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Second AstraZeneca volunteer reportedly suffers rare neurological condition, but UK company says it’s not related to vaccine – RT

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Two people have fallen ill during the trials of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine in the UK, the company’s internal papers revealed, and a source said they had both suffered from the same serious neurological disorder. 

The company published details of the trials on Saturday, after facing criticism over the lack of transparency surrounding the testing of the much-anticipated vaccine against the virus, which has so far infected more than 30.8 million people and caused over 958,000 fatalities worldwide.

The first participant of the British trials – which are being conducted in conjunction with Oxford University – fell ill after receiving one dose of the experimental vaccine in July. 

The female volunteer was later diagnosed with transverse myelitis, a rare inflammatory disease that affects the spinal cord, causing weakness, sensory alterations, and autonomic nervous-system dysfunction. The company’s spokeswoman later told the media the volunteer had undiagnosed multiple sclerosis, and the trials resumed.




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AstraZeneca vaccine volunteer developed spinal inflammation & ‘rare neurological condition’ after two doses – report



The second female recipient of the vaccine suffered complications after the follow-up dose in September. AstraZeneca didn’t confirm her diagnosis, but a source told the New York Times it was also transverse myelitis. 

On September 6, trials of the drug were paused again, after the second woman felt ill, but they resumed in Britain, Brazil, India, and South Africa less than a week later. The US hasn’t yet green-lighted the continuation of the test, however. 

AstraZeneca, which has administered its vaccine to some 18,000 people worldwide, said in internal documents that the two cases of the illness were “unlikely to be associated with the vaccine, or there was insufficient evidence to say for certain that the illnesses were or were not related to the vaccine.” 

Transverse myelitis is a serious and rare disease, and its repeated cases among the participants of the trials may well see AstraZeneca losing its vaccine bid all together. 

AstraZeneca’s vaccine uses a monkey adenovirus that shares a gene with the Covid-19 coronavirus. It’s an untested method of vaccine development, according to Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund that bankrolled the Russian vaccine development.




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Unlike AstraZeneca’s jab, Russia’s Sputnik V, the world’s first registered vaccine, uses human adenoviruses as a vector – an extensively studied approach.

Earlier this month, respected British medical journal The Lancet published the Russian Ministry of Health’s Sputnik V study, showing the vaccine to be 100 percent effective, producing antibodies in all 76 participants of early-stage trials.

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BABA: 2 Winners and 2 Losers from the Ant Group IPO – StockNews.com

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BABA: 2 Winners and 2 Losers from the Ant Group IPO


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NYSE: BABA | Alibaba Group Holding Ltd News, Ratings, and Charts

BABA – Ant Group is set to be the biggest IPO in history as it looks to raise $35 billion at a $250 billion valuation. Currently, it has 1.3 billion users and generated $10.1 billion in revenue during the first six months of the year. Investors who want to take advantage should consider investing in Alibaba (BABA) as it owns a significant piece of Ant Group.

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Ant Group, previously known as Ant Financial, gained approval from Chinese and Hong Kong regulators as it looks to go public sometime this month. The company is expected to raise $35 billion at a valuation of $250 billion which would make it the largest public offering in history, surpassing the Saudi Aramco IPO. 

In such a short time, Ant Group has become a juggernaut with a dominant position in online banking, digital payments, and e-commerce payment processing, especially in Asia.

This valuation would make Ant Group worth more than nearly every financial or fintech stock currently listed in the United States other than JPMorgan (JPM), Visa (V), or Mastercard (MA). Of course, this is more impressive given that the company is just over a decade old.

Given the recent strength in the IPO market for fast-growing tech stocks and the massive gains in fintech stocks, it wouldn’t be surprising to see its IPO oversubscribed. Already, its parent company, Alibaba (BABA) has said it will be buying 22% of the offering which will increase its stake from 35%.

Since Ant Group is being listed on the Hong Kong and Shanghai exchanges, interested investors can see if their broker offers trading in those markets. Other options are to invest in Alibaba (BABA), who will own a sizable stake in Ant Group, or consider ETFs like the Renaissance International IPO ETF (IPOS), KraneShares China CSI Internet ETF (KWEB), iShares MSCI China ETF (MCHI), and the SPDR S&P China ETF (GXC) which are expected to add shares of Ant Group in the coming months. 

Origin Story

Ant Group actually started as a solution to a problem that Alibaba faced in growing its business to business and business to consumer online marketplaces. Growth was hindered by the lack of financial infrastructure. In the early days of the Internet, there was a lack of trust between parties that payment or shipments would be made. Alibaba had to build this itself to foster the growth of its eCommerce system.

