Category Archives: Companies

(CNBC) Shares of luxury online marketplace Farfetch surges 53 percent in IPO’s first day of trading

(CNBC)

  • Shares of London-based luxury online marketplace Farfetch jumped more than 50 percent in their market debut Friday.
  • Farfetch Thursday night raised $885, stamping a valuation of $6.2 billion on the online giant, taking into account employee dilution.
  • The global market for personal luxury goods was estimated to be worth $307 billion in 2017.
Farfetch CEO on IPO and luxury online marketplace

Farfetch CEO on IPO and luxury online marketplace  

Farfetch sold 44.2 million shares Thursday night, raising $885 million and stamping a valuation of roughly $6.2 billion on the online giant after factoring in shares already held by employees. It priced its initial public offering a buck above its range of $17 to $19 a share, after having already upsized its IPO due to robust demand.

Farfetch opened at $27 and posted an intraday high of $30.60.

With a $6.2 billion market price and $385 million in 2017 revenue, Farfetch is trading at a richer valuation than AmazonJD.com as well as other traditional retailers.

“Marketplace” companies often trade at a higher premium than traditional retailers, because they don’t carry the risk being stuck with unwanted product, investment bankers say. Farfetch, however, continues to face steep competition from luxury retailers like Matchesfashion.com and Net-a-Porter. While its marketplace business model alleviates its inventory risk, it does not stop customers from shopping on multiple websites, the bankers say.

Farfetch began as platform to help local high-end boutiques reach broader audiences and later evolved as a tool through which brands like Gucci could sell directly. It connects shoppers to over 700 brands and boutiques internationally and express ships to more than 190 countries, according to the company’s registration documents.

It was founded in 2008 by José Neves, a Portugese entrepreneur with experience in both luxury and technology, according to the company. Neves spent years courting the world’s most elite brands, in an industry ruled by a narrow set of power players, like Chanel, Richement and Hermes. Of the retailers Farfetch works with, 98 percent of have an exclusive relationship with it.

Those tight relations with luxury players stands in contrast to those they have with Amazon. Luxury labels have resisted selling on Amazon, suspicious of its ability to maintain the integrity of their brand.

The global market for personal luxury goods was estimated to be worth $307 billion in 2017, according to the Farfetch’s registration documents, citing data compiled by Bain. It is expected to reach $446 billion by 2025, according to the data.

Farfetch makes its money primarily through commissions on sales on its website, generating revenue of $385 million in fiscal 2017, a 59 percent jump over the previous year.

It continues, though, to lose money, as it goes after new customers and builds out its infrastructure. Farfetch recorded an after-tax loss of $112 million in 2017, down from a loss of $81 million the previous year.

Despite plans to continue to invest, Farfetch’s customers to have proven to be loyal, a rarity in e-commerce.

“Typically over time, customers peter out. Here, it’s almost like in this business, after they get customers they become something of an annuity. It’s more like what you would see in a software or service firm than a luxury apparel company,” said Daniel McCarthy at Theta Equity, a quantitative financial analysis firm.

Still, for Farfetch to ultimately achieve profitability, said McCarthy, it will need to sufficiently grow its sales to balance its fixed costs like administration expenses. Farfetch is also taking a number of risks, including its investments in new technology to support its “store of the future.” Meantime, the luxury market, albeit growing, has limited runway and remains vulnerable to economic dips.

Farfetch has grown through a number of partnerships, including JD.com in Asia and the Chalhoub Group in the Middle East, that have helped it broaden its distribution, offerings and capabilities. It has offices in 11 cities, including London, Tokyo and Los Angeles.

It also continues to invest in brick-and-mortar retail, buying London fashion boutique Browns in 2015. It is using Browns as one of its testing grounds for new technology in what it calls the “store of the future.” Offerings include touch-screen-enhanced mirrors and connected clothing racks.

Farfetch also launched Black and White, an infrastructure platform that luxury brands can use to develop their own e-commerce business.

(JN) Farfetch cumpriu o sonho de içar a bandeira portuguesa na bolsa de Nova Iorque

(JN) A Farfetch tornou-se esta sexta-feira a primeira empresa tecnológica portuguesa no mercado de valores mundial e içou, literalmente, a bandeira de Portugal no edifício da maior bolsa de valores do mundo, em Nova Iorque.

“Colocar a bandeira portuguesa no New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) era um dos pequenos sonhos que tínhamos e que foi realizado hoje”, disse José Neves, fundador da empresa, numa entrevista à Lusa.

O empreendedor português fez questão que a bandeira portuguesa estivesse içada neste dia em que a Farfetch se estreou no mercado de valores mundial a 27 dólares por acção e pouco depois já passava dos 30 dólares.

“Hoje foi um dia fantástico de celebração. Este dia é para equipa”, afirmou José Neves. “Eu sei que todos os nossos escritórios internacionais, incluindo os escritórios de Portugal, celebraram com muita alegria. O trabalho é deles, os resultados são deles”, adiantou, agradecendo à “equipa fantástica de três mil pessoas”, das quais metade tem nacionalidade portuguesa.

Sem adiantar números nem mercados a conquistar nas próximas etapas, José Neves afirmou que, depois desta oferta inicial pública, “começa o segundo capítulo”. “Não damos números concretos, mas vamos continuar a empregar mais pessoas e a gerar mais emprego”, garantiu.

O empresário referiu que desde a fundação da empresa, em 2007, estes 11 anos serviram para criar relacionamentos “fantásticos” com as marcas e “estabelecer a presença internacional” da Farfetch, que se encontra agora nos principais mercados de luxo.

A Farfetch é uma plataforma global no sector da moda de uma indústria que factura mais de 300 mil milhões de dólares anuais, a indústria de luxo.

Segundo o gestor, actualmente apenas 9% das vendas de luxo acontecem na Internet, mas o número vai mudar para 25% nos próximos dez anos, que representam 100 mil milhões de dólares (85 mil milhões de euros), um crescimento “exponencial”. “Penso que a oportunidade para o sector de luxo ‘online’ é enorme”, considerou o empresário.

A Farfetch orgulha-se de ser o único ‘marketplace’ do mercado de luxo e não ter concorrentes nesse modelo de negócio, mas admite ter de disputar a atenção do cliente, que pode comprar em diversos ‘sites’, mas que não oferecem o mesmo serviço.

Além de ser a única que não vende nada seu, o crescimento da Farfetch na primeira metade do ano de 2018 foi de 60%, o que deu a esta empresa luso-britânica mais quota de mercado.

O que se segue são “mais dez anos de crescimento, de inovação e continuar a construir uma empresa que é gerida com base num sentido de cultura e de valores muito fortes”, sustentou José Neves.

Um dos valores que a Farfetch agora assume é ser uma inspiração para outras empresas. “Espero que este lançamento em bolsa seja uma inspiração para outros empreendedores em Portugal. As ‘startup’ portuguesas estão a ter muito sucesso”, declarou José Neves, numa alusão ao programa de aceleração de ‘startup’ da Farfetch, o Dream Assembly, que dá aos empreendedores participantes conhecimentos e contactos na indústria de luxo.

(Reuters) Google staff discussed tweaking search results to counter travel ban: WSJ

(Reuters) Google employees brainstormed ways to alter search functions to counter the Trump administration’s controversial 2017 travel ban, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing internal emails.

Google employees discussed how they could tweak the company’s search-related functions to show users how to contribute to pro-immigration organizations and contact lawmakers and government agencies, the WSJ said. The ideas were not implemented. on.wsj.com/2DePzWh

President Donald Trump’s travel ban temporarily barred visitors and immigrants from seven majority Muslim countries. It spurred public outcry and was revised several times. Trump said the travel ban was needed to protect the United States against attacks by Islamist militants, and the Supreme Court upheld the measure in June.

The Google employees proposed ways to “leverage” search functions and take steps to counter what they considered to be “islamophobic, algorithmically biased results from search terms ‘Islam’, ‘Muslim’, ‘Iran’, etc.” and “prejudiced, algorithmically biased search results from search terms ‘Mexico’, ‘Hispanic’, ‘Latino’, etc,” the Journal added, quoting from the emails.

A Google spokesperson said the emails represented brainstorming and none of the ideas were implemented. She said the company does not manipulate search results or modify products to promote political views.

