Logos of Tencent are displayed at a news conference in Hong Kong, China
Logos of Tencent are displayed at a news conference in Hong Kong, China March 22, 2017. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

March 21, 2019

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Tencent Holdings said on Thursday net profit for the quarter ended December fell a sharper-than-expected 32 percent, the most on record for a quarter, as a regulatory review weighed on its gaming business.

Net profit at Asia’s second-most valuable listed company for the September-December quarter was 14.2 billion yuan ($2.12 billion), against the 18.3 billion yuan average estimate of 16 analysts, according to Refinitiv data.

Revenue in the quarter rose 28 percent to 84.9 billion yuan, slightly ahead of an average estimate of 83 billion yuan from 19 analysts. Tencent attributed that in part to strong growth in sponsorship advertising revenue.

Tencent declared a final dividend of HK$1.00 per share versus HK$0.88 in 2017.

(Reporting by Sijia Jiang; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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FILE PHOTO: Christian Sewing, CEO of Deutsche Bank AG, addresses the media during the bank's annual news conference in Frankfurt
FILE PHOTO: Christian Sewing, CEO of Deutsche Bank AG, addresses the media during the bank’s annual news conference in Frankfurt, Germany, February 1, 2019. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo

March 21, 2019

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Christian Sewing, the chief executive of Deutsche Bank, believes there is a strong case for a merger with rival Commerzbank, according to a person with direct knowledge of his thinking ahead of Thursday’s meeting of the supervisory board, setting the stage for a showdown with unions fearing massive job cuts.

Sewing sees multiple benefits of a merger, including “clear” dominance in its home market, scale, and shared technology costs, the person said.

Deutsche’s CEO also believes that a combined entity would improve the cost of funding, with “the best funding ever”, the person said. Jobs would be cut with or without a merger, the person said.

A spokesman for Deutsche Bank declined to comment.

(Reporting by Tom Sims and Andreas Framke; Editing by Riham Alkousaa)

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FILE PHOTO: Roche tablets are seen positioned in front of a displayed Roche logo in this photo illustration
FILE PHOTO: Roche tablets are seen in front of a Roche logo in this photo illustration shot January 22, 2016. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

March 21, 2019

ZURICH (Reuters) – Roche is seeking tens of millions of dollars in damages and compensation in a U.S. lawsuit against former executives of a Utah-based company, the Swiss drugmaker’s latest case targeting what it calls fraudulent schemes involving its diabetes test strips.

“Defendants caused Roche to wrongfully pay over $87 million in rebates and to lose a similar amount of sales of retail strips,” according to Roche’s complaint filed in U.S. District Court in New Jersey on Tuesday against more than a dozen defendants including Jeffrey C. Smith, chief executive at Utah’s Alliance Medical Holdings until 2017.

Smith did not immediately return phone calls and e-mails seeking comment.

(Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Michael Shields)

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Skram of Buddy Electric car dealer company shows the charging of a second-hand Fiat 500e in Oslo
Maiken Skram of Buddy Electric car dealer company shows the charging of a second-hand Fiat 500e, imported from California, U.S., in Oslo, Norway March 15, 2109. Picture taken March 15, 2019. REUTERS/Alister Doyle

March 21, 2019

By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

OSLO (Reuters) – On the outskirts of Oslo, a row of Fiat 500es imported from California stand parked in the snow outside the Buddy Electric dealership, part of a global flow of pre-owned electric cars to Norway powered by green subsidies elsewhere in the world.

The company’s production manager, Tor Einar Hanssen, said it had sold about 110 in the past year and a half, making a small profit on the cars, most of which had been used for a few years by U.S. leasing companies.

“They’re surprisingly good in cold weather,” he said.

A gleaming blue Fiat 500e is on sale for 129,000 Norwegian crowns ($15,000) with 24,000 km (15,000 miles) on the clock. It costs about 20,000 crowns($2,300) to import and adapt each Fiat, Hanssen said.

On U.S. used car websites, similar Fiats in California are advertised for about $10,000.

