Business

Apple Has Announced Recall Of MacBook Pro Batteries Due To Fire Safety Risk

As far as computers, laptops, phones, and other devices are concerned; Apple has been the gold standard for quite a long time. In this regard, it needs to be mentioned that the reason behind Apple’s stupendous success has been excellent software coupled with equally high-class hardware and that has managed to propel the company into one of the world’s biggest brands. However, certain manufacturing defects can happen with the best companies in the world, and in this regard, even Apple is not an exception. It has emerged that the batteries in the 15 inch Apple MacBook Pro laptops sold during a particular period might be faulty and could pose a fire safety risk for its owners.

The company published a note on its support page and stated that the products sold between September of 2015 and February of 2017 are being recalled. In this regard, it must be noted that the number of MacBook Pro units sold between that period must have run into a considerable figure and it remains to be seen how quickly Apple can replace the batteries. In the noted published by the company, Apple stated,

Apple has determined that, in a limited number of older generation 15-inch MacBook Pro units, the battery may overheat and pose a fire safety risk. Affected units were sold primarily between September 2015 and February 2017 and product eligibility is determined by the product serial number.

Customers would not be charged for this replacement. In addition to that, Apple has also gone on to educate its customers on how they can learn if their unit is eligible for the free battery replacement or not. Apple stated,

To confirm which model you have, choose About This Mac from the Apple menu () in the upper-left corner of your screen. If you have “MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015),” enter your computer’s serial number on the program page to see if it is eligible for a battery replacement.

The first inkling about the problem with the batteries surfaced when a user complained that his MacBook Pro had ‘exploded.’

Paula HearnApple Has Announced Recall Of MacBook Pro Batteries Due To Fire Safety Risk
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Amazon Launches Amazon Flex To Hire Freelance Delivery Executives

As far as logistical solutions are concerned, there are very few companies in the world which can match up to Amazon and over the course of the past two decades, the company has used its superior logistical innovations to become the world’s biggest e-commerce company. India is the fresh battleground for the Jeff Bezos-owned company, and Amazon is going to try everything to get a competitive edge over its main competitor, Walmart-owned Flipkart. In this regard, it needs to be mentioned that the task of actually making a delivery is perhaps one of the most important tasks for an online retailer and Amazon has launched Amazon Flex to help the company in tapping into India’s massive workforce. It is a simple solution, but at the same time, it has the potential to be highly effective once it is launched, due to the sheer scope of the project.

According to reports, Amazon Flex is going to act as a platform on which the company would be able to recruit freelance delivery executives, who would then be able to make deliveries. The delivery executives would be designated as ‘partners,’ and they will have the freedom to work whenever they want. The whole process for the delivery executives will be quite seamless. They will be paid in the range of Rs. 120 and Rs. 140 per hour and Amazon will send the payments into their banks’ accounts every week on Wednesday. It is a neat arrangement and something that could really take off. However, the partner in question would need to have their own two-wheelers, and they would also need to go through a routine background check. Moreover, the company will also provide training before they start delivering packages. Due to the sheer volume of deliveries that are made in these cities, the project is initially being introduced only in Bengaluru, Delhi, and Mumbai; however, the company hopes to expand it into other cities eventually. Considering the fact that Amazon is growing at a pretty fast clip in India, it should not be long before the company is in a position to expand it into other locations.  

Paula HearnAmazon Launches Amazon Flex To Hire Freelance Delivery Executives
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Japan’s Biggest Chip Gear Firm To Not Deal with Chinese Firms Due to U.S. Blacklist

The blacklisting of Huawei by the United States authorities was perhaps the most disruptive event for the global tech industry this year. Due to that step, businesses with the United States will be no longer able to do business with Huawei in any shape or form. However, blacklisting does not apply to other countries. That has not stopped Tokyo Electron, the Japanese firm which is the 3rd biggest supplier of chip manufacturing equipment, from deciding against supplying to Chinese companies which have been blacklisted. Although no official announcement has been made yet, a senior executive at Tokyo Electron has told a leading news agency about the development.

