• Jack Ma's fintech giant tops 1.3 billion users globally
    TechCrunch

    Jack Ma's fintech giant tops 1.3 billion users globally

    The speculation that Alibaba's fintech affiliate Ant Group will go public has been swirling around for years. Reuters reported last week that the fintech giant could float as soon as this year in an initial public offering that values it at $200 billion. As a private firm, details of the payments and financial services firm remain sparse, but a new filing by Alibaba, which holds a 33% stake in Ant, provides a rare glimpse into its performance.

  • WhatsApp hit by brief outage, leaving users unable to send or receive messages
    TechCrunch

    WhatsApp hit by brief outage, leaving users unable to send or receive messages

    WhatsApp was briefly down Tuesday, with users unable to send or receive messages on the Facebook-owned end-to-end encrypted messaging app. Affected users may have seen that WhatsApp was "connecting" to the service when trying to send a message. When reached, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed the outage but didn't divulge details.

  • Logitech's new Mac-specific mouse and keyboards are the new best choices for Mac input devices
    TechCrunch

    Logitech's new Mac-specific mouse and keyboards are the new best choices for Mac input devices

    Logitech has released new versions of its MX peripherals in Mac-friendly finishes, as well as a new K380 wireless Bluetooth keyboard designed for Apple devices. The MX Master 3 for Mac is a very slightly altered twist on the MX Master 3 -- consisting mostly of a new paint job that actually pretty closely resembles the old one.

  • Google Cloud launches Confidential VMs
    TechCrunch

    Google Cloud launches Confidential VMs

    At its virtual Cloud Next '20 event, Google Cloud today announced Confidential VMs, a new type of virtual machine that makes use of the company's work around confidential computing to ensure that data isn't just encrypted at rest but also while it is in memory. In the backend, Confidential VMs make use of AMD's Secure Encrypted Virtualization feature, available in its second-generation EPYC CPUs. With that, the data will stay encrypted when used and the encryption keys to make this happen are automatically generated in hardware and can't be exported -- and with that, even Google doesn't have access to the keys either.

  • Walmart leads $1.2 billion investment in India's Flipkart
    TechCrunch

    Walmart leads $1.2 billion investment in India's Flipkart

    Walmart is increasing its majority-stake in Flipkart by leading a new $1.2 billion financing round in the Indian e-commerce giant. The fresh equity round led by Walmart, which acquired majority stake in Flipkart for $16 billion two years ago, values Flipkart at $24.9 billion post-money, the two companies said. The American retail group said the fresh capital would help Flipkart, which was valued at $20.8 billion two years ago, further grow its e-commerce marketplace in India as the world's second largest internet market begins to recover from Covid-19 crisis.

  • Verizon partners with Airtel to launch BlueJeans in India
    TechCrunch

    Verizon partners with Airtel to launch BlueJeans in India

    Bharti Airtel announced on Tuesday it has partnered with Verizon* to launch BlueJeans video-conferencing service in India to serve business customers in the world’s second largest internet market. The video conferencing service, branded as Airtel BlueJeans in India, offers "enterprise-grade security" (which includes encrypted calls, ability to lock and password protect a meeting and generate randomized meeting IDs), a cloud point presence in India to enable low latency, HD video and Dolby Voice, and can accommodate up to 50,000 participants on a call.

  • Nissan bets on new Ariya electric SUV to symbolise its revamp, but sales plans modest
    Reuters

    Nissan bets on new Ariya electric SUV to symbolise its revamp, but sales plans modest

    Nissan Motor Co <7201.T> on Wednesday unveiled the Ariya - an electric SUV and its first all-new global model in five years - hoping it will symbolise its road to recovery after more than a year of scandal and a precipitous decline into earnings losses. Featuring Nissan's latest self-driving technologies, the Ariya has a driving range comparable to Tesla models and will sell from around 5 million yen (£37,405).

