(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Fri, 28th Jan 2022) London, Uk – –
UK entrepreneur Mike Lynch has lost a multi-billion pound fraud action brought over the sale of software company Autonomy to Hewlett Packard (HP) in 2011.
The High Court judge found that HP had “substantially” succeeded in its bitter civil case but indicated that the US firm would get considerably less than the $5bn it had sought in damages.
The ruling follows years of bitter wrangling over Autonomy's value, which HP cut by almost $9bn after buying the firm for $11bn.
Mr Lynch has always denied any wrongdoing and said the failure of the acquisition was due to HP's mismanagement.
He is also due to learn later on Friday whether Home Secretary Priti Patel has approved an extradition request to the US where he faces criminal charges, including wire fraud and securities fraud, relating to the deal.
His Autonomy colleague, former chief financial officer Sushovan Hussain, was convicted in the US in 2019 and jailed for five years. He has subsequently lost an appeal against that conviction.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri 28th Jan 2022) London, Uk – –
Apple sales soared in the key Christmas shopping season, despite constraints due to a global shortage of microchips.
Sales at the iPhone giant rose 11% to a record $123.9bn (£92.6bn) in the October to December period, beating forecasts.
Shares jumped more than 4% in after-hours trade, as the report suggested the firm's pandemic boom is continuing.
Apple has seen purchases skyrocket during the pandemic as people spend more time online.
The firm's market value briefly hit the $3tn milestone in early January though its share price has slipped more recently amid weeks of market turmoil.
Executives had warned last year that the global shortage of microchips might limit its sales, but the firm's quarterly update to investors on Thursday showed it brushing past those concerns.
Mac sales were up 12%, while iPhone sales jumped 9%.
With few rival phones debuting in the holiday shopping season, the iPhone 13, which started shipping days before the quarter began, led to worldwide phone sales revenue for Apple of $71.6bn.
Revenue from the company's services unit – which includes Apple Pay, the App store and its TV streaming service – was up more than 23%.
The iPad, which executives said was particularly affected by the supply issues, was the one product that showed weakness, with sales slipping 14%.
Demand in China, where sales rose 20%, propelled the firm's growth in the quarter.
Apple said profits were $34.6bn, up 20%.
The company, which has more than 1.8 billion active devices in the market, has been able to put pressure on suppliers and manufacturers to produce big quantities of iPhones and other devices despite shortages brought on by the pandemic and most recently the Omicron variant.
“They've navigated the supply chain better than everybody, and it's showing in the results,” said Ryan Reith, who studies the smartphone market for industry tracker IDC.
Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri said that supply constraints would decrease in the current quarter, which ends in March.
“The level of constraint will depend a lot on other companies, what will be the demand for chips from other companies and other industries. It's difficult for us to predict, so we try to focus on the short term,” he said.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 27th Jan 2022) London, Uk – –
New boost to UK auto industry after tech giant and scooter maker invests in R&D plant to develop electric vehicles
Indian tech company Ola has announced plans to invest £100m in the UK to open a research and development facility for a planned electric car, in a significant boost to the UK automotive industry.
Ola launched its taxi app that rivals Uber in cities including London, Birmingham and Cardiff in 2018, but it is pushing into electric vehicles with a recently launched road-going scooter and a planned electric car.
The new facility will be based in Coventry, the traditional West Midlands centre of the UK automotive industry. It will create 200 jobs in design and engineering. Workers at the plant will also research battery technology.
Ola was founded in India in 2010 by Bhavish Aggarwal, and it now claims to be the world’s third-largest ride-hailing app. This week its electric vehicle arm, Ola Electric, raised $200m in funding at a reported $5bn (£3.7bn) valuation, and previous backers include Softbank, the major Japanese technology investor. It is also reportedly planning a stock market float to raise as much as $2bn.
The scooters are currently designed and manufactured in Bangalore, but Ola said the new UK facility, dubbed its “Futurefoundry”, will work closely with the headquarters. The company did not detail where it would build its electric cars, although wage costs are significantly lower in India than in the UK.
The investment will likely be seen as a vote of confidence in the UK automotive industry, which has seen a recent jump in investment following years of underperformance as big firms awaited clarity on the crucial trading arrangement with the EU.
Traditional carmakers such as Volkswagen are racing against newer companies led by America’s Tesla to invest in facilities to build new battery electric vehicles. However, EVs still only accounted for about 12% of UK sales in 2021.
