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China Widens Probe Beyond Didi, Roiling Global Investors – Yahoo Finance

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(Bloomberg) — China expanded its latest crackdown on the technology industry beyond Didi Global Inc. to include two other companies that recently listed in New York, dealing a blow to global investors while tightening the government’s grip on sensitive online data.

In a series of announcements that began on Friday and escalated over a holiday weekend in the U.S., Beijing ordered all three companies to halt new user registrations and told app stores to remove Didi’s service from their platforms. The regulatory onslaught came just days after the ride-hailing giant completed one of the biggest U.S. listings of the past decade and within weeks of debuts by the other targeted companies — Full Truck Alliance Co. and Kanzhun Ltd.

Investors responded by dumping Chinese tech stocks in Hong Kong and sending shares of SoftBank Group Corp., a backer of both Didi and Full Truck, to a seven-month low in Tokyo. Didi, which tumbled 5.3% on Friday, could extend losses when trading resumes in the U.S. on Tuesday.

While China watchers have been on high alert for regulatory shocks since Beijing scuttled Jack Ma’s IPO of Ant Group Co. in November, the move against Didi and its peers adds a new dimension — cybersecurity — to a clampdown that has so far focused on fintech and antitrust issues. The Communist Party-backed Global Times said in a Monday column that Didi’s data hoard posed a threat to individual privacy as well as national security, particularly since its top two shareholders — SoftBank and Uber Technologies Inc. — were foreign.

Beijing’s targeting of recent U.S. listings may chill the pipeline of overseas IPOs that have enriched Wall Street and private Chinese firms alike. That could in turn fuel concerns of an economic decoupling between China and the U.S., at least in sensitive areas like technology, as both Xi Jinping and Joe Biden take steps to limit the flow of capital and expertise between the two superpowers. Helping tech companies sell shares in New York has been a lucrative business for firms like Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley, both of which were key underwriters of the Didi IPO.

Among the questions still lingering for global investors, Chinese tech bosses and U.S. regulators: Which companies might enter Beijing’s crosshairs next? And in Didi’s case, should investors have been given more explicit warnings about China’s clampdown before the IPO?

“Didi seems to have rushed up their IPO process, indicating that there might be early signs of upcoming government scrutiny,” said Shen Meng, director of Beijing-based boutique investment bank Chanson & Co. “The Didi probe, together with the other investigations announced today, show how the tensions between China and the U.S. are spilling over into the capital markets. The incident will suppress Chinese companies’ desire to go public in the U.S.”

Didi said in an emailed statement on Monday that it was unaware of the Chinese watchdog’s decision to suspend user registrations and remove Didi Chuxing from app stores ahead of its listing.

Didi undoubtedly has the most detailed travel information on individuals among large internet firms and appears to have the ability to conduct “big data analysis” of individual behaviors and habits, the Global Times wrote Monday. To protect personal data as well as national security, China must be even stricter in its oversight of Didi’s data security, given that it’s listed in the U.S. and its two largest shareholders are foreign companies, the newspaper added.

“We must never let any internet giant control a super database that has more detailed personal information than the state, let alone giving it the right to use the data at will,” the Global Times said in the commentary. While it’s not clear how Didi illegally collected personal data, companies should gather the least amount of information required for their services, it added.

The probe is part of a wider crackdown on China’s largest internet corporations, as the government seeks to tighten the ownership and handling of the troves of information they gather daily from hundreds of millions of users. As part of the reviews, the Cyberspace Administration of China ordered Didi, Full Truck Alliance’s Huochebang and Yunmanman platforms, as well as Kanzhun’s Boss Zhipin to halt new registrations, though existing customers can continue to use their services.

For more on China’s latest crackdown

What Is Didi and Why Is China Cracking Down on It?: QuickTakeChina Widens Security Probe to Two More U.S.-Listed FirmsBeijing’s Blocking of Didi App Sends Peers Tumbling in Hong KongChina Blocks Didi From App Stores Days After Mega U.S. IPOXi’s Next Target in Tech Crackdown Is China’s Vast Reams of DataWhat Is Behind China’s Crackdown on Its Tech Giants: QuickTake

On Sunday, Didi said on social media that it had already halted new user registrations as of July 3 and was now working to rectify its app in accordance with regulatory requirements. It offered its sincere thanks to authorities for their oversight. In a follow-up statement, Didi said the regulatory move may have “an adverse impact” on its revenue in China.

The investigation comes hot on the heels of Didi’s float, which listed on Wednesday in New York after a $4.4 billion IPO — the largest by a Chinese firm in the U.S. after Alibaba. SoftBank owned roughly 20% of Didi following the listing, while Uber’s stake was about 12%, according to an earlier Didi filing. Founder Cheng Wei owned about 6.5%, just ahead of the 6.4% held by Tencent. SoftBank sank 5.4% in Tokyo trading Monday to the lowest since Dec. 8.