  • Thomson Reuters StreetEvents

    Edited Transcript of C earnings conference call or presentation 14-Jul-20 2:00pm GMT

    Q2 2020 Citigroup Inc Earnings Call

  • Facebook Says Privacy Disclosures Should Be Easier to Read
    Bloomberg

    Facebook Says Privacy Disclosures Should Be Easier to Read

    (Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. is calling for clearer, standardized user data privacy policies as part of a white paper focused on potential regulation while governments around the world move to tighten restrictions on how companies can collect information.Customer privacy policies -- the often long, complicated outlines for how companies collect and use data -- are too difficult for people to find and understand, according to Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan, the paper’s author. Presenting important information via push notifications and pop-ups is also flawed, Egan wrote, as they have become so common that many people don’t always read them.“In short, the current practices for informing people about how companies use their data, and the laws setting out transparency requirements, may be insufficient to provide meaningful notice to people,” she concluded in the paper released Wednesday. In an interview, Egan said the paper was intended to increase discussion around these issues and come up with more efficient ways to inform users.Facebook has been criticized repeatedly over its privacy practices and data policies. A Federal Trade Commission investigation into the company’s data collection resulted in a $5 billion fine last year, and Facebook pledged to make a number of changes to its privacy practices, including to its internal corporate structure. India and Australia have recently began actions to tighten online data collection.The paper, which is intended for academics, regulators and policy advocates, mostly outlines a series of observations and questions Facebook executives have about the current state of user privacy, including whether there should be industrywide standards. Egan suggested film ratings or nutrition labels put on food packages as examples of the kind of simple disclosures she wants the industry to consider.“We really like the idea that they provide a standardized way of explaining information to people,” Egan said. “At this juncture I think all ideas should really be put on the table.”Egan acknowledged in the paper, however, that standardization poses other problems because many products use different types of information.Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has called for privacy regulation in recent years, suggesting such rules would give the company more clarity about what it can do. Critics have argued that regulation could actually benefit larger tech companies like Facebook, which have more resources and employees in place to adhere to them.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Over 2,500 games removed from Apple's China App Store after loophole shuts - data firm
    Reuters

    Over 2,500 games removed from Apple's China App Store after loophole shuts - data firm

    More than 2,500 mobile games were removed from Apple's China app store in the first week of July, four times as many in the same period in June, after Apple closed a loophole to comply with Chinese licence requirements, data from SensorTower showed. Apple had given publishers of revenue-generating games a deadline of end-June to submit a government-issued licence number that allows them to make in-app purchases, a requirement that Android-based app stores in China have long had. It was not clear why Apple had allowed the loophole to exist for so long.

  • China Plans to Test Digital Yuan on Food Delivery Giant’s Platforms
    Bloomberg

    China Plans to Test Digital Yuan on Food Delivery Giant’s Platforms

    (Bloomberg) -- China’s central bank is planning to test its digital currency on platforms operated by Meituan Dianping, enlisting the food delivery giant backed by Tencent Holdings Ltd. in a major step toward the token’s mass adoption.Meituan has been in talks with a research wing of the People’s Bank of China on real-world uses for the virtual legal tender dubbed Digital Currency Electronic Payment or DCEP, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. The specifics of the partnership have yet to be finalized, they added, asking not to be identified revealing private discussions.Meituan joins ride-hailing startup Didi Chuxing in exploring applications for a digital yuan, which lives on a mobile wallet application and offers Beijing greater control of the country’s financial system. Like Didi, Meituan hosts billions of dollars in daily transactions in realms from meal delivery to online travel services, and its participation would drive mass acceptance and widen Beijing’s global lead in government-backed virtual currencies. The central bank research wing is also in discussions on trials with Bilibili Inc., another Tencent-backed company that streams video, one of the people said.The PBOC had no immediate comment when contacted. Meituan declined to comment, while representatives for Bilibili didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.Read more: China’s Digital Yuan Gets First Big Test Via Tech Giant DidiThe duo -- which offer a slew of online services from food delivery to e-commerce and video games -- currently employ payment systems from Tencent and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.-affiliate Ant Group and would appear to be good candidates to help DCEP carve out a share of the country’s $27 trillion payments industry. A virtual yuan could bolster the government’s grip over the world’s No. 2 economy and its giant financial services industry, and some observers think it could someday shift the global balance of a U.S.-dollar-centric global currency system.Virtual cash would be quicker and easier to use than the paper kind -- and would also offer China’s authorities a degree of control never possible with physical money. The rise of independent cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ether, meanwhile, have created the danger that a huge swath of economic activity will occur out of the view of policymakers.While a digital currency is likely years away from a national rollout, China’s moves have triggered concern about a new threat to U.S. financial dominance. China’s central bank has led global peers in the development of digital legal tender, with research efforts started in at least 2014.It began a pilot program for its digital currency only a few months ago. The initial testing was limited to four cities, with local media reporting that some of the money was distributed via transport subsidies to residents in Suzhou.Read more: China’s Digital Currency Could Challenge Bitcoin and Even the DollarFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Over 2,500 games removed from Apple's China App Store after loophole shuts: data firm
    Reuters

