Connect with us

Reuters

EXCLUSIVE Weibo chairman, state firm plan to take China’s Twitter private – sources

Nasdaq-listed Weibo Corp’s (WB.O) chairman and a Chinese state investor plan to take China’s answer to Twitter private, sources told Reuters, sending its shares as much as 50% higher on Tuesday.

Published

on

The booth of Sina Weibo is pictured at the Beijing International Cultural and Creative Industry Expo, in Beijing, China May 29, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer/Files

HONG KONG, July 6 (Reuters) – Nasdaq-listed Weibo Corp’s (WB.O) chairman and a Chinese state investor plan to take China’s answer to Twitter private, sources told Reuters, sending its shares as much as 50% higher on Tuesday.

A deal could value Weibo at more than $20 billion, facilitate shareholder Alibaba’s exit and see Weibo eventually relist in China to capitalise on higher valuations, the sources said.

Chairman Charles Chao’s holding company New Wave, Weibo’s top stakeholder, is teaming up with a Shanghai-based state company to form a consortium for the deal, three sources said, without disclosing the state firm’s identity.

The consortium is looking to offer about $90-$100 per share to take Weibo private, two of the sources said, representing a premium of 80%-100% to the stock’s $50 average price over the past month.

The group aims to finalise the deal this year, they said.

Weibo said in a statement that Chao and a state investor being in talks to take the company private was untrue. It cited Chao as saying he had had no discussion with anyone regarding delisting the company.

Weibo and Alibaba did not respond to Reuters requests for further comments. Chao did not respond to request for comment via Weibo parent company Sina.

Shares in Weibo, which operates a platform similar to Twitter (TWTR.N), surged more than 50% in premarket trading after the Reuters report. Those gains have shrunk to just over 6% after the opening bell.

BEIJING DRIVE

Three separate sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters the plans stem from Beijing’s drive to have Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (9988.HK) and affiliate Ant divest their media holdings to rein in their sway over Chinese public opinion.

All the sources declined to be named due to confidentiality constraints.

Reuters reported in February that Weibo had hired banks to work on a Hong Kong secondary listing in the final half of 2021. Sources said this is no longer the plan. read more

Alibaba held 30% of Weibo as of February, the latter’s annual report showed, which was worth $3.7 billion as of Friday’s close.

REGULATORY CRACKDOWN

Beijing has looked to rein in Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s Alibaba business empire by unleashing a series of investigations and new regulations since last year.

The crackdown followed Ma’s public criticism of regulators in a speech in October last year and has swept across China’s money-spinning internet sector in recent months.

E-commerce giant Alibaba has invested in nearly 30 media and entertainment firms including Hong Kong’s flagship English-language newspaper South China Morning Post, Refinitiv data shows.

Chao’s mooted deal would likely see it exit Weibo, two of the sources said.

The plan also reflects China’s efforts to tighten control over private media and internet businesses, sources added.

U.S.-listed Chinese firms also face heightened scrutiny and potentially stricter audit requirements from U.S. regulators, amid political tensions between Beijing and Washington.

A number of Chinese companies have already opted out of U.S. stock exchanges, by going private or returning to equity markets closer to home via second listings.

There were 16 announced delistings of U.S.-listed Chinese companies worth $19 billion last year, Dealogic data showed, compared to just five such deals worth $8 billion in 2019.

China’s cabinet said on Tuesday that it would step up supervision of firms listed offshore citing the need to improve regulation of cross-border data flows and security. read more

FIERCE COMPETITION

Weibo has grown at a fast clip since its launch in 2009 in a market where Twitter is blocked by the government. More than 500 million Chinese use Weibo to opine on everything from Korean soap operas to China’s latest political intrigue.

Alibaba acquired an 18% stake in Weibo in 2013 via a $586 million investment as its first big move into selling advertisement on China’s social networks. It has since raised its stake.

Weibo, which went public on the Nasdaq in 2014, makes most of its revenue from online advertising.