Norway has the world’s highest rate of electric car ownership in the world, partly thanks to long-term perks such as free or discounted road tolls, parking and charging points, which boost the appeal of second hand models unwanted elsewhere.

The government also exempts electric vehicles from taxes on traditional vehicles that are very high in a country which does not have its own fossil fuel car industry to lobby against them. Rebates offered by other countries are another part of the equation.

In California, residents who own a new battery electric car for at least 30 months can get a rebate of up to $4,500, said John Swanton, of the California Air Resources Board.

The Fiats show how varying incentives around the world to promote electric cars, spurred by efforts to combat climate change and limit air pollution, can affect trade flows.

They can also distort national goals for shifting from fossil fuels, although U.S. exports to Norway of 4,232 used electric cars in the past two years are tiny compared with U.S. sales. The state of California alone aims to have five million zero-emission vehicles on its roads by 2030.

The issue has a bigger impact in some European countries, which may be over-estimating the greenness of their domestic car fleets due to exports to Norway, where top plug-in cars include Nissan Leafs, Volkswagens <Vow>, BMW and Tesla.

“We’re getting a certain amount of vehicle electrification for free, paid by other countries,” said Lasse Fridstroem, a senior research economist at the Norwegian Center for Transport Research.

“But perhaps it won’t last,” he said of the used e-car imports. He and some car dealers say demand for electric cars elsewhere in Europe is picking up, and that Norway could swing to be a net exporter of used electric cars in coming years.

(For a graphic on ‘Second-hand electric vehicles in Norway’ click


At the moment, long waiting lists for new electric cars in Norway mean that people who obtain a new model in high demand, such as a Tesla Model 3 or Hyundai Kona, can potentially re-sell it above list prices that are already higher than elsewhere.

Part of the reason is a bottleneck in new e-car imports. This is caused, to some extent, by incentives for car makers to sell electric cars in the European Union, of which Norway is not a member, even if they are immediately exported to Norway.

To tackle this issue, from January 2019, sales of new cars in Norway are included in a broader EU calculation of the greenness of each manufacturer’s European-wide car fleets, a target the carmaker must meet to avoid large penalties.

This could reduce Norway’s demand for imports but may also mean its EU neighbors record fewer sales.

Last year, plug-in electric cars accounted for 31.2 percent of new car registrations in Norway, the highest in the world, and the share rose to 34.2 percent when including second-hand imports, according to the Norwegian Road Federation (OFV). The two figures surged to 40.7 and 43.5 percent in February 2019.

Statistics Norway said 11,913 used electric cars and vans were imported last year, up from 9,063 in 2017 when it started to compile data of the second-hand trade.

They came from countries including Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Britain and South Korea, bringing some of the benefits of cleaner air and less noise intended for their citizens to Norway, where the environment is already far cleaner than in many other countries.

Trod Sandven, a Jaguar Land Rover dealer in Bergen in west Norway, bought 250 new Kia Soul cars last year in countries including Germany. After registering them for a day so that they counted towards manufacturers’ green goals under the EU rules, he exported them undriven to Norway to sell as “second hand”.

“They’re brand new, with the plastic still on the seats. The only thing we do is the paperwork,” said Sandven. He said he received no German subsidies, since that would require owning the cars for several months in Germany.

“Now it’s changing again, now we are exporting cars to other countries,” he said. “Norway is crowded with used electric cars and Europe is screaming for electric cars. It’s changing every year.”


Stockholm tightened subsidy rules last July after finding that about 10 percent of all electric and plug-in hybrids were exported within five years. Eighty percent of those exports ended up over the border in Norway.

“It is problematic that some of the used electric vehicles, that have been subsidized by Swedish tax payers, are exported,” said Jakob Lundgren, spokesman for Sweden’s Environment Minister Isabella Lovin.

Under the new system from July 2018, Swedes have to own a new electric car for six months before receiving a 60,000 Swedish crowns ($6,398.50) rebate. Previously, they got a 40,000 crown discount on buying the car.

Lundgren said there were no data yet to show if the rule change had made an impact.

