Business

FILE PHOTO: An Airbus A330 of Avianca airline takes off at the Simon Bolivar airport in Caracas
FILE PHOTO: An Airbus A330 of Avianca airline takes off at the Simon Bolivar airport in Caracas, Venezuela October 23, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins/File Photo

May 24, 2019

By Marcelo Rochabrun and Sanjana Shivdas

(Reuters) – United Airlines launched a management overhaul at Colombia’s Avianca Holdings on Friday, removing top shareholder German Efromovich from controlling the cash-strapped airline, according to regulatory filings.

United, which is proposing a three-way joint business agreement with Avianca and Panama’s Copa, said the move follows a default by Efromovich’s holding company BRW Aviation on a $456 million loan it made six months ago.

The Chicago-based airline, part of United Continental Holdings Inc, is seeking a deeper foothold in Latin America, which is considered ripe for air travel growth.

United’s loan was backed by Efromovich’s 51.5% stake in Avianca. However, the U.S. airline’s contract with its pilots restricts the company from majority ownership in another carrier. As a result, United is ceding voting rights to Kingsland Holdings, the Colombian carrier’s second-largest shareholder.

Kingsland is controlled by Roberto Kriete, who was embroiled in a long and bitter legal fight with Efromovich over the best strategy for heavily indebted Avianca.

Another Efromovich carrier, Avianca Brasil, filed for bankruptcy protection in December and its operations were suspended on Friday by Brazil’s civil aviation regulator ANAC.

United said it was willing to loan up to $150 million to Avianca Holdings.

(Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru and Marcelo Rochabrun in Sao Paulo,; Writing by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Phil Berlowitz)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Samsung Electronics is seen at its office building in Seoul
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Samsung Electronics is seen at its office building in Seoul, South Korea, March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo

May 24, 2019

SEOUL (Reuters) – A South Korean court approved arrest warrants on Saturday for two executives at Samsung Electronics Co Ltd over their alleged roles in a suspected accounting fraud at the biotech arm of Samsung Group.

The Seoul Central District Court said in a statement it had granted warrants to arrest the executives due to concerns over possible destruction of evidence.

However, the court rejected the prosecution’s request for a warrant to arrest the chief executive of Samsung BioLogics Co Ltd.

Two Samsung Electronics officials were also arrested on suspicion of destroying evidence earlier this month.

South Korea’s financial watchdog in November accused the biotech arm of Samsung Group of breaking accounting rules ahead of its 2016 listing, sparking a criminal investigation.

Both Samsung Electronics and Samsung BioLogics were not immediately available for comment.

The widening probe comes at an awkward time for Samsung Group, South Korea’s top family-run conglomerate, as de facto head and heir Jay Y.Lee awaits a Supreme Court ruling on bribery charges and political pressure builds for greater transparency in its governance.

Samsung BioLogics had been touted as a new growth engine for Samsung Group amid a slowdown in the global smartphone market. Samsung Electronics is the second-biggest shareholder of BioLogics with a 31.5 percent stake.

Samsung Electronics had no comment on the case earlier, except that it was cooperating with prosecutors.

(Reporting by Heekyong Yang; Editing by Stephen Coates and Elane Hardcastle)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: The Boeing logo is pictured at the LABACE fair in Sao Paulo
FILE PHOTO: The Boeing logo is pictured at the Latin American Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition fair (LABACE) at Congonhas Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Aug. 14, 2018. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker/File Photo

May 24, 2019

(Reuters) – Shares of Boeing Co rose as much as 3% to more than a two-week high on Friday after Reuters reported that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) expects to approve 737 MAX jets to return to service as soon as late June.

Shares of the world’s biggest planemaker have fallen nearly 15% since the fatal crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX jet in March, erasing about $40 billion in market value.

The stock has also been among the worst performers on the S&P 500 index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The benchmark index is up about 3% during the same period, while the Dow has risen by a marginal 0.2%.