It is a significant development since the United States had only made an effort to stop American companies from dealing with Chinese companies and it was not supposed to extend to the business practices of companies in the other parts of the world. The decision from Tokyo Electron could start a domino effect by way of which companies from other countries could also follow their example and stop doing business with blacklisted Chinese firms. The trade war has proved to be a bruising one for China, and in order to build its own chip-making capabilities, the country is now increasingly dependent on companies in Europe and Japan.

The executive who spoke to the news agency stated,

We would not do businesses with Chinese clients with whom Applied Materials and Lam Research [two top American chip gear companies] are barred from doing businesses. It’s crucial for us that the U.S. government and industry see us as a fair company.

However, it has emerged that Tokyo Electron is perhaps not alone in taking such a step. Another major chip gear supplying company in the country is also considering such a step in the days to come, and things could get pretty tough for the tech sector in China. Last but not least, it could also be an indication of American diplomatic pressure on other countries to isolate China’s tech sector completely.

Paula HearnJapan’s Biggest Chip Gear Firm To Not Deal with Chinese Firms Due to U.S. Blacklist
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Uber IPO Valuation Falls Short As Market Cracks and Lyft Problems Weigh

It was the biggest initial public offering in the history of Wall Street, and for all intents and purposes, ride-hailing giant Uber did well on its listing day. However, for those who were expecting the company to drive a valuation equal to or over $90 billion, it was not the case. An unfavorable market that had cracked under the pressure of the trade war between the United States and China, coupled with the disastrous performance of rivals Lyft in recent weeks have been cited as some of the reasons why Uber’s IPO did not fetch the magic valuation. That being said, it was not all doom and gloom, as the company still commanded a massive valuation of $82.4 billion on its listing day.

Due to the poor performance from Lytf on the stock market, Uber had decided to price its shares far more cautiously, and that is perhaps one of the reasons why it could still drive that valuation amidst all the troubles. Although the valuation of $82.4 billion on a listing day is nothing to be sniffed, it remains an underwhelming performance for a company whose IPO had so much hype ever since its plans of going public became known back in 2018. According to many in investment banking circles, the company was supposed to be valued at $120 billion, but eventually, Uber decided to go for a much more conservative approach and decided to price its shares at $45 each. It should be noted that the company had priced its shares in the price bank of $44 to $50 and the eventually listing price of $45 was on the lower side. That being said, the original shareholders of the company must have still made a handsome profit as the $82.4 billion valuations is still higher than the last private valuation of the company, which stood at $76 billion.

Lyft, which had its IPO in March, had priced its stock too aggressively and after a promising listing day performance, its shares slumped, and since then the company’s stock has not been able to regain its IPO price. That proved to be the cautionary tale for Uber, and that was possibly the reason why it went for a conservative approach. A partner at CohnReznick, the advisory firm, stated, “Ultimately, the success of Lyft’s and Uber IPO’s offerings will be judged based on post-IPO performance and how these companies can sustain their growth while moving toward profitability and lowering their cash burn.”

Justin LebronUber IPO Valuation Falls Short As Market Cracks and Lyft Problems Weigh
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AIG Beats Wall Street Estimates and Reports First Quarter Profits

American International Group familiarly known as AIG is a multinational insurance and financial company founded in America with headquarters in New York and operating in more than 80 countries around the world released its quarterly earnings today with a jump of 44% earnings increase. The company released its adjusted earnings and said that profits they earned were primarily due to lower expenditure, higher premiums and better underwriting business in its general insurance unit.

With a 44% jump in profits, the company’s net revenue was at $1.39 billion from $963 million it had last year. The share price also increased from $1.04 to $1.58 per share compared to last year. AIG beat the Wall Street estimates as analysts had expected a profit of $1.04 for a share. The company which is among the largest insurance companies in the US said that it has earned an underwriting profit of $179 million in its general insurance and is a huge increase when compared to last year’s loss of $251 million. The CEO Brian Duperreault said that he expects the underwriting profit to increase the rest of the year too and that helped the shares rise by more than 6%.