With just five million people, Norway bought 46,143 new battery electric cars in 2018, making it the biggest market in Europe ahead of Germany with 36,216 and France on 31,095, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association.

EU rules in effect from 2020-21 will force new cars sold in Europe, including Norway, to average no more than 95 grammes of carbon dioxide per kilometer, with carmakers facing hundreds of millions of euros in potential fines for non-compliance.

Other nations tend to hand out subsidies to make e-cars cheaper but lag in infrastructure, such as charging points. Norway wants all new cars to be zero emissions by 2025. Among other nations, Britain and France have similar goals for 2040.

Electric cars depreciate less quickly in Norway than elsewhere, partly due to the ongoing benefits, which include low-cost ferry trips and use of bus lanes to avoid congestion.

“Norway has become a magnet for the rest of Europe to ship used battery electric vehicles,” Matthew Harrison, executive vice president Toyota Motor Europe, said at the Geneva motor show this month. “Frankly there is no used-car demand for battery electric vehicles” elsewhere in Europe, he said.

Among sources of second hand imports, Fridstroem and other economists said they were baffled by those from Britain. Norway imported 2,147 electric cars from Britain in 2017, and 133 in 2018, according to Statistics Norway.

The steering wheel in British cars is on the right, the wrong side for driving in mainland Europe, making them unattractive in Norway.

A spokesperson for the British Department for Transport said the main conditions for plug-in car grants, of up to 3,500 pounds ($4,624.55), were that buyers have an address in Britain and register the vehicle in the country.

The Department did not comment when asked if some dealers might be buying electric cars made in Britain but designed for mainland Europe. That might be a loophole allowing dealers to pocket the grant and export the car to Norway, although it was not clear why the number of exports had dropped.

(With extra reporting by Nichola Groom in Los Angeles and Laurence Frost in Geneva; graphic by Nerijus Adomaitis; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: An American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 flight approaches for landing at Reagan National Airport in Washington
FILE PHOTO: An American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 flight from Los Angeles approaches for landing at Reagan National Airport shortly after an announcement was made by the FAA that the planes were being grounded by the United States in Washington, U.S. March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

March 21, 2019

By Tracy Rucinski and Jamie Freed

CHICAGO/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Pressure mounted on Boeing Co in Washington as U.S. lawmakers called for executives to testify about two crashed 737 MAX jets, even as the world’s biggest planemaker worked to return the grounded fleet to the skies.

A Senate panel plans to schedule a hearing with Boeing at an unspecified date, officials said, the first time a U.S. congressional committee has called the company’s executives to appear for questioning over the crashes.

The same panel, the Senate Commerce subcommittee on aviation and space, will also question FAA officials on March 27, likely about why the regulator agreed to certify the MAX planes in March 2017 without requiring extensive additional training.

The Ethiopian Airlines crash on March 10 that killed all 157 on board has set off one of the widest investigations in aviation history. Initial reports from investigators say there are clear similarities between the crash and the Lion Air accident that killed all 189 crew and passengers in November.

While no direct link has yet been established, the MCAS flight control software and related pilot training are at the center of the investigation, and U.S. lawmakers are questioning the Federal Aviation Administration’s certification of MAX’s safety.

Boeing has promised a swift update to the MCAS, and the FAA said the installation of new software and related training was a priority.

However, extra computer-based training will be required after the software update, the pilot union of MAX’s biggest customer, Southwest Airlines Co, said on Wednesday, becoming the first major airline union to comment.

Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association said it had previewed the proposed Boeing training, including a required test, which would be mandatory for Southwest pilots before flying the 737 MAX again.

A Boeing spokeswoman said training on the software update would be provided by the manufacturer, but declined to disclose further details.

Regulators in Europe and Canada have said, however, they will seek their own guarantees of the MAX’s safety.


The Ethiopian Airlines crash has shaken the global aviation industry and cast a shadow over the Boeing model intended to be a standard for decades to come.

