Culture at the big four banks is worse than before the Royal Commission, as workers expose the sneaky way banks continue to emphasise sales.
Alibaba Group will introduce measures to lower entry barriers and business costs faced by merchants on e-commerce platforms, CEO Daniel Zhang said on Monday, after an antitrust probe found the firm had abused its dominant market position. China on Saturday imposed a record 18 billion yuan ($2.75 billion) fine on Alibaba amid a crackdown on technology conglomerates, signalling a new era after years of laissez-faire approach. The e-commerce giant has come under intense scrutiny since billionaire founder Jack Ma's public criticism of the Chinese regulatory system in October.
SHANGHAI (Reuters) -Alibaba Group will introduce measures to lower entry barriers and business costs faced by merchants on e-commerce platforms, CEO Daniel Zhang said on Monday, after an antitrust probe found the firm had abused its dominant market position. China on Saturday imposed a record 18 billion yuan ($2.75 billion) fine on Alibaba amid a crackdown on technology conglomerates, signalling a new era after years of laissez-faire approach. The e-commerce giant has come under intense scrutiny since billionaire founder Jack Ma's public criticism of the Chinese regulatory system in October.
(Bloomberg) -- After China imposed a record antitrust fine on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., the e-commerce giant did an unusual thing: It thanked regulators.“Alibaba would not have achieved our growth without sound government regulation and service, and the critical oversight, tolerance and support from all of our constituencies have been crucial to our development,” the company said in an open letter. “For this, we are full of gratitude and respect.”It’s a sign of how odd China’s crackdown on the power of big tech has been compared with the rest of the world. Mark Zuckerberg and Tim Cook would likely not express such public gratitude if the U.S. government were to hit Facebook Inc. or Apple Inc. with record antitrust fines.Almost everything about China’s regulatory push is out of the ordinary. Beijing regulators wrapped up their landmark probe in just four months, compared with the years that such investigations take in the U.S. or Europe. They sent a clear message to the country’s largest corporations and their leaders that anti-competitive behavior will have consequences.For Alibaba, the $2.8 billion fine was less severe than many feared and helps lift a cloud of uncertainty hanging over founder Jack Ma’s internet empire. The 18.2 billion yuan penalty was based on just 4% of the internet giant’s 2019 domestic revenue, regulators said. While that’s triple the previous high of almost $1 billion that U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm Inc. handed over in 2015, it’s far less than the maximum 10% allowed under Chinese law.“We’re happy to get the matter behind us,” Joe Tsai, co-founder and vice chairman, said on an investor call on Monday. “These regulatory actions are undertaken to ensure fair competition.”The fine came with a plethora of “rectifications” that Alibaba will have to put in place -- such as curtailing the practice of forcing merchants to choose between Alibaba or a competing platform -- many of which the company had already pledged to establish. But Tsai said regulators won’t impose radical changes to its e-commerce strategy.“They’re affirming our business model,” he said. “This kind of model is good for the growth of the country’s economy and helps innovation.”He said the company is unaware of any other antitrust investigations into the company, except for a previously discussed probe into acquisitions and investments by Alibaba and other tech giants.Alibaba Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang on Saturday declared his company now ready to move on from its ordeal, while China’s Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily issued assurances that Beijing wasn’t trying to stifle the sector.The Hangzhou-based firm “has escaped possible outcomes such as a forced breakup or divestment of assets. The penalty will not shake up its business model, either,” said Jet Deng, an antitrust lawyer at the Beijing office of law firm Dentons.Beijing remains intent on reining in its internet and fintech giants, a broad campaign that’s wiped more than $250 billion off Alibaba’s valuation since October. The e-commerce giant’s speedy capitulation underscores its vulnerability to further regulatory action -- a far cry from just six years ago, when Alibaba openly contested one agency’s censure over counterfeit goods on Taobao and eventually forced the State Administration for Industry and Commerce to backtrack on its allegations.Beyond antitrust, government agencies are said to be scrutinizing other