“Our processes and policies would not have allowed for any manipulation of search results to promote political ideologies,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

(NYT) The Netherlands, a Tax Avoidance Center, Tries to Mend Its Ways

(NYT)

The headquarters of Warner Bros. in Amsterdam. The Netherlands has become a magnet for international corporations — especially American ones.CreditCreditMarcel Wogram for The New York Times

THE HAGUE — The Netherlands wants you to know that it is not a tax haven. But Menno Snel, the country’s No. 2 finance official, grudgingly acknowledges that the Dutch have become experts at something else: aggressive tax planning.

That’s backed up by the amount of money pouring across its borders. For tax avoidance purposes, the Netherlands offers the respectability and safety of a European country, while allowing big multinationals, such as Google and Ikea, to move global profits through Dutch subsidiaries, drastically lowering their tax payments.

The atrium of the Dutch Finance Ministry, where Mr. Snel works, is even adorned with full-grown potted palms that give it a whiff of a tropical tax haven. The suggestion of any parallel is probably unintentional.

In any case, the Dutch position as a tax avoidance center could be about to change. In a major reversal, the Finance Ministry this week submitted proposals to Parliament that would shut down the benefits that made the Netherlands a magnet for international corporations — especially American ones, like Netflix, Nike and Uber. Debate on the measures is expected to continue through December.

Under the proposals, the Netherlands plans to impose levies on profits being transferred to tax havens and to block companies from exploiting inconsistent national laws to take the same deduction twice. Whether those proposals will get past the array of accountants, lawyers and consultants who help foreign companies reduce their tax payments, and who have voiced opposition to the changes, is not yet clear.

Mr. Snel, whose formal title is state secretary of finance, said in an interview, “We must be fair in recognizing that some companies are misusing the open tax system that the Netherlands has.”

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Menno Snel, the Dutch state secretary for finance. “We must be fair in recognizing that some companies are misusing the open tax system that the Netherlands has,” Mr. Snel said in an interview.CreditMarcel Wogram for The New York Times

Amid a popular backlash against what many see as multinationals gaming the system, tax change has been a hot political issue in the Netherlands this year. In addition, legislators must close loopholes to avoid breaching new European Union rules that take effect in 2019.

Tax cuts in the United States also affect the appeal of the Dutch system. At the same time, new rules passed in Washington make it harder for companies to stash profits overseas.

As a relatively affluent member of the eurozone, the Netherlands offers a reliable court system and lack of official corruption not always present in island tax havens. It also boasts a comprehensive network of tax treaties with almost every nation, and little or no tax on money passing through the country. It is easy to move money in, and easy to move it out.

Those business-friendly practices help explain why the Netherlands, with a population of 17 million, attracts more foreign investment than some much larger countries, like France and Germany. In 2017, the Netherlands ranked fourth worldwide in the amount of foreign direct investment into the country.

Those huge inflows “suggest that the country’s tax rules are used by companies that engage in A.T.P.,” the European Commission said this year, referring to aggressive tax planning.

The Netherlands has been especially popular with American corporations. Google and IBM have big presences in the country, as do service providers such as the law firm Baker McKenzie and the accounting company Deloitte. Fiat Chrysler is technically a Dutch company. Nike has its European headquarters in Hilversum, just south of Amsterdam.

A building in Amsterdam that houses Google and the accounting firm EY. The Netherlands, with a population of 17 million, attracts more foreign investment than France and Germany.CreditMarcel Wogram for The New York Times

Nike has used the Netherlands to significantly reduce the taxes it pays on sales outside the United States, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. (The New York Times is a member of the consortium.)

The sports apparel maker used a common, legal method of shifting profits to a tax haven, according to the consortium’s research. First, it allocated ownership of its “swoosh” trademark and other intellectual property to a subsidiary in Bermuda, which has no corporate income tax. Then, its subsidiary in Hilversum paid royalties for the use of the trademarks to the Bermuda unit. The royalties counted as business expenses and in that way avoided taxation in the Netherlands.

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“Nike fully complies with tax regulations, and we rigorously ensure our tax filings are fully aligned with how we run our business,” the company said in a statement to The Times.

At least until recently, the Dutch Finance Ministry was a willing enabler for such arrangements. Corporate accountants and lawyers could call at the ministry for preapproval of their strategies. The Netherlands long justified its laws by arguing that they encouraged multinational companies to establish their headquarters in the country, creating jobs and investment.

More recently, however, legal thinking and public opinion have turned.

Officials in Brussels have accused the Netherlands of violating the European Union’s rules by helping Ikea to shear its tax bill. And polls show that Dutch voters have become increasingly angry at what they see as special privileges for wealthy corporations paying little or nothing — middle-class residents of the Netherlands, by contrast, can easily pay more than half their income in taxes.

In national elections last year, almost all the major political parties promised change. And the public anger has provided political impetus for the government.

Nike has its European headquarters in Hilversum, just south of Amsterdam. The company has used the Netherlands to significantly reduce the taxes it pays on sales outside the United States.CreditMarcel Wogram for The New York Times

Mr. Snel, a member of the Democrats 66 party, a socially liberal partner in the governing coalition, is credited by many activists for pursuing the task with more zeal than his predecessors.

“Menno Snel is being more proactive and more constructive in addressing tax avoidance,” said Francis Weyzig, a tax policy expert in The Hague for the charity Oxfam, which argues that island havens steal revenue from developing countries. “Definitely, there has been a change.”

For example, Mr. Snel has proposed measures to prevent companies from exploiting inconsistencies in national rules that allow profits to fall through the cracks, avoiding taxation.

Other provisions he has proposed oblige lawyers and accountants to disclose information about questionable arrangements. The Netherlands will also limit the size of deductions that companies take for interest payments, a measure aimed at another popular method for shifting profits to tax havens. In that arrangement, firms take out loans in low-tax countries but allocate the interest to the Netherlands, where it is deductible as an operating expense.

But tax is a big business for the Netherlands, leaving open the possibility that vigorous objections from multinationals could weaken efforts to retool the system.

Companies are unlikely to stop looking for ways to minimize their bills, and for countries to help them do it. And not everyone believes that the Netherlands is ready to forsake a legal structure that has helped make the country a hub for international corporations. The Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency still advertises on its website that the country offers “a supportive corporate tax structure.”

Deloitte offices in Amsterdam. The Netherlands long justified its tax laws by arguing that they attracted multinational companies, creating jobs and investment.CreditMarcel Wogram for The New York Times

“The Netherlands is not serious about ending its tax haven status,” said Sven Giegold, a German member of the European Parliament who is the Green Party’s spokesman on tax policy. He noted that the Netherlands had resisted attempts to prevent European countries from competing to have the lowest corporate rate.

Amsterdam, The Hague and other cities in the Netherlands are also home to tens of thousands of lawyers, accountants, notaries and other experts who specialize in the construction of intricate tax avoidance plans with colorful names like “the Dutch sandwich.” That industry, along with lobbyists for big corporations, has not given up trying to dilute the proposals.

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“Companies that want to come to the Netherlands and set up a genuine business — the question is whether you would scare them off by being too strict,” said Bartjan Zoetmulder, a tax partner at Loyens & Loeff, a big Dutch law firm.

So far, there are no signs of mass unemployment among the thousands of Dutch lawyers, accountants and notaries who specialize in working with foreign corporations. Many young people still regard tax advising as a lucrative career with a future, a sign they do not expect the changes to undercut the appeal of the Netherlands.

Enrollment in courses for budding tax consultants “has never been so high,” said Jan van de Streek, a professor at the University of Amsterdam who teaches tax policy, with a hint of chagrin.

Critics have dismissed some of the efforts as feeble. New rules would require businesses registered in the Netherlands to have real operations, but companies would qualify if they have an office and an annual payroll of 100,000 euros, or about $115,000 — a low bar.

And lately there has been public outrage over an exemption for shareholder dividends that is seen as benefiting Shell and Unilever, two of the Netherlands’ biggest corporations, at the expense of ordinary citizens.

Mr. Snel said that Dutch officials would continue to consult with businesses, but would apply stricter standards that were either in place or would go into force in coming years. And the secrecy is over. The Netherlands has already begun sharing information with other countries.

“We don’t want to be seen as tax evaders,” Mr. Snel said. “We pay our taxes.”