Investigators examining the Lion Air crash are weighing how the MCAS system ordered the plane to dive in response to data from a faulty sensor and whether the pilots had enough training to respond appropriately to the emergency, among other factors.

MCAS is meant to prevent a loss of lift which can cause an aerodynamic stall and send the plane downwards in an uncontrolled way.

The pilots of the doomed Lion Air flight scrambled through a handbook to understand why the jet was lurching downwards in the final minutes before it hit the water, three people with knowledge of the cockpit voice recorder contents said.

Indonesian investigators have said the cockpit voice recorder information was leaked to the media and they plan to hold a news conference at 0830 GMT on Thursday.

Boeing has said there was a documented procedure to handle the problem.

The company was sued on Wednesday in federal court in Chicago by the estate of one of the Lion Air crash victims in which the plaintiffs referred to the Ethiopian crash to support a wrongful death claim against the company.

A Boeing spokesman said the company does not respond to, or comment on, questions concerning legal matters.

The Seattle Times reported the Federal Bureau of Investigation was joining the investigation into the MAX’s certification. An FBI spokeswoman in Seattle would neither confirm nor deny that it was a part of any investigation.

Criminal prosecutors at the U.S. Justice Department, who are also investigating the FAA’s oversight of Boeing, have issued multiple subpoenas to Boeing, CNN reported, citing sources briefed on the matter.

Bloomberg said U.S. officials started investigating the FAA’s approval of the MAX software linked to the Lion Air plane crash last year within weeks after the accident, citing people familiar with the matter.

The Pentagon Inspector General said it would investigate a complaint that Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, violated ethical rules by allegedly promoting Boeing while in office.

Facing high-profile scrutiny, Boeing reshuffled executives in its commercial airplanes unit to focus on its response.


Before the Lion Air flight crashed, sources told Reuters the Indian-born captain, aged 31, was quiet, while the Indonesian officer, 41, said “Allahu Akbar”, or “God is greatest”.

A different crew on the same plane the previous evening had the same situation but resolved it after running through three checklists, though they did not pass on the information to the doomed Indonesian crew, a preliminary report in November said.

As with the Indonesia flight, the Ethiopian crew radioed about control problems shortly after take-off and sought to turn back. Ethiopia’s civil aviation head Wosenyeleh Hunegnaw said he expected a report on the investigation within 30 days.

For now, more than 350 MAX aircraft are grounded, and deliveries of nearly 5,000, worth more than $500 billion, are on hold. Boeing’s shares have fallen 11 percent since the Ethiopian Airlines crash, wiping $26 billion from its market value.

(For a graphic on ‘Boeing 737 Max deliveries in question’ click

(For a graphic on ‘Ethiopian Airlines crash and black boxes’ click

(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski in Chicago and Jamie Freed in Singapore; Additional reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru, Maggie Fick and Jason Neely in Addis Ababa, David Shepardson in Washington, Tim Hepher in Paris, Jonathan Stempel in New York, David Ljunggren in Ottawa, Cindy Silviana in Jakarta, Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Writing by Sayantani Ghosh; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Source: OANN

A screen displays a chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average during trading on the floor of the NYSE in New York
A screen displays a chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average during trading on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

March 21, 2019

By Lawrence Delevingne

NEW YORK (Reuters) – On the morning of July 11, Paul Pittman was on a corn farm in Western Illinois, unaware his company had taken a devastating hit.

Just before the stock market opened, an anonymous short seller named “Rota Fortunae” posted on Twitter and financial website Seeking Alpha that Pittman’s small real estate investment trust, Farmland Partners Inc, had engaged in dubious transactions and risked “insolvency.”

The posting pushed shares down enough to make thousands of previously-purchased stock options profitable, according to a later expert analysis, in turn causing more selling by those on the other side of the trade who committed to buy shares at a higher set price. The accelerating losses were probably compounded by high-frequency trading algorithms activated by price swings and negative keywords, according to that analysis.

Pittman’s stomach churned when he checked his smartphone around noon: Shares were off almost 40 percent. (Graphic:

“The game was rigged,” Pittman, 56, told Reuters.

