most of the clients enrolled in Vanguard’s robos — Digital Advisor and Personal Advisor Services — were existing Vanguard clients, a spokesperson for company said.
“A critical component of the advice process is identifying the type and approach that best fits each individual’s needs and preferences,” she said.
Digital Advisor, for example, targets young investors who prefer an online experience and are seeking guidance on how to save for retirement or pay down debt, she explained. Personal Advisor Services, meanwhile, are meant for those who would need help from an adviser to deal with more “complex” financial situations, including those nearly or already in retirement.
Use of robos is highest among millennials and so-called Generation X households (those born between the mid 1960s and early 1980s), with 13 per cent and 10 per cent respectively enrolled in robos, according to Hearts & Wallets.
Meanwhile, Fidelity keeps its marketing messages for its robo services consistent across existing fund clients and prospective customers, a spokesperson said.
“We do not narrow our marketing to customers based on any product ownership, but we do focus in on customers who are a bit younger and have a lower balance than an average retail investor,” he said in an email.
Fidelity Go has mutual funds from the company’s Flex series within its portfolios. The robo slashed fees recently to appeal to low-balance clients.

Inside ETFs

The FT has teamed up with ETF specialist TrackInsight to bring you independent and reliable data alongside our essential news and analysis of everything from market trends and new issues, to risk management and advice on constructing your portfolio. Find out more here
The app previously charged annual fees of 35 basis points. But since August 1, only clients with account balances of $50,000 and above have to pay that fee. Those with between $10,000 and $49,999.99 pay a monthly fee of $3. And those with less than $10,000 are not charged an advisory fee at all.
Meanwhile, standalone robos and investing apps are slowly gaining client interest, too. These robos built significant brand awareness between 2015 to 2019, Hearts & Wallets found.
Some 33 per cent of survey responders said they were aware of Acorns and Mint, which had the highest national awareness scores among standalone services, according to 2019 data from Hearts & Wallets. In 2015 only 11 per cent of survey responders knew what Acorns was, and just 16 per cent had heard of Mint.

Sep 3, 2020

News | Business | Companies | Tech & Investment: US tech firm plans to create 160 jobs in NI

Richard Morgan

A stock image of a computer Image copyright Getty Images
A US-headquartered technology and investment firm is to establish a centre of excellence in Belfast with a plan to create 160 new jobs.
Invest Northern Ireland has offered more than £1m of support for PEAK6, which aims to have the roles in place over the next four years.
The company has already started to recruit software engineers.
The Department for the Economy has said the roles will contribute £8.5 million in additional salaries to the economy.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds welcomed the announcement.
She said: "Our strength in financial technology, cloud solutions and emerging areas such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, continues to attract businesses to invest here and capitalise on our growing expertise to help them grow their businesses.
"A core part of my department's 'Rebuilding a Stronger Economy' framework is to develop highly-skilled workforces with higher paying jobs."
PEAK6 is yet to find a location to establish a base but told BBC News NI it wants office space in Belfast.

'Ambitious growth plans'

Company executives, who are based in Chicago, visited Northern Ireland in 2019.
Judi Hart, chief operating officer, said they decided to invest in Northern Ireland due to its "rich talent offering and thriving technology sector".
She added: "The Belfast team will innovate industry-specific technology solutions that will enable transformation across our companies and focus on the research, development and delivery of new products to help us achieve our ambitious growth plans.
"Thanks to the doors that Invest NI has opened for us, we are already engaging with local universities about graduate opportunities and we're excited for Northern Ireland talent to join the PEAK6 team."

Sep 2, 2020

News | Business | Companies | Tech: Samsung shares could rise 50% as chip business gets a boost and Huawei struggles in smartphones

Arjun Kharpal

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2

Samsung Analysts are bullish on Samsung after the company unveiled a foldable phone on Tuesday and U.S. semiconductor company Nvidia said its next-generation gaming chip will be manufactured by the South Korean electronics giant.
They see Samsung’s shares trading at 70,376.32 Korean won ($59.35) in the next 12 months. That represents a 29% upside from Wednesday’s trading price, according to an average target price collated by Refinitiv.
Some analysts are even more bullish on Samsung. Daiwa Capital Markets’ SK Kim has a 12-month price target of 82,000 Korean won, a more than 50% rise from Wednesday’s trading price.
New orders for Samsung’s chip manufacturing operations or foundry, next-generation smartphone launches and a recovery in memory pricing next year are factors behind the analysts’ optimism.
“For SEC (Samsung Electronics), we maintain our positive view as we expect a favourable memory market environment in 2021, new foundry opportunities and attractive valuation compared with its peers such as TSMC,” Kim told CNBC in an email. 

Nvidia deal

On Tuesday, Nvidia launched the GeForce RTX 30 Series of graphics processing units (GPUs). The chips are designed for PC gaming and promise to offer more realistic images on screen, thanks to so-called “ray tracing.” This technology simulates how light reacts with objects around it.
Nvidia chose Samsung to manufacture the chips using a so-called 8 nanometer process customized for these semiconductors.
The move was seen as positive for Samsung. Daiwa’s Kim told CNBC he expects the Nvidia deal to be worth $1 billion in revenue for Samsung.
Samsung’s semiconductor business is very important for the company. It includes the foundry business as well as the sales of so-called NAND and DRAM chips Samsung produces, which are used in devices such as laptops and smartphones, through to data centers. Semiconductors accounted for two-thirds of Samsung’s operating profit in the second quarter of this year. 
DRAM pricing, which has been under pressure in the second quarter, is expected to face further weakness for the rest of the year, according to a note released by UBS last week. The investment bank sees DRAM prices falling 8% quarter-on-quarter in the third quarter of this year.
But the start of 2021 could bring a recovery.
“First, we continue to expect DRAM pricing to start to recover in 1H21 as industry supply growth will not match demand when smartphones demand is closer to normalized levels,” UBS said, referring to the first half of next year.