The alliance between Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi announced on Thursday became the latest traditional carmaker to outline plans for major investments. The alliance said it would spend €23bn (£19.2bn) over the next five years to launch new electric models, including a new Nissan compact car in Europe – built at a Renault factory in northern France – to replace the Micra.
Ola would be a relatively late entrant to the electric car market, but its scooters have initially targeted its home market which is dominated by cheaper models.
Ola’s Aggarwal said: “Ola Futurefoundry will enable us to tap into the fantastic automotive design and engineering talent in the UK to create the next generation of electric vehicles. Futurefoundry will work in close collaboration with our headquarters in Bangalore, India to help us build the future of mobility as we make electric vehicles affordable across the world.”
The company last year recruited Wayne Burgess, a former Jaguar and Geely designer, to lead the UK vehicle design efforts. Burgess said Ola wanted to create a “world-class design and R&D team with global sensibilities”.
He added that the company will look at “two-wheeler, four-wheeler and other form factors.”
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(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 25th Jan 2022) London, Uk – –
Vodafone plans to axe its service next year to focus on 4G and 5G, which could affect coverage
Vodafone has announced plans to switch off its ageing 3G network next year to focus on using the freed-up spectrum to expand its 4G and 5G networks. Here we explore what impact the move might have.
What is 3G?
Launched at the turn of the century, 3G spectrum heralded the start of the transition of the simple mobile phone to the bells-and-whistles smartphones most of the public own today.
From video-calling and accessing services such as banking and online shopping to watching Premier League highlights, 3G spectrum ushered in the mobile enabled-era of the wider digital revolution.
Mobile operators spent a staggering £22.5bn at the auction of the UK spectrum in 2000, as the promise of billions in new revenues from enhanced usage beyond texts and phone calls fuelled a furious bidding war. The Hutchison-owned Three launched the UK’s first 3G network in 2003.
Why is it being switched off?
The UK’s 3G networks were state of the art two decades ago, but the technology has been superseded by more powerful and efficient 4G and 5G networks.
As most mobile phone users have upgraded to smartphones over the years, 3G is becoming obsolete. Today less than 4% of the data used by Vodafone customers is on its 3G network, and at BT-owned EE it is just 2%, compared with about 30% as recently as 2016.
Mobile operators are seeking to retire 3G networks and use the spectrum to bolster 4G and 5G services.
Who will be affected?
BT, which owns mobile brands including EE and Plusnet, has previously said that there are between 2 million and 3 million people using 3G handsets across all UK mobile networks.
Many of these are older phone owners who have preferred to stick with simple-to-use devices rather than be enticed by smartphones. Some have kept a 3G-enabled version as a fallback option in case they lose their main phone.
In 2017, there was a resurgence in the popularity of simple phones, with Nokia’s 3310 3G selling 13m handsets worldwide and making it the UK’s third most popular phone brand that year.
Will turning off 3G affect mobile phone coverage across the UK?
Based on coverage data approximately 2.2% of the UK is only covered by a 3G signal. For the most part this in remote locations such as rural Scotland, parts of North Norfolk, Wales and Cornwall.
However, all of these locations still have a basic 2G signal, which enables voice calling but has extremely limited access to internet data, which is not being switched off. However, EE has said it hopes that as coverage of 4G and 5G is rolled out it hopes to be able to switch off 2G networks as soon as 2025.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 21st Jan 2022) London, Uk – –
A firm planning mass production of electric car batteries in the UK has secured government funding for its proposed factory in Northumberland.
Britishvolt announced plans for the so-called gigafactory in Cambois two years ago, saying it would create 3,000 jobs.
The BBC understands the government has committed about £100m through its Automotive Transformation Fund.
Britishvolt also announced backing from investors Tritax and Abrdn, that should unlock about £1.7bn in private funding.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng described the support as “reindustrialisation”. He told the BBC's Today programme that the “huge investment” would give people the “opportunity to have highly-paid, well-paid, high-skilled jobs”.
“We're bringing industry, we're bringing manufacturing to an area that has been under invested in frankly and we're bringing thousands of jobs,” he said.
“Well paid jobs, which represent a huge economic opportunity for people in this area. This is exactly what levelling up looks like. “
Analysis By: Theo Leggett
The government wants the UK to become a major force in the fast-growing market for electric cars.
But if it wants manufacturers to build them here, then having gigafactories in the UK as well is vital.
Not only are battery packs big and heavy, making local production desirable, they also make up a large proportion of the value of an electric car.