(NYT) Justice Department Is Examining Tesla After Musk Comment

(NYT

Elon Musk on Monday. Mr. Musk’s abrupt declaration on Twitter that he hoped to convert Tesla into a private company kicked off a furor in the markets and within Tesla itself.CreditCreditChris Carlson/Associated Press

Tesla said on Tuesday that the Justice Department had requested documents from the company after its chief executive, Elon Musk, abruptly announced that he had lined up funding to convert the publicly traded electric-car maker into a private company.

The request for information suggests that the Justice Department has opened a preliminary investigation into Mr. Musk’s market-moving Twitter post on Aug. 7 about the potential buyout.

The Justice Department inquiry, along with an intensifying Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into Tesla’s practices and communications, substantially increases the risks facing the embattled company. Tesla already is under intense financial pressure, with its shares down 25 percent since early August, and the government investigations introduce the possibility of costly penalties or other sanctions.

Tesla said in its statement on Tuesday that it received the Justice Department’s request last month and “has been cooperative in responding to it.” The company released the statement after Bloomberg News reported that federal prosecutors had begun an investigation.

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The Justice Department inquiry is being handled by the United States attorney’s office in San Francisco, according to a person familiar with the matter. It is unclear whether the inquiry is criminal or civil or whether it is at such an early stage that the question has not been settled.

While the specific scope of the Justice Department inquiry isn’t known, prosecutors in investigations like this one might look at a company’s accounting practices, the adequacy and accuracy of its public disclosures and whether executives had sought to mislead investors.

Tesla said the Justice Department’s request was not a subpoena but rather a “voluntary request for documents.” The company added: “We respect the D.O.J.’s desire to get information about this and believe that the matter should be quickly resolved as they review the information they have received.”

Investigators in the S.E.C.’s San Francisco office are examining whether Tesla misled investors about its production goals. They also are looking into Mr. Musk’s tweet, in which he said he had “funding secured” to take the company private for $420 a share.

Elon Musk

@elonmusk

Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.

The tweet blindsided Tesla’s board and ignited a rally in Tesla’s shares. It soon became clear that Mr. Musk had not nailed down the billions of dollars in outside funding that would be required for such a deal. Nor had he retained any banks to assist in the fund-raising process.

Mr. Musk said later in August that he was shelving the idea of converting Tesla into a private company.

As part of the investigation, the S.E.C. in the past month has sent subpoenas not only to Tesla but also to financial institutions that it hired to explore the going-private transaction, according to people briefed on the subpoenas. Goldman Sachs and Silver Lake, a large investment firm, both received subpoenas demanding materials about their interactions with Tesla, the people said.

It is not clear whether the Justice Department inquiry is, like the S.E.C.’s, focused on a wide range of issues at Tesla or in particular on the circumstances surrounding Mr. Musk’s Twitter post.

Mr. Musk and the company he helped found have been bouncing from crisis to self-inflicted crisis in recent months.

There have been severe production problems at Tesla’s California plant, and the company is burning through its cash at a rapid clip. Mr. Musk has faced off with many so-called short-sellers, who are wagering that Tesla’s shares will fall. The company’s chief accounting officer resigned after a month on the job. Mr. Musk appeared to smoke marijuana during a recent video interview. He was sued this week by a British cave rescuer whom Mr. Musk accused of being a pedophile.

As the pressure mounts, Mr. Musk has retained his own lawyers to represent him in the government investigations, separate from the law firms hired by the company and its board.

Lawyers from Hughes Hubbard & Reed — including Roel C. Campos, a former S.E.C. commissioner — are representing Mr. Musk in connection with the S.E.C. investigation, according to three people familiar with the arrangement. Mr. Musk has also hired Steven Farina, a partner at Williams & Connolly who specializes in government investigations and accounting malpractice, to represent him, two of the people said.

A request for documents from a United States attorney’s office would often be a sign of a criminal investigation. But federal prosecutors sometimes proceed with civil, not criminal, cases. They generally do so when the conduct they are investigating does not clearly violate a criminal statute or when prosecutors’ main goal is to stop someone from a specific type of behavior. Civil lawsuits also carry a lower burden of proof than criminal cases.

The news of the Justice Department inquiry sent Tesla’s shares down more than 3 percent on Tuesday.

(Politico) EU probes BMW, Daimler and VW over possible cartel activities

(Politico) Collusion may have denied consumers opportunity to buy less polluting cars, anti-trust chief Margrethe Vestager says.

German carmakers BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen are under investigation for colluding to limit the development of technology that would clean petrol and diesel emissions from their cars, the European Commission announced today.

The case is a big move from European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager, who has long been criticized for prioritizing cases against big U.S. companies such as Google, rather than tackling the hallowed German car industry.

The Commission said it is assessing whether the companies specifically discussed emissions control systems called selective catalytic reduction, which reduces nitrogen oxides and “Otto” particulate filters, which reduce particle emissions.

If the charges are proven, “this collusion may have denied consumers the opportunity to buy less polluting cars, despite
the technology being available to the manufacturers,” Vestager said in a statement.

The Commission said that the companies may have discussed other issues, but it is limiting the scope of the investigation to emissions devices. “At this stage the Commission has no indications that the parties coordinated with each other in relation to the use of illegal defeat devices to regulatory testing,” the Commission said, referring to Volkswagen’s cheating in the Dieselgate scandal.

(ECO) Gulbenkian já está outra vez a negociar a venda da Partex

(ECOEm abril a Fundação Gulbenkian pôs um ponto final nas negociações com os chineses da CEFC para vender a Partex. Cinco meses depois, admite que já está novamente a negociar, mas não diz com quem.

A Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian já voltou a negociar a venda da Partex, depois de ter decidido por termo ao processo que vinha a desenvolver com os chineses da CEFC, em abril.

“As negociações continuam, mas para já não há nada para dizer”, confirmou ao ECO fonte oficial da Fundação que, nos últimos quatro meses, questionada sobre se havia desenvolvimentos na tentativa de encontrar novos interessados na Partex, ou em eventuais negociações, sublinhou sempre que não havia nada de novo. Apesar das insistências, a mesma fonte oficial não deu detalhes sobre com quem a Fundação está agora sentada à mesa das negociações.

As negociações continuam, mas para já não há nada para dizer.

Fonte oficial da Fundação Gulbenkian

O ECO também contactou o presidente da Partex, mas António Costa e Silva remeteu quaisquer esclarecimentos para a Fundação, a entidade que está a levar a cabo as negociações.

A opção de venda da Partex é “estratégica” dada a “nova matriz energética” da Fundação e uma questão de “coerência” com as convicções da instituição. Numa entrevista ao Expresso (acesso pago), em fevereiro, Isabel Mota explicou que a sustentabilidade que a Fundação defende “implicaria, mais cedo ou mais tarde, sair dos combustíveis fósseis”. “E corresponde a um movimento geral nas grandes fundações internacionais e não só: ter uma preocupação ética em relação ao bem comum e direcionar os investimentos em relação à filantropia”, acrescentou a presidente da Fundação.

A tentativa de venda não é de agora. Foi em junho do ano passado que a Gulbenkian avançou que estava a avaliar a entrada de grupos internacionais, com interesses no Médio Oriente, na petrolífera detida a 100% pela Fundação. Mas foi com os chineses da CEFC que as negociações chegaram mais longe. Contudo, as informações que começaram a ser veiculadas em março de que o presidente da CEFC China Energy, Ye Jianming, teria sido detido — houve mesmo uma delegação oficial da República Checa viajou à China em março para saber do seu paradeiro, levou a Fundação a por termo às negociações. Uma decisão que foi depois seguida pelo Montepio que estava a negociar com os mesmo chineses o negócio dos seguros, depois de o regulador ter chumbado o negócio.

Com a venda da Partex — uma operação que para avançar terá sempre de ter luz verde do Governo — a Fundação esperava encaixar cerca de 500 milhões de euros.

A petrolífera representou, em 2017, cerca de 18% dos ativos da Fundação, e a sua alienação é criticada por muitos. O especialista em geopolítica do petróleo, José Caleia Rodrigues, em declarações à Lusa, na altura, lembrava que “a missão da fundação não é explorar petróleo, o petróleo é uma fonte de rendimento e hoje o setor da produção de petróleo é para gigantes”, e a Partex “pode ser um jogador menor”. “Vender a sua posição [na Partex] pode não ser asneira, mas para Portugal era interessante tê-la. E até porque as coisas podem mudar”, acrescentou.