If the aircraft is cleared to fly by June, its operators, including Southwest Airlines Co, American Airlines Group Inc and United Continental Holdings Inc, would likely not have to extend costly cancellations that they have already put in place for the peak summer flying season.

(Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A Goldman Sachs sign is displayed inside the company's post on the floor of the NYSE in New York
FILE PHOTO: A Goldman Sachs sign is displayed inside the company’s post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., April 18, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

May 24, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – Goldman Sachs raised its probability of a no-deal Brexit to 15% from 10% on Friday as Prime Minister Theresa May’s resignation potentially opened the way for a more hardline politician to lead the UK to exiting the European Union.

Goldman Sachs economist Adrian Paul said ratification of a Brexit deal would no longer be possible in the second quarter. “We pencil in an orderly EU withdrawal in late 2019 or early 2020, but our conviction is low,” he wrote.

The new Prime Minister will face the same constraints May grappled with in negotiating a deal, Paul added, saying they will eventually return to parliament with a close variant of the current withdrawal agreement.

“We revise up our probability of “no deal”… not because this Parliament (or indeed the next) is likely to coalesce in favor of its pursuit, but because the recent performance of the Brexit Party and the Eurosceptic credentials of the next Prime Minister may strengthen the case for including “no deal” on the ballot in a second referendum to unlock the impasse.”

(Reporting by Helen Reid; Editing by Marc Jones)

Source: OANN

Traders work on the floor at the NYSE in New York
Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., May 23, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

May 24, 2019

By Shreyashi Sanyal

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures edged higher on Friday, attempting to bounce back from the previous session’s steep sell-off, on cautious optimism after President Donald Trump predicted a swift end to the ongoing tariff war with China.

Trump said on Thursday that complaints against Huawei Technologies Co Ltd might be resolved within the framework of a U.S.-China trade deal.

However, no high-level talks have been scheduled between the two countries since the last round of negotiations in Washington two weeks ago. Trump will meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the G20 meeting next month in Japan.

Earlier this week, while Washington temporarily relaxed its ban on Huawei, there were reports that it was planning a similar ban on another Chinese firm, making investors worry that such moves would have lasting effects on the global technology supply chain.

In the previous session, the S&P 500 technology and industrials sectors closed 1.5% lower.

Technology giants Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp rose about 1% in premarket trading, while industrial bellwethers Boeing Co and 3M Co gained over 1%.

Reuters reported the Federal Aviation Administration expects to approve Boeing’s 737 MAX jet to return to service as soon as late June.

At 7:20 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 171 points, or 0.67%. S&P 500 e-minis were up 18.25 points, or 0.65% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 43.25 points, or 0.59%.

The daily exchanges between the United States and China have kept investors on edge, putting the S&P 500 index on track to post its biggest monthly decline since the December sell-off.

Following a sell-off on Thursday, the S&P 500 is now 4.7% off its all-time high hit on May 1.

Among other stocks, Foot Locker Inc dropped 6.7% after the footwear retailer missed quarterly profit and same-store sales estimates.

Autodesk Inc fell 7.4% after the software maker reported quarterly earnings below expectations.

Total System Services Inc jumped 6.4% after Bloomberg reported Global Payments Inc has held preliminary tie-up talks with the payment solutions provider. Global Payments’ shares rose 1.4%.

On the macro front, a U.S. Commerce Department report is likely to show April durable goods declined 2%, after a 2.6% rise in March. The data is due at 8:30 a.m. ET.

(Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

Source: OANN

Mark Schneider, CEO of Nestle gestures during an interview at the Swiss Economic Forum conference in Interlaken
Mark Schneider, CEO of Nestle gestures during an interview at the Swiss Economic Forum (SEF) conference in Interlaken, Switzerland May 24, 2019. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

May 24, 2019

By John Revill

INTERLAKEN, Switzerland (Reuters) – Nestle remains committed to confectionery despite unloading its U.S. chocolate operations during a review of the food giant’s operations, Chief Executive Mark Schneider told an event in Switzerland on Friday.