And under the Brexit deal, cars made in the UK and sold in Europe will soon have to contain a significant amount of UK or European parts.
Put simply: If batteries aren't made here, the chances are carmakers won't set up shop here either.
Experts say the Britishvolt plant will have to be the first of many. The future of the entire UK car industry depends on it.
The sale in the UK of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned by 2030, with manufacturers switching to making electric vehicles and requiring huge battery production.
The government has set aside more than £800m to attract battery investment to the UK. Mr Kwarteng said Britishvolt would help put the UK at the front “in this global race between countries to secure vital battery production”.
At full capacity, expected to be achieved by the end of the decade, the factory will produce enough battery cells for more than 300,000 electric vehicle battery packs per year.
The gigafactory is being built on the site of the former Blyth Power Station. In addition to the 3,000 people at the site, Britishvolt estimates at least another 5,000 jobs will be created in the supply chain.
Peter Rolton, Britishvolt's executive chairman, told the BBC's Today programme that he would like all of the new jobs at the plant to go to people living in the area, and said the company was setting up a training centre in nearby Ashington.
“Our policy is going to be to try and not to say no to anybody,” he added.
Mr Rolton said the first batteries ready for use would roll off the production line in 2024.
He said: “This announcement is a major step in putting the UK at the forefront of the global energy transition, unlocking huge private sector investment that will develop the technology and skills required for Britain to play its part in the next industrial revolution.
“This is a truly historic day and marks the start of a truly exciting move towards a low carbon future.”
Last year, Nissan's partner, China's Envision AESC, announced it would build an electric battery plant to supply an expansion of electric vehicle production at the Japanese carmaker's plant in Sunderland.
Solana and other blockchains may snag market share from Ethereum over time, the bank said in a research note.
The Solana blockchain could become the “Visa of the digital asset ecosystem” as it focuses on scalability, low transaction fees and ease of use, Bank of America told clients in a research note after hosting Solana Foundation member Lily Liu.
Solana has experienced strong adoption since launching in 2020. It has settled over 50 billion transactions (Visa, the global payments giant, processed 164.7 billion transactions in the year ended Sept. 30), has more than $11 billion in total value locked and has been used to mint more than 5.7 million non-fungible tokens (NFTs), analyst Alkesh Shah wrote in the note published Tuesday. Solana is optimized for consumer use cases such as micropayments and gaming, the bank said.
“Solana prioritizes scalability, but a relatively less decentralized and secure blockchain has trade-offs, illustrated by several network performance issues since inception,” Shah said. “Ethereum prioritizes decentralization and security, but at the expense of scalability, which has led to periods of network congestion and transaction fees that are occasionally larger than the value of the transaction being sent.”
Bank of America said Solana and other blockchains could grab market share from Ethereum over time, and will begin to distinguish themselves through user adoption and developer interest.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 19th Jan 2022) London, Uk – –
Shares in Japanese technology giant Sony have slumped in Tokyo trade after Microsoft said it plans to buy mega games company Activision Blizzard.
The deal worth $68.7bn (£50.5bn), would be Microsoft's biggest ever buyout and the largest deal in gaming history.
It would see the US firm owning popular gaming franchises including Call of Duty, Warcraft and Overwatch.
The deal would be a major step for Microsoft's Xbox gaming brand in its battle against Sony's PlayStation.
It also comes a year after Microsoft bought another influential gaming company, Bethesda for $7.5bn.
Buying the troubled but successful Activision would turn Microsoft into the world's third-biggest gaming company by revenue, behind China's Tencent and Sony, marking a major shift for the industry.
Microsoft said the Activision-Blizzard deal would help it grow its gaming business across mobile, PC and consoles as well as providing the building blocks for the metaverse.
The purchase of the Call of Duty maker comes as Microsoft is also aggressively expanding its Game Pass subscription service.
“We're investing deeply in world-class content, community and the cloud to usher in a new era of gaming that puts players and creators first and makes gaming safe, inclusive and accessible to all,” Microsoft's chief executive Satya Nadella said in a statement.
In the battle for popularity with gamers, Sony's PlayStation 5 is widely seen as having the lead over Microsoft's fourth generation Xbox models.
In recent years, Sony has strengthened its network of in-house games studios and delivered a string of exclusive hits including in its Spider-man franchise, which has left its US rival playing catch-up.
The Japanese firm is also a pioneer in virtual reality and this month teased some details its next generation headset.