(Reuters) Netflix ties longtime Emmy darling HBO in total wins

(Reuters) Streaming service Netflix Inc (NFLX.O) and premium cable channel HBO battled to a tie at Monday’s Emmy awards ceremony, with each taking home 23 of the television industry’s top honors, though HBO scored the prestigious best drama prize.

The result underscored the rise of Netflix in Hollywood, which matched HBO’s total just five years after starting a big push into original programing. Before Monday, HBO had won the most Emmys of any single network for 16 straight years.

This year, HBO’s fantasy series “Game of Thrones” won the best drama honor for a third time and was the most-honored show with nine awards in total.

Best comedy went to “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” on Amazon Prime Video. It marked the first time a streaming service had won in the category. The show collected eight trophies overall.

The wins give networks and streaming services bragging rights to use in marketing to try to make their shows stand out in a crowded TV landscape where hundreds of scripted shows, reality series and other programing fight for viewers.

For Amazon (AMZN.O), Hollywood awards also draw people to online shopping, according to Jeff Bezos, chief executive of the online retailer. “When we win a Golden Globe, it helps us sell more shoes,” Bezos said at an industry conference in 2016.

The Emmy battle between HBO and Netflix has raged since 2013 when Netflix launched “House of Cards,” a political thriller that established it as a home for top-quality TV programing. HBO, now owned by AT&T Inc (T.N), had long dominated that space with acclaimed series such as “The Sopranos” and “Sex and the City.”

Netflix’s trophies on Monday included five for historical drama “The Crown,” including best drama actress Claire Foy, four for “Black Mirror,” and three for limited series “Godless.”

“Thank you to Netflix for your support of artists,” Jeff Daniels, a supporting actor winner for “Godless,” said as he accepted his award.

HBO’s “Westworld” landed four awards and “Barry” won three.

John Oliver, winner of best variety talk series for his weekly HBO show “Last Week Tonight,” applauded the network for its backing. “They have been incredible, whether we wanted to do a story about trade policy or about Russell Crowe’s jock strap.”

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Behind HBO and Netflix, Comcast Corp’s (CMCSA.O) NBC finished with 16 Emmys for shows including “Saturday Night Live” and “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert,” followed by 21st Century Fox’s (FOXA.O) FX with 12.

(AP) Co-founder of Salesforce buys Time magazine for $190 million

(AP)

Co-founder of Salesforce buys Time magazine for $190 million

September 16, 2018 09:53 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Time Magazine is being sold by Meredith Corp. to Marc Benioff, a co-founder of Salesforce, and his wife, it was announced Sunday.

Meredith announced that it was selling Time magazine for $190 million in cash to Benioff, one of four co-founders of Salesforce, a cloud computing pioneer.

Meredith had completed the purchase of Time along with other publications of Time Inc. earlier this year.

The Benioffs are purchasing Time personally, and the transaction is unrelated to Salesforce.com, where Benioff is chairman and co-CEO and co-founder. The announcement by Meredith said that the Benioffs would not be involved in the day-to-day operations or journalistic decisions at Time. Those decisions will continue to be made by Time’s current executive leadership team, the announcement said.

“We’re pleased to have found such passionate buyers in Marc and Lynne Benioff for the Time brand,” Meredith president and CEO Tom Harty said in a statement. “For over 90 years, Time has been at the forefront of the most significant events and impactful stories that shape our global conversation.”

Meredith, the publisher of such magazines as People and Better Homes & Gardens, had put four Time Inc. publications up for sale in March. Negotiations for the sale of the three other publications — Fortune, Money and Sports Illustrated — are continuing.

The prospective sale is expected to close within 30 days. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Benioff said he and his wife were investing “in a company with tremendous impact on the world, one that is also an incredibly strong business. That’s what we’re looking for when we invest as a family.”

The purchase of Time by Benioff continues a trend of acquisitions of old-line media institutions by wealthy tech giants. The Washington Post was purchased by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2013 for $250 million.

Time, like other magazines, has struggled with continued declines in print advertising and newsstand sales.

Started by Yale University graduates Henry Luce and Briton Hadden, Time first went on sale in March 1923.

(BBC) Volkswagen investors start €9bn emissions court case

(BBC)

Markus Pfueller, head lawyer for Volkswagen, speaks to the pressImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionVolkswagen’s head lawyer, Markus Pfueller, speaks to the press at the conference centre where the case is being held

Volkswagen has gone on trial in Germany in what is the first court case against the carmaker over the diesel scandal.

Investors are pursuing VW for about €9.2bn (£8.2bn) in damages, claiming the company should have come clean sooner about falsifying emissions data.

VW shares crashed after disclosure in 2015 that its diesel technology emitted illegal levels of pollution.

“VW should have told the market that they cheated,” Andreas Tilp, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, told the court.

“We believe that VW should have told the market no later than June 2008 that they could not make the technology that they needed in the United States,” he told the Braunschweig higher regional court.

Shareholders representing 1,670 claims are seeking compensation for the near 40% slide in Volkswagen’s share price triggered by the scandal, which broke in September 2015 and has cost the firm €27.4bn in penalties and fines so far.

Criminal probe

The legal action has been brought by the Deka investment fund, which is being used a template for a further 1,600 lawsuits.

The case involves about 50 lawyers, and interest in the hearing is so great that it had to be moved from the court house to a nearby conference centre.

In a short statement to the BBC, VW pointed out that the “lawsuit is solely and exclusively about whether Volkswagen complied with its disclosure obligations toward shareholders and the capital markets”.

The company said it was “confident” it had carried out its obligations correctly.

The court case is expected to take at least until next year to be fully decided.

Former executives from VW, Porsche and their sister company Audi are under criminal investigation in Germany.

The company itself has already been fined €1bn by German prosecutors over its diesel emissions scandal. It has also paid a fine of $4.3bn in the US to resolve criminal and civil penalties.

VW has admitted its responsibility for the diesel crisis.

(Reuters) Savannah boosts Portugal lithium estimate, shares rise

(Reuters) Savannah Resources said on Monday its Portuguese lithium resources were more than 40 percent larger than previously estimated and it was talking to potential European customers as the continent seeks to reduce battery mineral imports.

Lithium projects are springing up across the globe in response to an expected electric vehicle boom, but warnings of a bubble led to stock shorting this year, unravelling some of the previous strong rallies.

Savannah’s share price has gained around 30 percent this year and rose as much as 14 percent on Monday, before paring gains.

Monday’s 44 percent upwards revision, taking the size of Savannah’s project in northern Portugal to more than 20 million tonnes, is the third mineral upgrade this year and further revisions are likely as drilling continues, the company said.

Savannah said it was on track to complete a feasibility study early next year and aimed to be producing lithium by 2020.

“There is no significant European production of lithium at the moment. This (Savannah’s project) appears to have the best credentials to be a meaningful producer in Europe,” CEO David Archer said in a telephone interview.

Earlier this month, the London-listed company announced a secondary listing in Frankfurt, and Archer said on Monday he was in contact with potential European as well as Asian customers for Savannah’s lithium. He did not name them.

The Portuguese project, named Mina do Barroso, will produce spodumene concentrate from hard-rock lithium, which can be relatively quick to produce, although those investing in the brine fields of South America say their approach can be cheaper.

Other projects in Europe include Rio Tinto’s lithium one in Serbia, which is not expected to start production until the next decade.

Rio Tinto and Savannah also have a joint venture in Mozambique.

Simon Moores, managing director at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, which collects and analyses data on battery minerals, said the principle of Europe having its own lithium mines was “strategically important”.

His company predicts Europe will have a fifth of global electric vehicle lithium ion battery production in 10 years’ time, compared with China’s 54 percent of North America’s 15 percent, but so far Europe relies on China and the Americas for its lithium supplies.

(BBG) BlackRock’s Decade: How the Crash Forged a $6.3 Trillion Giant

(BBG) Ten years later, its shrewd moves are a master class in capitalizing on others’ risk.

Our memories of the 2008 U.S. financial crisis primarily concern losses: Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, homebuyers, insurers that made reckless bets, and American taxpayers who shouldered billions of dollars in bank bailouts. What about the big wins? One stands out.