That has worried investors as the growth rate of Chinese online advertising slows and Weibo has also lost ground amid competition with other tech giants such as ByteDance and Tencent (0700.HK).

The Beijing-based company advertising and marketing revenue fell 3% last year to $1.5 billion.

Its shares were up 33% this year, after a fall of 12% in 2020.

Reporting by Julie Zhu and Pei Li in Hong Kong; Editing by Sumeet Chatterjee, Jason Neely and David Goodman

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

The consortium is looking to offer about $90-$100 per share to take Weibo private, two of the sources said, representing a premium of 80%-100% to the stock’s $50 average price over the past month.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/technology/exclusive-weibo-chairman-state-firm-plan-take-chinas-twitter-private-sources-2021-07-06/

Reuters

U.S. lawmakers call for privacy legislation after Reuters report on Amazon lobbying

Five members of Congress called for federal consumer-privacy legislation after a Reuters report published Friday revealed how Amazon.com Inc has led an under-the-radar campaign to gut privacy protections in 25 states while amassing a valuable trove of personal data on American consumers.

Published

on

The Amazon logo is seen outside its JFK8 distribution center in Staten Island, New York, U.S. November 25, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Register now for FREE unlimited access to reuters.com

Nov 22 (Reuters) – Five members of Congress called for federal consumer-privacy legislation after a Reuters report published Friday revealed how Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) has led an under-the-radar campaign to gut privacy protections in 25 states while amassing a valuable trove of personal data on American consumers.

“Amazon shamefully launched a campaign to squash privacy legislation while its devices listen to and watch our lives,” U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat who has been involved in bipartisan negotiations on privacy legislation, wrote Friday on Twitter. “This is now the classic Big Tech move: deploy money and armies of lobbyists to fight meaningful reforms in the shadows but claim to support them publicly.”

The revelations underscored the need for bipartisan action on stronger privacy protections, he wrote. No major federal privacy legislation has passed Congress in years because members have been deadlocked on the issue.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to reuters.com

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who has introduced several privacy bills in recent years, said in a statement that the Reuters story showed how companies including Amazon are “spending millions to weaken state laws,” and hoping Congress will also water down federal legislation “until it’s worthless.”

“Congress needs to prove Amazon wrong, and pass legislation that finally stops massive corporations from abusing and exploiting our personal data,” Wyden said.

Asked for comment, Amazon did not directly address the lawmaker criticisms of its lobbying campaign against privacy protections. The company reiterated its statement for the previous Reuters report, saying it prefers federal privacy legislation to a “patchwork” of state regulations. The company said it wants one federal privacy law that “requires transparency about data practices, prohibits the sale of personal data without consent, and ensures that consumers have the right to request access to and deletion of their personal information.”

U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat who chairs a key House consumer protection subcommittee that deals with privacy issues, said the Reuters revelations show how Amazon is working to block consumer privacy legislation while “claiming to support” such regulations.

“What they mean is that they support privacy legislation that protects their profits and their right to mine consumers’ data, including voice recordings and facial scans,” she said in a statement. “Congress is not convinced nor are we intimidated.”

Two other lawmakers who represent areas with a significant Amazon presence – U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, and U.S. Representative Suzan DelBene, a Washington state Democrat – also said Reuters’ findings showed the need for federal action to protect consumers.

“Congress will protect consumers’ privacy to stop big tech companies from stealing Americans’ personal information, whether these companies like it or not,” Blackburn said in a statement.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to reuters.com

Reporting by Chris Kirkham and Jeffrey Dastin

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

“Congress needs to prove Amazon wrong, and pass legislation that finally stops massive corporations from abusing and exploiting our personal data,” Wyden said.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-lawmakers-call-privacy-legislation-after-reuters-report-amazon-lobbying-2021-11-22/

Continue Reading

Reuters

GoDaddy security breach exposes WordPress users’ data

Web hosting company GoDaddy Inc said on Monday email addresses of up to 1.2 million active and inactive Managed WordPress customers had been exposed in an unauthorized third-party access.