In a statement released to the press, AIG’s CEO said: “We achieved an underwriting profit on a calendar year and accident year basis in the first quarter, and we expect that to continue for the full year.” AIG was bailed out by the US government after the financial crisis in 2008 and has made tremendous progress from then to now. The CEO, Duperreault who took over in 2017 has been instrumental in changing the work culture and business practices. Until then AIG was considered as a high risk-taking company with a focus on revenue and not on weighing the risks. The company is still looking at ways to reduce the losses that they incurred on its old business model.

There are many things AIG is doing differently from before, and one of them is to lessen the expenses. It has reduced the expense ratio to 34.3 basis points when compared to the same quarter last year. There was a rise in gross premium by 11% and was at $10.2 billion mainly due to its general insurance in North America. The general insurance accident year combined ratio was at 96.1 this quarter when compared to last year’s ratio of 99.7 which means the company paid less in claims and earned more in premiums.

Justin LebronAIG Beats Wall Street Estimates and Reports First Quarter Profits
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Anadarko Considers Deal With Occidental Petroleum

Anadarko Petroleum Corp, an oil and gas exploration & production company based in the U.S. had agreed to sell itself for $33 billion to Chevron Corp earlier this month. However, it decided to make a deal with Occidental Petroleum Corp instead.

The bidding war for Anadarko Petroleum has marked the value of its numerous assets, especially in the Permian Basin of West Texas as well as New Mexico. The huge field consists of oil and gas deposits which can produce supplies for many more years using the latest low-cost drilling techniques.

The board of directors at Anadarko has decided that the $38 billion bid by Occidental can lead to a deal that is a lot better than the one it had with Chevron. The $38 billion bid by Occidental is a cash and stock bid as well. Anadarko plans to start negotiations soon in order to finalize a deal with Occidental. Occidental has been vying for a deal with Anadarko before Chevron came into the picture.

Chevron will be offered a chance to match the new deal offered by Occidental. In case, Chevron is not able to make a new offer, Anadarko will have to pay $1 billion break-up fee to Chevron, as per the terms of the agreement. Occidental and Anadarko did not respond to any requests for comments. Kent Robertson, the Chevron spokesman also declined to make any immediate comment.

The takeover of Anadarko will add about a quarter million acres as holdings in the Permian shale basin area. This will also help double the global oil and gas production of Occidental to over 1.4 million barrels of oil per day.

Occidental revealed its bid for Anadarko on Wednesday. It offered to pay for the company half in cash and a half in shares. Interestingly, Chevron’s deal with the oil and gas production company was structured as 75 percent stock and 25 percent cash deal.

The deal offered by Occidental relies on the approval of the Occidental shareholder. Considering this fact, a deal with Chevron is easier to go ahead as it does not give its shareholders a chance to vote on this decision. Anadarko shareholders will be allowed to vote on the sale of the company, regardless of which bid considered.

However, Pierre Bieber, Chevron’s finance chief has mentioned that Chevron has the ability to put more cash into the deal if required so.

Ralph WilliamsAnadarko Considers Deal With Occidental Petroleum
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Cepsa To Sell 30% Of Its Stake To Private Equity Firm Carlyle

There is a partial buyout deal with private equity giant Carlyle and Cepsa which is an oil and gas company in Spain. Carlyle has agreed to buy 30% stake in Cepsa from a sovereign wealth fund from Abu Dhabi which is a $3.6 bn deal according to sources who have information about this transaction. Earlier the Mubadala fund which was looking for a listing in the stock market had failed in its attempt due to the wrong valuation. Now with the sale, the total value of the enterprise is the same as it had earlier attempted and is at $12 bn. The owner of Cepsa is Abu Dhabi wealth fund Mubadala Investment company.

Cepsa happy with the result

A source from the company said it was happy with the partial buyout and added, “This is the greatest outcome for Cepsa because public markets only seem to pay attention to the short term movement in oil prices and don’t appreciate a company like this.” The oil and gas company produces 175,000 barrels of oil a day worldwide and has stakes in two of the fields in Abu Dhabi. It has also many power-generating assets, operates chemical plants and refineries in Spain and other parts of the world.