Foldable phones to drive earnings

On Tuesday, Samsung announced the Galaxy Z Fold 2 — the company’s third folding phone. The device launches on Sept. 18 for $1,999.
While foldable phones remain a “niche” product for now, according to Sanjeev Rana, senior analyst at CLSA, who sees the number of these devices Samsung sells increasing each year.
Rana told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Wednesday he expects foldable phones to account for 2 million to 3 million of Samsung’s overall smartphone shipments of 250 million this year. That figure will increase to between 8 million and 9 million in 2021, he said.
“From 2022, foldable phones will become mainstream and given Samsung’s positioning in this business ... Samsung is the first mover in this important product category. We expect foldable to become a major earnings driver for its smartphone business in the coming years,” Rana said.

Samsung to gain from Huawei woes

Meanwhile, Huawei, one of Samsung’s fiercest rivals, is facing troubles of its own. Last year, it was put on a U.S. blacklist which cut off the Chinese phone giant’s access to Google’s Android mobile operating system. That’s not a big deal in China where Google services are blocked.
Howeverin May, Washington amended the foreign-produced direct product rule (FDPR) requiring foreign manufacturers using American chipmaking equipment to get a license before they’re able to sell semiconductors to Huawei. The move threatens to cut Huawei off from the key chips it requires for its products.
Even though Huawei managed to become the number one smartphone player by market share in the second quarter, that was driven by increased shipments in China, even as its international markets declined.
“We think Samsung is also a big beneficiary of U.S. sanction on Huawei and resulting decline in its smartphone market share globally. We believe Huawei’s weakness will present significant opportunities to Samsung next year,” Rana said.
Rana has an above average price target of 72,000 Korean won on Samsung’s stock, representing over 31% upside.
“Our view is that Samsung stock offers great value, it’s undervalued right now ... but given its positioning in global semiconductors and smartphones and looking at what other semiconductor stocks have done globally year-to-date we think market is being too conservative in valuing the company,” said CLSA’s Rana.

Sep 1, 2020

News | Business | Companies | Tech | Smartphones Industry: Samsung heir faces fresh charges over 2015 merger

2-3 minutes - Source: BBC

Samsung heir Lee Jae-yon. Image copyright Getty Images
Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong is facing fresh charges of over his role in a 2015 merger deal at the tech giant.
South Korean prosecutors accused Lee, 52, of using stock and accounting fraud to try to gain control of the Samsung Group - claims Mr Lee denies.
In 2017, Lee, was found guilty of separate charges in relation to the deal, including bribery, but his five-year prison sentence was suspended.
He is unlikely to be held in custody as he awaits trial on the new charges.
The prosecution, however, disregarded a recommendation from a citizen's panel that Lee should not be charged.
In June, state prosecutors sought to arrest Lee for the second time over the controversial merger in 2015 of two Samsung businesses, Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries.
It follows his 2017 conviction over the merger, which sparked a political and business scandal in South Korea - including the resignation and conviction of former President Park Geun-hye.
Back then, Lee was found guilty of using Samsung to pay 43bn won ($35.7m; £28.1m) to two non-profit foundations operated by Choi Soon-sil, a friend of Ms Park, in exchange for political support.
The deal needed support from South Korea's state-run national pension fund and the former president's help was allegedly sought.
The deal was said to have paved the way for Lee to become the head of the Samsung conglomerate.
Lee was convicted of charges including bribery, embezzlement, hiding assets overseas and perjury and a court sent him to prison for five years.
But six months later that sentence was halved, and the Seoul High Court decided to suspend the jail term, meaning he was free to go.
At the time, Lee denied the charges. He admitted making donations but said Samsung did not want anything in return.
Also known as Jay Y Lee, he is the son of Lee Kun-hee, chairman of Samsung Group, South Korea's largest conglomerate. He is also the grandson of Samsung founder Lee Byung-chul.

Aug 31, 2020

News | Business | Companies | Tech: TikTok denies it's in talks with rival app Triller over potential bid for its U.S. operations

Saheli Roy Choudhury

TikTok logos are seen on smartphones in front of a displayed ByteDance logo in this illustration taken November 27, 2019.
TikTok logos are seen on smartphones in front of a displayed ByteDance logo in this illustration taken November 27, 2019.
Dado Ruvic | Reuters