BlackRock Inc., the world’s largest money manager, may never have grown as far and as fast as it did without the unprecedented changes brought about by the recession. The business now towers over its competitors; its $6.3 trillion in assets under management exceeds the size of Germany’s economy.

The story of how BlackRock reached its current position is also the story of the financial industry over the past 10 years. The rise of exchange-traded and index funds and low-fee investing; lower risk tolerance on consumers’ part and higher anxiety within institutions; the government’s scramble to understand this crash and prevent future ones—all of these played to BlackRock’s benefit.

BlackRock declined a request to interview Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink or any company executive for this story. Asked to comment on how the crisis shaped 10 years of growth, BlackRock spokesman Brian Beades offered, “We have always worked to anticipate our clients’ changing needs, and we deliberately evolve our business to meet them.”

The tale of that evolution post-crisis begins with Barclays Plc, which was looking to boost its capital reserves after rejecting U.K. government bailout money. The bank put up one of its crown jewels for sale: the iShares ETF unit, part of the fast-growing, San Francisco-based fund management subsidiary Barclays Global Investors Ltd. (BGI).

BlackRock was no stranger to transforming itself through deals, including previous acquisitions of Merrill Lynch Investment Managers and State Street Research & Management Co. When iShares came up for sale, BlackRock was able to seize the opportunity in a big way, sweeping in with a $13.5 billion cash and stock offer—not just for the ETF unit, but for all of BGI. “They were in a position to play offense while everyone else was scrambling,” says Kyle Sanders, an analyst at Edward Jones & Co.

The 2009 deal more than doubled BlackRock’s assets under management and has proved hugely valuable since: Riding a wave of investment in passive products, iShares had $1.8 trillion in assets as of the end of June. That gives BlackRock a commanding lead on its closest competitors, Vanguard Group and State Street Corp., which had about $936 billion and $639 billion in ETF assets, respectively. IShares accounted for 28 percent of BlackRock’s assets under management at the end of 2017, according to the company’s yearend report. Plenty of growth potential remains: ETFs are still nascent outside the U.S. The company predicts the global market for the funds will more than double by the end of 2023, to $12 trillion, driven by continued downward pressure on financial advisory fees and investors’ rising willingness to use bond ETFs for easy exposure to fixed-income markets.

At the same time, as the U.S. financial system was struggling to get back on its feet, BlackRock found new opportunities to sell its financial risk software, known as Aladdin. Called an “X-ray machine” for financial portfolios by BlackRock Chief Operating Officer Rob Goldstein, Aladdin can predict what a variety of worst-case scenarios would do to a portfolio, including how a 2008-style crash would affect a client’s holdings today. Its users include pension funds, insurance companies, and competing asset managers who pay to license Aladdin based on which of its capabilities they use.

By 2010, the software already was a vital growth area for BlackRock. “We’re having more conversations with more institutions as they reassess what they need under this new regulatory environment,” Fink said during an earnings call that year. In the throes of the recession, Aladdin was used on about $7 trillion of positions, according to a report released by the company. Today it watches over more than $18 trillion. Thirty percent of Aladdin business revenue comes from outside the U.S. BlackRock’s technology unit, of which Aladdin has become the linchpin, saw about 12 percent compound annual growth over the past five years, driven in no small part by network effects—few rivals can match its reach. Technology remains just 5 percent of overall revenue, but Fink told Bloomberg Markets last year that he’d like to see it grow to 30 percent by 2022.

The most significant development in BlackRock’s business, however, may have been the one least likely to show up in its balance sheet: The crisis gave it new clout and gravitas. Fink understood the complicated derivatives that tanked the financial system better than most; his early career was spent structuring and trading mortgage-backed securities, the same kinds of products that triggered the collapse. When the New York Federal Reserve needed a firm to manage Bear Stearns’s portfolio of toxic assets, it turned to BlackRock—not just because of Fink’s stature, but also because it lacked the conflicts of interest a bank could have had in accepting the job. Timothy Geithner, who was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York before becoming U.S. Treasury secretary in 2009, maintained close contact with Fink. In one 18-month period from 2011 to 2012, he was in contact with Fink more than any other corporate executive, according to a Financial Times analysis of his publicly available diary.

Fink’s influence didn’t hurt when BlackRock and other asset managers worked to convince the Financial Stability Board, a global regulatory body whose members include the Federal Reserve, that their business shouldn’t be deemed “too big to fail.” The designation comes with higher capital requirements and recurring stress tests. Because they manage other people’s assets, the argument went, they don’t take the kind of high-stakes bets with house money that led banks to seek bailouts.

BlackRock’s elevated profile on Wall Street remains evident. When Fink wrote CEOs a letter earlier this year warning that they should be able to explain how their companies contribute to society, it made international headlines. He routinely meets with world leaders, including in July, when he participated in a dinner U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May hosted for President Donald Trump.

Yet BlackRock hasn’t entirely avoided scrutiny—its cozy relationship with Washington officials has been a source of more attention. The Campaign for Accountability, a Washington, D.C.-based organization, launched a project in June tracking the revolving door of BlackRock executives in and out of halls of power; these include Brian Deese, a climate adviser to the Obama administration who joined BlackRock to run sustainable investing in 2017, and Carol Lee, who went from BlackRock’s compliance department to be securities compliance examiner at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last year. “At BlackRock, understanding local market, policy, regulatory, business, and investment dynamics is integral to serving our clients,” says Beades.

BlackRock’s post-crisis success might be easy to overlook, especially as it’s competing with government-reconstituted giants including JPMorgan Chase & Co. On top of that, private equity firms have vastly increased the scope of their investments in the last decade—particularly Blackstone Group LP, the firm BlackRock spun out of—and tech companies such as Google and Amazon.com Inc. have begun flirting with asset management.

Despite the fierce competition, BlackRock’s growth is among the starkest examples of how a financial company can build itself into an empire, even as the system is upended. With the Trump administration’s continued rolling back of protections put in place after the 2008 recession, that skill may yet prove its value again.

BOTTOM LINE – Calculated caution left BlackRock in a position to grow when other institutions were squeezed. Influence may yet prove to be its most valuable asset.

(Reuters) BlackRock voted to replace Tesla’s Musk with independent chairman

(Reuters) Funds run by BlackRock Inc voted in favor of a recent shareholder proposal that would have required Tesla Inc to replace Elon Musk with an independent chairman.

BlackRock-managed funds voted for a measure requiring the chairman be an independent director, according to BlackRock’s filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday. The proposal, which was defeated, would not have affected Musk’s standing as Tesla’s chief executive officer.

More than 86 million shares voted against the proposal at a shareholder meeting in June, while fewer than 17 million voted in favor, Tesla said.

Some corporate governance activists call for the chairman and CEO roles to be split between two people to improve oversight, and the new filing revealed at least one major investor backed such changes at Tesla. BlackRock’s role in backing the proposal was not previously reported.

Musk has been under pressure over the company’s spending and after tweeting on Aug. 7 that he planned to take the company private, only to abandon the idea by Aug. 24.

Tesla’s board had said that the company’s success “would not have been possible” without Musk’s “day-to-day exposure to the company’s business.”

Yet top proxy adviser Institutional Shareholder Services Inc supported the proposal, citing concerns about Musk’s pay and board independence.

“BlackRock’s approach to investment stewardship is driven by our fiduciary duties to our clients, the asset owners,” a BlackRock spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. “Our approach to engaging with companies and proxy voting activities is consistent with our commitment to drive long term shareholder value for our clients.”

BlackRock funds are a top-10 Tesla stockholder, controlling nearly 6.5 million of Tesla’s 170 million shares, according to Thomson Reuters data based on public filings.

Vanguard Group Inc-run funds voted against the independent-chair proposal, a recent filing showed. Funds run by Fidelity Investments sided with Tesla on director votes and other controversial items this spring, its filings showed.

BlackRock’s report also showed it voted this year in favor of shareholder proposals at Facebook Inc and Google parent Alphabet Inc to give each shareholder an equal vote on governance matters.

Some companies are structured in a way that gives some shareholders more power than others, regardless of how many shares they hold.

BlackRock withheld votes or voted against nearly all management recommendations at Netflix Inc, including an advisory vote on executive pay.