parts of Ma’s empire, including Ant Group Co.’s consumer-lending businesses and Alibaba’s extensive media holdings. And the shock of the crackdown will continue to resonate with peers from Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Baidu Inc. to Meituan, forcing them to tread far more carefully on business expansions and acquisitions for some time to come.What Bloomberg Intelligence SaysChina’s record fine on Alibaba may lift the regulatory overhang that has weighed on the company since the start of an anti-monopoly probe in late December. The 18.2 billion yuan ($2.8 billion) fine, to penalize the anti-competitive practice of merchant exclusivity, is equivalent to 4% of Alibaba’s 2019 domestic sales. Still, the company may have to be conservative with acquisitions and its broader business practices.-- Vey-Sern Ling and Tiffany Tam, analystsClick here for the full research.The investigation into Alibaba was one of the opening salvos in a campaign seemingly designed to curb the power of China’s internet leaders, which kicked off after Ma infamously rebuked “pawn shop” Chinese lenders, regulators who don’t get the internet, and the “old men” of the global banking community. Those comments set in motion an unprecedented regulatory offensive, including scuttling Ant’s $35 billion initial public offering.It remains unclear whether the watchdog or other agencies might demand further action. Regulators are said, for instance, to be concerned about Alibaba’s ability to sway public discourse and want the company to sell some of its media assets, including the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong’s leading English-language newspaper.Read more: China Presses Alibaba to Sell Media Assets, Including SCMPChina’s top financial regulators now see Tencent as the next target for increased supervision, Bloomberg News has reported. And the central bank is said to be leading discussions around establishing a joint venture with local technology giants to oversee the lucrative data they collect from hundreds of millions of consumers, which would be a significant escalation in regulators’ attempts to tighten their grip over the country’s internet sector.“The high fine puts the regulator in the media spotlight and sends a strong signal to the tech sector that such types of exclusionary conduct will no longer be tolerated,” said Angela Zhang, author of “Chinese Antitrust Exceptionalism” and director of the Centre for Chinese Law at the University of Hong Kong. “It’s a stone that kills two birds.”For now, it appears investors are just glad it wasn’t worse. In its statement, the State Administration for Market Regulation concluded Alibaba had used data and algorithms “to maintain and strengthen its own market power and obtain improper competitive advantage.” Its practice of imposing a “pick one from two” choice on merchants “shuts out and restricts competition” in the domestic online retail market, according to the statement.The firm will be required to implement “comprehensive rectifications,” including strengthening internal controls, upholding fair competition and protecting businesses on its platform and consumers’ rights, the regulator said. It will need to submit reports on self-regulation to the authority for three consecutive years.The company will have to make adjustments but can now “start over,” Zhang wrote in a memo to Alibaba’s employees Saturday.“We believe market concerns over the anti-monopoly investigation on BABA are addressed by SAMR’s recent decision and penalties,” Jefferies analysts wrote in a research note entitled “A New Starting Point.”Indeed, The People’s Daily said in its commentary Saturday that the punishment was intended merely to “prevent the disorderly expansion of capital.”“It doesn’t mean denying the significant role of platform economy in overall economic and social development, and doesn’t signal a shift of attitude in terms of the country’s support to the platform economy,” the newspaper said. “Regulations are for better development, and ‘reining in’ is also a kind of love.”(Updates with vice chairman comments from sixth paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Asian shares have started cautiously as investors wait to see if US earnings can justify sky-high valuations, while bond markets could be tested by what should be very strong readings for US inflation and retail sales.MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was off 0.
A new golf era has dawned in the Land of the Rising Sun thanks to Hideki Matsuyama's victory Sunday at the Masters, the first major triumph by a Japanese man.
Exclusive: Incidents ‘very close to business as normal’ ahead of latest lockdown easing on Monday
Health Minister Brad Hazzard revealed the news 'sent shivers down our spines' as the state went into lockdown last year.