Chinese-owned TikTok is not in talks to sell its U.S. business to rival short-video-sharing app Triller, the company told CNBC on Monday.
“We can confirm that we are not and will not be in talks with them. Still, we are flattered by how much they admire TikTok,” a spokesperson for TikTok said.
Still, Triller executive chairman Bobby Sarnevesht insisted that the bid had been submitted. “We have confirmation that the chairman (Zhang Yiming) and people pretty high up at ByteDance are aware of it, and, we have correspondence going,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Monday.
His comments came after Bloomberg News reported that London-based Centricus Asset Management and U.S. app Triller were seeking to buy TikTok’s operations in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and India for $20 billion, citing a person familiar with the matter. The bid was said to have been submitted to TikTok’s Beijing-based parent company ByteDance. 
ByteDance pointed CNBC to TikTok’s comment on the matter. The company also denied knowledge of the offer to Reuters. TikTok executives are also said to be unaware of receiving such a bid and said that no one from the Chinese-owned short-video-sharing app has spoken with Triller on this matter.
TikTok, which has about 100 million monthly active users in the United States, is being forced to sell its U.S. business by the Trump administration, which says the app’s current ties to China make it a national security threat. In an executive order signed by President Donald Trump on Aug. 6, the U.S. alleged China may potentially have access to “Americans’ personal and proprietary information” due to the data collected by TikTok.
For its part, TikTok has consistently denied those allegations and says its U.S. user data is stored in the country itself with a backup in Singapore and that its data centers are located outside China, implying the information was not subjected to Chinese law. 
TikTok has also sued the U.S. government alleging it was deprived of due process and former CEO, Kevin Mayer, recently left the company just months after joining in June.
ByteDance is in talks with Microsoft, Oracle and other investors in the company for the sale of TikTok’s operations in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand ahead of a Sept. 15 deadline. Earlier this month, CNBC’s David Faber reported that Microsoft could buy TikTok for as much as $30 billion.
Triller’s supposed bid of $20 billion puts it at a similar level. But, Centricus on its website says it oversees $27 billion of assets, so, it wasn’t immediately clear how the deal could be funded.
Sarnevesht insisted it was not a publicity stunt. “We are not crazy, we are not out here just pretending to have a bid and not have a bid. That doesn’t make any sense. It’s perplexing at least, but I think there’s just an aggregate delay on their data and how they share that information,” he told CNBC.
He said the reason Triller entered the bidding game late was because it was working on an implementation plan if it acquired TikTok’s operations.
He declined to say how much the potential deal could be worth but added that Triller planned to migrate TikTok’s users, metadata and content onto its platform.

Aug 27, 2020

News | Business | Companies | Tech: Walmart is teaming up with Microsoft on TikTok bid

2 minutes - Source: CNBC

ByteDance Ltd.'s TikTok app is displayed in the App Store on a smartphone in an arranged photograph taken in Arlington, Virginia, on Monday, Aug. 3, 2020.
ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok app is displayed in the App Store on a smartphone in an arranged photograph taken in Arlington, Virginia, on Monday, Aug. 3, 2020.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Walmart said it’s teaming up with Microsoft in a bid for TikTok.
The retail giant confirmed to CNBC that it’s interested in buying the tech company.
Walmart shares are up more than 2% on the news.
TikTok is nearing an agreement to sell its U.S., Canadian, Australian and New Zealand operations in a deal that’s likely to be in the $20 billion to $30 billion range, sources say. With Walmart’s confirmation, it joins several others bidding on the tech company, including Oracle.
In a statement, the big-box retailer said TikTok’s integration of e-commerce and advertising “is a clear benefit to creators and users in those markets.”
“We believe a potential relationship with Tik Tok US in partnership with Microsoft could add this key functionality and provide Walmart with an important way for us to reach and serve omnichannel customers as well as grow our third-party marketplace and advertising businesses,” it said.  “We are confident that a Walmart and Microsoft partnership would meet both the expectations of US Tik Tok users while satisfying the concerns of US government regulators.”
CNBC’s Alex Sherman contributed to this story.

News | Business | Companies | UK Retail: UK companies from retail to betting benefit from online spree

George Russell, Sarah Provan, Harry Dempsey, Adam Samson, Naomi Rovnick

Updated at 8/26/2020, 11:34:47 AM BST

Amy Kazmin in New Delhi
India’s cash-strapped states are struggling to pay the salaries of public sector employees – including critical frontline healthcare workers – as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc with the country’s public finances.
Prosperous states such as Maharashtra, Punjab and Karnataka are among those now struggling to pay their wage bills, including to healthcare workers and staff of educational institutions.
State governments have accused the central governments of failing to dispense funds promised to them when the country adopted a new value-added tax system – the so-called Goods and Services Tax – several years ago.
Tensions between states and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s central government over the overdue funds are dominating a heated meeting of the country’s GST council on Thursday.
In the last financial year, New Delhi dispersed around $22bn in GST compensation payments to the states in bimonthly installments. But New Delhi has not made any compensation payments to the states in the current financial year, which began on April 1, though these payments are a legal obligation, which was written into the law when India moved to the GST system.
New Delhi says the unprecedented difficulties arising from the coronavirus could not have been foreseen, and that the states should raise funds from other sources, including borrowing from the markets.
The standoff over the unpaid dues comes as lockdowns and other restrictions deliver a severe blow to other sources of state revenues, including taxes on liquor and jet fuel.

Alice Hancock in London
Flutter Entertainment, the owner of PaddyPower Betfair and SkyBet, said that revenues jumped by more than a fifth during lockdown despite the widespread cancellation of sports fixtures.
The Dublin-based group said on Thursday that a move by customers to play online casino and poker games during lockdown had “more than offset” the lost revenue from the closure of its betting shops and the lack of sports fixtures.
The condensed run of football fixtures since the easing of coronavirus-related restrictions had boosted betting volumes, it added.
As a result it said that it expected adjusted earnings, excluding its US business, to be between £1.2bn and £1.3bn, about 10 per cent ahead of consensus forecasts.
Revenue in the six months to the end of June increased 22 per cent to £2.4bn on a like-for-like basis accounting for its acquisition of Stars Group in a £10bn deal that completed in May.