(BBG) Trump Warns Google, Facebook and Twitter to ‘Be Careful’

(BBG) President Donald Trump warned Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. “better be careful” after he accused the search engine earlier in the day of rigging results to give preference to negative news stories about him.

Trump told reporters in the Oval Office Tuesday that the three technology companies “are treading on very, very troubled territory,” as he added his voice to a growing chorus of conservatives who claim internet companies favor liberal viewpoints.

“This is a very serious situation-will be addressed!” Trump said in a tweet earlier Tuesday. The President’s comments came the morning after a Fox Business TV segment that said Google favored liberal news outlets in search results about Trump. Trump provided no substantiation for his claim.

“Google search results for ‘Trump News’ shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake New Media. In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD,” Trump said. “Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out. Illegal.”

Trump’s re-election campaign also texted his tweets to supporters, writing as part of an end-of-month fundraising push that “The FAKE NEWS machine is completely out of control.”

The allegation, dismissed by online search experts, follows the president’s Aug. 24 claim that social media “giants” are “silencing millions of people.” Such accusations — along with assertions that the news media and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia meddling probe are biased against him — have been a chief Trump talking point meant to appeal to the president’s base.

Google issued a statement saying its searches are designed to give users relevant answers.

“Search is not used to set a political agenda and we don’t bias our results toward any political ideology,” the statement said. “Every year, we issue hundreds of improvements to our algorithms to ensure they surface high-quality content in response to users’ queries. We continually work to improve Google Search and we never rank search results to manipulate political sentiment.”

Yonatan Zunger, an engineer who worked at Google for almost a decade, went further. “Users can verify that his claim is specious by simply reading a wide range of news sources themselves,” he said. “The ‘bias’ is that the news is all bad for him, for which he has only himself to blame.”

Google’s news search software doesn’t work the way the president says it does, according to Mark Irvine, senior data scientist at WordStream, a company that helps firms get websites and other online content to show up higher in search results. The Google News system gives weight to how many times a story has been linked to, as well as to how prominently the terms people are searching for show up in the stories, Irvine said.

“The Google search algorithm is a fairly agnostic and apathetic algorithm towards what people’s political feelings are,” he said.

“Their job is essentially to model the world as it is,” said Pete Meyers, a marketing scientist at Moz, which builds tools to help companies improve how they show up in search results. “If enough people are linking to a site and talking about a site, they’re going to show that site.”

Trump’s concern is that search results about him appear negative, but that’s because the majority of stories about him are negative, Meyers said. “He woke up and watched his particular flavor and what Google had didn’t match that.”

Complaints that social-media services censor conservatives have increased as companies such as Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. try to curb the reach of conspiracy theorists, disinformation campaigns, foreign political meddling and abusive posters.

Google News rankings have sometimes highlighted unconfirmed and erroneous reports in the early minutes of tragedies when there’s little information to fill its search results. After the Oct. 1, 2017, Las Vegas shooting, for instance, several accounts seemed to coordinate an effort to smear a man misidentified as the shooter with false claims about his political ties.

Google has since tightened requirements for inclusion in news rankings, blocking outlets that “conceal their country of origin” and relying more on authoritative sources, although the moves have led to charges of censorship from less established outlets. Google currently says it ranks news based on “freshness” and “diversity” of the stories. Trump-favored outlets such as Fox News routinely appear in results.

Google’s search results have been the focus of complaints for more than a decade. The criticism has become more political as the power and reach of online services has increased in recent years.

Eric Schmidt, Alphabet’s former chairman, supported Hillary Clinton against Trump during the last election. There have been unsubstantiated claims the company buried negative search results about her during the 2016 election. Scores of Google employees entered government to work under President Barack Obama.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, responding to a question about the tweets, said that the administration is going to do “investigations and analysis” into the issue but stressed they’re “just looking into it.”

Trump’s comment followed a report on Fox Business on Monday evening that said 96 percent of Google News results for “Trump” came from the “national left-wing media.” The segment cited the conservative PJ Media site, which said its analysis suggested “a pattern of bias against right-leaning content.”

The PJ Media analysis “is in no way scientific,” said Joshua New, a senior policy analyst with the Center for Data Innovation.

“This frequency of appearance in an arbitrary search at one time is in no way indicating a bias or a slant,” New said. His non-partisan policy group is affiliated with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, which in turn has executives from Silicon Valley companies, including Google, on its board of directors.

Services such as Google or Facebook “have a business incentive not to lower the ranking of a certain publication because of news bias. Because that lowers the value as a news platform,” New said.

News search rankings use factors including “use timeliness, accuracy, the popularity of a story, a users’ personal search history, their location, quality of content, a website’s reputation — a huge amount of different factors,” New said.

Google is not the first tech stalwart to receive criticism from Trump. He has alleged Amazon.com Inc. has a sweetheart deal with the U.S. Postal Service and slammed founder Jeff Bezos’s ownership of what Trump calls “the Amazon Washington Post.”

Google is due to face lawmakers at a hearing on Russian election meddling on Sept. 5. The company intended to send Senior Vice President for Global Affairs Kent Walker to testify, but the panel’s chairman, Senator Richard Burr, who wanted Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai, has rejected Walker.

Despite Trump’s comments, it’s unclear what he or Congress could do to influence how internet companies distribute online news. The industry treasures an exemption from liability for the content users post. Some top members of Congress have suggested limiting the protection as a response to alleged bias and other misdeeds, although there have been few moves to do so since Congress curbed the shield for some cases of sex trafficking earlier in the year.

The government has little ability to dictate to publishers and online curators what news to present despite the president’s occasional threats to use the power of the government to curb coverage he dislikes and his tendency to complain that news about him is overly negative.

Trump has talked about expanding libel laws and mused about reinstating long-ended rules requiring equal time for opposing views, which didn’t apply to the internet. Neither has resulted in a serious policy push.

Trump has not always been hostile to Google. In July he lashed out at the European Union for imposing a record $5 billion fine against Google over its mobile phone operating system, calling Google one of America’s “great companies.”

(BBG) Apple to Embrace iPhone X Design With New Colors, Bigger Screens

(BBG) Apple Inc. is not only doubling down on the iPhone X, it’s tripling down.

The world’s most valuable company plans to launch three new phones soon that keep the edge-to-edge screen design of last year’s flagship, according to people familiar with the matter. The devices will boast a wider range of prices, features and sizes to increase their appeal, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing unannounced products.

However, none of the three iPhones will be wholly new designs like the iPhone X was last year or the iPhone 6 in 2014, with some inside Apple labeling the launch as an “S year,” a designation the company has given to new handsets that retain the previous design but add new internal features. The company is planning more significant changes for next year, they added.

The iPhone X wasn’t as big a hit as some Wall Street analysts hoped for before it was released last November. However, it still sold strongly and helped Apple gain share in a smartphone market that has almost stopped growing.

The upcoming phones, planned to be unveiled in September, show the company is adjusting its strategy. Rather than luring millions of new iPhone users, Apple’s goal these days is to steadily raise average prices, while expanding the total number of active devices to support sales of accessories and digital services like streaming music and video.

“The iPhone is entering a period of 0-to-5 percent annual growth, and the things they’re doing this fall will keep them on that path,” said Gene Munster, a veteran Apple analyst and managing partner of Loup Ventures. The “real sizzle” for investors remains the iPhone because it’s the hub for almost all Apple’s other offerings like the Apple Watch, AirPods, and Apple Music, Munster added. Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller declined to comment.

Apple shares gained 0.8 percent to a record $217.94 in New York, pushing its market value to $1.05 trillion.

In early 2016, the company reported a new milestone: 1 billion active devices. By early this year, that number had grown to 1.3 billion. The three new iPhones due next month have a good chance to add to this important foundation of the company’s future.

There’ll be a new high-end iPhone, internally dubbed D33, with a display that measures about 6.5-inch diagonally, according to the people familiar with the matter. That would make it the largest iPhone by far and one of the biggest mainstream phones on the market. It will continue to have a glass back with stainless steel edges and dual cameras on the back. The big difference on the software side will be the ability to view content side-by-side in apps like Mail and Calendar. It will be Apple’s second phone with a crisper organic light-emitting diode, or OLED, screen.

