Displaying items by tag: investment

Chinese tech firms to invest in struggling China Unicom

Written on Sunday, 06 August 2017 08:25

Chinese state-owned telecom company China Unicom, formally known as China United Network Communications Group, is to receive about $12 billion investment from Chinese tech firms Baidu and JD.com in a move to boost the telco lagging behind its rivals China Mobile and China Telecom, a source told Business Insider.

The Chinese government is reportedly attempting to drive investment in state-owned giants through private capital. The government selected China Unicom among other state-owned enterprises last year, the report says, to see “mixed-ownership reform”.

From an outside perspective, China Unicom appears strong, as one of the world’s largest carriers by user numbers, but the company’s earnings don’t measure up to its fierce competition. The carrier, according to the report, is perceived as slow, often lagging behind its competition in terms of developing new technologies and services, including cloud and big data services, and mobile software.

Chinese tech giants Alibaba and Tencent would be among new investors contributing a total of about $10 billion into China United Network Communications, China Unicom’s Shanghai-listed unit, Reuters reported last month. With Baidu’s 10 billion yuan investment ($1.48 billion) and JD.com’s 5 billion yuan, the total investment in China Unicom is about 80 billion yuan ($11.8 billion).

The source told Business Insider that 15 billion yuan is likely to be raised from Tencent and invested into China Unicom, while Alibaba is likely to raise about 7 billion yuan. The biggest investor, however, would be China Life Investment, which would commit about 20 billion yuan.

The unnamed sources claim majority of the capital would be raised through new shares, while China Unicom would sell off its stake in the Shanghai unit. Thomson Reuters data suggests that it would be the most significant capital raising in Asia Pacific since insurer AIA Group’s initial public offering in 2010.

Published in Finance

UAE ride-hailing services company Careem has invested $500,000 in a start-up entity which focuses on connecting commuters with private buses in the Egyptian capital city of Cairo. Careem, which is seen as Middle East rival to global ride-hailing colossus Uber, acquired the minority stake in SWVL after weeks of negotiations. It has also been disclosed that in addition to the investment, CEO and co-founder of Careem, Magnus Olsson will also join the board of SWVL.

SWVL is only three-months old, but has already generated the interest of prospective investors after making an immediate impact in the transportation sector in Egypt. Careem, which operates in 12 countries, mainly in the Middle East will look to accelerate SWVL operations, although it declined to disclose the exact size of its minority stake in the organization.

SWVL was founded by a former Careem executive in April, and the company provides a bus transportation service which enables passengers to reserve and pay their fare through SWVL’s mobile application. The application formulates and maps the shortest journey time home based on the passenger’s location and destination by identifying the nearest bus station that travels along fixed routes.

Careem CEO expressed his desire to see the Egyptian start-up develop quickly, and he believes the best way of enabling that is by keeping the entity independent. Olsson said, “We want them to run and learn and develop at a very high pace and high agility and we believe the best way for them to do that is to stay independent.”

Careem announced last month that it had raised $500m from investors such as German car manufacturer Daimler and Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Holding. It said the investment would help them accelerate their expansion plans. SWVL is unlike Careem and Uber in the sense that it isn’t an on-demand service, but it has a strong foundation of over 50,000 passenger and 200 buses using the mobile application.

Chief executive of SWVL, Mostafa Kondil said its primary objective is to really improve the product and disclosed that it is targeting 300,000 monthly trips by the end of 2017. Analysts have suggested that SWVL will utilize the investment made by Careem in order to increase its workforce, develop new app features and expand into other cities beyond Cairo, and to Middle Eastern and Asian countries such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Pakistan next year.

Published in Apps

Nokia and Xiaomi announced that they have signed a business collaboration agreement and a multi-year patent agreement, including a cross license to each company's cellular standard essential patents. Xiaomi also acquired patent assets from Nokia as part of the transaction.

"Xiaomi is one of the world's leading smartphone manufacturers and we are delighted to have reached an agreement with them," said Rajeev Suri, President and CEO of Nokia. "In addition to welcoming such a prominent global technology company to our family of patent licensees, we look forward to working together on a wide range of strategic projects."

Under the business cooperation agreement, Nokia will provide network infrastructure equipment designed to deliver the high capacity, low power requirements expected by large web providers and datacenter operators. Nokia and Xiaomi will work together on optical transport solutions for datacenter interconnect, IP Routing based on Nokia's newly announced FP4 network processor, and a data center fabric solution. In addition, the companies have agreed to explore opportunities for further cooperation, in areas such as Internet of Things, augmented and virtual reality, and artificial intelligence.