The Hut Group has unveiled plans to list in London with an equity value of £4.5bn as the fast-growing retail and technology group benefits from consumers flocking online.
The planned initial public offering includes a proposed offer of new shares to raise £920m plus a sale of existing shares of an amount to be confirmed at a later date. It will be a free float of at least 20 per cent in a standard listing on London’s main stock exchange and will leave Matthew Moulding, its founder, chairman and chief executive, in control.
A market value of £4.5bn would make the IPO the biggest this year in London.
The coronavirus pandemic has meant more stay-at-home consumers have felt comfortable buying products online and has helped the Manchester-based group in its global expansion. The group had six-month sales of £675.6m and adjusted ebitda of £60.5m to June 30, its statement on Thursday revealed.
The Hut Group, whose brands include Espa skincare and Christophe Robin hair products, has expanded in the 16 years since it was founded to generate annual sales from £1m in 2004 to £1.14bn last year. Its adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation were £111.3m.

Michael Pooler in London
Rolls-Royce will seek to raise at least £2bn by selling off assets including a division that makes parts for the Eurofighter Typhoon, after the coronavirus crisis dragged the UK’s premier engineer into heavy half-year losses.
The FTSE 100 group, whose shares are down two-thirds this year, has taken a big financial hit from the grounding of flights due to Covid-19, since it gets paid according to the hours flown by aircraft fitted with its engines.
Chief executive Warren East said the company was continuing to examine options for strengthening Rolls-Royce’s balance sheet on Thursday, as the extent of the damage was revealed.
The company sank into a £5.4bn pre-tax loss during the six months ended June 30, a figure that included impairment charges and write-offs, restructuring costs and a £2.6bn non-cash revaluation of currency hedging contracts.
Revenues dropped a quarter to £5.8bn and at an underlying level the operating loss was £1.7bn.
In an attempt to survive the collapse in global aircraft demand, the company is undertaking a deep restructuring that involves axing 9,000 jobs, almost one in every five of its total workforce.
The company burnt through £2.8bn of cash in the period ended June 30, as large engine flying hours were almost cut in half. Management expects a further outflow of £1bn in the second half of the year.

Recruiter Hays reported that hiring has stabilised since May as its fees in the year to the end of June fell 11 per cent to £996m as companies put a halt to recruitment through the pandemic crisis.
Hiring for permanent positions has only experienced a “moderate improvement”, the group said, at a time when concerns mount that a sluggish jobs market could hold back countries’ economic recovery from the virus. Hays suffered the steepest fall in fees for new hires in the UK market, where the economy has been stung particularly hard by Covid-19.
Profit before tax slipped 63 per cent compared with a year earlier to £86.3m with the recruiter cutting about 1,000 jobs or 9 per cent of its workforce last month.
The 11 per cent fall in fees for the group was as deep as the drop during the financial crisis but it took place over just six weeks, with fees falling 34 per cent in the fourth quarter, whereas the drop in revenues lasted for eight months during the previous crisis.
“The pandemic severely impacted all our markets globally,” said Alistair Cox, chief executive of Hays. "Although many uncertainties remain, group fees have been stable since May and we see modest signs of improvement in [permanent hires].”
Hays did not propose a final dividend for the financial year but it said that it hoped to return to paying dividends when appropriate.

Amy Kazmin in New Delhi
The Indian government’s plans to conduct competitive entrance exams for admission to prestigious engineering colleges and medical schools in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic has unleashed fierce controversy, with students and opposition parties demanding the exams be postponed.
The tests, normally conducted in April but subsequently pushed back to July, are now due to be conducted in September, though India’s coronavirus pandemic shows no signs of abating, with nearly 76,000 new cases detected on Wednesday.
More than 858,000 students have signed up to take the JEE – the exam for entry into the Indian Institutes of Technology – while nearly 1.6m have signed up for the medical school entry tests, the NEET.
Officials say the repeated postponement has put intense pressure on students, who have been forced to prepare for an exam that is repeatedly receding into the future.
The controversy, which has deeply divided students and parents between those frightened of the virus and those eager for the exams to proceed, has attracted the attention of Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg, who tweeted in support of the demand that the test be postponed.
Authorities say failure to conduct the exam will result in a lost year of intake, which would have lasting consequences.
India is already grappling with a severe shortage of doctors owing to intense restrictions on medical schools. But opposition-ruled states have demanded the exams be postponed further, lest students risk their health.
The furore highlights the severe social cost of India’s failure to contain the spread of the virus, which has forced schools and educational institutions to remain closed since March.

Song Jung-a in Seoul
The Bank of Korea sharply downgraded its economic projection for this year, forecasting a 1.3 per cent contraction for Asia’s fourth-largest economy, as health authorities grapple to contain the country’s worst coronavirus outbreak in six months.
But the BoK left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at a record low of 0.5 per cent, concerned about a red-hot property market, after cutting interest rates by 75 basis points so far this year to cushion the economic blow from the pandemic.
The central bank in May forecast the South Korean economy to shrink 0.2 per cent, expecting the virus to be brought under control in the second half. However, South Korea is grappling with a fresh outbreak nationwide just as many other countries are experiencing a second wave of infections.
The country’s daily new infections have risen to triple digits in recent weeks after right-wing church members infected with coronavirus attended a massive anti-government protest. On Thursday, the country reported 441 new cases, including 315 in the greater Seoul area, bringing the total to 18,706.