“Having a bigger screen is always a plus for demand,” Munster said, while noting the device should help Apple boost iPhone selling prices, which has supported revenue growth in recent quarters. The average price of iPhones sold in Apple’s most-recent quarter was $724, up 19 percent from a year earlier.

Apple also plans an upgrade to the current iPhone X with a 5.8-inch OLED screen, which is internally dubbed D32, the people said. The main changes to the new OLED iPhones will be to processing speed and the camera, according to the people familiar with the devices.

Perhaps the most significant phone will be a new, cheaper device destined to replace the iPhone 8. Codenamed N84, it will look like the iPhone X, but include a larger near 6.1-inch screen, come in multiple colors, and sport aluminum edges instead of the iPhone X’s stainless steel casing. It will also have a cheaper LCD screen instead of an OLED panel to keep costs down.

The cheaper version’s aluminum edges won’t necessarily be the same color as the colored glass back, simplifying production, one person familiar with the matter said.

Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. will assemble the two high-end OLED iPhones, while the LCD phone will be split primarily between Hon Hai and Pegatron Corp., the people said. Hon Hai began assembling the OLED devices in late July and only started on the LCD phones this month, partly due to minor challenges with the LCD panels, one person said. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. will remain sole supplier of the main processor for the new iPhones, while primary iPhone camera lens supplier Largan Precision Co. is expected to see sales rise with the launch of new Apple phones.

Largan climbed as much as 2.9 percent, while TSMC rose as much as 2 percent. Hon Hai and Pegatron shares also increased.

All three will have the gesture-based control system Apple introduced last year to replace the iPhone home button. They will also feature Face ID, Apple’s system for unlocking the phones by glancing at them. Bloomberg reported several details of the new phones earlier this year.

The lower-end device will be Apple’s second attempt at differentiating its phones partly by color. In 2013, Apple launched the iPhone 5c, which was essentially an iPhone 5 in plastic casing. The strategy flopped with iPhone users preferring Apple’s metal phones. This year’s lower-cost iPhone will use aluminum edges, retaining a premium feel.

“Colors always give Apple a little near-term bump, but it doesn’t change the iPhone’s trajectory,” Munster said.

Apple is planning dual-SIM card slots for the two larger phones in at least some regions, people with knowledge of the plans said. That feature would let travelers easily switch between a local carrier plan and a new country or coverage area.

The new iPhones come at an important time for the company. Apple is facing growing rivalry outside of the U.S., especially in developing markets where many people prefer less expensive phones with larger screens. The new low-end iPhone with the larger screen will give Apple a way to compete there.

The launch comes on the heels of Samsung Electronics Co. introducing its larger Note 9 smartphone. Alphabet Inc.’s Google also plans to debut new Pixel phones on Oct. 9 at a media event in New York City, other people familiar with the plans said. A Google spokeswoman declined to comment.

The new iPhone lineup has presented Apple with a naming conundrum, according to a person familiar with the deliberations. The company will be selling three phones that look similar and all have Face ID. But the cheapest model will be larger than the mid-range version, potentially confusing consumers.

While planning the new devices, Apple has altered the names multiple times. It has at least considered branding the new premium phones the “iPhone Xs,” indicating that they’re an upgrade to last year’s iPhone X, the person said. The company has also weighed eschewing the “Plus” label for the larger model, which it has used since the iPhone 6 Plus launched with a larger screen in 2014. The final names could be different, the person noted.

Beyond the iPhones, Apple has been working on updated AirPods, an AirPower wireless charger, a new Apple Watch, and revamped iPad Protablets for this year.

The Watches will look similar to current models, but will include larger screens that go nearly edge-to-edge. Their overall size will remain similar, making them compatible with existing straps, people familiar with the product said.

The new iPad Pros will come in sizes around 11-inches and 12.9-inches and include slimmer bezels. They’ll remove the home button and fingerprint sensing in lieu of an iPhone X-like gesture interface and Face ID for unlocking the tablet, people familiar with the plans said. The iPad mini, which was last upgraded in 2015, and the 9.7-inch iPad, last refreshed in March, won’t be upgraded, a person familiar with the company’s plans said.

(CNBC) Tesla shares fall 5 percent after Musk abandons buyout

(CNBC)

  • Trading in Tesla shares in Germany on Monday pointed to a 5 percent drop when U.S. markets open.
  • Investors have reacted to Chief Executive Elon Musk’s decision to abandon plans to take the luxury electric car maker private.
Elon Musk 

Joshua Lott | Getty Images
Elon Musk

Trading in Tesla shares in Germany on Monday pointed to a 5 percent drop when U.S. markets open as investors reacted to Chief Executive Elon Musk’s decision to abandon plans to take the luxury electric car maker private.

Musk said in a blog post late on Friday that consultations done with the help of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley had shown most of Tesla’s existing shareholders opposed the deal he proposed on Twitter three weeks ago to widespread shock on Wall Street.

Tesla’s shares, already down nearly 10 percent from their level on August 7, just before Musk tweeted that he had “funding secured” for a buyout at $420 a share, fell 5 percent in trading in Germany to $263.50.

Investors in Tesla’s bonds and convertible debt had also shown skepticism that the tens of billions of dollars needed for the buyout would materialize after the Aug. 7 tweet and a subsequent blog post in which Musk made the case for going private.

With the Silicon Valley billionaire’s proposal for a buyout backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund off the table, investors will focus on Tesla‘s efforts to become profitable, the company’s cash reserves and what steps Musk could take to raise fresh capital.

Musk and Tesla also face a series of investor lawsuits and the threat of a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into the factual accuracy of Musk’s tweet that funding for the buyout deal was “secured”.

Tesla had $2.78 billion in cash at the end of the second quarter, after a record $718 million loss.

In early August, before the buyout plan was made public, Tesla reiterated a forecast that it would achieve a profit in the third and fourth quarters, under normal accounting rules, and Musk said the company would not need to raise more cash.

A Tesla spokesman on Sunday referred to those previous comments.

One of Tesla’s biggest challenges is ramping up production of its latest vehicle, the Model 3, which is critical to its profitability goals.

Tapping capital markets

Analysts have suggested a capital raise may be required soon to boost investor confidence.

Musk and Tesla could hold off on any fundraising plans for the time being, in part because tapping capital markets would contradict Musk’s comments about Tesla being adequately funded, investment bankers who are not working for the company said over the weekend.

This week would also be an inopportune time for a capital raising, given that many bankers and investors are away ahead of the September 3 Labor Day holiday.

The high price investors have put on Tesla’s shares has allowed Musk to expand U.S. production, invest in building out a vehicle charging network and start work on new models including a small sport utility vehicle, a new Roadster and a semi-truck even as the company burned cash.

Tesla earlier this year announced plans to build a battery and vehicle assembly complex in China. Musk said earlier this month that the company’s “default plan” would be to fund that expansion by borrowing money from Chinese banks.

(EuroNews) Microsoft faces U.S. bribery probe over sales in Hungary – WSJ

(EuroNews) Microsoft faces U.S. bribery probe over sales in Hungary – WSJ

Microsoft faces U.S. bribery probe over sales in Hungary - WSJ
@ Copyright :

CARLO ALLEGRI(Reuters)

The U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are probing how Microsoft sold its software such as Word and Excel to middleman firms in Hungary at steep discounts, the report https://on.wsj.com/2w5AUXm said.

The intermediaries then sold those software to government agencies there in 2013 and 2014 at close to full price, the report said.

Investigators are looking into whether the middleman companies used the difference to pay bribes and kickbacks to government officials, the WSJ reported.

Microsoft was not immediately available for comment.

(BBG) Elon Musk Hires Morgan Stanley to Help Take Tesla Private

(BBG) Elon Musk has hired Morgan Stanley to assist him in his potential bid to take Tesla Inc. private, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Morgan Stanley is advising Musk, not the company, its board or a special board committee formed to to evaluate a potential take-private proposal, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. The bank suspended coverage of the stock on Tuesday without explanation.

Musk, 47, shocked the financial world Aug. 7 when the chief executive officer tweeted that he wanted to take the electric-car maker private and had “funding secured.” In a blog post, he later indicated that no such financing deal had been closed. The tweet has drawn a subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to a person familiar with the matter.