Published

on

The company logo and ticker for GoDaddy Inc. is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 4, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Nov 22 (Reuters) – Web hosting company GoDaddy Inc (GDDY.N) said on Monday email addresses of up to 1.2 million active and inactive Managed WordPress customers had been exposed in an unauthorized third-party access.

The company said the incident was discovered on Nov. 17 and the third-party accessed the system using a compromised password.

“We identified suspicious activity in our Managed WordPress hosting environment and immediately began an investigation with the help of an IT forensics firm and contacted law enforcement,” Chief Information Security Officer Demetrius Comes said in a filing.

The company, whose shares fell about 1.6% in early trading, said it had immediately blocked the unauthorized third party, and an investigation was still going on.

(This story corrects second paragraph to say the incident was discovered on Nov. 17, not Sept. 6)

Register now for FREE unlimited access to reuters.com

Reporting by Tiyashi Datta in Bengaluru;Editing by Vinay Dwivedi

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

“We identified suspicious activity in our Managed WordPress hosting environment and immediately began an investigation with the help of an IT forensics firm and contacted law enforcement,” Chief Information Security Officer Demetrius Comes said in a filing.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/technology/godaddy-security-breach-exposes-wordpress-users-data-2021-11-22/

Continue Reading

Reuters

Gazprom says European requirements being met after pipeline stoppage

Russia’s Gazprom said European customers’ natural gas requirements were being met on Saturday after data from a German pipeline operator showed supplies through the Yamal – Europe pipeline via Poland to Germany had come to a halt.

Published

on

A view shows pipelines near a gas processing facility, operated by Gazprom company, at Bovanenkovo gas field on the Arctic Yamal peninsula, Russia May 21, 2019. Picture taken May 21, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

MOSCOW, Oct 30 (Reuters) – Russia’s Gazprom (GAZP.MM) said European customers’ natural gas requirements were being met on Saturday after data from a German pipeline operator showed supplies through the Yamal – Europe pipeline via Poland to Germany had come to a halt.

Russia sends gas to western Europe by several different routes, including through Belarus and Poland using the Yamal – Europe pipeline, which has an annual capacity of up to 33 billion cubic metres.

Flows at the Mallnow metering point in Germany, which lies at the Polish border, stopped early on Saturday, according to data from Germany’s Gascade operator.

Russia’s state-controlled Gazprom said the requests of customers in Europe were being met. It added that fluctuations in demand for Russian gas were dependent on the actual needs of buyers.

A spokesman for Poland’s state-controlled PGNiG (PGN.WA) said flows from the east were much lower than usual, but Poland was still receiving amounts consistent with its contract.

Poland’s gas grid operator Gaz-System said on Saturday the Yamal pipeline was delivering gas to Poland via the Kondratki compressor station on the east and Mallnow on the west through “reverse mode” – meaning it was shipping gas from west to east.

“There is no demand for gas transit towards Germany currently,” a Gaz-System spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement.

Russian gas export flows have been closely watched as gas prices in Europe have soared amid economic recovery and low inventories.

Gazprom has been accused by the International Energy Agency and some European lawmakers of not doing enough to increase its natural gas supplies to Europe, but the Russian company has said it has been meeting its contractual obligations.

A gas transit deal between Russia and Poland expired last year, but Gazprom can book the transit capacity via the pipeline at auctions.

At the last auction on Oct. 18, Gazprom booked some 32 million cubic metres per day, or 35% of total additional capacity offered by the Polish operator Gas System for transit via the Kondratki transit point for November. read more

Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Additional reporting by Anna Koper and Alan Charlish in Warsaw; Writing by Maria Kiselyova; Editing by Helen Popper and David Holmes

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/russian-westbound-gas-flow-via-yamal-europe-pipeline-stops-data-shows-2021-10-30/

Continue Reading

Trending