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Microsoft reportedly in talks to buy TikTok as Trump mulls ban on video sharing app – CBC.ca

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Even as Microsoft is reportedly in talks to buy TikTok, the United States is preparing to force Chinese company ByteDance to sell its U.S. assets for the short video app over concerns that Chinese ownership could jeopardize personal data, people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The move would represent a major blow for the Beijing-based company, which became one of only a handful of truly global Chinese conglomerates thanks to TikTok’s commercial success.

It was not immediately clear how the separation would happen and what ByteDance would do with the rest of TikTok’s global operations. An announcement could come as early as Friday, the sources said, requesting anonymity because the matter is confidential.

News outlets including Fox Business and The New York Times reported Friday that Microsoft is in talks to buy the U.S. version of TikTok.

ByteDance and the U.S. Treasury Department, which chairs the government panel that has been reviewing ByteDance’s ownership of TikTok, declined to comment.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Wednesday that TikTok was under a national security review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) and that he would be making a recommendation to President Donald Trump this week.

“We are looking at TikTok, we may be banning TikTok, we maybe doing some other things or a couple of options, but a lot of things are happening,” Trump told reporters on Friday.

Cybersecurity concerns

As relations between the United States and China deteriorate over trade, Hong Kong’s autonomy, cyber security and the spread of the novel coronavirus, TikTok has emerged as a flashpoint in the dispute between the world’s two largest economies.

Last week, the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs unanimously passed a bill that would bar U.S. federal employees from using TikTok on government-issued devices. It will be taken up by the full Senate for a vote. The House of Representatives has already voted for a similar measure.

ByteDance has proactively been considering a range of options for TikTok amid pressure from the U.S. to relinquish control of the app, which allows users to create short videos with special effects and has become wildly popular with teenagers in the U.S.

ByteDance has received a proposal from some of its investors, including Sequoia and General Atlantic, to transfer majority ownership of TikTok to them, Reuters reported on Wednesday. The proposal values TikTok at about $50 billion US.

ByteDance has also fielded acquisition interest in TikTok from other companies and investment firms, Reuters has reported.

ByteDance acquired Shanghai-based video app Musical.ly in a $1 billion US deal in 2017 and relaunched it as TikTok the following year.

ByteDance did not seek approval for the acquisition from CFIUS, which reviews deals for potential national security risks. Reuters reported last year that CFIUS had opened an investigation into TikTok.

The United States has been increasingly scrutinizing app developers over the personal data they handle, especially if some of it involves U.S. military or intelligence personnel.

Ordering the divestment of TikTok would not be the first time the White House has taken action over such concerns.

Earlier this year, Chinese gaming company Beijing Kunlun Tech Co Ltd sold Grindr LLC, a popular gay dating app it bought in 2016, for $620 million US after being ordered to divest by CFIUS.

In 2018, CFIUS forced China’s Ant Financial to scrap plans to buy MoneyGram International Inc. over concerns about the safety of data that could identify U.S. citizens.

ByteDance was valued at as much as $140 billion US earlier this year when one of its shareholders, Cheetah Mobile, sold a small stake in a private deal, Reuters has reported. The startup’s investors include SoftBank Group Corp.

The bulk of its revenue comes from advertising on apps under its Chinese operations including Douyin — a Chinese version of TikTok — and news aggregator app Jinri Toutiao, as well as video-streaming app Xigua and Pipixia, an app for jokes and humorous videos.

Some of the company’s other overseas apps include work collaboration tool Lark and music streaming app Resso.

TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer, a former Walt Disney Co. executive, said in a blog post on Wednesday that the company was committed to following U.S. laws, and was allowing experts to observe its moderation policies and examine the code that drives its algorithms.

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Le Chateau files for CCAA protection, plans to close its doors – BayToday.ca

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MONTREAL — After 60 years in operation, Le Chateau Inc. is seeking court protection from creditors to allow it to liquidate its assets and close its stores.

The Montreal-based company said Friday that it has spent much of the COVID-19 pandemic trying to refinance or sell the business to a third party that would keep it in operation, but was unsuccessful.

There is presently a Le Chateau store in North Bay at Northgate Shopping Centre.

“Its already evident impact on consumer demand for Le Chateau’s holiday party and occasion wear, which represents the core of our offering, has diminished Le Chateau’s ability to pursue its activities,” the company said. 

“Regrettably, these circumstances leave the company with no option other than to commence the liquidation process.”

The company’s application for protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) will be heard by a Quebec court on Friday.

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores, but the eventual closures will mean the end of about 1,400 jobs — 500 at its head office and 900 at stores.

“We regret the impact this will have on our people and can assure you that we explored all options available to us prior to taking this difficult decision,” the company said.

Le Chateau expects Gordon Brothers Canada ULC and Merchant Retail Solutions ULC to be appointed as consultants to implement the liquidation and PricewaterhouseCooper Inc. to become its monitor in CCAA proceedings.

If Le Chateau’s CCAA application is granted, the company will obtain interim financing from Wells Fargo Capital Finance Corp. Canada to help it fund post-filing working capital requirements.