What followed exemplified a new, ugly phase in a war between companies and activist short sellers, with businesses fighting back against social-media fueled attacks and investors accusing executives of trying to muzzle critics.

Farmland sued Rota Fortunae – Latin for “wheel of fortune” – and other unnamed individuals alleging a “malicious scheme” to profit from the spread of false information and well-timed stock options. The short seller, a Texas-based individual whose identity has been kept secret, sent a statement to Reuters via an attorney that the litigation aimed to “intimidate and choke critical opinion” and that the idea of crashing the stock through “sophisticated trading” was “utter hogwash.” It is all under the watch of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which has been briefed on the matter.

The stand-off reflects a broader debate over how to balance the desire to keep public companies accountable with concerns over market manipulation.

Short selling, said to be as old as stock markets, used to be a low-profile affair where bearish investors relied on the media, analysts or regulators to take the lead in exposing over-valued companies. New tools such as Twitter and Seeking Alpha changed that, creating a small but prominent group of brash public activists.

Successful campaigns that exposed corporate fraud or dubious practices, including Carson Block’s Sino-Forest Corp takedown and Andrew Left’s shorting of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc, underscored short sellers’ role as market watchdogs. Such victories, coupled with elevated stock valuations, helped spur record numbers of short campaigns, according to industry tracker Activist Insight.

Activist Insight data show such campaigns can have a noticeable impact on stock prices. A 2017 working paper by researchers Yu Ting Forester Wong and Wuyang Zhao also showed they weigh on target companies’ investments, dividends and access to financing.

Block, Left and other prominent short sellers interviewed by Reuters say they do thorough research and help keep companies honest.

Yet targeted businesses say many short campaigns waged this decade amount to “short and distort” schemes. They accuse some activists of spreading false or misleading information to drive a stock down and then quickly cash out, a mirror image of “pump and dump,” where unscrupulous investors promote speculative stocks before selling out at the top.

Cases against short sellers are rare, though, given free speech protections and companies hesitant to put themselves under the microscope of regulators, lawyers say.


Recent research provides fresh fodder for the debate. Columbia Law School securities expert Joshua Mitts said in a working paper that he had looked at 1,720 pseudonymous short idea posts on Seeking Alpha between 2010 and 2017 and found that 86 percent were preceded by “extraordinary” options trading.

Mitts told Reuters his review of the posts found that, like with Farmland, many short sellers appeared to use fast-expiring put-options bought before the release of a report to spur more selling by underwriters.

“Shorts have to rely on good research, not trading tricks, to punish a stock,” said Mitts, whose work has led to paid consulting for Farmland and other companies.

He has also found other unusual trading patterns, including dozens of cases of “spoofing” and “layering,” illegal trading strategies of placing and canceling orders to create a false impression of demand or supply. Mitts said, however, that high-frequency traders were probably responsible, not activists.

Prominent activists deny engaging in practices described by Mitts and say they rarely use options. Instead, they would typically borrow stocks and immediately sell them in anticipation of a price drop, so they can buy them back for less and pocket the difference.

“I’m sure there are a few anonymous guys out there doing tricky stuff, but it’s not a systemic problem,” Left said.

One smaller short seller said he used put options in conjunction with Seeking Alpha posts to make larger bets given limited capital, but emphasized making unfounded claims could backfire.

“With options you can get totally destroyed,” said the investor, who requested anonymity. “A bad thesis can be debunked almost instantly.”

Activist Insight, which has analyzed hundreds of campaigns, found many cases where target share prices went up, not down.

So far Mitts is virtually alone in analyzing trading activity around short campaigns, but his findings have already drawn the attention of a top U.S. regulator.

SEC Commissioner Robert Jackson told Reuters the research was “important” and challenged his agency to “identify folks who are dancing a very fine line between trading and market manipulation.”

The question, Jackson said, was whether the regulator would go after short sellers who engage in fraud as forcefully as it investigates companies for bad behavior.

“I hope the answer to that question will be yes.”