From these humble beginnings, it’s become a financial portal for companies and individual’s financial decisions including investing, wealth management, insurance, lending, etc. The payments product is basically a funnel that brings users into eventually using Ant’s more higher-value, higher-margin products and services. This makes Ant an amalgam of an insurer, broker, bank, and fintech company.

Impressive Growth

It’s been spectacularly successful, with nearly 1.3 billion users. During the coronavirus, user growth and revenue per user has increased.  

Ant Group’s rise has been phenomenal. It’s not inconceivable that over the next decade, it passes BABA in market value given the size of its platform and monetization opportunities. Many believe the platform will grow to over 2 billion users over the next decade.

Another impressive stat about Ant Group is that it handles more payment volume than Visa (V) and Mastercard (MA) combined. Combined, these giants handle $16 trillion, while Ant handled $18 billion in 2019. And, Ant is growing at a much faster rate than these companies.

Financials

Ant Group generated $10.5 billion in revenue in the first half of 2020 which is a nearly 40% increase from the previous year. Most of the revenue came from digital payments, while credit, insurance, and investing accounted for the remainder. It posted a $3.4 billion profit in 2019.

Ant Group benefits from network effects like some of the most successful businesses of this era. It’s more likely that people will join a payments network if people are on it. Once people are on its platform, Ant has numerous opportunities to monetize especially as engagement increases.

While some investors are focused on the IPO, other parts of the market will be affected as well in different ways. On the positive side, Alibaba and MoneyGram International (MGI) are likely to benefit, while Tencent and JD.com (JD) are two who will lose.

Alibaba (BABA)

Alibaba is probably the simplest and straightforward way for US investors to participate in the Ant Group IPO. Not only does it own a sizable chunk, but its eCommerce platform is also synergistically connected to the Ant Group ecosystem. People who use AliPay are more likely to shop on Alibaba’s properties, and vice-versa.

Overall, Alibaba is reasonably priced from a growth perspective as it has a forward price to earnings ratio of 25.8 even though it’s growing sales at a 33% clip with 44% gross margins. This makes it much cheaper than US-based mega-cap tech stocks like Amazon (AMZN), Facebook (FB), or Apple (AAPL).

From a technical perspective, it’s defying the recent dip in the market as it made new highs this past week. The stock looks poised to breakout, and the Ant Group IPO could be a trigger for a more meaningful move higher.

BABA’s POWR Ratings reflect this promising outlook. It has an overall rating of “Strong Buy” with an “A” for Trade Grade, Peer Grade, Buy & Hold Grade, and Industry Rank. Among the 115 stocks in the China industry, it’s ranked #1. 

MoneyGram International (MGI)

MGI is an interesting stock. Currently, it currently has a market capitalization of $315 million. Ant Group tried to buy the company for $1.2 billion in 2018. However, the deal was blocked by US regulators.

Since then, MGI’s stock has dropped by more than 60%. The upcoming election may bring with a change in regulatory attitudes which would mean that a deal could be struck.

MGI’s stock is also interesting as a turnaround play. It’s expected to turn profitable next year and looks to be emerging from a two-year sideways range. It’s also an attractive stock for anyone who is looking for a beaten-down, fintech stock that qualifies as a value play given its price to sales ratio of 0.26.

Tencent

Like Alibaba, Tencent is a tech conglomerate. Its most popular product is WeChat which is the dominant social network and messaging platform in China and many parts of Asia. It also has a fintech product, WePay which has 200 million users. 

Yet, it’s the clear #2 to Ant Group. Ant Group’s IPO will give it more resources to grow. Although Tencent will continue to have opportunities and ways to keep growing, it’s likely to end up in second place. When we look at other Internet sectors, the category leader tends to earn the bulk of the profits.  

Similar to Ant Group, Tencent is not listed in the US. However, there are certain ETFs that hold shares including the ARK Fintech Innovation ETF (ARKF), ARK Next Generation Internet ETF (ARKW), and the Gadsen Dynamic Multi-Asset ETF (GDMA).

JD.com (JD)

JD competes with Alibaba in terms of eCommerce. It has a number of structural disadvantages including the lack of network effects that keep people in the Alibaba ecosystem.