“Our wide portfolio makes us strong…not everything is going to change,” Schneider said. “You have to find focus and areas where you concentrate your efforts,” he said, identifying water, baby food and animal food as Nestle’s growth drivers.

“Sweets are not among those. But we also want to exploit the opportunities of that market.”

Schneider said 2019 had got off to a good start, but efficiency remained important, saying unprofitable sales growth did not make sense. Nestle had to adjust because customer preferences had changed dramatically in recent years, he added, with ever-increasing price pressure from consumers.

“There is very strong price competition. That is reality,” Schneider said.

Nestle has come under pressure from activist investor Daniel Loeb’s Third Point, which last year demanded a faster turnaround.

“We have a wide range of shareholders…everyone has the same rights, all of their priorities have to be listened to,” Schneider said.

When asked if he was annoyed by appeals from some shareholders, he replied: “It’s not personal, just business. I can make the distinction.”

(Reporting by John Revill; Editing by Michael Shields)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A robotic arm collects a pre-packaged dish from cold storage, done according to the diner’s order at Haidilao's new artificial intelligence hotpot restaurant in Beijing
FILE PHOTO: A robotic arm collects a pre-packaged dish from cold storage, done according to the diner’s order at Haidilao’s new artificial intelligence hotpot restaurant in Beijing, China, November 14, 2018. Picture taken November 14, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

May 24, 2019

By Leigh Thomas

PARIS (Reuters) – The evolution of artificial intelligence is driving advances in technology but raising questions over ethics, the head of the OECD said on Wednesday, as more than 40 nations backed a set of principles meant to improve transparency around AI.

The principles, endorsed by the United States, call for AI systems to be fair, transparent and accountable and are the first of their kind, said Angel Gurria, head of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The principles call on companies to disclose enough about how their systems work for people to understand their results and be able to challenge them.

Not only should AI be used to benefit people, but the technology should also uphold the rule of law, human rights, democratic values and diversity.

“While AI is driving optimism, it is also fuelling anxieties and ethical concerns,” Gurria said at a ministerial meeting of the group’s members.

“There are questions around the trustworthiness, the robustness of AI systems, including the dangers of codifying or reinforcing existing biases related to gender or race, or infringing on human rights and privacy,” he added.

The principles are backed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation’s 36 members as well as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru and Romania, the OECD said. They are to be put to the Group of 20 nations at a summit in Japan later this year.

The guidelines are not legally binding, but are intended to influence legislation as governments increasingly face pressure to law down rules for what AI technology can and cannot do.

Although President Donald Trump’s administration has tended to shun international agreements, Washington gave its backing to the principles.

Last week the White House snubbed a push by a gathering of world leaders in Paris for stronger measures against hate speech on social media.

The OECD has set policy guidelines in the past that over time became the international standard for such issues as privacy law or consumer protection norms.

(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Richard Lough and Frances Kerry)

Source: OANN

An aerial photo shows Boeing 737 MAX airplanes parked on the tarmac at the Boeing Factory in Renton
FILE PHOTO: An aerial photo shows Boeing 737 MAX airplanes parked on the tarmac at the Boeing Factory in Renton, Washington, U.S. March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

May 24, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – The China Air Transport Association (CATA) on Friday said it expects losses at Chinese airlines caused by the grounding of Boeing Co’s 737 MAX aircraft to be around 4 billion yuan ($579.32 million) by the end of June.

CATA in a statement on its website said it hopes Boeing will attach great importance to compensation requests made by Chinese airlines.

(Reporting by Stella Qiu and Beijing Monitoring Desk; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

Source: OANN

A Huawei company logo is seen at the security exhibition in Shanghai
A Huawei company logo is seen at the security exhibition in Shanghai, China May 24, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song

May 24, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – China on Friday denounced U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for fabricating rumors after he said the chief executive of China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd was lying about his company’s ties to the Beijing government.