    Over 2,500 games removed from Apple's China App Store after loophole shuts: data firm

    More than 2,500 mobile games were removed from Apple's China app store in the first week of July, four times as many in the same period in June, after Apple closed a loophole to comply with Chinese licence requirements, data from SensorTower showed. Apple had given publishers of revenue-generating games a deadline of end-June to submit a government-issued licence number that allows them to make in-app purchases, a requirement that Android-based app stores in China have long had. It was not clear why Apple had allowed the loophole to exist for so long.

  • How to Turn Negative Equity Into a $30 Billion Market Cap
    Bloomberg

    How to Turn Negative Equity Into a $30 Billion Market Cap

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- For weeks, those of us in Asia watched the U.S. stock frenzy with amazement — how a video game-like trading interface could lure millennials, cost fortunes and some even their lives; how Tesla Inc. founder Elon Musk became richer than Warren Buffett; and why on earth retail investors were rushing to buy shares of Hertz Global Holdings Inc., even though the car rental company had filed for bankruptcy. Well, gawk no more. The mania has landed in Hong Kong, too. Take a look at Evergrande Health Industry Group Ltd., a healthcare facilities provider under the umbrella of real estate giant China Evergrande Group. Its stock price has soared more than 200% this year, with most of the gain notched in July. That’s resulted in a market cap as high as $30 billion this week. The catalyst is not its Elderly Care Valley business, which operates specialized centers, but its electric vehicle operations, accounting for only 12% of sales last year. There’s little news on Evergrande Health — it isn’t even covered by the sell-side equity analysts Bloomberg polls — but some investors have latched onto this stock as a Tesla play. Its parent company has the grand ambition to be more Tesla than Tesla, vowing to become the world’s biggest maker of electric vehicles. Since late 2018, Evergrande has spent billions on an array of EV-related companies. Goodwill, accrued upon a series of acquisitions, came in at 6.2 billion yuan ($885 million), or 17% of the company’s non-current assets at the end of 2019.Never mind that Evergrande has yet to release its first pure battery vehicle under the flagship Hengchi brand — that deadline was already pushed back once — or that its factories in Guangdong and Shanghai won’t start production until 2021. That Tesla stock could draw 40,000 Robinhood users in a four-hour window shows there’s enough appetite for anything remotely like the U.S. market darling. Investors may also feel reassured now that Evergrande Health owns National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB, an EV maker that acquired Saab Automobile in 2012. It also has a joint venture with Koenigsegg Automotive AB, a top-tier supercar manufacturer. If anyone bothered to look at the company’s financials, though, they’d quickly get cold feet. According to its latest annual report, “equity attributable to owners of the company” was negative 1.3 billion yuan. In other words, while stock investors think Evergrande Health is worth $30 billion, an accountant could reckon that this company has zero value to shareholders. Building electric vehicles from scratch is an expensive endeavor. Evergrande Health’s negative equity stems from the fact that it has accrued 94.7 billion yuan in debt. Its parent, for instance, has provided a three-year, 32.2 billion yuan loan due next July, with interest rates ranging from 7.6% to 8%. Last year, finance costs in the EV business alone came in at 2.2 billion yuan, or 2.6 times the profit generated from the healthcare segment. As a result, Evergrande Health has no price-to-earnings, or price-to-book, to speak of — both are negative. But then liquidity and policy-driven markets can create very strange phenomena. Speculative capital flows have have already arrived in Hong Kong — just look at the stronger local dollar, which by ordinary logic would have weakened as U.S. moved to strip the city of its special status. Trading will become even cheaper, too. Huatai International Ltd., the Hong Kong arm of China’s third largest broker, is no longer charging commissions.Meanwhile, animal spirits returned to China’s $9.7 trillion stock market in July. At this market cap, Evergrande Health can just do a secondary listing on the mainland if it’s short on cash, without having to prove to regulators that it has an “edge” or “world-leading technology.” A sky-high valuation in China, in turn, would support its Hong Kong-listed shares, one could argue. Hong Kong’s stock market is an interesting hybrid, part-American because of the Hong Kong dollar peg, and part-Chinese because many mainland companies list there. Now that both U.S. and China markets have gone into a trading frenzy, it's only natural that Hong Kong will catch up. So don’t be surprised if more Tesla wannabes start cropping up. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Shuli Ren is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Asian markets. She previously wrote on markets for Barron's, following a career as an investment banker, and is a CFA charterholder.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Crunch time for Apple in fight against $15 billion EU tax order
    Reuters