With presence in over 30 countries and regions, Xiaomi is well known for its smartphones packed with innovative technologies at disruptive prices. Beyond smartphones, Xiaomi is also a leading Internet of Things player. The Mi Ecosystem IoT platform has crossed 60 million connected devices, and there are now over 8 million daily active connected devices on the Mi Ecosystem platform.

"As a company seeking to deliver more exciting technological innovations to the world, we are excited at the opportunity to work more closely with Nokia in future," said Lei Jun, chairman and CEO of Xiaomi. "Xiaomi is committed to building sustainable, long-term partnerships with global technology leaders. Our collaboration with Nokia will enable us to tap on its leadership in building large, high performance networks and formidable strength in software and services, as we seek to create even more remarkable products and services that deliver the best user experience to our Mi fans worldwide."

Published in Telecom Vendors

South Korean conglomerate Samsung Electronics has announced its plans to invest 21.4 trillion won ($18.6 billion) into South Korea in an effort to strengthen and extend its lead in memory chips and next-generation displays for smartphones. Samsung has claimed that the investment could create up to 440,000 new jobs from now until 2021 – which would significantly boost the South Korean economy.

Samsung is the world’s largest chip maker by revenue and has indicated it intends to invest 14.4 trillion won by 2021 in its new NAND factory in Pyeongtaek. In addition to this, it disclosed that it plans to invest 6 trillion won in a new semiconductor production facility in Hwaseong, but declined to elaborate further on the timing or product.

Samsung will also develop a new production line to its NAND plant in Xi’an, China, which investment analysts have suggested is in response to booming demand for long-term data storage chips. However, it has thus far not set an investment amount or time frame.

Industry experts have predicted that Samsung and other leading memory makers will post record profit in 2017 - caused primarily due to a persistent shortage and demand for more capability in smartphones and servers increase prices. Industry sources and analysts said the shortage is more acute for NAND chips due to increasing adoption of high-end storage products.

Analysts have also claimed that Samsung’s production technologies are much more mature and are at least a year ahead of its rivals such as Toshiba and SK Hynix. Samsung invests more than $10 billion in semiconductors on an annual basis, which has provided the foundations for Samsung to take the lead, and according to analysts this latest investment strategy will only widen the gap even further.

Samsung and its rivals Toshiba and SK Hynix has committed tens of billions of dollars to boost NAND output in recent years, yet analysts and industry sources have said that they believe shortages will persist through 2017 and new facilities created will not make any meaningful supply contributions until next year. However, some have suggested that additional capacity could lead to oversupply in early 2018, but that price crashes are unlikely as smartphone makers opt for greater internal storage.

"I believe NAND market conditions will continue to favor suppliers until 2020," said HMC Investment analyst Greg Roh. Any oversupply issues will be temporary and limited to seasonally weaker periods, he said.

Samsung's investment plan comes on the back of South Korean President Moon Jae-in plea for local businesses to create more jobs and help reinvigorate the economy. In China, some South Korean firms have suffered from sales decline or have been forced to scale down operations due to retaliatory measures from Beijing over the deployment of a US anti-missile defense system outside Seoul. However, China smartphone makers remain one of Samsung’s biggest customers and are among its biggest buyers of memory chips and displays.

Published in Telecom Vendors

The United States is planning to increase its scrutiny of Chinese investment in Silicon Valley in an effort to protect what it describes as ‘sensitive technologies’ which are seen as vital to US national security. China has shown a particular interest in AI and machine learning and both technologies have received a significant amount of Chinese capital in recent years.

The US has expressed concern that the cutting-edge technologies being developed in the US could be used by China to bolster its own military capabilities. However, the US government has now taken steps to strengthen the role of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US, which is the inter-agency committee that reviews foreign acquisitions of US companies on security grounds.

It has been disclosed that an unpublished Pentagon report has raised concerns that China is skirting with US oversight in relation to gaining access to sensitive technology through transactions that don’t currently trigger CFIUS review. A member of the Trump administration said they had the review CFIUS due to the ‘predatory practices’ of China. The official who was not granted authority to speak said, “We're examining CFIUS to look at the long-term health and security of the U.S. economy, given China's predatory practices in technology.”

Under the administration of former US president Barack Obama – CFIUS prevented a number of attempted Chinese acquisitions of high-end chip makers. One Republican in the senate, John Cornyn, is currently drafting legislation which would enable the CFIUS to have much more power to block technology investments it expresses concern about.

A spokesman for the Senator said, “Artificial intelligence is one of many leading-edge technologies that China seeks, and that has potential military applications. These technologies are so new that our export control system has not yet figured out how to cover them, which is part of the reason they are slipping through the gaps in the existing safeguards.”