The continued spread of the virus bodes ill for recovery of the export-dependent economy, which suffered its worst recession in more than two decades in the second quarter. South Korea’s exports declined 7 per cent in July from a year earlier, falling at the slowest rate in four months.
Meanwhile, the country’s domestic consumption recovery, driven by government subsidies and stimulus packages, may get derailed as the government is considering strengthening social-distancing measures, economists said.
The lowered economic forecasts came amid growing calls for a fourth supplementary budget on top of the Won277tn ($233.8bn) stimulus packages announced this year.
“A second wave of infections has bolstered the case for further stimulus to support the economy,” Alex Holmes, economist at Capital Economics, said in a research note on Thursday, forecasting a 2.0 per cent contraction for the South Korean economy.

Maxine Kelly in London
The scramble to slash costs in response to Covid-19 has piqued concern that diversity and inclusion could slip down, or even off, companies’ agendas.
At the same time, some leaders are looking to tap the positive value of inclusivity, especially as the pandemic heralds a more fragmented workplace in which more staff work from home.
The crisis has exposed how some companies view D&I as nice to have rather than a core value, said Pragya Agarwal, a diversity consultant and author of Sway: Unravelling Unconscious Bias. "The pandemic has ... showcased that we need D&I more than ever."
Read more here

George Russell in Hong Kong
The Australian state of Victoria has recorded 113 new coronavirus cases and 23 deaths, as neighbouring New South Wales saw an unexpected jump in cases.
NSW recorded nine new Covid-19 cases, with a cluster linked to a gymnasium in Sydney.
Jeremy McNulty, NSW director of health protection, said three of the new cases had attended the City Tattersalls Club gym in central Sydney, bringing the total in the cluster to eight.
Health officials have also sounded alarms over two more Sydney gyms and three restaurants in the state capital.

Amy Kazmin in New Delhi
India detected an all-time high of nearly 76,000 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday — and recorded more than 1,000 new coronavirus deaths — as the pathogen continues to spread uncontrolled through the South Asian nation of 1.4bn people.
The latest fatalities push India’s overall toll from the pandemic above the grim milestone of more than 60,000 deaths, the fourth highest death toll in the world.
India has detected more than 3.3m cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began. Health officials say the pathogen is now spreading out from big cities – where the pandemic began – into the rural heartland.
India is now detecting more new cases every day than any country in the world, including the US and Brazil, which have been the hardest hit by the virus.
Despite the rapid rise in cases, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government claims that India is waging an effective battle against the pathogen, citing a lower case fatality rate than that of more developed countries.
However, experts counter that the lower toll also reflects India’s younger population.
The rampant spread of the virus across the country has cast a long shadow over India’s economy and social life, with the nation’s schools and educational institutions closed since March and unlikely to open for months.

Matthew Vincent in London
Property investors may think they have enough to worry about right now, with the coronavirus pandemic driving some commercial tenants to suspend rent payments while others consider whether they will need big office or retail space at all in future.
But the bleak outlook has a green-tinged silver lining. The market upheaval is creating opportunities to invest in environmentally sustainable buildings that will not only potentially make investors feel good but also deliver good financial returns.
A recent report from property agent Savills cited the positive or neutral correlations that academics have found between sustainable investing and returns, and concluded “this is happening in real estate, too . . . it shows through in values”.
Read more here

Thomas Hale in Hong Kong
Profits at Chinese industrial firms grew at the quickest rate in more than two years last month in a further sign of economic recovery across the country.
Year-on-year profits rose by 19.6 per cent in July to Rmb589bn ($85.6bn), official data showed on Thursday, well above the rate in June and the fastest pace of growth since June 2018.
For the year to date, industrial profits in China are down 8.1 per cent but have risen for three consecutive months, with new coronavirus infections remaining low and economic activity having rebounded.
Across 41 major industrial sectors, 32 achieved profit growth in July, the National Bureau of Statistics said, compared with 23 in June. It pointed also to a sharp jump in the profits of the high-tech manufacturing sector, which added 36.5 per cent in July.
The Chinese state has supported the country's economic rebound, with local government borrowing for infrastructure projects boosting steel output. At the same time, retail spending has remained weak, with consumers still cautious over employment and economic activity in the future.

George Russell in Hong Kong
Malaysia's government hopes to complete guidelines for proposed travel corridors with Japan and Singapore by next week, as new cases in the south-east Asian country slowed, state-funded media reported on Wednesday.
Nancy Shukri, the tourism, arts and culture minister, told the official Bernama news agency that the guidelines would have to be reviewed by the country's National Security Council.
“[The ministry] has been tasked by the government to put forward our proposals," Ms Shukri said. "We have been talking to Japan [and] Singapore ... this is going to be a continuous initiative."
In the meantime, she added, the government would push domestic tourism ahead of international travel.
Malaysia recorded six more cases on Wednesday, the health ministry announced. The country of 31.5m people has declared 9,291 cases since the pandemic began, with six official deaths.