However, it faces tough competition in that area from non-traditional rivals such as Facebook owner Meta Platforms, which is investing heavily in its metaverse offering.
Sony Group's shares closed 12.8% lower in Tokyo on Wednesday, which helped to pull down the benchmark Nikkei 225 index by 2.8%.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 18th Jan 2022) London, UK —
British self-driving technology startup Wayve said on Tuesday it has raised $200 million from investors to scale up its autonomous driving technology globally and launch more pilot projects with commercial fleet partners.
The Series B funding round brings the startup's total fundraising to $258 million and includes new investments from venture capital firms D1 Capital Partners, Moore Strategic Ventures and Linse Capital, plus fresh capital from investors including Microsoft (MSFT.O).
Making taxis autonomous has proved more difficult and expensive to develop than expected, but investors have been pumping money into self-driving technology for trucks and other commercial vehicles where automation could be viable sooner.
London-based Wayve's technology relies on machine learning that uses camera sensors fitted on the outside of the vehicle, instead of the conventional method of relying on detailed digital maps and coding to tell vehicles how to operate.
“Instead of telling a car how to drive we've built a system that learns to drive and can learn to do intelligent things,” Wayve CEO Alex Kendall told Reuters.
He said that, for instance, the company's test vehicles have learned how to correctly navigate “very robustly” through traffic lights in London – knowing how traffic lights function, which lane to be in and how to interact with other vehicles even if they are breaking the rules. Last year Wayve took vehicles to five other UK cities and drove through traffic lights without ever having operated in those cities before.
“Our system was able to take the concept of traffic lights from London and apply it everywhere,” Kendall said. “That's why we'll be the first company to deploy in a hundred cities (worldwide),” he said, without giving a timeframe.
UK online grocery technology company Ocado (OCDO.L) has invested in Wayve and has announced an autonomous delivery trial with the startup.
Wayve is also running an autonomous delivery trial with British supermarket chain Asda in London.
(This story corrects to remove word “existing” from second paragraph to show Microsoft is a new investor)
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 17th Jan 2022) London, Uk – –
Amazon has dropped plans to block UK Visa credit card payments this week, as the two sides continue to try to resolve a dispute over payment fees.
“The expected change regarding the use of Visa credit cards on Amazon.co.uk will no longer take place on January 19,” Amazon said.
Visa said it was “working closely to reach an agreement”.
Amazon said last year that Visa payment costs were “an obstacle” to providing the best prices for customers.
But Visa accused Amazon of threatening to restrict consumer choice. “When consumer choice is limited, nobody wins,” Visa said.
Neither company has indicated when the talks might conclude. In an email to customers on Monday, Amazon said it was working closely with Visa on “a potential solution that will enable customers to continue using their Visa credit cards on Amazon.co.uk”.
An EU-enforced cap on fees charged by card issuers is no longer in place in the UK following Brexit.
Both Visa and its rival Mastercard have raised the so-called interchange fee on cross-border transactions between businesses in the UK and the European Union following Brexit.
However, Amazon and Visa said last year that their dispute had nothing to do with the UK leaving the EU.
Analysis: By Kevin Peachey
They have been slugging it out in public and in private, now these two corporate heavyweights are going in for an extra round.
Amazon are clearly ahead on points in this bout. Given this announcement has come so close to the deadline, many customers would have already switched their primary Amazon payment method away from Visa.
However, the cancelling of the deadline, and the fact a new end date has not been set, suggests a deal is near. Neither Amazon nor Visa are saying much to be able to judge quite how close they are to a compromise.
This dispute is about more than just fees. It is also about control. Don't forget that Amazon has taken a different course with Mastercard, which is behind Amazon's reward card.
Amazon has previously declined to say how much Visa charges the retailer to process transactions made on credit cards.
Visa also declined to comment, though it claimed that on average it takes less than 0.1% of the value of a purchase.
The Payment Systems Regulator has raised concerns about competition in this sector, which is dominated by Visa and Mastercard.
In a strategy published last week, it said one of its priorities was to promote competition between UK payment systems.
“We will focus more on improving competition between payment systems, not just competition within payment systems,” its managing director Chris Hemsley said.
“This is important because we know that the future of retail payments is becoming increasingly about digital payments, most of which are currently made using card payment systems.”
Sharks, caimans, tropical fish, sea lions… With its 35,000 seas creatures, Nausicaá attracts 600,000 visitors each year. But today, the aquarium is writing a new page in its history by becoming Europe’s biggest aquarium.