The United States placed Huawei on a trade blacklist last week, effectively banning U.S. firms from doing business with the world’s largest telecom network gear maker and escalating a trade battle between the world’s two biggest economies.

Huawei has repeatedly denied it is controlled by the Chinese government, military or intelligence services.

Pompeo, speaking on Thursday, also dismissed Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei’s assertions that his company would never share user secrets, and said he believed more American companies would cut ties with the tech giant.

“Recently, some U.S. politicians have continually fabricated rumors about Huawei but have never produced the clear evidence that countries have requested,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said, when asked about Pompeo’s remarks.

The United States has been rallying its allies to persuade them not to use Huawei for their 5G networks, citing security concerns.

Lu said the U.S. government was provoking suspicion in the U.S. public to confuse and instigate opposition.

U.S. President Donald Trump also said on Thursday that U.S. complaints against Huawei might be resolved within the framework of a U.S.-China trade deal, while at the same time calling the Chinese telecommunications giant “very dangerous”.

Lu said he didn’t know what Trump was talking about.

“Frankly, I’m actually not sure what the specific meaning of the U.S. leader, the U.S. side, saying this is,” he said, adding that if reporters were interested they should ask the United States to clarify.

Lu reiterated that the United States should stop using its national power to suppress and smear other countries’ companies, adding that China wanted to resolve differences between the two countries through friendly dialogue and consultation.

(Reporting by Michael Martina; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Nick Macfie)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Google's communications manager Moroney plays table soccer with a Google employee at a recreational area of their Singapore office
FILE PHOTO: Google’s communications manager Robin Moroney plays table soccer with a Google employee at a recreational area of their Singapore office, Singapore July 8, 2013. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

May 24, 2019

By Aradhana Aravindan, John Geddie and Anshuman Daga

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – San Francisco-based investor Paul Bragiel said he needed to be asked three or four times before he accepted an invitation from Singapore to come check out its tech scene.

He made the 8,000-mile trip, but said that back then – in 2010 – the city-state’s prospects to become a leading Asia tech hub were “bleak, to say the least.”

But he saw some promise, and like many other investors and tech companies since then, was attracted by generous terms from government agencies.

“They gave us a very aggressive deal. Very few countries would have matched it,” added Bragiel, who had considered Hong Kong and Tokyo for an Asian expansion before co-founding venture capital firm Golden Gate Ventures in Singapore in 2011. He declined to say what the terms of his deal were.

Armed with lucrative grants and incentives, Singapore has been ramping up its efforts to lure tech firms and investors, including global players like Facebook, Alphabet’s Google and Dyson, companies and government officials say.

But now the focus is shifting toward attracting talent, and even the government says its work is not done.

Chng Kai Fong, managing director of Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB), the government agency tasked with negotiating some of those deals, said he is now gunning for “Jedi Masters” he hopes can finally elevate Singapore into a global tech hub.

The secretive nature of the deals means it is unclear how much the country spends to attract such companies and whether it pays off.

Manufacturing, finance and insurance made up more than a third of Singapore’s $356 billion economy in 2018. The information-communications sector, into which tech firms would largely fall, was about 4%.

But it is growing faster than any other sector, data on Tuesday showed. Info-comm expanded at an annualized 6.6% in the first quarter of this year, while the next fastest of the nine sectors Singapore tracks was finance and insurance at 3.2%.

Challenges remain: some tech companies have expressed concern about a recently passed fake news law in Singapore, which critics say could hinder free speech. Google said it was worried the law would stifle innovation and the growth of the digital information ecosystem.

And Singapore only has one local “unicorn” – a startup worth over $1 billion – in ride-hailing firm Grab, according to research firm CBInsights.