It is believed one of the most contentious issues over Chinese investment in advanced technology comes at a time when the US military looks to incorporate elements of AI and machine learning into its drone program. The program which has been entitled ‘Project Maven’ has been specifically designed to provide relief to military analysts who are part of the war against Islamic State.  Analysts currently have to endure spending long hours staring at big screens reviewing video feeds from drones as part of its attempts to snuff out the threat of insurgents in war-torn places such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

China has made no attempts to hide its ambition to become a major player in developing technologies such as AI, through a series of foreign acquisitions. In March, China search engine colossus Baidu Inc. launched an AI in conjunction with China’s state planner the National Development and Reform Commission. On example of this was Baidu’s decision in April to acquire U.S. computer vision firm xPerception, which makes vision perception software and hardware with applications in robotics and virtual reality. “China is investing massively in this space," said Peter Singer, an expert on robotic warfare at the New America Foundation.

Published in Government

Joined by a delegation of government representatives, President Milos Zeman of the Czech Republic recently met with Huawei's Rotating and Acting CEO, Guo Ping, in Beijing. During the meeting, Guo Ping shared Huawei's latest developments in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector and expressed the company's intention to continue investing and growing in the Czech Republic.

President Zeman spoke highly of Huawei's contribution to the country's economic development. He also complimented the company on its choice of Jaromir Jagr, world-renowned Czech ice hockey player, as the brand ambassador of its devices, and congratulated Huawei on its growing share of the Czech market.

The two parties exchanged views on cyber security and privacy protection. Guo elaborated on Huawei's efforts in these domains, stressing the fact that cyber security and privacy are global challenges that every country has to face together.

Guo noted that they require the full attention of each individual link along the value chain, as well as greater collaboration between them. President Zeman recognized Huawei's efforts in these domains, expressing his confidence in the security and reliability of Huawei's networks and products.

Guo confirmed that Huawei plans to spend approximately 360 million US dollars in the Czech Republic over the next five years, supporting 4,000 local jobs. Guo also expressed Huawei's hope to strengthen its partnership with the country on key initiatives like national broadband, smart city, and safe city.

Other attendees from the Czech government included Vratislav Mynar, Head of the Presidential Office; Jiri Havlicek, Minister of Industry and Trade; Martin Nejedly, Chief Adviser to President Zeman; Tomas Tuhy, Police President; Lukas Opatrny, 3rd Secretary and Head of the Commercial Section; and Karel Kucera, CEO of CzechInvest. President of Huawei's CEE & Nordic European Region Tang Xiaoming and CEO of Huawei Technologies (Czech) Radoslaw Kedzia were also present at the meeting.

Published in Government

Luxembourg satellite company Intelsat announced plans recently to merge with OneWeb satellite constellation. The companies are working towards their ambitious "internet in the sky" plan with the help of a $1.7 billion investment from Japan's SoftBank.

In a joint statement, Intelsat and OneWeb said the deal aims "to create a financially stronger company with the flexibility to aggressively pursue new growth opportunities resulting from the explosion in demand for broadband connectivity for people and devices everywhere."

The merger and new cash infusion aims to accelerate OneWeb's plans for a network of low-Earth orbit satellites to deliver internet to remote areas of the globe. The OneWeb network, which is expected to begin operating in 2022, would be combined with Intelsat's geostationary orbit satellites, aiming to support "an extensive set of mass-market applications, including for consumer broadband, connected cars," and other data services, according to the statement.

SoftBank announced in December plans to invest $1 billion in OneWeb, and has now agreed to add $1.7 billion to the combined company, giving it a 39.9 percent voting stake plus additional nonvoting shares. The new company will be based in Intelsat's home nation of Luxembourg, and listed on the New York Stock Exchange, with manufacturing and other facilities in the United States.

"With SoftBank's support we will build the world's first truly global broadband company, accelerating our mission of bridging the digital divide by connecting the four billion people without access today," said OneWeb founder Greg Wyler, who will be executive chairman of the new joint company.

Stephen Spengler, Intelsat's chief executive, will keep the title of CEO at the new company. He said the combination "will create an industry leader unique in its ability to provide affordable broadband anywhere in the world."

SoftBank last year announced its first investment in OneWeb after its chief executive Masayoshi Son met US President Donald Trump and pledged to invest $50 billion in the US economy and create 50,000 jobs. OneWeb intends to launch 684 low-orbit satellites, to cover the entire planet and deliver internet to areas where conventional land systems are not economical.

OneWeb's idea dates back to the 1990s, when Teledesic, a project backed by Microsoft's Bill Gates and Saudi royal family investors, failed before it went into service. Another venture, called SkyBridge, also failed, and its assets were eventually acquired by OneWeb.

Published in Satellite Industry

Accenture plan to boost US workforce by creating 15,000 jobs

Written on Monday, 20 February 2017 10:04

Accenture have disclosed its plans to create an additional 15,000 jobs over the next three years in the US. The technology consulting and services company announced that it will increase its American workforce by 30%. In a statement issued by Accenture they outlined plans to create 15,000 ‘highly skilled new jobs’ which would subsequently increase its overall workforce in the US to more than 65,000 by the end of 2020.

