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Canada’s Couche-Tard drops $20 billion Carrefour takeover plan

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LONDON/PARIS (Reuters) – Canada‘s Alimentation Couche-Tard has dropped its 16.2 billion euro ($19.6 billion) bid to acquire European retailer Carrefour SA after the takeover plan ran into stiff opposition from the French government, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Friday.

The decision to end merger talks came after a meeting on Friday between French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and Couche-Tard’s founder and chairman, Alain Bouchard, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity as the matter is confidential.

Couche-Tard and Carrefour declined to comment.

Earlier on Friday, France ruled out any sale of grocer Carrefour on food security grounds, prompting the Canadian firm and its allies to mount a last-ditch attempt to salvage the deal.

“Food security is strategic for our country so that’s why we don’t sell a big French retailer. My answer is extremely clear: we are not in favour of the deal. The no is polite but it’s a clear and final no,” Le Maire said.

Couche-Tard was hoping to win France’s blessing by offering commitments on jobs and France’s food supply chain as well as keeping the merged entity listed in both Paris and Toronto, with Carrefour boss Alexandre Bompard and his Couche-Tard counterpart Brian Hannasch leading it as co-CEOs, one of the sources said.

The plan also included a commitment to keep the new entity’s global strategic operations in France and having French nationals on its board, he said.

Couche-Tard was also going to pump in 3 billion euros of investments to the French retailer – a plan that was widely backed by Carrefour which employs 105,000 workers in France, its largest market, making it France’s biggest private-sector employer.

France’s opposition, with ministers shooting down the offer less than 24 hours after talks were confirmed, sparked disquiet in some business circles over how French President Emmanuel Macron decides which foreign investment is welcome and which is not.

Some politicians and bankers said the pushback could tarnish Macron’s pro-business image, while others highlighted that the COVID-19 crisis had forced more than one country to redefine its strategic national interests.

The comments sparked a trans-Atlantic flurry of lobbying and Couche-Tard’s Bouchard flew to Paris to explain the merits of the deal to Le Maire, the source said.

But the finance minister reiterated his opposition without listening to the terms of the transaction and said any such deal should not be revisited before France’s presidential elections in 2022, the sources said.

Couche-Tard initially explored the possibility of pursuing its offer despite the government’s stance on the deal, but later decided to raise the white flag and avoid a political storm, one of the sources added.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, asked about the prospects for a deal, said he would always be there to help Canadian firms succeed internationally and he spoke this week to Macron.

Carrefour launched a five-year overhaul plan in 2018 to cut costs and boost e-commerce investment to contend with online competitors as well as domestic rivals such as Leclerc. It has also expanded into convenience stores to reduce reliance on the big hypermarkets that still account for the bulk of its sales.

With food retailers across the world benefiting from surging demand as more consumers stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic, Carrefour reported robust third-quarter results in France as well as other key markets in Brazil and Spain.

CEO Bompard has repeatedly said the retail sector was bound to consolidate and that his mission was to ensure Carrefour emerges as a winner.

($1 = 0.8282 euro)

 

(Reporting by Pamela Barbaglia in London and Gwenaelle Barzic in Paris; Additional reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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Twitch deletes PogChamp emote because it’s now the face of ‘further violence’

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Twitch banned the popular PogChamp emote Wednesday after the person depicted in it published tweets “encouraging further violence” following a riot at the US Capitol.

“We’ve made the decision to remove the PogChamp emote following statements from the face of the emote encouraging further violence after what took place in the Capitol today,” Twitch said in a statement Wednesday evening. “We want the sentiment and use of Pog to live on — its meaning is much bigger than the person depicted or image itself — and it has a big place in Twitch culture. However, we can’t in good conscience continue to enable use of the image.”

The PogChamp emote is one of the oldest on Twitch and is widely used by viewers to display excitement in stream chats. PogChamp, or “poggers,” has become synonymous with gaming culture and streaming platforms like Twitch due to its popularity. “Poggers,” the shortened version of the emote, has taken off as a general meme expressing surprise over the last few years.

Twitch’s decision to ban PogChamp was made after the face depicted in the emote, professional Street Fighter player Ryan “Gootecks” Gutierrez, published tweets Wednesday questioning whether more “civil unrest” would take place after a woman was shot at the Capitol. Earlier Wednesday, pro-Trump protesters stormed the Capitol building, delaying a vote to certify the results of the 2020 election.

“We will work with the community to design a new emote for the most hype moments on Twitch,” Twitch said on Twitter Wednesday.

Source:- The Verge

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Scientists say our galaxy is probably colliding with its closest neighbour

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TORONTO —
As if COVID-19, murder hornets and having to confront the painful ennui that is human existence weren’t enough, 2020 is now offering us a cosmic calamity as well.

Scientists have found probable evidence that our galaxy has begun to collide with Andromeda, its closest neighbour.

Using the Hubble Space Telescope, an American research team found that the mostly gaseous “halos” around Andromeda and the Milky Way are overlapping each other.

Their findings, which were published last week in The Astrophysical Journal, provide the most detailed glimpse yet at Andromeda’s halo and the first evidence that it is touching our galaxy.

Halos at the edge of galaxies contain gases created by supernovas within the galaxy, some of which may be used in the formation of new stars.