(Bloomberg) -- Microsoft Corp. is making a massive bet on health-care artificial intelligence.The software giant is set to buy Nuance Communications Inc., tapping the company tied to the Siri voice technology to overhaul solutions that free doctors from note-taking and better predict a patient’s needs. Microsoft may announce the deal as soon as Monday if talks are successful, according to people familiar with the matter.The price being discussed could value Nuance at about $56 a share, a 23% premium to Friday’s close, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Set to be Microsoft’s largest acquisition since LinkedIn Corp., the purchase would give Nuance an equity value of about $16 billion, data compiled by Bloomberg show.Microsoft has been trying to make inroads into the health-care sector, selling more cloud software to hospitals and doctors. It has been working with Nuance for two years on AI software that helps clinicians capture patient discussions and integrate them into electronic health records, and combining the speech technology company’s products into its Teams chat app for telehealth appointments.The “Nuance deal would be a trophy for Redmond,” said Wedbush analyst Dan Ives, referring to Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft. “Nuance is in the midst of an unprecedented strategic turnaround the last few years under the leadership of CEO Mark Benjamin and we believe the company represents a unique asset on the health-care front for Microsoft.”Under Benjamin, Nuance has narrowed its focus and separated peripheral businesses, such as Cerence Inc., the automotive AI unit that was spun off two years ago. It also sold its imaging division to Thoma Bravo’s Kofax for $400 million, and zoomed in instead on partnerships with health-care providers and the biggest electronic medical records companies.A representative for Microsoft declined to comment. A spokesperson for Nuance, based in Burlington, Massachusetts, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.Digitizing HealthcareNuance’s shares have climbed 3.4% this year, giving the company, which laid the groundwork for the technology used in Apple Inc.’s Siri, an almost $13 billion market value. The gain still trailed the 9.9% jump in the S&P 500 Index, while Microsoft added 15%.As AI software gets better at parsing language and predicting medical needs, Nuance and Microsoft may be able to develop technology that searches for certain words in health records to make better suggestions to doctors for patient care.“This can really help Microsoft accelerate the digitization of the health-care industry, which has lagged other sectors such as retail and banking,” said Anurag Rana, a Bloomberg Intelligence senior analyst. “The biggest near-term benefit that I can see is in the area of telehealth, where Nuance transcription product is currently being used with Microsoft Teams.”Nuance, whose products include Dragon speech-recognition software, had net income of $91 million on revenue of $1.48 billion for its fiscal year ending Sept. 30., after losing $217 million the previous year.Microsoft has also been increasingly focused on healthcare. In May, the software maker unveiled a package of industry-specific cloud software, and has also hired executives with medical backgrounds and researching machine learning and AI tools for areas including clinical trials.Coincidentally, one of Microsoft’s Boston area offices is located right next to Nuance’s headquarters.Still ActiveWith a market value of $1.93 trillion, the most in the world after Apple, Microsoft remains active on the deals front.Last month, Bloomberg News reported that the software giant was in talks to acquire Discord Inc., a video-game chat community, for more than $10 billion. It also bought video-game maker Zenimax Media Inc. for $7.5 billion in cash in a deal that closed this year.The Nuance purchase would rank as Microsoft’s second-largest acquisition, behind the 2016 LinkedIn purchase at an equity value of more than $26 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.Microsoft entered the artificial intelligence space decades ago with research projects and an early focus by co-founder Bill Gates on finding ways to make it easier for people to speak to computers using plain English.The Nuance purchase will complement efforts in recent years, where Microsoft has assigned thousands of employees to its AI work and released tools customers can use to build applications that understand and translate speech, recognize images and detect anomalies. The company views AI as a key driver of future sales of cloud services.The acquisition may also give Microsoft a boost as it faces fierce competition in the AI space with rivals such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Amazon.com Inc. also investing heavily in the field.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Mauricio Pochettino has repeatedly said he needs time to put his mark on Paris Saint-Germain and it was always going to be a case of getting through the first few months unscathed.
Hearties, this is HUGE news!
Asian shares started cautiously on Monday as investors wait to see if U.S. earnings can justify sky-high valuations, while bond markets could be tested by what should be very strong readings for U.S. inflation and retail sales this week. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was off 0.05% in slow early trade. Investors were anxious to see how shares in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd fared after China slapped a record 18 billion yuan ($2.75 billion) fine on the e-commerce giant.
James Tedesco has labelled Craig Fitzgibbon one of the best coaches he's had with the Sydney Roosters assistant set to land his first NRL head coaching job with Cronulla.A messy situation is unfolding at the Sharks with club bosses to meet with the management of John Morris on Monday to decide the coach's future, with Fitzgibbon on the verge of agreeing to a deal for 2022 and beyond.
Users have been warned to keep an eye out for phishing attacks, which are almost guaranteed to increase.
Jack de Belin has arrived at Sydney District Court ahead of his retrial for five aggravated sexual assault charges.
Most CEOs on a call to discuss a new push against U.S. state voting restrictions said in a poll they will reassess donating to candidates who fail to support voting rights, while many will consider holding back investments in states that restrict voting access, according to people familiar with the matter. Some business executives are putting together a new statement calling for the protection of U.S. voting rights, the latest corporate backlash against moves by Republican politicians to change election rules in Georgia and other states, the sources said. About 100 chief executive officers, investors, lawyers and corporate directors participated in a private Zoom call on Saturday organized by Yale professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld to discuss a new response to Georgia's election law and voting restrictions contemplated by other states such as Texas and Arizona, according to the sources.