Even before the CAC’s crackdown, Didi had been under close scrutiny from regulators since a pair of murders in 2018 that founder Cheng has called the firm’s “darkest days.” It was among 34 firms told by the antitrust watchdog to conduct self-inspections and rectify abuses, while the transport ministry had ordered ride-hailing companies including Didi to review their practices relating to driver income and pricing.

Full Truck Alliance, backed by Tencent, is little changed since it raised $1.6 billion in a June 21 listing. Kanzhun, also part of Tencent’s investment portfolio, has nearly doubled after its $912 million IPO. Other firms that listed in the U.S. last month as part of a boom in Chinese companies selling shares overseas include grocery services MissFresh Ltd. and DingDong Cayman Ltd.

Other tech stocks fell in Hong Kong trading Monday. Tencent retreated as much as 4.5%, touching its lowest level this year. Alibaba sank more than 3%, while Meituan and Kuaishou Technology, a short video streaming platform that listed in the Asian financial center earlier this year, tumbled more than 7%.

“It’s clear that there’s a regulatory overhang on China’s tech giants at the moment and that may continue to weigh on sector valuations for the large internet platforms,” according to Matthew Kanterman, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence.

(Updates with comment from Didi in eighth paragraph)

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©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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COVID-19: Ottawa adult vaccinations at 69 per cent; Ontario reports 192 new cases – Ottawa Citizen

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Ottawa Public Health reported Friday that 69 per cent of adults in the capital are fully vaccinated.

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According to the OPH vaccination dashboard, updated Friday morning, 591,639 people aged 18 and over have the two shots.

In all, 83 per cent of the population 12 years and older has received one dose.

Seven new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Ottawa on Friday, bringing the total number of cases since the pandemic began to 27,268.

The death toll remains unchanged at 593.

Ottawa Public Health knows of 41 active cases in the region. However, there are no COVID-19 patients in hospital.

In indicators of interest, the rolling seven-day average of cases per 100,000 residents is 3.9, while the populations per cent positivity in testing is 0.5.

The reproductive number, the average number of people that one infected person will pass on a virus to, is 1.28.

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Latest COVID-19 news in Ottawa

Ontario reported 192 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one new death on Friday.

While it’s the second week the province’s numbers have been below 200, confirmed cases have climbed significantly from Monday, when 130 new cases were reported.

Currently, there are 137 people in hospital in Ontario, with 136 in ICU due to COVID-related illness and 84 on a ventilator. (Ontario Public Health statistics of ICU hospitalizations and ventilator cases contain some patients who no longer test positive for COVID-19 but who are being treated for conditions caused by the virus.)

There have been 548,986 confirmed cases and 9,308 deaths since the pandemic began.

In health regions in the Ottawa area, Renfrew and District reported three new cases. There were no new cases reported in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, Kingston or Leeds, Grenville and Lanark units.

Latest COVID-19 news in Quebec

Quebec reported 101 new cases of COVID-19 and one more death Friday morning.

Hospitalizations in the province declined by four patients, for a total of 67. The number of cases in ICU were unchanged at 21.

The province administered 94,624 additional vaccine doses were administered over the previous 24 hours.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Quebec has reported 376,530 cases and 11,239 deaths linked to COVID-19.

Latest COVID-19 news in Canada

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam reported Friday that 46.7 million doses of vaccine have been administered in Canada, and more than 60 per cent of people over the age of 12 have been fully vaccinated.

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Dutch Teen Who Went to Space With Jeff Bezos Told Him He’s Never Bought Anything on Amazon – Gizmodo

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New Shepard lifts off from Launch Site One in West Texas with four humans on board. (July 20, 2021)

The award for “Best Small Talk on a Flight to Space” goes to Oliver Daemen, the 18-year-old from the Netherlands who was part of Blue Origin’s inaugural crewed flight to space earlier this week. On the roughly 10-minute flight, Daemon told Amazon founder Jeff Bezos what probably sounded like blasphemy to his billionaire ears: He had never bought anything on Amazon.

In an interview with Reuters on Friday, Daemen recounted his first flight to space, from when he got the call asking him if he was interested to the conversations he had with his crewmates, which included Bezos, his brother Mark Bezos, and 82-year-old pilot Wally Funk. Daemen, whose father is the CEO of a private equity firm in the Netherlands, became the youngest person to ever fly to space, while Funk became the oldest.

The teen also holds the distinction of surprising Bezos, whose Amazon empire has made him one of the richest men in the world.

“I told Jeff, like, I’ve actually never bought something from Amazon,” Daemen told Reuters. “And he was like, ‘oh, wow, it’s [been] a long time [since] I heard someone say that.’”

Considering that Bezos thanked “every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer” for making the flight possible after he and the crew returned to Earth, Daemen’s comments may have been a little awkward. However, it’s nice (and kind of funny) to hear that someone was frank with him. Bezos no doubt has enough people telling him that Amazon is God’s gift to humanity, so it’s cool to see one of the youths set him straight.