To meet this challenge, the engineers had to build a giant tank, as large as four Olympic swimming pools, and to develop a unique water filtration system, a world first. Each stage of the construction was a technical feat, including welcoming more than 22,000 additional animals, and hammerhead sharks.
From the structure’s architecture to the logistics of breeding thousands of species and bringing in hundreds more from all over the world, this film takes us on an immersive journey into this exceptional project.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 14th Jan 2022) London, Uk – –
Up to 44 million UK Facebook users could share £2.3bn in damages, according to a competition expert intending to sue parent company Meta.
Dr Liza Lovdahl Gormsen alleges Meta “abused its market dominance” to set an “unfair price” for free use of Facebook – UK users' personal data.
She intends to bring the case to the Competition Appeal Tribunal.
A Meta representative said users had “meaningful control” of what information they shared.
Facebook “abused its market dominance to impose unfair terms and conditions on ordinary Britons, giving it the power to exploit their personal data”, Dr Lovdahl Gormsen says.
And this data, harvested between 2015 and 2019, provided a highly detailed picture of their internet use, helping the company make “excessive profits”.
Anyone living in the UK who used Facebook at least once during the period will be part of the claim unless they choose to opt out, she says.
However, in November, the UK's Supreme Court rejected an optout claim seeking billions of pounds in damages from Google over alleged illegal tracking of millions of iPhones – Google said the issue had been addressed a decade ago.
The judge in that case said the claimant had failed to prove damage had been caused to each individual by the data collection.
But he did not rule out the possibility of future mass-action cases if damages could be calculated.
And Dr Lovdahl Gormsen told BBC News: “Optout cases are specifically permitted at the Competition Appeal Tribunal.
“As a result, my case is able to claim damages on behalf of the 44 million British Facebook users affected.”
Meta has rejected the allegations.
People use its free services because they find them useful and have control over how their data us used, it says.
A representative told BBC News: “People access our service for free.
“They choose our services because we deliver value for them and they have meaningful control of what information they share on Meta's platforms and who with.
“We have invested heavily to create tools that allow them to do so.”
However, this latest case adds to the company's legal battles
The US Federal Trade Commission was recently given the go-ahead to take Meta to court over anti-trust rules.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 13th Jan 2022) London, Uk – –
London-based firm founded by Swiss surfing enthusiast Guillaume Pousaz overtakes worth of rival Revolut
A London-based online payments company has become Britain’s most valuable private fintech business after its latest fundraising valued it at $40bn (£29bn), handing its surf-loving founder a paper fortune of about $20bn.
Checkout.com, which simplifies payment processes for businesses, achieved the valuation after a $1bn investment that puts the stake of its 40-year-old chief executive, Guillaume Pousaz, at about $20bn.
Pousaz, a Swiss national, dropped out of university in 2005 when his father became ill with cancer and he then moved to California to pursue his love of surfing. It was only after running out of cash that he took up a job with International Payment Consultants, a payments processing firm, in 2006.
“I didn’t choose payments – payments chose me,” Pousaz told the Sunday Times in 2020. “I only took that job so I could go surfing.” A year after joining IPC, Pousaz left to launch his first startup. He founded Checkout.com in 2012.
Fintech, a catch-all term for financial services firms operating in the digital sphere, has become a key driver of the UK’s success as a tech investment hub, featuring companies such as Revolut and Wise.
Venture capitalists, who invest in new companies by taking stakes in them, invested a record £29.4bn in the UK tech sector last year. The number of unicorns – startup firms worth more than $1bn (£750m) – reached a high of 29 in 2021 including Depop, the British secondhand fashion resale app sold to US online marketplace Etsy for $1.6bn this year, and the car-selling platform Motorway.
Checkout.com, which is now worth more than the British fintech peer Revolut, valued at $33bn, said it would use the funding to launch products and further its involvement in the Web3 space. Web3 is the term used for the next chapter in digital innovation (after Web 2.0 was coined for social media companies) and centres on technological breakthroughs such as blockchain; a digital, decentralised ledger that underpins the cryptocurrency market.
Investors in the latest Checkout.com funding round include US investment firms and the Qatar Investment Authority, the Arab state’s sovereign wealth fund. Checkout.com processes payments for clients including Netflix, cryptocurrency trading platform Coinbase and Pizza Hut.