Mure Dickie in Edinburgh
Ahead of Scotland’s 2014 independence referendum, the Scottish National party sought to reassure voters worried about going it alone by citing a resurgent economy, a relatively modest budget deficit and the prospect of untrammelled free trade with both the remaining UK and the EU.
Things are different now. Brexit means that an independent Scotland in the EU — the SNP government’s goal — would face a hard economic border with England, its most important market.
Data released on Wednesday showed Scotland’s notional fiscal deficit climbing to a hefty £15bn in the year to April, even before the worst of the coronavirus crisis is felt.
Read more here

Daniel Shane in Hong Kong
Asia-Pacific shares struggled for momentum even as US stocks continued to reach new highs.
Japan's Topix index slipped 0.3 per cent in early trading on Thursday while South Korea's Kospi edged 0.1 per cent lower. Futures for markets in Hong Kong and mainland China, which open later in the morning, were little changed.
Overnight on Wall Street, the S&P 500 jumped 1 per cent to hit another record peak as technology shares continued to fuel a rally in the US index. Futures for the American benchmark were down 0.1 per cent on Thursday morning.

Investors remain focused on the US Federal Reserve's Jackson Hole meeting, which begins on Thursday, where they will be looking for new clues on how global central banks may deploy monetary stimulus.
US-China relations are also on traders' radar after it was reported that Beijing had fired missiles into a disputed part of the South China Sea in a move that could inflame tensions.
Meanwhile, the dollar index edged 0.2 per cent lower. Crude oil prices were little changed while gold slipped 0.2 per cent to $1,949.26 per troy ounce.

Laura Hughes in London
A new payment for people on low incomes who are required to self-isolate and are unable to work from home in areas with high rates of coronavirus is to undergo trials in the north-west of England, the UK government has announced.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said those who test positive will be entitled to access £130 over their 10-day self-isolation period, while members of their household will be entitled to a payment of £182 when they self-isolate for 14 days.
Any non-household contacts reached via the government’s NHS test-and-trace programme will be entitled to up to £13 per day and up to £182, depending on the length of their isolation period.
Read more here

Edward White and Kang Buseong
South Korea’s National Assembly will be temporarily closed from Thursday amid fears of possible coronavirus transmission among the country’s lawmakers.
The move, which came after a parliamentary reporter tested positive for Covid-19, marked the latest disruption as the country grapples with its worst coronavirus outbreak in six months.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control on Thursday reported 441 new coronavirus infections.
Officials have over the past 10 days taken a series of actions to reinstate social distancing, including ordering most students to return to remote learning, limiting the size of public gatherings and urging Seoul residents to refrain from travelling outside the city.
The restrictions, which come months after coronavirus transmission fell into single digits, also serve as a warning to other countries over complacency even when they have strong systems in place for testing and tracing.

Christian Shepherd in Beijing, Katrina Manson in Washington
and Jamie Smyth in Sydney

A team from the World Health Organization tasked with investigating the origins of coronavirus did not visit Wuhan, fuelling concern from western governments over Beijing’s commitment to identifying the source of the pandemic.
A recently concluded three-week trip by the two-person WHO team did not entail a visit to Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the first cases of novel coronavirus were detected in December 2019, the UN agency has confirmed.
WHO said the team was merely laying the groundwork in advance of a full international mission to investigate the virus but it was also vague on whether this larger task force would visit Wuhan.
Read more here

Cardiff University in Wales plans this month to conduct a clinical study to investigate whether over-the-counter mouthwashes could help to reduce viral loads.
Previous research published in May raised the possibility that certain mouthwashes could be used to help reduce transmission of enveloped viruses, such as SARS-CoV2, which causes Covid-19, but that more research was needed.
“We are very keen to start this much needed clinical trial as our review of the literature indicated that we need to look deeper into the possible positive impact that mouthwashes may play on the transmission of Covid-19," said David Thomas, a dentistry professor at Cardiff University.
The university said it would partner with Venture Life Group, which makes the Dentyl brand of mouthwash for the UK market.

Kiran Stacey in Washington
New York’s governor said the state will not follow national coronavirus testing guidelines, after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed them to recommend that people who have been in close contact with an infected person but do not exhibit symptoms should not get a test.
The CDC changes, which were announced earlier this week, came after repeated complaints by President Donald Trump that the high number of tests being carried out in the US was the reason there were so many confirmed cases.
Andrew Cuomo, New York’s governor, said on Wednesday that his state would not follow the guidelines, denouncing them as “political propaganda”.
Read more here

George Russell in Hong Kong
Hong Kong reported 24 new cases on Wednesday as the city prepared to ease some social-distancing regulations.
An 81-year-old man died in Tuen Mun Hospital, the 79th fatality in the semi-autonomous Chinese city of 7.5m people.
There were still 24 patients, mostly elderly, in a critical condition owing to Covid-19, the hospital authority said on Wednesday. Another 34 patients were listed as serious.
From Friday, Hong Kong will have more relaxed social-distancing measures.
Dine-in services will be extended to 9pm from 6pm, cinemas will reopen with up to 50 per cent capacity, beauty salons can restart operations if staff wear masks and face shields or goggles, and some non-contact sports can be played.
Despite the new orders, the city's Centre for Health Protection called on the public to "avoid going out, having social contact and dining out".