By adding Morgan Stanley to Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Musk has tied up the top two merger advisers in the U.S. this year. Both banks have been lead underwriters on most of the company’s stock and convertible debt offerings. Morgan Stanley is among Tesla’s 20 largest shareholders, with a 0.6 percent stake. Its Tesla analyst, Adam Jonas, has historically been one of the more bullish researchers of the stock.

If they succeed in taking Tesla private, the equity will become much more challenging for investors to buy or sell, said Jim Osman, CEO of The Edge Group, which analyzes special situations.

“The hiring of Morgan Stanley and GS is unfortunate for investors wanting to take a long-term view of holding the stock,” he said. “Many funds and investors won’t be able to participate should the stock go private. Whilst we are a fan of Musk, GS and MS will have to think of something very creative to let the investors share in any future value creation.”

Read more: SEC often outgunned by tech titans

The Palo Alto, California-based automaker didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for Morgan Stanley declined to comment.

Tesla shares slipped 0.5 percent to close at $320.10 in New York trading. After a roller-coaster month in which they soared to almost $380 before falling back below $300, they are up 2.8 percent this year, best among U.S. automakers.

Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs have longstanding ties to Musk, who is also CEO of Space Exploration Technologies Corp. as well as Tesla’s chairman and largest shareholder. As of February 2017, Musk owed Morgan Stanley $344.4 million in personal loans backed by his Tesla shares.

Musk tweeted last Monday that he would be advised by Goldman Sachs and by private-equity firm Silver Lake. But he hadn’t formally hired Goldman yet, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday. By the next day, Goldman announced that it suspending coverage of the stock because it’s acting as a financial adviser “in connection with a matter that is fundamental” to the company’s value.

(Reuters) VW’s CEO was told about emissions software months before scandal: Der Spiegel

(Reuters) Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) Chief Executive Herbert Diess was told about the existence of cheating software in cars two months before regulators blew the whistle on a multi-billion exhaust emissions scandal, German magazine Der Spiegel said.

Der Spiegel’s story, based on recently unsealed documents from the Braunschweig prosecutor’s office, raises questions about whether VW informed investors in a timely manner about the scope of a scandal which it said has cost it more than $27 billion in penalties and fines.

The Braunschweig prosecutor’s office was not reachable for comment on Saturday.

Volkswagen’s senior management, which has denied wrongdoing, is being investigated by prosecutors in Braunschweig, near where Volkswagen is headquartered, to see whether the company violated disclosure rules.

U.S. regulators exposed VW’s cheating on Sept. 18, 2015.

Responding to the magazine report, the carmaker reiterated on Saturday that the management board had not violated its disclosure duties, and had decided to not inform investors earlier because they had failed to grasp the scope of the potential fines and penalties.

Citing documents unsealed by the Braunschweig prosecutor’s office, Der Spiegel said Diess was present at a meeting on July 27, 2015 when senior engineers and executives discussed how to deal with U.S. regulators, who were threatening to ban VW cars because of excessive pollution levels.

Diess, who was VW’s brand chief at the time, became chief executive of Volkswagen Group in April this year. Volkswagen also owns the Scania, Skoda, Audi, Porsche, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Ducati brands.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had found unusually high pollution levels in VW’s vehicles and was threatening to withhold road certification for new cars until VW explained why pollution levels were too high.

Diess, who had defected from BMW to become head of the VW brand on July 1, 2015, joined the July 27 meeting with Volkswagen’s then Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn to discuss how to convince regulators that VW’s cars could be sold, a VW defense document filed with a court in Braunschweig in February, shows.

Volkswagen on Saturday said both Winterkorn and Diess declined to comment given the ongoing proceedings. A spokesman for Martin Winterkorn declined to comment on Saturday. Winterkorn’s lawyer Felix Doerr, could not be reached for comment.

Following this meeting, Winterkorn asked Diess whether BMW too had installed “defeat devices” in its cars, Der Spiegel said.

In the United States, legal engine management software is described as an “auxiliary emissions device” while the term “defeat device” is used to describe only illegal software.

Diess is said to have answered that BMW had not made use of such software, Der Spiegel said.

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Volkswagen said on Saturday: “The contents of the discussion, where Martin Winterkorn and Herbert Diess were present, cannot be fully reconstructed, because the recollections of the people who were present partially deviate.”

Volkswagen further said it was the task of authorities and courts to evaluate the conflicting statements and to assess whether individual witnesses were credible.

Diess and Winterkorn left the July 27 meeting taking a presentation with them, Der Spiegel further said.

A VW employee intervened and cautioned the managers that it would be better if they were not in possession of the presentation, Der Spiegel said.

Volkswagen said on Saturday the purpose of the July 27 meeting was not to discuss whether Volkswagen had broken U.S. law, but how to resolve the issue of whether new models would be given regulatory clearance.

Volkswagen argued that it had struggled to understand whether its software was in fact illegal, the defense document filed with the Braunschweig court shows.

On July 31, 2015 Volkswagen hired a law firm to help the company understand its regulatory troubles, and lawyers were unsure whether the software would be deemed an illegal “defeat device” in the United States, VW said in the court filing.

The court filing further said that Hans Dieter Poetsch, Volkswagen’s finance chief at the time, on Sept. 14, 2015 believed the potential financial risk from regulatory penalties tied to emissions would be around 150 million euros ($172 million).

Hans Dieter Poetsch is now Volkswagen’s chairman.

Volkswagen on Saturday reiterated that it had not violated disclosure rules and had informed investors in a timely manner about the financial scope of the scandal when it published an “ad hoc” disclosure notice on Sept. 22, 2015.

Volkswagen said that although it had admitted to using defeat devices to regulators on Sept. 3, 2015 it had assumed that penalties would not exceed 200 million euros, based on the size of fines imposed against rival carmakers who had committed similar regulatory breaches.

Because the company had already accrued sufficient provisions for vehicle recalls to cover this amount, there was no need to inform investors that profits could take a further hit before September 2015, Volkswagen’s court filing said.

(Cargo) Grupo Orey anuncia à CMVM decisão de se focar nas «áreas de transportes e logística»

(Cargo) Através de um comunicado enviado à Comissão do Mercado de Valores Mobiliários (CMVM) no passado dia 10 de Agosto, o Grupo Orey anunciou que irá abraçar «a decisão estratégica» de se «focar a actividade da sociedade nas áreas de transportes e logística e serviços relacionados», abdicando da actuação no sector financeiro.

Orey abandona actuação no sector financeiro

Na missiva, a Sociedade Comercial Orey Antunes deixa clara a intenção de «adoptar todas as medidas necessárias para alienar, com a maior brevidade possível, os activos não operacionais, incluindo as responsabilidades com estes relacionadas», algo que estará sujeito à «autorização do Banco de Portugal da alteração de tipologia da licença da Orey Financial de IFIC (Instituição Financeira de Crédito) para SC (Sociedade Corretora)».

Expressou assim o grupo liderado por Duarte d’Orey a vontade de «vender a totalidade da sua posição accionista na Orey Financial Sociedade Corretora». Cai a aposta na vertente financeira, iniciada na viragem do milénio, e ganha força a actividade ligada aos transportes e à logística – recorde-se que o core destas áreas reside na Horizon View, holding que detém insígnias como a Orey Shipping, a Storkship ou a Atlantic-Lusofrete, entre outras.

O ano de 2017 recentrou «estratégia da Orey nos Transportes e Logística»

«O ano de 2017 foi o ano em que se recentrou a estratégia da Orey nos transportes e logística, tendo sido tomada
a decisão de vender o negócio financeiro e de acelerar o desinvestimento dos activos não operacionais no Brasil (…). 2017 foi também o ano em que se consolidou a reestruturação das operações e do balanço do Grupo, sendo já visíveis na conta de exploração, nomeadamente ao nível do negócio core – o transporte e logística, e no balanço os resultados desse processo», afirma a Orey num comunicado que efectua o balanço de 2017.

A mudança de rumo, explica a sociedade, está ligada «a razões estruturais e conjunturais»: «as principais razões estruturais incluem as consequências da crise económica e financeira que afectou Portugal e as suas instituições financeiras, o que levou a que (1) o ambiente regulatório se tornasse mais exigente e oneroso, em particular para os players de menor dimensão, e (2) os reguladores de instituições financeiras se tornassem mais avessos a que estas instituições sejam detidas por grupos que combinem áreas não-financeiras com áreas financeiras».