    Crunch time for Apple in fight against $15 billion EU tax order

    Apple's clash with EU competition regulators comes to a head on Wednesday as Europe's second-highest court rules on whether it has to pay 13 billion euros ($15 billion) in Irish back taxes, a key part of the EU's crackdown against sweetheart tax deals. In its order four years ago, the European Commission said Apple <AAPL.O> benefited from illegal state aid via two Irish tax rulings that artificially reduced its tax burden for over two decades - to as low as 0.005% in 2014. Defeat for European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager could weaken or delay pending cases against Ikea's [IKEA.UL] and Nike's <NKE.N> deals with the Netherlands, as well as Huhtamaki's <HUH1V.HE> agreement with Luxembourg.

  • Moderna’s Covid Vaccine News Is Good. But Market-Moving Good?
    Bloomberg

    Moderna’s Covid Vaccine News Is Good. But Market-Moving Good?

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- About two months after Moderna Therapeutics Inc. released preliminary Covid-19 vaccine data that sent the stock market into a tizzy, the company published a complete look at the initial human trial of its drug late Tuesday — and it promptly moved the market again.Moderna shares surged 20% on the results in after-market trading, and stocks in general got a loft as well. Is it warranted? For sure, the expanded results published in the New England Journal of Medicine contain good news about the vaccine's early attributes. However, they mainly put what the company revealed in its sparse May release on firmer footing instead of breaking swaths of new ground as one might expect from the reaction. In short, investors may be ahead of themselves.There are a host of open questions about the vaccine's clinical and commercial potential. They won't be resolved until Moderna finishes a huge clinical trial currently scheduled to begin July 27. New investors would be paying a hefty price for a long wait and a still high level of risk. According to the expanded results, two shots of the Moderna vaccine generated antibody levels higher than those generally seen in people that recover from Covid-19. The company’s initial release suggested something similar. Still, the new publication shows results in a broader group of patients and goes into needed detail about precisely what Moderna was measuring. Investors should feel more secure in the notion that the vaccine produces an immune response, a real milestone. However, just as in May, it's not clear whether people who survive Covid have durable immunity to the virus and how that relates to antibody levels. A further relationship between antibodies and vaccine effectiveness still needs to be proved in a robust trial. The company isn't necessarily measuring the wrong thing; antibody levels are as good a target as scientists have at the moment. But the human immune system is complicated and researchers have much to learn.While Moderna is undoubtedly a front-runner, it's not alone. It will be neck-and-neck with Pfizer Inc.'s similar vaccine as well as AstraZeneca Plc, with others following soon. There's no guarantee that it will finish first or with a happy result. There's some randomness to placebo-controlled vaccine trials; a significant number of people on the control arm have to contract the virus to prove the shot effective by comparison, and that could take time.Moderna's trial will focus on areas where the virus is spreading, but so will everyone else's. If another drugmaker recruits faster, has a more effective shot or gets lucky with a higher rate of infection on the placebo arm, they could move ahead.Other details: The company's expanded results didn't reveal any "serious" adverse events like a death or a life-threatening reaction, but the vaccine did produce a noticeably high rate of side effects including fatigue, fever, and muscle pain. New safety concerns could arise in the larger trial; the company has 45 people’s worth of data; thousands more will get the shot in the months to come. While the Food and Drug Administration is likely to be relatively flexible on safety for an effective vaccine, unpleasant side effects could diminish uptake and commercial opportunity, especially if there's a more appealing option.Investors may be excited by Jefferies Analyst Michael Yee's prediction that Moderna could reap $5 billion in sales, but none of that materializes if the vaccine doesn't work. Even if the company succeeds and navigates competitive risks, the hefty dose of U.S. taxpayer money that has gone into the company's effort will create extra pressure to price modestly.Moderna, up 283% year to date, is priced for multiple best-case scenarios right now. Investors convinced it’s still a strong buying opportunity should have their eyes open.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Max Nisen is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering biotech, pharma and health care. He previously wrote about management and corporate strategy for Quartz and Business Insider.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Reuters