The fundraising comes a year after the London-based company’s previous round of investment, in which it raised $450m and achieved a valuation of $15bn.
Change in how consumers use financial services and a pandemic-driven rise in use of digital services has drawn investor interest in fintechs, prompting global investors to ramp up bets on the sector.
Memecoins were among the highest gainers in the past 24 hours as the overall crypto markets surged.
Shiba inu (SHIB) jumped 16% on Thursday, leading the gains among major cryptocurrencies, amid rumors of a listing on Robinhood.
Shiba inu prices reached as high as $0.00003 during early Asian hours on Thursday before a selloff. Shiba inu is the thirteenth-largest cryptocurrency with a market capitalization of $17 billion.
Price-charts suggest the move followed a bounce from resistance-turned-support levels of $0.000027. However, the tokens remains in a broader downtrend, as prices have dropped 62% since reaching all-time highs of $0.00008 in October 2021.
The price bump came shortly after rumors of a listing on Robinhood did the rounds on Twitter.
“Shiba Inu Robinhood listing said to come as early as Feb,” a tweet by business news handle ZeroHedge read. Robinhood did not return requests for comment.
Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev previously denied plans for listing shiba inu on the influential stock trading application in October 2021. “It goes back to safety first, right. So we’re not generally going to be the first to add any new asset. We want to make sure that it goes through a stringent set of criteria,” he said in an interview with CNBC.
Additionally, shiba inu was listed on Bitso, one of Mexico’s largest crypto exchanges by trading volumes. However, the announcement did little to affect prices, trading data shows.
The bump in shiba inu saw other memecoins, such as dogecoin (DOGE), gaining as much as 14% in the past 24 hours. Baby doge and floki inu, two meme tokens issued on the Binance Smart Chain, surged 10% in the same period.
The surge in shiba inu came on the back of a broader recovery in crypto markets after nearly a week of declines. Bitcoin rose to the $43,000 level on Wednesday as Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell said the state would take measures to curb inflation in the coming months, as reported.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 12th Jan 2022) London, Uk – –
The case is one of the most significant in the US government's ongoing efforts to rein in the perceived power and market dominance of the big technology companies.
Meta has lost an attempt to dismiss a US Federal Trade Commission antitrust lawsuit which could force the company to sell WhatsApp and Instagram.
Judge James Boasberg has ruled the FTC had a plausible case against the Facebook owner that should be allowed to proceed, although he did not suggest that it would be successful.
“Ultimately, whether the FTC will be able to prove its case and prevail at summary judgment and trial is anyone's guess,” he wrote.
“The court declines to engage in such speculation and simply concludes that at this motion-to-dismiss stage, where the FTC's allegations are treated as true, the agency has stated a plausible claim for relief,” he added.
The case is one of the most significant in the US government's ongoing efforts to rein in the perceived power and market dominance of the big technology companies.
It began during Donald Trump's term in office but an original complaint had been rejected by the court, although the case was allowed to stand, permitting the FTC to file an amended complaint.
The FTC alleges that Meta engaged in a “systematic strategy” to eliminate competition, including by purchasing up-and-coming rivals such as Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014.
New York Attorney General Letitia James said when filing the suit that Facebook “used its monopoly power to crush smaller rivals and snuff out competition, all at the expense of everyday users”.
In a statement Meta said it expected to win the case as it proceeded to court.
“Today's decision narrows the scope of the FTC's case by rejecting claims about our platform policies. It also acknowledges that the agency faces a ‘tall task' proving its case regarding two acquisitions it cleared years ago,” the company stated.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 10th Jan 2022) London, Uk – –
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars boss Torsten Müller-Ötvös says its sales figures are the best in its 117-year history thanks to being protected from the global chip shortage by parent firm BMW.
The chief executive of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars (RRMC) has told Sky News the company expects to continue to be immune from the global shortage of semiconductors holding back the wider car industry.
Torsten Müller-Ötvös was speaking after the BMW-owned but Goodwood-based luxury marque revealed a record set of annual sales figures for 2021 – the best in its 117-year history.
RRMC said it delivered 5,586 vehicles to clients around the world, up 49% on the same period in 2020.
In his interview on Ian King Live, the CEO agreed that BMW had prioritised Rolls in terms of chip supply.
When asked if that arrangement was to continue during 2022, he replied: “That remains the case.”
The company's sales data offered nothing in terms of value or profits but Mr Müller-Ötvös said the performance reflected, to some extent, a demand for luxury as the pandemic to date had badly hit international travel and driven up wealth because spending fell so sharply in 2020.