Accenture further disclosed its plans to create 10 new ‘innovation hubs’ and confirmed it will invest $1.4 billion in training employees in order to have ‘leading-edge capabilities’ for doing their jobs. Accenture chief executive, Julie Sweet said the announcement represented a key moment for the company. She said: “Today marks a key moment for Accenture to help our clients play an even bigger part in the nation's growth and innovation agenda.”

Accenture has been a leader in the outsourcing business, and the Accenture boss says the new innovation hubs will be designed to help create the next wave of competitiveness. Sweet added: “That will involve helping companies figure out how to use new technologies in a process of “continuous innovation.” That kind of work "requires proximity to clients,” which is why Accenture is creating the regional centers.

Accenture are the latest in a series of major companies to announce investments or job creation in the United States. It is a trend that has followed the election of US president Donald Trump whose presidential campaign was centered on the theme of job creation. Trump vowed to bring back domestic manufacturing and jobs if he was elected president.

Published in Finance

A Canadian robo-adviser start-up has received a significant investment in a bid to boost its chances of successfully penetrating the already saturated U.S. market. Wealthsimple announced the investment of $20 million from Power Financial Corp and formally launched its operations in the US.

The robo-adviser market is dominated by large investments firms, and it was established that in order for the Wealthsimple to become a success, it required a large investment – which was provided by fellow Canadian company Power Financial Corporation. Its decision to enter the US market means it will be the first foreign entity to do.

Robo-advisers, that give automated financial advice, is an online wealth management service that provides automated, algorithm-based portfolio management advice without the use of human financial planners.

Industry analysts have been pessimistic in their assessment of Wealthsimple’s chances of being successful – pointing to the presence of established firms like Charles Schwab and Vanguard as an indicator of the challenges in the sector.

However, founder and CEO of Wealthsimple, Mike Katchen declared that it was too soon to set targets in the US market, and was confident the decision to upscale would prove to be successful.

"People are absolutely right, this business is absolutely about scale, when Vanguard or Schwab launch a product, that's not a question people have, but we are confident.”

Katchen added that Power Financial's long-term backing gives it an edge. Power and its subsidiaries have put in a total of C$50 million in Wealthsimple since first investing in the start-up back in 2015.

Wealthsimple disclosed that close to 20,000 customers in Canada have signed up since its launch a little over two years ago, investing more than C$750 million in exchange traded funds. It expects to cross the C$1 billion threshold soon.

A robo-advisory expert and senior analyst for research firm Celent, feels that the Canadian start-up will have to reduce fees in order to establish itself in the industry. William Trout said: “The U.S. is such a competitive market and Wealthsimple will have to drop fees in order to get any play.”

Ii has also emerged that Wealthsimple owns a London office – and is planning to open in 2017 – but a spokeswoman for the company said that the project in relation to the UK was an ‘exploratory’ one- while Trout added that the UK robo-advisory industry was also saturated.

Wealthsimple, which offers a socially responsible investment option, said real advisers can also provide financial planning advice to clients. It also has a platform for financial advisers in Canada, but said it has no immediate plans to launch the service in the United States.

Published in Finance

A leading Japanese telecommunications company is believed to be weighing up an investment of more than $1 billion in office-space start-up ‘WeWork’ – according to speculation circulating from the region.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that SoftBank Group Corp, which is headquartered in Tokyo, is keen on the investment which would represent the first deal from its $100 billion technology fund. Both organizations declined to comment on the speculation which simply added fuel that negotiations in relation to the proposed investment has begun.  

WeWork which is based in New York City is a company that provides shared workspace, community and services for entrepreneurs, freelancers, start-ups, and small businesses. The firm which was founded in 2010 by Adam Neuman is currently valued at around $17 billion – and has over fifty co-working locations across the US, Europe and Israel – with further expansions detailing its ambition to reach every continent. It was also named among the ‘most innovative companies’ of 2015.

It has been disclosed that SoftBank had previously initiated primary discussions with WeWork, but at that stage no deal was brokered between the two organizations, so it has been suggested that there is no guarantee a deal will be struck this time either.

It has also been reported that a number of SoftBank executives have queried whether the WeWork deal is over-valued – citing that a company involved in office space is far removed from tech-focused investments. SoftBank have held discussion with global ride-hailing service Uber Technologies in recent times, but it has not been revealed whether or not an investment agreement was reached between them.

Any investment in WeWork or other companies wouldn’t happen until the SoftBank fund is finalized, which is expected in mid-February, according to people familiar with the matter.

Published in Finance
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