Therefore, it’s going to have a tougher time keeping up with Alibaba. The stock has had a good run, nearly tripling so far YTD. This has also lifted investors’ expectations, however, the company is forecasting only 6% annual earnings growth over the next five years. This means that the company will have to figure out new growth drivers to validate investors’ expectations. 

So, it’s understandable that JD’s task becomes more difficult if AliPay’s IPO gives it more resources to grow which also boosts Alibaba’s ecosystem. JD doesn’t have the same type of network effects that are so beneficial to Alibaba’s business which means its slim chances of exceeding Alibaba are even more diminished following the Ant Group IPO.

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BABA shares rose $0.18 (+0.06%) in after-hours trading Friday. Year-to-date, BABA has gained 46.12%, versus a 8.97% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.

About the Author: Jaimini Desai

Jaimini Desai has been a financial writer and reporter for nearly a decade. His goal is to help readers identify risks and opportunities in the markets. As a reporter, he covered the bond market, earnings, and economic data, publishing multiple times a day to readers all over the world. Learn more about Jaimini’s background, along with links to his most recent articles. More…

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Ant Group is set to be the biggest IPO in history as it looks to raise $35 billion at a $250 billion valuation. Currently, it has 1.3 billion users and generated $10.1 billion in revenue during the first six months of the year. Investors who want to take advantage should consider investing in Alibaba (BABA) as it owns a significant piece of Ant Group.


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Lee Kun-Hee, force behind Samsung’s rise, dies at 78

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Kim Tong-Hyung And Hyung-Jin Kim, The Associated Press


Published Saturday, October 24, 2020 9:45PM EDT


Last Updated Saturday, October 24, 2020 10:31PM EDT

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of – Lee Kun-Hee, the ailing Samsung Electronics chairman who transformed the small television maker into a global giant of consumer electronics, has died. He was 78.

A Samsung statement said Lee died on Sunday with his family members, including his son and de facto company chief Lee Jae-yong, by his side.

Lee Kun-Hee had been hospitalized since May 2014 after suffering a heart attack and the younger Lee has run Samsung, the biggest company in South Korea.

“All of us at Samsung will cherish his memory and are grateful for the journey we shared with him,” the Samsung statement said. “Our deepest sympathies are with his family, relatives and those nearest. His legacy will be everlasting.”

Lee Kun-hee inherited control from his father and during his nearly 30 years of leadership, Samsung Electronics Co. became a global brand and the world’s largest maker of smartphones, televisions and memory chips. Samsung sells Galaxy phones while also making the screens and microchips that power its rivals, Apple’s iPhones and Google Android phones.

Samsung helped make the nation’s economy, Asia’s fourth-largest. Its businesses encompass shipbuilding, life insurance, construction, hotels, amusement park operation and more. Samsung Electronics alone accounts for 20% of the market capital on South Korea’s main stock market.

Lee leaves behind immense wealth, with Forbes estimating his fortune at $16 billion as of January 2017.

His death comes during a complex time for Samsung.

When he was hospitalized, Samsung’s once-lucrative mobile business faced threats from upstart makers in China and other emerging markets. Pressure was high to innovate its traditionally strong hardware business, to reform a stifling hierarchical culture and to improve its corporate governance and transparency.

Samsung was ensnared in the 2016-17 corruption scandal that led to then-President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment and imprisonment. Its executives, including the younger Lee, were investigated by prosecutors who believed Samsung executives bribed Park to secure the government’s backing for a smooth leadership transition from father to son.

In a previous scandal, Lee Kun-Hee was convicted in 2008 for illegal share dealings, tax evasion and bribery designed to pass his wealth and corporate control to his three children.

The late Lee was a stern, terse leader who focused on big-picture strategies, leaving details and daily management to executives.

His near-absolute authority allowed the company to make bold decisions in the fast-changing technology industry, such as shelling out billions to build new production lines for memory chips and display panels even as the 2008 global financial crisis unfolded. Those risky moves fueled Samsung’s rise.

Lee was born Jan. 9, 1942, in the southeastern city of Daegu during Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. His father Lee Byung-chull had founded an export business there in 1938 and following the 1950-53 Korean War, he rebuilt the company into an electronics and home appliance manufacturer and the country’s first major trading company.

Lee Byung-chull was often called one of the fathers of modern industrial South Korea. Lee Kun-Hee was the third son and his inheritance of his father’s businesses bucked the tradition of family wealth going to the eldest. One of Lee Kun-Hee’s brothers sued for a bigger part of Samsung but lost the case.