A hint came last September, when the SEC brought a rare “short and distort” case against hedge fund manager Gregory Lemelson for making false claims about Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc, an allegation which Lemelson has denied.

Jackson said, however, laws on anonymity and free speech could limit any steps that went beyond straightforward cases involving false information.

On March 12, for example, a New York state judge dismissed a lawsuit against short sellers by Indian media company Eros International PLC, noting their opinions on Seeking Alpha and elsewhere were substantiated and therefore protected.

Still, companies are increasingly retaliating with lawsuits, hiring private investigators and using other aggressive tactics, according to some activists. Block, for example, said he has faced “constant” legal threats, at least one undercover operative, and a failed $50 million investigation to discredit his research.

“More than ever, bad companies are trying to shoot the messenger through any means available,” Block said.


In the days after Rota’s post, Farmland issued a public rebuttal and Pittman, a former farmer and financial executive, said the company had to go on an “‘I am not a crook’ tour” in meetings and calls with investors and business partners.

Most were sympathetic, Pittman said, including farmers who had traded land for stock, but Farmland lost a potential partnership and had to cut staff from 17 to 13.

George Moriarty, executive editor of Seeking Alpha, said that courts have respected the site’s status as a neutral platform and that its staff vetted all posts. In this case, Rota made “limited factual corrections” after Seeking Alpha contacted him about Farmland’s rebuttal.

Still, shares have never quite recovered, and Rota told Reuters that Farmland has yet to substantively address his concerns.

Stock analysts said Rota’s language was dramatic relative to the underlying issues and instead focused on broader business challenges and the potential costs of fighting back. Farmland recently reported about $1.6 million in extra expenses over 2018, before insurance, citing Rota’s campaign. That included defending against a related shareholder class-action and legal costs from its suit against the short seller.

Mitts has submitted his opinion on put options in the case, a pattern he said he discovered independently during his academic research.

The short seller behind the Rota moniker told Reuters he planned to challenge Mitts’ assertions and would continue his defense of first amendment rights. Farmland’s lawyers said Rota’s free speech argument was undercut by his acknowledgement of payments received for research on Farmland.

Whatever happens in court, the SEC is watching. Rota submitted his Farmland analysis to the agency’s whistleblower hotline, while Farmland later briefed SEC staff on its side.

The SEC declined to comment, but on Jan. 29 it denied Farmland’s request for records on Rota and options trading because, according to a letter revealed in a court filing, related information was in an “investigative file” from an “on-going law enforcement proceeding.”

(Reporting by Lawrence Delevingne. Editing by Neal Templin and Tomasz Janowski.)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: The Geely Automobile Holdings logo is pictured at the Auto China 2016 auto show in Beijing
FILE PHOTO: The Geely Automobile Holdings logo is pictured at the Auto China 2016 auto show in Beijing, China April 25, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo

March 21, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd said on Thursday higher sales drove its 2018 net profit up 18 percent, even as growing political uncertainty affected overall domestic demand.

The company, which is China’s most globally high-profile car maker thanks to the Geely group’s investments in European manufacturers Volvo and Daimler, posted a full-year net profit of 12.55 billion yuan ($1.88 billion), up from the previous year’s 10.63 billion.

That compared with the 12.8 billion yuan average estimate of 34 analysts, according to Refinitiv data.

Total revenue for the year was 106.60 billion yuan, up from 92.76 billion yuan in 2017, it said. That slightly missed the 108.59 billion yuan estimated by analysts, according to Refinitiv data.

(Reporting by Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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FILE PHOTO: A Lion Air jet sits on the tarmac of Tjilik Riwut Airport in Palangkaraya, central Kalimantan, Indonesia
FILE PHOTO: A Lion Air passenger plane sits on the tarmac of Tjilik Riwut Airport in Palangkaraya, central Kalimantan, Indonesia November 1, 2015. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside

March 21, 2019

(Reuters) – Indonesian carrier Lion Air has started working on $1 billion domestic initial public offering (IPO), Bloomberg reported on Thursday citing sources, as it seeks to move past the crash in October last year that killed 189 people on board.