Deal with Carlyle

The deal to buy 30% of the stakes of Cepsa comes with an agreement that says Carlyle having the right to buy up to 40% of Cepsa. Last year, Cepsa had rejected the bid by the US equity giant as it thought the stock listing would be a better option than selling its stakes. But, after the listing on the exchange was pulled out due to lack of interest in the company and also coupled with a bad global market Mubadala owners who has been the head of the company for three decades have agreed to sell its stakes. If the deal is approved by the regulatory bodies it will close by the end of the year.

The investment in Cepsa is part of its diversification program outside its North American shores. The equity group is raising $4 bn for assets in oil and gas and has to invest $2.4 bn on this deal. As per the deal agreement, at least two board seats will be allocated to Carlyle, but Musabbeh Al Kaabi who is a senior executive at Mubadala will continue to be the chairman of the company.

The oil has seen a recovery this year and has reached $70 for a barrel which had reached $30 in 2016 and Cepsa is making the most of it.

Paul AlbinCepsa To Sell 30% Of Its Stake To Private Equity Firm Carlyle
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Tesla Deliveries Drop This Quarter

Tesla Inc deliveries dropped by 31 percent in the first quarter as the company struggled with its first Model 3 sedan shipment to China and Europe due to longer transit times.

The company has confirmed again that its guidance in delivering over 400,000 vehicles in 2019 has dropped. In fact, the order for its latest Model 3 sedan in the U.S. alone has already outpaced what Tesla is able to fulfill in the first quarter alone. The model was recently made available at $35,000 in the United States.

Tesla was able to deliver only above fifty percent of the first quarter’s orders by March 21. According to reports, over 10600 vehicles are still in transit. This is pretty high compared to 1900 vehicles in transit during the fourth quarter last year.

According to Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives, Wall Street expected a more apocalyptic quarter. Although the number of deliveries was clearly rocky, it was better than what many expected.

Analysts expected lower deliveries in the first quarter as Tesla started delivering its latest Model 3 sedan to China and Europe amidst the drop in demand in North America as well as the fifty percent reduction of $7500 tax credit at the end of last year.

Tesla announced on Wednesday that its net income this quarter would be affected negatively by the lower delivery as well as price cuts. The company warned investors of an impending loss in the first quarter.

According to the IBES data from Refinitiv, Tesla was able to deliver only 50,900 Model 3s which was lower than the estimated 58,900 by analysts. The car manufacturer delivered 63,000 vehicles including Model X SUVs as well as Model S sedans. This is lesser than the number of Model S, and Xs delivered in the last quarter of 2018.

The total production dropped by 10.92 percent from 86,555 to 77,100. The Model 3 sedan from Tesla is a part of the company’s growth strategy as Elon Musk, the company’s Chief Executive Officer is under pressure to guard its working capital as it tries to deliver the vehicle to international markets more efficiently. Delivering the model 3 sedan to international markets has brought forth plenty of challenges for Tesla.

Musk has been battling it out with the U.S. regulators about Tesla’s production. A judge will be hearing the case on Thursday.

Although Tesla promised to sell its $35,000 priced Model 3 sedan in North America, the price change was too late to make a difference this quarter.

Justin LebronTesla Deliveries Drop This Quarter
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Environment Conscious Investors to Not Buy Into Lyft or Uber

The number of environmentally conscious people has increased by leaps and bounds as the fears over global warming have intensified over the past decade or so. To that end, many investors have also emerged over the years, which have made it their mission to invest in companies that do not damage the environment and stay away from companies that are not ‘green’ enough by their standards.

According to reports, such investors have now decided to stay away from the initial public offering of ride-hailing company Lyft and are all set to do so for the mega IPO of Uber. They believe that both these companies will eventually have a damaging impact on the climate as the number of cars rise after they raise billions of dollars from the stock markets. Lyft was the biggest IPO of the year so far, and when Uber goes public, it is all set to be the biggest one in history with a rumoured valuation of $120 billion.