(Bloomberg) -- Career banker Guillermo Lasso had a widening lead over socialist economist Andres Arauz with more than half of votes counted Ecuador’s presidential election.Lasso had 54.9% of votes, while Arauz had 45.1%, with 62% of ballots tallied.The two contenders in the runoff vote offer starkly different policies to confront the economic crisis. The result will also determine whether the country remains a U.S. ally with an IMF program, or revives its friendship with Venezuela and Cuba.Lasso, 65, says he’ll attract foreign investors and create jobs via policies that help the private sector. Arauz, 36, has pledged to pay a million poor families $1,000 each, with money taken out of the central bank’s reserves.Arauz is a protege of former President Rafael Correa, who shut the U.S. military’s base in the country and forged an alliance with then-Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.Polls closed at 5 p.m. local time. Before any official results had been published, Lasso supporters in the coastal city of Guayaquil appeared confident of victory, and jumped and cheered. The atmosphere at Arauz’s campaign headquarters in Quito was more subdued.The country of 17 million people has been struggling since oil prices crashed in 2014, and was already in recession when the pandemic hit. Last year the economy contracted 7.8%, its worst performance since at least the 1970s.Read More: Why Ecuador’s Runoff Vote Matters for the Bond Market: QuickTakeIn the first-round vote in February, Arauz came first with 32.7%, while Lasso got 19.7%. Recent polls showed Lasso having closed that gap, after receiving the endorsement of the majority of the candidates who were eliminated in the first round.Whoever wins and takes office in May will face a fragmented, potentially hostile legislature and voters who are hostile to austerity measures.Ecuador’s recently restructured dollar bonds have rallied in recent weeks, as investors bet that Lasso’s chances of victory were improving. Arauz’s campaign pledge to tap the central bank’s reserves to distribute $1 billion to needy families, would probably set him on a collision course with the International Monetary Fund, since central bank reform is a key part of the nation’s deal with the lender.(Updates with partial vote count from first paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Asian stocks opened little changed Monday after a third straight weekly Wall Street advance, with Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell flagging the prospect of stronger growth and hiring. The dollar ticked up.Equity markets were steady in Japan, South Korea and Australia. U.S. futures dipped after a solid U.S. session Friday, with the S&P 500 Index closing above 4,100 as investors braced for earnings reports this week.The yield on 10-year Treasuries edged higher, extending Friday’s advance after stronger-than-expected producer-price inflation data, and ahead of a heavy week of supply. Rates on Australian 10-year debt jumped past 1.8%.Traders will be monitoring the start of the day in China and Hong Kong after Chinese authorities imposed a record antitrust fine on e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.While the economic recovery from the pandemic is picking up speed, policy makers continue to highlight the need for more progress before they will consider withdrawing exceptional support. Traders are watching price pressures as growth rebounds. The U.S. releases consumer-price inflation data this week, with market-based expectations at multiyear highs.The U.S. economy is at an “inflection point” with stronger growth and hiring ahead thanks to rising vaccinations and powerful policy support, Powell told CBS’s 60 Minutes in an interview aired Sunday. He warned that a resurgence of Covid-19 remains the principal risk to the economy.“The Fed is going to be more concerned about the labor market,” Sian Fenner, senior economist at Oxford Economics, told Bloomberg News. “Definitely inflation’s not spiraling out of control.”Investors are wary of supply stirring more rates-market volatility, however. Bonds have rallied from the losses that roiled equity markets earlier this year, but another heavy round of auctions could pressure yields higher again. The U.S. sells three-, 10- and 30-year Treasuries at the start of the week.Oil inched back toward $60 a barrel after a 3.5% drop last week. Bitcoin eased from a rally past $61,000 on the weekend. The forthcoming listing of cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Global Inc. in the U.S. has put the spotlight back on the digital-token sector.Some key events to watch this week:Banks and financial firms begin reporting first-quarter earnings, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp., Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group Inc.U.S. officials and company executives are due to discuss the global shortage of computer chips on Monday.The U.S. releases inflation data Tuesday.Chinese trade data are scheduled for Tuesday.Economic Club of Washington hosts Fed Chair Jerome Powell for a moderated Q&A on Wednesday.U.S. Federal Reserve releases Beige Book on Wednesday.U.S. data including initial jobless claims, industrial production and retail sales come Thursday.China economic growth, industrial production and retail sales figures are on Friday.These are some of the main moves in financial markets:StocksS&P 500 futures dipped 0.3% as of 9:15 a.m. in Tokyo. The index rose 0.8% on Friday.Japan’s Topix Index was up 0.1%.South Korea’s Kospi Index climbed 0.1%.Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index slipped 0.4%.Hang Seng futures rose 0.1% earlier.CurrenciesThe Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index edged up less than 0.1%.The yen was steady at 109.70 per dollar.The euro was at $1.1898.The offshore yuan was at 6.5629 per dollar.BondsThe yield on 10-year Treasuries added another basis point to 1.67%.Australia’s 10-year yield climbed five basis points to 1.81%.CommoditiesWest Texas Intermediate crude was up 0.4% at $59.56 a barrel.Gold was down 0.2% at $1,741.10 an ounce.(An earlier version corrected the day of the U.S. CPI release.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the U.S. economy is at an “inflection point” with stronger growth and hiring ahead thanks to rising vaccinations and powerful policy support, but Covid-19 remains a threat.“We feel like we’re at a place where the economy is about to start growing much more quickly and job creation coming in much more quickly,” Powell told CBS’s “60 Minutes” in an interview conducted Wednesday, according to a transcript of the interview that aired Sunday.“The outlook has brightened substantially. And that’s the base case. I would say again though, there really are risks out there,” he said. “The principal risk to our economy right now really is that the disease would spread again. It’s going to be smart if people could continue to socially distance and wear masks.”The Fed chair was asked about other risks to the economy or financial system. The recent collapse of private hedge fund Archegos Capital Management caused massive losses and spurred financial market volatility. Powell said the incident didn’t raise questions about stability of the financial system or of those institutions that took a hit, though it was “concerning” that a single client could cause so much damage.Risk Management“We’re determined to understand what happened and make sure that whatever happened doesn’t happen again,” he said.Powell said regulators are probing why bank risk-management systems appear to have failed. “What we try to do is make sure that the banks understand the risks that they’re running and have systems in place to manage them,” he said. “This would appear to be a significant shortfall-- a failure on that front. And so that’s something we’re looking at.More than a year into the global pandemic, Fed officials have repeatedly stressed that the U.S. economy continues to need aggressive monetary policy support as it recovers from the pandemic, even as the outlook brightens amid widening vaccinations. That dovish view has helped power U.S. stocks to fresh record highs as investors shrug off inflation concerns amid powerful aid from Washington.Their latest forecasts show officials don’t expect to raise interest rates from near zero before the end of 2023, even as they sharply upgraded projections for growth and employment this year. Some investors have bet it will act sooner.Powell declined to put a date on it but said it was “highly unlikely we would raise rates anything like this year.”“The Fed will do everything we can to support the economy for as long as it takes to complete the recovery,” he said, noting many Americans have left the workforce during the pandemic -- which means they are not included in the unemployment rate -- and “we need to see those people coming back into the labor force.”Minutes of the central bank’s March meeting released April 7 said policy makers expect it will likely be “some time until substantial further progress” was made on employment and inflation. That refers to the tests they’ve set for scaling back bond purchases of $120 billion a month.Second Term?Powell was put on the Fed board by President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and elevated to the central bank’s helm by his successor Donald Trump, a Republican. His four-year term as chair expires in February and he’s given no indication that he wouldn’t serve a second stint if asked by Democratic President Joe Biden.Powell, 68, has repeatedly deflected questions over whether he’d like to stay in the job and did so again during his ‘60 Minutes’ interview.Biden, whose team could start considering the choice of Fed chair in the coming months, said last week that he’d not spoken with Powell since becoming president out of respect for the Fed’s independence.Trump repeatedly applied public pressure on Powell and the Fed via Twitter and in speeches, drawing rebukes from around the world for interfering with the world’s most powerful monetary authority.Read More: Powell Says Need for Digital Dollar Is an Issue for Congress, Public(Updates with additional Powell quote in fifth paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Asian shares started cautiously on Monday as investors wait to see if U.S. earnings can justify sky-high valuations, while bond markets could be tested by what should be very strong readings for U.S. inflation and retail sales this week. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was off 0.05% in slow early trade.