1.FACEBOOK :-The Federal Trade Commission and a big group of U.S. states asked a federal court on Wednesday to deny Facebook Inc)’s request to dismiss major antitrust lawsuits filed against the social media giant in December.
The FTC, in its filing, said Facebook bought the photo-sharing app Instagram because Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg believed it was “a large and viable competitor” and purchased the messaging app WhatsApp to neutralize a nascent threat. The FTC has asked the court to order Facebook to sell those assets.
The states, which had filed a separate antitrust lawsuit against Facebook, said in its filing: “Deploying a buy-or-bury scheme of predatory acquisitions and exclusionary conduct, Facebook successfully squashes, suppresses, and deters competition, entrenching its monopoly power to this day.”
Facebook had asked the court to dismiss the two lawsuits, alleging that they were brought “in the fraught environment of relentless criticism of Facebook for matters entirely unrelated to antitrust concerns.”
It also said that the states, in their case, failed to show that they were harmed by Facebook and that they waited too long.
The FTC and states accused Facebook of breaking antitrust law to keep smaller competitors at bay and snapping up rivals, like Instagram for $1 billion in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014 for $19 billion.
2.TESLA- Tesla Inc is scouting for locations to open showrooms in three Indian cities and has hired an executive to lead its lobbying and business efforts ahead of its planned entry into the country, sources familiar with the discussions told Reuters.
The electric-car maker in January registered a local company in India, where it is expected to import and sell the Model 3 sedan by as early as mid-2021, seeking to target rich customers in a niche market.
The world’s most valuable automaker by market capitalisation is looking for commercial properties as large as 20,000-30,000 square feet each to open showrooms and service centres in the capital New Delhi, financial hub Mumbai in the west and tech city Bengaluru in the south, three sources said.
Separately, Tesla has recruited Manuj Khurana, a former executive of India’s investment promotion body Invest India, in the first major hire to lead its policy and business development efforts in the country, two other sources said.
Tesla did not respond to a request for comment, while Khurana declined to comment.
In October, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter the company will enter India in 2021 “for sure”, though the billionaire had issued similar tweets in the past.
The search for showroom space and Khurana’s appointment signal Tesla is moving faster.
Global property consultant CBRE Group Inc – hired for the showroom searches by Tesla – has been surveying places for several weeks and is focussing on locations which will give the company easier access to affluent customers, sources said.
Some luxury car showrooms in upmarket areas of metro cities are typically between 8,000-10,000 square feet, but most showrooms are far smaller in India where high-end real estate space is usually in short supply and property prices in New Delhi and Mumbai are among the highest in the world
3. TENCENT:-Dutch based technology investor Prosus (OTC:PROSF) NT has sold a 2% stake in Chinese tech giant Tencent at HK$595 per share to raise $14.7 billion in the world’s largest blocktrade, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the matter.
The sources could not be named as the information had not yet been made public.
Prosus and Tencent did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Prosus, majority controlled by Naspers Ltd sold 191.8 million shares in Tencent to take its stake from 30.9% to 28.9%, according to a statement from Prosus.
The stock sale had been flagged at HK$575 to $HK595 per share and the initial guidance to investors was set at HK$585 before it was raised to the top of the range, according to one source.
At $HK595 per share, the price was a 5.5% discount to Tencent’s closing price in Hong Kong trading Wednesday of $HK629.50. Tencent’s shares are trading 10% higher so far in 2021.
“The proceeds of the sale will increase our financial flexibility, enabling us to invest in the significant growth potential we see across the group, as well as in our own stock,” CEO Bob van Dijk said in a statement Wednesday.
The sale looks set to be the largest block trade on record, based on Refinitiv data.
In addition to its Tencent stake, Prosus owns or invests in online food delivery platforms, classified marketplaces and digital payments businesses.
For the half-year ended Sept. 30, Prosus reported a 29% increase in core earnings to $2.2 billion, as proceeds from Tencent offset losses at its other online businesses.
4. ZOOM-A lawmaker from Russia’s ruling party floated the idea of banning Zoom on Wednesday after the video conferencing company reportedly told its distributors to stop selling subscriptions to Russian state institutions.
Russian daily Kommersant said Zoom Video Communications Inc had banned distributors from selling access to its service to state companies and institutions, citing a letter from Zoom’s representative in the region, RightConf, dated March 31.
Zoom said it remained committed to serving customers in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States. Its shares closed up 2%.
“We are in the process of evolving our approach in the region, and in the meantime, new and existing customers in both the public and private sectors can seek to procure Zoom accounts directly through our website,” a Zoom representative said.
RightConf had no immediate comment.
“Russia is not an advocate of sanctions, but if Zoom takes such a decision in relation to state institutions and companies, then a blocking of the service on our country’s territory is possible as a reciprocal, symmetrical measure,” the RIA news agency cited lawmaker Alexander Bashkin from the United Russia party as saying in the upper house of parliament.
The spat comes as the threat of more U.S. sanctions hangs over Russia for allegedly meddling in U.S. elections and cyber-hacking – charges Moscow denies – and as Russia targets foreign internet companies for failing to delete what is calls banned content.
The Kremlin said it had used Zoom for some international video calls but that President Vladimir Putin rarely used the service and alternative solutions were available.
“In general we express regret and confusion as to why Russian state institutions and higher education establishments are now deprived of the opportunity to extend existing contracts and enter into new ones,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call.
5. UBER-Uber Technologies Inc said U.S. drivers on their ride-hail platforms should take advantage of pay hikes as trip demand temporarily outstrips driver supply, but warned the windfall will not last.
Uber ‘s Vice President of U.S. & Canada Mobility, Dennis Cinelli, in a blog post told drivers to take advantage of higher earnings before pay returns to pre-COVID-19 levels as more drivers return to the platform. https://ubr.to/2Q6pSxN
Uber said it would invest an additional $250 million to boost driver earnings and offer payment guarantees in an effort to incentivize new and existing drivers.
Lyft Inc on Tuesday also said drivers in the company’s top-25 markets were earning an average of $36 per hour compared to $20 per hour pre-pandemic. Those numbers include tips, but Lyft did not disclose the share of tips in earnings. Lyft is also offering additional incentives and promotions in select markets.
Uber on Wednesday said drivers spending 20 hours online per week in many cities were seeing median hourly earnings around 25% to 75% higher than pre-pandemic, making around $31 in Philadelphia and close to $29 in Chicago. Those earnings are after Uber’s fee but before customer tips and expenses, which drivers are responsible for as independent contractors.
The uptick in demand comes as more U.S. states lift lockdown restrictions implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccination rates increase and a growing number of Americans start moving again.
But ride-hail drivers, many of whom stopped driving during the height of the pandemic over safety concerns and amid sluggish demand, have been slow to return to the road.
Uber and Lyft executives have told investors driver supply was a concern as demand is expected to ramp up further. Lyft said investments to boost driver supply will create first-quarter revenue headwind of $10 million to $20 million.
Both companies have been criticized by city officials and worker advocacy groups in the past for paying too little by oversaturating markets with drivers, pushing down prices. Uber and Lyft reject those claims.
In Seattle, which in January implemented the city’s minimum wage of $16.39 per hour for ride-hail drivers, a city-commissioned study found drivers net only about $9.70 an hour, while a study of data provided by Uber and Lyft showed most drivers’ earnings are roughly in line with the city’s median.