Daemen wasn’t originally supposed to go on the flight with Bezos and crew. He was offered the opportunity after the winner of the online auction for the seat, whose identity is still unknown and who paid a whopping $28 million for it, said they couldn’t go because of “scheduling conflicts.” Daemen, who was a participant in the auction and had already secured a spot on the second flight, was then moved up on the list. His father, Joes Daemen, paid for the seat.

According to Daemen, his family didn’t pay anything near what the mysterious bidder paid for the opportunity.

“We didn’t pay even close to $28 million, but they chose me because I was the youngest and I was also a pilot and I also knew quite a lot about it already,” he said.

The teen, who will begin his studies at Utrecht University in September, said he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do professionally, but would consider focusing on space travel. He also told the outlet that his fellow travelers were “super fun and all down to Earth.” Well, considering Daemen’s referring to a man that wants to stupidly move all polluting industry into space, I’m not sure I’m sold on that.

Congratulations on the award for that great small talk, though.

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Several Ontario mass vaccination clinics wind down as focus shifts to smaller sites – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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The Canadian Press


Published Friday, July 23, 2021 1:37PM EDT


Last Updated Friday, July 23, 2021 1:37PM EDT

Several mass COVID-19 vaccination clinics across Ontario are winding down as first-dose registrations wane and communities shift their focus to smaller venues.

The large clinics held in local arenas, hospitals and recreation centres across the province have been a key part of the vaccine rollout that began in the winter.

Now that first-dose vaccination coverage has hovered at around 80 per cent for adults provincewide, many health units are beginning the transition to smaller, more targeted vaccination approaches.

“Our large-scale clinics are ending because they are no longer filling up,” the Northwestern Health Unit, which covers the city of Kenora, Ont., and surrounding communities, said in a statement this week as its mass clinics wrapped up operations. “Once they are over, we will provide the vaccine in our offices and at smaller clinics in the community.”

Grey Bruce, a current hot spot for the more infectious Delta COVID-19 variant, is also shutting down its mass clinics at the end of the month to return the large sites for community use.

The health unit is advising people with shots booked for August and beyond to reschedule, and is offering smaller clinics across the region that includes several rural areas.

People living in the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph region were urged this week to seek out their shots before the local health unit starts closing mass clinics the week of Aug. 6.

“I encourage people to take advantage of the thousands of available appointments at our clinics before we move to the next phase,” Rita Isley, director of community health for the region, said in a statement. “These last few weeks of our mass clinics are the easiest way to get your shot.”

The health unit said it will shift to small clinics and pop-ups “into the fall” after the last of the large clinics close on Aug. 20.

Larger cities are also following the trend, with Mississauga, Ont., aiming to close a convention centre used as a vaccination site on Monday, with another hospital clinic closing the next day.

Mayor Bonnie Crombie said the transition away from mass clinics is part of the city’s focus on bringing vaccines to the least-immunized communities, with more emphasis planned on pop-ups, drive-thru clinics and primary care sites.

“This is a good news story and it shows that our mass vaccination clinics have done their job getting the majority of our people vaccinated,” Crombie told reporters on Thursday.

“We can now look at this period as the home stretch of our initial vaccine rollout to get to that final 10 to 20 per cent of our population and ensure that they, too, are vaccinated.”

​Kingston, Ont.’s health unit announced last week that it would enter a “new phase” of its vaccination effort, with plans to shut down mass clinics beginning in August and shift to pharmacy, mobile and primary care sites.

Mass clinics in the London, Ont., will see reduced hours in the coming weeks amid dwindling demand, the health unit announced this week. It said immunizations have sped up and many people have moved up their second-dose appointments that were scheduled for the fall, meaning the large sites won’t be needed.

“As the health unit turns its focus to individuals in the community, the vaccination effort will rely on mobile and walk-in pop-up clinics, as well as providing opportunities to be vaccinated at community events,” the Middlesex-London Heath Unit said in a statement.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said earlier this month that primary care sites would become more essential to the province’s vaccination plan as mass clinics at hospitals, stadiums and other large venues wind down and resume their old uses.

A spokeswoman for Elliott said targeted vaccination strategies will play a greater role going forward as the province aims to reach vaccine hesitant communities.

“The province is working with the public health units to improve vaccination rates through mobile clinics and community-based pop-ups, dedicated clinic days for people with disabilities, holding townhall meetings in multiple languages, and providing services such as transportation, translation services, and drive-through clinics,” Alexandra Hilkene said in a statement on Friday.

The Grey Bruce health unit noted this week that its local COVID-19 situation is now a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” a trend documented around the world.

The health unit says 95 per cent of cases reported in the first two weeks of July were among people not fully vaccinated, and encouraged people to get their shots, noting that it’s likely that vaccinated people may be subject to fewer restrictions such as isolation rules in the event of future outbreaks.

“Vaccinating the majority of people sets us on the road to return to normal,” it said.

Ontario reported 192 new COVID-19 cases on Friday and one death from the virus. Sixty-six per cent of Ontario adults are now fully vaccinated.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 23, 2021.

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