Neighboring Indonesia has four: taxi app Go-Jek, travel site Traveloka, and market places Bukalapak and Tokopedia. Hong Kong has two, in online travel agency Klook and logistics firm Lalamove.

‘JEDI MASTERS’

Details on the deals negotiated with the EDB are hard to come by because the government makes firms sign nondisclosure agreements, companies, advisors and officials said.

Lengthy tax holidays, hefty grants for research and development, co-funding for investments and land and rental deals are among the incentives from different agencies, they added.

Such deals have attracted some of the world’s biggest tech companies. Google, for instance, now has more than 1,000 employees in the city-state. It started its Singapore operations in 2007 with 24 people.

Facebook last year opened an office in Singapore that can accommodate 3,000 people, up from 10 employees in 2010, and unveiled a $1 billion investment in its first Asian data center.

With Britain’s departure from the European Union looming, Dyson has moved its headquarters to Singapore and announced plans to build an electric car.

“Singapore is very successful; it has a great reputation for its ease of doing business and its links to the wider region,” said Britain’s trade commissioner for Asia Pacific, Natalie Black. “Many UK tech companies are already here and many more are exploring the opportunity.”

The EDB has six offices in the United States, six in Europe, and locations in China, India, Japan, South Korea and Indonesia. It says 80 of the world’s top 100 tech firms have operations in Singapore.

Although multinational companies are attracted by low corporate tax rates, political stability, a robust legal system and strong infrastructure, software developers and data scientists often prefer the buzz of Silicon Valley or London.

“We have to be quite clear when we are chasing the Googles and Facebooks,” Chng said. “We want engineering. We want to be a place where you’re creating new products and services for Asia.”

Chng said he hopes attracting top talent will help nurture domestic startups, which has so far been difficult.

“I need that generation of Jedi Masters to sort of come to train future young budding Jedis,” said Chng, a former director of communications at the Prime Minister’s Office.

He said Singapore is also missing billion-dollar exits, which typically come when a tech start-up is acquired or publicly lists on a stock exchange. That would create a virtuous circle of private investment, allowing the government to step back.

An EDB event in San Francisco last month to promote Singapore as a tech hub drew so much interest that 400 people were turned away.

“There is a war for senior tech talent,” said Daljit Sall, Singapore-based director at recruitment firm Randstad. “We are seeing big demand for data scientists, full stack developers, cyber security experts and solution architects.”

KEY LOCATION

In 2012, the co-founders of online marketplace Carousell won a Singapore startup competition. The prize was three months of free office space in a former factory.

“We landed there on day one and realized everyone there also got their office space for free,” said Quek Siu Rui, Carousell’s chief executive. “The government ran an experiment shoving startups, former entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, incubators all in one spot.”  

Now valued at over $550 million, Carousell counts Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten’s fund among its investors and has expanded abroad.

Lawyers said Singapore’s regulations are attractive for tech firms.

“The approach in Singapore is very much to encourage data-intensive businesses to locate there because they have the benefit of, among other things, a more relaxed standard of compliance in terms of data,” said Mark Parsons, a Hong Kong-based Asia tech, media and telecoms partner with law firm Hogan Lovells.

At a time of simmering tension between the United States and China, Singapore is also seen as neutral ground while still enjoying free trade with both. Last year, it added a free trade deal with the European Union.

Geographically, Singapore sits at the center of the fast-growing and internet-obsessed Southeast Asian region.

Internet users in Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and Malaysia spend four hours or more every day on mobile internet, according to a 2018 study by social media platform Hootsuite.

Political ructions also threaten to pull rival Hong Kong further into China’s sphere of influence, which one banker in discussions with tech firms said gives Singapore an advantage.

For Bragiel, any reservations he had about Singapore nearly a decade ago are long forgotten.

“Silicon Valley attracts the whole world; Singapore is catching up,” he said.

(Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan, John Geddie and Anshuman Daga; Additional reporting by Joe Brock; Editing by Gerry Doyle)

Source: OANN


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