Peter Wells in New York
US stocks powered to another record high on Wednesday, helping global equities set a new peak for the first time since February.
The tech sector remained in the driving seat, up 2.8 per cent and helping its broader benchmark, the S&P 500, finish 1 per cent higher overall at a record level. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite jumped 1.7 per cent to a new peak.
Big tech stocks have underpinned new highs for Wall Street and also carry relatively large weightings in global benchmarks.
Those gains helped push global stocks to a new record, with the FTSE All World rising 0.9 per cent to surpass its previous peak in February, just before many countries instituted economic lockdowns to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Government bonds were slightly weaker, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury up 0.01 percentage points to 0.692 per cent as investors sold the notes.

Breaking news

George Russell in Hong Kong
The US Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday issued an emergency use authorisation for the first Covid-19 antigen test where results can be read directly from the testing card, a similar design to some pregnancy tests.
"This simple design is fast and efficient for healthcare providers and patients and does not need the use of an analyser," the agency said in a statement.
Jeff Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, described the test as an "important addition to available tests" as the results can be "read in minutes, right off the testing card".
According to the FDA, a healthcare provider would swab a patient’s nose and twirl that sample on a test card with a testing reagent added.
"After 15 minutes, the healthcare provider reads the results directly from the testing card. One line indicates a negative result; two lines indicate a positive result."
The developer, Abbott Diagnostics, said it plans to make up to 50m tests available monthly in the US from October.
Abbott said it would also offer a free mobile app that would allow people to display their results when entering facilities requiring proof of testing.

Peter Wells in New York
The US reported its biggest one-day increase in deaths in a week, as a number of sunbelt states experienced jumps in fatalities.
A further 1,249 people died, up from 1,147 on Tuesday and the largest one-day increase since last Wednesday's rise of 1,420.
That brought the seven-day average down to about 942 a day, having fallen below 1,000 earlier this week for the first time in nearly a month.
Texas (229), Florida (155) and California (150) made among the biggest contributions to Wednesday's tally and represented the largest jumps in fatalities those states had seen in several days.
Over the past 24 hours, 43,130 people tested positive for the disease, according to the Covid Tracking Project, up from 36,679 on Tuesday. This was the biggest increase in four days.

George Russell in Hong Kong
New Zealand continued to record single-digit daily new infections on Wednesday, as concern mounted over a series of church services held in Auckland earlier this month.
The five cases reported on Wednesday appear to be part of the same cluster that threw New Zealand's largest city back into lockdown and delayed a general election by a month.
"An additional case reported yesterday as a household contact is now under investigation," the health ministry said in a statement. "Genome sequencing is under way."
Auckland Regional Public Health Service said it had diagnosed five people associated with the Mt Roskill Evangelical Fellowship Church as having Covid-19.
The diagnosis in the inner southern Auckland suburb followed a wedding at the church on August 7, and three services held from August 8-11.
"We would ask that anyone who attended the events get tested as soon as possible," the ministry statement added.

Peter Wells in New York
California reported its largest daily increases in new infections and deaths in days on Wednesday.
A further 6,004 people tested positive for Covid-19 over the past 24 hours, state authorities revealed this afternoon, up from 4,480 on Tuesday. That sits higher than the average over the past week of 5,753 cases a day.
Fatalities in California rose by 150, up from 105 on Tuesday and versus the seven-day average of about 126.
Florida reported more than 3,000 new coronavirus cases for the first time in four days on Wednesday.
A further 3,220 people tested positive for Covid-19 over the past 24 hours, the state health department revealed, up from 2,673 on Tuesday.

Florida conducted nearly 65,300 tests over the past day, the most in four days and up from about 43,500 a day earlier. The increase in tests may have been a factor in bringing the positivity rate down to 5.75 per cent from 7.48 per cent on Tuesday.
Texas reported an above-average increase in new coronavirus cases and the highest daily jump in deaths in five days. A further 229 people died, the state health department said this afternoon, up from 181 on Tuesday.
It was the largest single-day increase since Friday.
Over the past 24 hours, 5,045 people in Texas tested positive for Covid-19, down from 6,091 on Tuesday. New cases today and yesterday sat higher than the seven-day average for the first time since August 19.

Arthur Beesley in Dublin and Sam Fleming in Brussels
EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan has resigned from his post following a furore over apparent violations of Covid-19 guidelines in his native Ireland.
Mr Hogan occupies one of Brussels’s most powerful positions at a key moment for trade talks with both the US and China.
He tendered his resignation on Wednesday night to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, who said she respected Mr Hogan's decision, calling him a “valuable member" of the commission.
Read more here

George Russell in Hong Kong
New York's commuter transit network said on Wednesday it needs $12bn in urgent federal funding to "weather the most severe financial crisis in its history" as it signalled severe cuts to its services.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which provides public transport in 12 counties in New York – including the city – and two more in neighbouring Connecticut, launched a new digital ad campaign highlighting its budget shortfall.
“The MTA simply cannot wait any longer for relief from Washington,” said Patrick Foye, the MTA's chairman and chief executive.
“If the Senate fails to step up and deliver $12bn, it would be a devastating blow to mass transit as we know it," he added. "We need action now, and the more we can amplify this message, the better.”
The MTA outlined a series of potentially devastating service cuts, fare increases and plans to lay off employees and slash capital expenditure. Since the pandemic began, the MTA has seen greater declines in passenger numbers than in the aftermath of the Great Depression in the 1930s.