On BMW's aid, he said: “We were able to allocate all the chips we needed for building the cars, to fulfil client demand worldwide and that helped a lot; to be part of what I call a very professional, big group, who helped us to acquire all our chips worldwide.”
RRMC said of its sales: “All Rolls-Royce models performed extremely strongly.
“Growth has been driven principally by Ghost, with demand surging further, following the launch of Black Badge Ghost in October 2021.
“This, together with the continuing pre-eminence of Cullinan and the marque's pinnacle product, Phantom, has ensured order books are full well into the third quarter of 2022.”
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 10th Jan 2022) London, Uk – –
Virgin Mobile and O2 phone users will not face roaming charges following announcements by other networks to reintroduce extra fees after Brexit.
It means customers travelling to Europe will be able to use their mobile data and make calls and texts on the same deal as they have in the UK.
Vodafone, EE and Three are set to reintroduce roaming fees this year for customers travelling to Europe.
Consumer champion Which? urged the UK and EU to “strike a deal” on charges.
Before the UK left the EU, users were able to use their calls, texts, and data allowance in their mobile plans in any EU country after the bloc removed roaming charges in 2017.
However, the EU trade deal of December 2020 gave mobile operators the option of reintroducing charges.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted that he welcomed the decisionby Virgin and O2 to keep roaming free across Europe.
Virgin Media O2 – the company that owns the Virgin Mobile and O2 networks – said a family of four going abroad for two weeks could see an extra £100 on their bill, based on analysis of rates from other providers.
“We're starting the year by giving our customers some certainty: we will not be reintroducing roaming fees in Europe for customers on O2 or Virgin Mobile,” said Gareth Turpin, chief commercial officer.
“With many Brits now looking to plan a trip abroad, we've got our customers covered and extra roaming charges will be one less thing to worry about.”
Vodafone plans to bring back roaming charges at the end of January, while EE is set to in March. Both networks delayed reintroducing the charges earlier due to testing and technical issues respectively.
Meanwhile, Three is to introduce fees in May.
Customers who joined or upgraded with EE after 7 July 7 2021 face a £2 daily roaming charge in EU countries, while Vodafone will charge the same fee for people who joined the network after 11 August 11 or upgraded or renewed their contract.
However, both companies will offer deals to avoid the fee, with EE customers able to buy a 30-day roaming pass for £10 and Vodafone users able to pay £1 a day for an eight or 15-day pass.
Three will bring in the £2 daily charge for people who joined or upgraded after 1 October 2021.
Sue Davies, head of consumer protection policy at Which?, said it was “reassuring” that Virgin Media O2 had offered some certainty to customers.
“As the UK continues to negotiate trade deals, it should take the opportunity to lower the cost of roaming for consumers travelling around the world,” she added.
“The UK and EU should also work to strike a deal on roaming charges to stop companies chipping away at the roaming benefits customers have become used to and to ensure the high charges people used to face do not return.”
In April last year, a £31bn merger between Virgin Media and O2 was approved, making it one of the the UK's largest entertainment and telecoms firms.
Splitting the ownership and utility of gaming assets opens huge investment opportunities for GameFi, potentially making game finance bigger than decentralized finance (DeFi). The GameFi sector is young but booming, and this is very exciting for investors. The financial components of GameFi include on-chain leasing solutions, fractionalization, staking, game non-fungible tokens (NFT) dedicated marketplaces, layer 2 solutions for blockchain games and others.
GameFi and DeFi have many similarities but there are also some crucial differences. The DeFi sector has more structure but without any recent major improvements, whereas GameFi is a brand-new sector with lots of rules and standards yet to be set. Moreover, GameFi has less chance of manipulation by crypto whales. It also has a much higher potential to attract non-crypto users into the crypto market, especially in emerging markets, helping with both education and conversion.
The thesis of GameFi sector investment is that it makes sense to invest in whatever makes playing blockchain games more fun, more capital efficient and more trustless. For example: 1) on-chain leasing protocols that separate ownership and the right to use it; 2) game NFT-dedicated on-chain swaps; 3) distributed cloud gaming platforms; and 4) layer2 solutions for blockchain games.