New Alternatives Fund, which is regarded as socially responsible, is not going to invest in either of these companies and a money manager at the fund, Murray Rosenblith confirmed it. “As far as I can tell, they’re actually putting more cars into the congested areas, and they’re pulling business out of the transit systems. This is not an area where New Alternatives is going to get engaged.” In this regard, it is also important to keep in mind that most ride-hailing companies claim that due to their business model, people will buying fewer cars in the years to come and carbon emissions are going to reduce dramatically. However, researchers do not believe that it is going to be the case since commuters might use these services more than other forms of public transport like train, metro and buses.

In addition to that, many of these funds argue that the fact that drivers often have to drive for long distances before they reach their customers, also leads to higher emissions and that is not factored into the ‘distance travelled’ statistic by these companies. That being said, the companies are also working on bringing in alternative modes of vehicles that will help in curbing carbon emissions and both companies are engaged in electrical vehicles projects that could come to fruition in the years to come. However, as of now, that is a distant dream, and the small group of investors are going to stay away.

Paula HearnEnvironment Conscious Investors to Not Buy Into Lyft or Uber
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China Reportedly Sends off Fleet of Ships to South China Sea Island to Halt Construction Facilities of Philippines

China has been charged with sending around 100 of ships together to block the construction work of Philippines on a controversial Island in the South China Sea.

Beijing began to move vessels to Thitu which is the part of Spratly chain, in compliance to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative [AMTI] which is operated by the Washington based Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

The fleet of ships together was sent off alongside Subi Reef which consists of vessels of the Navy and coastguard besides a bundle of fishing boats. The report suggests that their appearance was associated as an effort to force the Philippines to stop the work on the disputed island that China also claims at its property.

While the satellite pictures show that the Chinese navy Jianghu V class frigate and Zhaoduan class coastguard intersected Thitu on December 20, at that time the Chinese vessels had topped to 95.

The report also suggested that the Chinese warship was seven nautical miles away from the Philippine navy’s frigate namely the BRP Ramon Alcaraz during that time.

Back in April 2017, the government of Philippines reported that it was supposed to start constructing a beaching ramp mainly on Thitu, commonly known as Pagasa in the Philippines and Chinese Zhongye Island.

After the completion, the beaching ramp will permit the ships of the Philippines to carry materials in order to repair and to extend the runway over the island so that it can adjust bigger aircraft.

The construction work might have been completed by the end of 2018. Meanwhile, Philippines authorities stated that the process had been delayed due to cold weather and rough seas.

The AMTI indicated that the operations of China have also contributed to the delay over construction.

The Defense Secretary of Philippines Delfin Lorenzana addressed on Monday to the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the ramp is intended to be completed during the quarter 1 of the year.

The only issue with the Pagasa is that everything that is required to repair like steel bars, gravel, sand, and heavy equipment, needs to be brought in, Lorenzana mentioned. “In order to bring all these things we require a beaching ramp, so I hope that it will be completed during the 1st quarter of the year, about the beaching ramp, ” he added.

Lorenzana also mentioned that his country should oppose the decision of Beijing to build a rescue center over the Fiery Cross Reef, basically captured by Chinese outpost in the Spratly chain which is also maintained by Philippines and Vietnam.

The AMTI quoting about the satellite images stated that the number of Chinese ships in that area was increased to 24 on December 3, just before the recent construction work began and had increased to almost 95 on December 25 although the number has reduced to 42 by January 26.

Earlier in November, Lorenzana said that China’s ambassador to the Philippines had requested to cancel the proposed work.

Meanwhile, the decrease in the Chinese vessels indicates that the Chinese forces have decided to settle into monitoring pattern and warning after their large initial deployment process failed to satisfy Manila to stop the construction work, the AMTI stated.

Eventually, the plans have regularly faced delays, and their extent is much simpler as compared to those which were taken by China or Vietnam, the report mentioned.

Upon completion, the Philippines will have re-acquired around 8 acres of land in past years in Spratlys, in comparison to 120 acres by Vietnam and 3,200 by China, it concluded.

Rosaria SmithChina Reportedly Sends off Fleet of Ships to South China Sea Island to Halt Construction Facilities of Philippines
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