Sebastian Payne and Laura Hughes in London
Senior members of Boris Johnson’s government have expressed their concern at the recent string of policy U-turns, questioning the UK prime minister’s approach, the make-up of the cabinet and the civil service’s ability to handle the pandemic.
The government has changed course 12 times in major policy areas since coronavirus hit in March. The latest reversal came when education secretary Gavin Williamson announced that face masks would be mandatory in communal parts of English schools in areas under stricter lockdown.
A dozen senior Tories have privately told the Financial Times about their growing disquiet, with one cabinet minister expressing unhappiness with both the substance and form of the latest announcement on face coverings.
Read more here

The US justice department has requested Covid-19 data from four states as it considers civil rights investigations into the deaths of nursing home residents. The department said it was requesting the data from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan, citing orders in those states that required nursing homes to admit coronavirus-infected patients.
Italy on Wednesday reported its biggest one-day increase in coronavirus cases in more than three months as Europe contends with a sharp uptick in infections. The country reported 1,367 new cases up from 878 the previous day, taking the total caseload to 262,540. The country's death toll has climbed to 35,458. Italy is one of several countries in Europe with a rise in infections as holidaymakers return home.
Coronavirus will sap more than £20bn from Britain's travel industry while the UK quarantine policy leaves London at risk of surrendering its position as a global hub for tourism and business, an industry group has warned. Spending by international travellers is expected to plummet 78 per cent, or £22bn, this year, the World Travel & Tourism Council said.
Inflation surged in Lebanon during July, with its consumer price index rocketing 112 per cent compared with 2019. The cost of consumer goods is being driven up by the devaluation of the Lebanese pound, whose two-decade peg to the dollar at L£1,500 has effectively been broken. Black market rates are currently hovering at L£7,000-7,500.

Dick’s Sporting Goods registered its highest-ever quarterly sales and earnings, as consumers showed growing interest in fitness and socially distant outdoor activities. The Pittsburgh-based retailer said net sales jumped 20.1 per cent year-on-year to $2.71bn for the three months to August 1. Consolidated same-store sales advanced 20.7 per cent.
London Gatwick is to cut up to a quarter of its workforce as part of a major restructuring following a collapse in passenger numbers at the UK's second-busiest airport. Gatwick is entering into consultations with about 600 staff, and said it was in talks with the government over sector-specific support to help the aviation industry through the crisis.
Salesforce shares were poised to extend their gains a day after the cloud-based software group surpassed $5bn in quarterly sales and raised its forecast for next year. Shares in the San Francisco-based company rose 13 per cent in pre-market trading on Wednesday. They have risen more than 10 per cent this month, and 33 per cent for the year.
Russian gold miner Polymetal doubled its dividend after metal prices rallied in the first half of the year. Polymetal said it would pay a first-half dividend of 40 cents a share. The group has benefited from a 27 per cent rise in gold prices this year and lower costs due to a fall in the Russian rouble and Kazakh tenge. Gold hit a record $2,072 an ounce on August 6.
Compiled by George Russell in Hong Kong
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News| Business | Companies TikTok boss quits as Trump's ban looms

3-4 minutes

TikTok chief executive Kevin Meyer is quitting the video-sharing app. Image copyright Getty Images
TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer has quit after just two months in the job ahead of an impending ban by US President Donald Trump.
The Chinese-owned firm has been accused of being a threat to US national security by the Trump administration.
Mr Mayer joined TikTok in June after leaving his role as Disney's head of streaming services.
TikTok was given 90 days to be sold to an American firm or face a ban in the US.
"In recent weeks, as the political environment has sharply changed, I have done significant reflection on what the corporate structural changes will require, and what it means for the global role I signed up for," Mr Mayer said in a letter to employees.
"Against this backdrop, and as we expect to reach a resolution very soon, it is with a heavy heart that I wanted to let you all know that I have decided to leave the company," Mr Mayer added.
Both TikTok and Chinese messaging app WeChat face bans in the US as tensions rise between Washington and Beijing over a wide range of issues including national security concerns about Chinese tech firms.
"We appreciate that the political dynamics of the last few months have significantly changed what the scope of Kevin's role would be going forward, and fully respect his decision. We thank him for his time at the company and wish him well," a spokesman for TikTok said.

Kevin Mayer was brought into TikTok to help give the Chinese-owned app an American image.
The thinking was that the former Disney man would be able to negotiate with a tough-on-China Trump administration better than perhaps a Chinese chief executive and that would help smooth TikTok's path into one of its biggest markets - the US.
Instead, the intense pressure from the Trump administration on TikTok only grew.
President Trump claims TikTok is a national security threat because of who it is owned by, Chinese internet firm ByteDance.
Earlier this month, he signed an executive order that would effectively ban TikTok's operations in the US if it wasn't sold to another company by mid September.
All of this is not what Mr Mayer signed up for when he left Walt Disney to take on the role at TikTok.
And after just two months in the job, he is now departing.

Executive order

President Trump's executive order prohibits transactions with TikTok's owner ByteDance from mid-September.
The firm has gone to court to challenge the ban.
Officials in Washington are concerned that TikTok could pass American users' data to the Chinese government, something ByteDance has denied doing.
TikTok said the Trump administration's move was motivated by politics, not national security.
US tech giant Microsoft has confirmed that it is continuing talks to purchase the US operations of TikTok.

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