When Lee Kun-Hee inherited control from his father in 1987, Samsung was relying on Japanese technology to produce TVs and was making its first steps into exporting microwaves and refrigerators.

The company was expanding its semiconductor factories after entering the business in 1974 by acquiring a near-bankrupt firm.

A decisive moment came in 1993. Lee Kun-Hee made sweeping changes to Samsung after a two-month trip abroad convinced him the company needed to improve the quality of its products.

In a speech to Samsung executives, he famously urged, “Let’s change everything except our wives and children.”

Not all his moves succeeded.

A notable failure was the group’s expansion into the auto industry in the 1990s, in part driven by Lee Kun-Hee’s passion for luxury cars. Samsung later sold near-bankrupt Samsung Motor to Renault. The company also was frequently criticized for disrespecting labour rights. Cancer cases among workers at its semiconductor factories were ignored for years.

In 2020, Lee Jae-yong declared heredity transfers at Samsung would end, promising the management rights he inherited wouldn’t pass to his children. He also said Samsung would stop suppressing employee attempts to organize unions, although labour activists questioned his sincerity.

South Koreans are both proud of Samsung’s global success and concerned the company and Lee family are above the law and influence over almost every corner of society.

Critics particularly note how Lee Kun-Hee’s only son gained immense wealth through unlisted shares of Samsung firms that later went public.

In 2007, a former company lawyer accused Samsung of wrongdoing in a book that became a bestseller in South Korea. Lee Kun-Hee was subsequently indicted on tax evasion and other charges.

Lee resigned as chairman of Samsung Electronics and was convicted and sentenced to a suspended three-year prison term. He received a presidential pardon in 2009 and returned to Samsung’s management in 2010.

 

 

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Eastern Ontario Health Unit imposes new COVID-19 restrictions on restaurants, gyms, fitness centres – CTV News Ottawa

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OTTAWA —
The Eastern Ontario Health Unit is imposing new restrictions on food and drink establishments, sports and recreation facilities and personal care services in Alexandria, Cornwall, Casselman, Clarence-Rockland, Hawkesbury and other areas of eastern Ontario.

The new measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the community were announced as Public Health Ontario reported 43 new cases of COVID-19 in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region on Saturday.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis issued a new Order under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act that will come into effect on Monday, and remain in effect for 28 days.

“The last thing I want is for businesses in our community to have to shut their doors again as they did in the spring,” said Dr. Roumeliotis.

“By putting these new measures in place, I’m hoping we can stop the rising number of infections and prevent another shutdown that would hurt our economy.”

The new COVID-19 measures include limiting the number of people who can be seated at a table in bars and restaurants to a maximum of six people, while the total number of patrons in the indoor and outdoor sections of a food and drink establishment must not exceed 100.

Indoor dining at bars and restaurants in eastern Ontario is still allowed. 

For banquet halls, the total number of patrons permitted in the premises is limited to the number that can maintain a physical distance of at least two meters, and in any event cannot exceed 50 indoors or 100 outdoors.

Establishments must also conduct a COVID-19 screening on every patron and record their name and contact information.

“This really mimics what happened on Oct. 2 when Ottawa, Toronto and Peel were put in these enhanced zones, before they were put into the red hot zone,” said Dr. Roumeliotis during a media conference late Friday.

“I think this is very fair request and saving closures.”

The new measures for indoor sports and recreational facilities include limiting the total number of people permitted in a class, organized program or organized activity to a maximum of 10 people, excluding instructors/trainers/coaches.. The total number of people permitted to be indoors at the facility in areas containing weights or exercise machines cannot exceed 50.

The order applies to gymnasiums, health clubs, community centres, multi-purpose facilities, arenas, exercise studios, yoga studios, dance studios, and other indoor fitness centres.

For personal care settings, including hair salons and barber shops, manicure and pedicure salons, spas and tanning salons, they must conduct a COVID-19 screening for every client and record their name and contact information.

Last Sunday, Dr. Roumeliotis told CTV News Ottawa the region may have to consider moving to a modified Stage 2, like Ottawa, due to rising COVID-19 cases.

On Thursday, the medical officer of health said he was no longer recommending eastern Ontario move into a modified Stage 2, but wanted to impose new restrictions on establishments to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

Ontario introduced new restrictions on bars, restaurants, fitness centres and other recreation complexes in Ottawa on Oct. 2. On Oct. 10, the Ontario Government moved Ottawa into a modified Stage 2, which included prohibiting indoor dining at bars and restaurants, and closed gyms, fitness centres and movie theatres.

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