1.GOOGLE :South Korea’s antitrust regulator has fined Alphabet Inc’s Google 207 billion won ($176.64 million) for blocking customised versions of its Android operating system (OS), in the U.S. technology giant’s second setback in the country in less than a month.
The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) said on Tuesday Google’s contract terms with device makers amounted to an abuse of its dominant market position that restricted competition in the mobile OS market.
Google said in a statement it intends to appeal the ruling, saying it ignores the benefits offered by Android’s compatibility with other programs and undermines advantages enjoyed by consumers.
“The Korea Fair Trade Commission’s decision is meaningful in a way that it provides an opportunity to restore future competitive pressure in the mobile OS and app market markets,” KFTC Chairperson Joh Sung-wook said in a statement.
The antitrust regulator said this could be the ninth-biggest fine it has ever imposed.
KFTC said Google hampered competition by making device producers abide by an “anti-fragmentation agreement (AFA)” when signing key contracts with it regarding app store licences.
Under the AFA, manufacturers could not equip their handsets with modified versions of Android, known as “Android forks”. That has helped Google cement its market dominance in the mobile OS market, the KFTC said.
Under the ruling, Google is banned from forcing device makers to sign AFA contracts, allowing manufacturers to adopt modified versions of Android OS on their devices.
In one instance, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd launched a smartwatch with a customised OS in 2013 but switched to a different OS after Google regarded the move as an AFA violation, KFTC said. Samsung Electronics declined to comment.
The fine comes on the day that an amendment to South Korea’s Telecommunications Business Act – popularly dubbed the “anti-Google law” – came into effect.
The bill was passed in late August and it bans app store operators such as Google from requiring software developers to use their payment systems. The requirement had effectively stopped developers from charging commission on in-app purchases.
Last year, India’s antitrust body ordered an investigation into allegations that Google was abusing its market position to promote its payments app as well as forcing app developers to use its in-app payment system.
2.Grab:-–Grab, Southeast Asia’s biggest ride hailing-to-food delivery group, lowered its full-year forecasts on Tuesday, citing renewed uncertainty over pandemic-related movement restrictions despite encouraging vaccination rates in the region.
Singapore-based Grab also said in a statement that it was making progress on its record merger deal https://www.reuters.com/business/grab-announce-merger-with-us-spac-be-valued-nearly-40-bln-sources-2021-04-13 agreed with U.S. special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Altimeter Growth Corp earlier this year.
And it reiterated that the deal, worth nearly $40 billion, is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter. [L1N2M609X]
Grab, which has operations across eight countries and more than 400 cities in a region of 650 million people, said it expects to report group-level adjusted net sales of $2.1 billion to $2.2 billion, versus an expected $2.3 billion announced in April.
It also forecast a group-level adjusted EBITDA loss of $0.7 billion to $0.9 billion for this year compared with a previously projected EBTIDA loss of $0.6 billion.
“Grab’s full-year 2021 outlook anticipates an extension of partial and complete lockdowns throughout several countries where Grab operates as a result of the continuing spread of COVID-19,” the company said.
Grab’s second-quarter adjusted net sales jumped 92% to $550 million while its adjusted EBITDA loss rose 4% to $214 million.
3.WALMART-Walmart Inc said it was looking into how a fake press statement announcing a partnership with litecoin, which briefly led to near 30% gains in the cryptocurrency, was issued by news release distributor GlobeNewswire.
The fake press release touting the acceptance of litecoin as online payment by the world’s largest retailer led to a sudden spike in its prices, but the gains faded quickly after Walmart issued a statement saying the press release was fraudulent.
“Walmart had no knowledge of the press release issued by GlobeNewswire and there is no truth to it. Walmart has no relationship with litecoin,” a company spokesperson told Reuters.
GlobeNewswire published a notice to “disregard” the news release and said it had put in place enhanced authentication steps to prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future.
“We will work with the appropriate authorities to request – and facilitate – a full investigation, including into any criminal activity associated with this matter,” GlobeNewswire said in an emailed statement.
Separately, the Litecoin Foundation said in a Twitter post it had no information on where the news release had originated.
The foundation is a non-profit organization that promotes the cryptocurrency and is run by litecoin creator Charlie Lee, who told Reuters in an email that the hoax was being investigated but little headway had been made.
Lee also said he currently owned only five litecoins and had little incentive to issue the fake announcement himself.
Referring to a now deleted post by litecoin’s verified Twitter handle sharing the fake announcement, Lee said: “It was our mistake for retweeting using @litecoin.”
“We will make sure to have stricter controls on our social media accounts so that something like this doesn’t happen again.”
Reuters and other news outlets had reported on the partnership. Reuters withdrew its initial story.
4.WELLS FARGO: The civil trial of three former Wells Fargo & Co employees over their alleged roles in a scandal involving phony accounts kicked off on Monday, a rare public confrontation between a top U.S. banking regulator and former high-level bank executives.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) is squaring off against executives it says are partly culpable for the San Francisco lender’s misconduct before an in-house OCC judge in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in a hearing expected to last at least two weeks.
The long-running scandal over Wells Fargo’s pressurized sales culture that led staff to open millions of unauthorized or fraudulent customer accounts has cost the bank billions of dollars in civil and criminal penalties and has badly damaged its reputation.
The OCC alleges that Wells Fargo’s former risk officer, Claudia Russ Anderson, former chief auditor David Julian and former executive audit director Paul McLinko failed to adequately perform their duties and responsibilities, contributing to Wells Fargo’s “systemic sales practices misconduct” from 2002 to 2016.
The proceedings mark a significant step for a regulator that has been criticized in the past for being too soft on the banks and executives it oversees, said regulatory experts.
“It’s an attempt at personal accountability for big-bank executives we have not seen in a long time, including in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis,” said Jeremy Kress, an assistant business professor at the University of Michigan.
In testimony on Monday, OCC official Greg Coleman laid out the OCC’s view that the three former Wells Fargo executives were responsible for the misconduct because they were the bank’s key “lines of defense” against bad behavior and other risks.
Wells Fargo’s “incentive sales program was implemented without risk-management controls, without proactive monitoring and it essentially incented the bank employees to open fraudulent accounts, to provide misleading information to customers, resulting in significant harm,” said Coleman, OCC’s senior deputy comptroller for large bank supervision and the first witness to testify.
.5.VIACOMCBS -ViacomCBS Inc said on Monday it is restructuring the operations of its Paramount Pictures’ movie and television production unit, in a broader shakeup aimed at ramping up content on its cable and streaming services.
The company said Paramount’s television arm will be run as a separate entity under the leadership of David Nevins, chief executive officer of Showtime Networks.
With more people flocking to streaming services for entertainment, the move will allow the company to focus on its rebranded Paramount+ streaming platform as well as its cable networks Showtime and PlutoTV.
Brian Robbins, the current President of Nickelodeon, will take on the additional role of heading Paramount’s movie studio business, taking over from Jim Gianopulos, ViacomCBS said.
Gianopulos led the movie studio during a period when it produced films including “A Quiet Place”, “Rocketman” and “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”.