The company’s application comes after several other Canadian retailers have shuttered or downsized operations in the wake of the pandemic.

Reitmans Canada Ltd., Aldo Group Inc., DavidsTea Inc., Mountain Equipment Co-operative, Moores the Suit People Corp., and Laura’s Shoppe Inc. are among the dozens of retailers that have all filed for CCAA. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 23, 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSXV:CTU)

The Canadian Press

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Hospitality workers urge Ottawa to put employees first in any COVID-19 related bailout – CBC.ca

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Canada’s hard-hit hospitality industry is asking for more help from government to survive the economic impact of COVID-19. But even as hotel owners are seeking more aid from Ottawa, some workers say they’re not making good use of relief programs already out there.

Hotel workers staged demonstrations in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver this week, to draw attention to the plight of an industry that has been hard-hit by the ongoing pandemic.

Hotel bookings are down by 90 per cent in some cases, which has created a drastic drop in demand for workers.

The industry was effectively shut down just as many others were in the early days of the pandemic. The Hotel Association of Canada says most hotels did their best to maintain staffing levels, hoping for a return of paying customers.

Some took advantage of an emergency government program known as the Canada emergency wage susidy, or CEWS, which paid up to 75 per cent of an employee’s salary, as long as they remained on the payroll.

Room attendant Leonora Mulholland lost her job at a downtown Toronto hotel in March when the pandemic struck, but she says her employer eventually brought her back on once CEWS began.

But it didn’t last long. She was laid off again in August.

After 21 years working for the same hotel, she questions why her loyalty wasn’t reciprocated by her employer.

WATCH | Hotel worker Leonora Mulholland explains what workers want:

Leonora Mulholland, a laid-off hotel room attendant from Toronto, says the federal government should work with employers so they’re able to benefit from the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, and workers are put first. 0:50

Mulholland was one of about two dozen hospitality workers at a physically distanced demonstration in Toronto this week asking the government to step in and force hotels to use the wage subsidy to hire back like her back.

“I feel insecure,” she said. “Who knows what’s going to happen? How long this pandemic is going to be? We don’t know.”

Susie Grynol, president and CEO of the Hotel Association of Canada, says the industry is sympathetic to the plight of workers, but the industry shut itself down in the interest of public health, which is why the sector needs the government to step up with more support so that hotels can survive long enough to keep employing their workers long term.

“It’s put our industry on life support,” she said in an interview. “We missed the summer season. We’re heading into the off season and we’re not projected to recover until next summer, which means we’re not even halfway through this.”

Many hotels took advantage of CEWS, but recent changes mean the government now pays only about two thirds of the payroll costs, leaving hotels with next to no revenue on the hook for paying one third of the salaries for workers they don’t need.

Shelli Sareen of Unite Here, a union that represents more than 300,000 workers across North America, primarily in the hospitality sector, said industry relief must reach workers, not just hotel owners. (Jacqueline Hansen/CBC)

“The changes to the wage subsidy program has meant that we can’t keep on every employee that we had previously,” Grynol said. “That means that some of our inactive workers are now going to be laid off permanently.”

In the recent throne speech, the government gave a vague promise of more help coming for the industry, but was short on details.

Grynol says the industry is asking Ottawa to roll back CEWS to its original terms and help the industry secure access to credit because loans from banks are drying up. And, if possible, they would love some help on fixed cost items such as property taxes. 

“We’re hoping that we are going to see some support from government so that we can stabilize and ultimately bring back all of our employees,” she said.

Leonora Mulholland has worked at Toronto’s Royal York Hotel for more than two decades, but was laid off in August. ‘Who knows what’s going to happen?” she said. (Jacqueline Hansen/CBC)

The organizers of this week’s demonstrations say they agree that the industry needs more targeted help, but they’re wary of that help coming as a bailout for hotel operators that may do little to help the rank and file.

“Our concern is that any sector relief that’s provided to the industry would go straight to the pockets of the multimillion dollar corporations or the owners of the hotels,” said Shelli Sareen, secretary treasurer of Unite Here, a labour union representing 300,000 workers across the U.S. and Canada.

A blank cheque without accountability, “won’t benefit our members or the hospitality workers [and] frontline workers that have been most heavily impacted by the pandemic,” Sareen said.

Mulholland knows that the hotels themselves must be feeling the pain as well. But whatever the plan to help the industry is, she hopes the workers on the bottom like her get remembered along with the owners at the top.

“When they apply, the employers should put the workers first,” she said. “Not just apply, get the money, and keep it to themselves.”

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Questions remain regarding Alberta's new COVID-19 testing pilot: expert – CBC News

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  1. Questions remain regarding Alberta’s new COVID-19 testing pilot: expert  CBC News
  2. Here’s what’s coming to CBC Gem in November 2020  MobileSyrup
  3. Friday 4 pm COVID-19 update  KMBC 9
  4. New clashes in Caledonia land dispute in Ontario  CBC.ca
  5. CBC News: The National |Ontario Long Term Care COVID-19 Commission’s recommendations | Oct. 23, 2020  CBC News: The National
  6. View Full coverage on Google News



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