This was perhaps best demonstrated this summer, when Andreessen Horowitz – one of the biggest and most storied Silicon Valley venture capital firms – invested $4.6 million in a little-known Philippine GameFi company called YGG. Yield Guild Games was established as a way to finance the use of gaming assets. Essentially it allows users to lease NFTs and then redeem them for fiat money. The heart of the innovation is that it splits the usage and the ownership of gaming assets. In a short time, YGG has grown to be a hugely important part of the GameFi ecosystem.
It also shows how the current GameFi upcycle is different from the DeFi upcycle (2020 through early 2021). During that period, investors were largely focused on investing in lending protocols, decentralized exchanges, synthetic assets and on-chain derivatives – basically the plumbing underpinning the ecosystem of DeFi. The thesis centered on investing in the best technology that would attract the most developers, which in turn would then grow the wider ecosystem.
There are some important platform investment opportunities in the current GameFi tide. GameFi is bringing crypto to the mass market. Many people will have earned their first crypto ever through blockchain games. This means that the potential market size is orders of magnitudes bigger than the previous round. Back then, it was all about crypto natives, with high barriers to entry. This time it’s about non-crypto natives with low barriers to entry.
The potential is much bigger, as the play-to-earn model means that many gamers will receive crypto assets for the first time. The focus will be more on investing into the financial infrastructure of blockchain games rather than the game itself. The key will be to invest in the Fi part of GameFi because a single game’s lifetime could be short, but the Fi is essentially tech infrastructure that will last much longer.
Doing well and doing good
There is a further angle to the GameFi investment opportunity. Many of the early adopters of play-to-earn opportunities are gamers in developing regions of the world, whose normal incomes have been badly hit by the effects of two years of lockdowns. GameFi and play-to-earn are seen as a way to make an income in the virtual world, free from the problems that beset the real world.
YGG is a great example of this. In a blog post this summer, Arianna Simpson, a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz who invests in crypto, wrote about this opportunity in regard to the investment in YGG. “Right now, there is a largely untapped economic opportunity in emerging markets to provide jobs by building a virtual economy in the digital world,” she wrote. “The way we define a ‘job’ is quickly evolving because of crypto and gaming, and we think we’re just starting to glimpse what’s possible in this realm.”
It’s still early, and that means there are still opportunities to help shape the standards of GameFi, unlike DeFi. As the GameFi ecosystems expand, and more people take part, more value is created. It is a virtuous circle that also has the potential to help alleviate poverty.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Fri, 7th Jan 2022) London, Uk – –
Sir Richard Branson is drawing up plans to list a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) on the Euronext Amsterdam stock exchange in the coming months, Sky News learns.
Sir Richard Branson is to launch his first European blank cheque company as the Virgin Group tycoon continues to tap public market investors to find takeover targets.
Sky News has learnt that Virgin Group is drawing up detailed plans to list a new special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) in Amsterdam in the coming months.
Sir Richard's business is working with bankers on a listing, which could be announced as soon as the first quarter of 2022, according to insiders.
The news may be interpreted as a snub to the London market given that Virgin Group is based in the UK and that British regulators have reformed listing rules to make it easier to pursue SPAC deals in London.
One source said the Amsterdam-listed vehicle would probably seek to raise an initial sum of around €200m, although the final details have yet to be determined.
SPACs, which are listed pools of blind capital raised from investors to pursue a merger with a private company, have been an engine of global dealmaking activity for the last two years, resulting in hundreds of billions of dollars-worth of corporate tie-ups.
There have, however, been signs of investor apathy, with many fundraisings struggling and a number of high-profile companies seeing their shares plunge after their SPAC mergers have been completed.
Sir Richard has become a prolific user of SPACs, taking both his space tourism venture Virgin Galactic and commercial satellite operation Virgin Orbit public through mergers with blank cheque companies.
Virgin Orbit began trading late last year, and its chief executive, Dan Hart, will ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange later on Friday.
Sir Richard will be absent from the ceremony after disclosing this week that he had tested positive for COVID-19.
Virgin Galactic's soaring valuation has enabled Sir Richard to raise hundreds of millions of pounds to prop up his other travel and leisure businesses.
He has pumped a substantial sum into Virgin Atlantic Airways to help it survive the first two years of the pandemic, with Virgin-branded cruise and health and fitness businesses also requiring additional financial support.
Virgin has also launched two US SPACs of its own, and used them to merge with 23andMe, a consumer research and genetics company, and Grove Collaborative, a manufacturer of sustainable consumer products.
Bankers expect Virgin to launch further blank cheque companies in the US.
A spokeswoman for Virgin declined to comment.
By Mark Kleinman