The company is working with advisers on the planned IPO, which could take place as soon as this year, Bloomberg reported.

Lion Air has mentioned about its IPO plan in the past but has never gone through it.

In 2014, the company floated plans for an IPO to raise up to $1 billion but it did not work. Later Lion Air delayed the IPO in 2016 due to weak market conditions.

Lion Air Could not be immediately reached for comment. (The story refiles to correct dateline to March 21, day in first paragraph to Thursday)

(Reporting by Bhanu Pratap in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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Google vice president and general manager Phil Harrison speaks during a Google keynote address announcing a new video gaming streaming service named Stadia at the Gaming Developers Conference in San Francisco
Google vice president and general manager Phil Harrison speaks during a Google keynote address announcing a new video gaming streaming service named Stadia that attempts to capitalize on the company’s cloud technology and global network of data centers, at the Gaming Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

March 21, 2019

By Paresh Dave

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – A Google executive offered new details on Wednesday about the company’s upcoming video game streaming service, telling Reuters that game makers may use competing cloud providers and must avoid some inappropriate content.

Google, owned by Alphabet Inc, unveiled Stadia on Tuesday, saying the service launching this year would make playing high-quality video games in an internet browser as easy as watching a movie on its YouTube service.

The game would operate on Google’s servers, receiving commands from a user’s controller and sending video streams to their screen. Player settings, leaderboards, matchmaking tools and other data related to the game would “not necessarily” have to reside on Google’s servers, Phil Harrison, a Google vice president, said in an interview.

Hosting the data elsewhere, however, could lead to slower loading times or less crisp streaming quality, he said.

“Obviously, we would want and incentivize the publisher to bring as much of their backend as possible” to Google servers, he said. “But Stadia can reach out to other public and private cloud services.”

The approach could limit Google’s revenue from Stadia. It has declined to comment on the business model for the new service, but attracting new customers to Google’s paid cloud computing program is one of Stadia’s aims.

If a game publisher was using Amazon for some tools, “the first thing I would do is introduce you to the Google Cloud team,” Harrison said.

In addition, Stadia will require games to follow content guidelines that build upon the system of Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), a self-regulatory body, he said.

“We absolutely will not have A-O content,” Harrison said, referring to the ESRB’s moniker for the rare designation of a game as adult-only because of intense violence, pornography or real-money gambling.

He said Stadia’s guidelines would not be public.

Asked about growing public concerns about game addiction, Harrison said Stadia would empower parents with controls on “what you play, when you play and who you play with.”

Google views Stadia as connecting its various efforts in gaming, including selling them on its mobile app store, Harrison said. But game streaming, he said, is an opportunity to tackle among the most complex technical challenges around and potentially apply breakthroughs to other industries.

“We think we can grow a very significant games market vertical,” he said. “And by getting this right we can advance the state of the art of computing.”

(Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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A Qualcomm sign is seen during the China International Import Expo (CIIE), at the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai
A Qualcomm sign is seen during the China International Import Expo (CIIE), at the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai, China November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song

March 21, 2019

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s antitrust regulator has lowered a decade-old penalty imposed on U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm Inc by 18 percent to $200 million, the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) said on Thursday.

The cut comes after the Supreme Court in January overturned one of several lower court rulings against the U.S. firm for abusing its dominant market position.

In 2009, the KFTC fined Qualcomm 273 billion won ($242.6 million) for abusing its market power in CDMA modem and radio frequency chips, which were then used in handsets made by South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and LG Electronics Inc.

The KFTC said it had reset the penalty to reflect the Supreme Court’s ruling, adding however that a “monopolist enterprise’s abuse of its market position cannot be tolerated”.

The fine is the latest in a series of antitrust rulings and investigations faced by Qualcomm from regulators across the globe.

In a separate case, the South Korean regulator fined Qualcomm $854 million in 2016 for what it called unfair business practices in patent licensing and modem chip sales.

Qualcomm did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Ju-min Park; additional reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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