Lead researcher Nicolas Lehner, an astrophysicist at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, said in a press release that Andromeda’s halo has two distinct components, which combine to extend approximately two million light-years beyond the galaxy.

“We find the inner shell that extends to about a half million light-years is far more complex and dynamic,” he said.

“The outer shell is smoother and hotter. This difference is a likely result from the impact of supernova activity in the galaxy’s disk more directly affecting the inner halo.”

Only small parts of the outer halo are in contact with the Milky Way, however. Lehner’s team found that most of the halo extends for about 1.3 million light-years – much farther than previous estimates, but only about half the average distance to our galaxy.

Scientists have not been able to calculate the depth of the halo of any other galaxy, not even our own. However, Lehner’s team says the measurements it recorded of Andromeda’s halo leave them confident that it and the Milky Way’s halo have “likely” made contact.

It is well established that the two similar-sized galaxies are on a collision course, and will eventually merge to form one large galaxy. This will have far-reaching effects, with more than one trillion stars being flung into different orbits.

There’s no reason for anybody alive today to fear the collision, though, as the merger is estimated to be at least four billion years away and will take another three billion years to complete.

By that time, the sun will have turned into a red giant star and grown large enough to engulf the Earth – making everything 2020 has thrown at us seem like child’s play by comparison.

Source:- CTV News

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Major Upcoming Trends for the Online Gambling Industry In 2020

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Over the past two decades, online gambling has been ideally snowballing, mainly owing to the steady rise of both the internet as well as multiple technological advancements. Essentially, the internet is home to innumerable casinos boasting millions of players across the globe.

In 2020, the online gambling industry is expected to hit a massive $60 Billion in worth. And with the internet growing even more impactful, the competition among various casinos is set to grow fiercer with softwares also expected to more innovative than ever before.

Every year is rocked by various monumental technological innovations that inspire new projects and fresh ideas to the market, something expected to continue this year. So, what precisely is to be expected this year when it comes to online gambling, and how is technological progress set to impact the world of gambling this year?

Below is a list of some of the most exciting trends you can expect in 2020

1. Mobile and Social Gambling set to get even better.

Owing to the popularity of the distinct games now available on various social media websites, online casinos ideally went on to quickly include various social features within their games.

In consequence, players can now enjoy interactions with other players through participating in social slots, leader boards, challenges, among much more. Ideally, with new technology being adopted, social features will grow better, and many more casinos are set to use this concept.

Coupled with the significant social media surge, we witnessed the rise of mobile gadgets, and while mobile phones have been around for some time, mobile gambling has only gained popularity in the last few years.

Now, gamblers can effectively play on the go, and go on from where they left off while on their computers, as well as gain access to various casino games previously only accessible on their desktops.

Mobile gadgets are set to be a massive game-changer within the realms of gambling, attracting massive investments going forward. In 2020, over half of the globe’s population will own a smartphone!

Subsequently, numerous online casinos are already developing mobile apps, and we, therefore, should expect to see all other casinos going the mobile-friendly way. Moreover, game developers seem also to be aligning their productions with the same, with many of the new slots being produced being mobile-friendly.

2. More Payment Options

Currently, most of the significant online casinos allow a wide array of payment technologies and methods, and this number is continually growing every day. This is primarily because new techniques come up every year.

This year will not be any different, and we, therefore, expect to witness new payment solutions like Google Pay and Apple Pay also join the available payment options in most casinos.

Nowadays, the number of players opting for cash transactions when depositing grows lesser and lesser. Various methods like cryptocurrencies and e-wallets are increasing in popularity, and numerous online casinos are now accepting crypto-deposits. Multiple casinos are working distinctly with typical blockchain payments and don’t take any other methods.

This year, we expect to witness the growth in the number of typical crypto casinos.

3. New Gambling Rules and Regulations

Online Gambling is quite a profitable and significant industry as the $6 Billion projected figure outlines. However, as ComeOn and other major affiliate marketing brands-who promote various casino websites and brands across the world-outline, it can get even with better laws and regulations in place.

In 2020, we are set to the adoption of several new gambling regulations.

Problem gaming has in recent times, become an emerging concern, particularly in the European Space. Consequently, several countries have introduced various new regulations concerning online gambling, with more nations expected to do the same.

The Netherlands, for instance, is set to open its market to foreign operators after the adoption of new gambling laws at the start of 2020. Ideally, this means that the Netherland gambling market will effectively open in 2021.

Also, the distinct European Organization for Gaming Regulation is also set to adopt changes to its specific money-laundering laws. In essence, this will place online casinos under stringent control and may mandate casinos to get additional licenses.

With respect to players, it may lead to fewer welcome bonuses and promotions, not to mention more explicit conditions and terms that most of the players will gladly welcome.

In the USA, there are changes expected, especially with e-Sports betting and online gambling. In 2020, we should expect to see many more nations that permit online gambling within their borders.

Conclusion

Essentially, in 2020, the online gambling industry is expected to continue its remarkable growth, a year that is turning out to be quite an exciting one for the industry.

While you may notice that several of these trends, as mentioned above, have been around for a while now, they are, however, beginning to garner more attention and popularity within the industry.

Also, they are slowly evolving into entirely different concepts. With technology fast and continually changing, the online gambling industry is sure to have a thrilling year 2020!

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