    Crunch time for Apple in fight against $15 bln EU tax order

    Apple's clash with EU competition regulators comes to a head on Wednesday as Europe's second-highest court rules on whether it has to pay 13 billion euros ($15 billion) in Irish back taxes, a key part of the EU's crackdown against sweetheart tax deals. In its order four years ago, the European Commission said Apple benefited from illegal state aid via two Irish tax rulings that artificially reduced its tax burden for over two decades - to as low as 0.005% in 2014. Defeat for European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager could weaken or delay pending cases against Ikea's and Nike's deals with the Netherlands, as well as Huhtamaki's agreement with Luxembourg.

  • GoHealth Prices IPO Above Target at $21 a Share
    Bloomberg

    GoHealth Prices IPO Above Target at $21 a Share

    (Bloomberg) -- GoHealth Inc. expanded the size of its U.S. initial public offering and priced the shares above the marketed range to raise $914 million, according to people familiar with the matter.The Chicago-based health insurance company sold 43.5 million shares for $21 each, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information wasn’t public yet. GoHealth had marketed 39.5 million shares for $18 to $20 each, according to its filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.A representative for GoHealth didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.The offering was led by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Bank of America Corp.and Morgan Stanley. The shares are expected to begin trading Wednesday on the Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol GOCO.(Updates with amount raised in first paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Tesla’s Texas Plant Deal Advances With County Incentive Approval

    (Bloomberg) -- Texas is moving forward with efforts to woo Tesla Inc. and lure its next electric-vehicle factory after the county that’s home to the state capital signed off on a tax-relief package.Commissioners in Travis County voted Tuesday to approve a 70% property-tax rebate on the first $1.1 billion the company invests in a site near Austin. The abatement is worth at least $13.9 million.The areas of Austin and Tulsa, Oklahoma, are the finalists for landing the facility where Tesla plans to build the Cybertruck pickup that Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk first unveiled late last year. He has said on Twitter that the site also will supplement production of Model Y crossovers already being made at the company’s lone U.S. car-assembly plant in Fremont, California.Tesla has told Travis County that its planned factory will eventually employ 5,000 full-time workers with an average salary of roughly $47,000 a year. At least half of those will be county residents.The weeks-long effort to secure the abatement from the Austin area has played out as Musk, 49, has openly tweeted about the level of support the city of Tulsa and state of Oklahoma have offered. He visited the area on July 3, and Governor Kevin Stitt shared photos the next day of the small contingent who welcomed the billionaire to town.Nate Jensen, a government professor at the University of Texas-Austin, said securing county-level abatements could be a step toward Tesla eventually accessing bigger forms of support from the state, including from Texas Enterprise Fund, one of the largest payers of economic-development incentives in the nation.“They’ll promise the world to the county -- high environmental and wage standards, yearly audits -- and then as soon as they get other, larger incentives, they’ll back out of city incentives,” Jensen said.The other incentives the county is offering Tesla include a $46.4 million property-tax break from the local school district over ten years and an $80 million cap on the taxable value of the plant. If Tesla follows through with the project, it will be one of the largest economic-development agreements in Austin history.Landing the factory would be a major boost to an area that saw its unemployment rate surge to 11.6% in May from 2.6% in February, with more than 81,000 losing their jobs in the midst of coronavirus-related shutdowns across the country. Half of those were earning less than $30,000 a year before being laid off from leisure and hospitality jobs, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.Thousands of jobs would quickly open up for the start of construction, which Tesla wants to initiate this quarter.The project hasn’t been unequivocally supported by all. Labor leaders and progressive groups urged the five-member board of commissioners to take their time and negotiate the best deal possible, calling for elected officials to ask for in-writing worker protections and a guarantee of a $15-an-hour wage for all employees.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Tesla secures tax breaks for cybertruck factory in Texas
    Reuters

    Tesla secures tax breaks for cybertruck factory in Texas

    The decision marks a step forward for Texas as it vies with Oklahoma to attract a new factory to build Tesla's Y sport utility vehicles and cybertrucks. Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The city of Tulsa in Oklahoma has campaigned for Tesla to build the plant there.