Law

SoftBank’s Vision Fund says portfolio reached 65 companies so far

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ZF takes 35 percent stake in autonomous driving specialist ASAP

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Car parts maker ZF Friedrichshafen said on Friday it acquired a 35 percent stake in ASAP, a Germany-based maker of software and testing systems for autonomous driving applications and electric vehicles.

ASAP specializes in car-to-x communication, human-machine interfaces and electronic architecture and last year generated sales of 84 million euros. It employs 1,100 staff.

ZF’s Chief Executive Officer Wolf-Henning Scheider recently said ZF will invest about 12 billion euros in electromobility and autonomous driving over the next five years.

A purchase price for the ASAP stake was not disclosed.

Reporting by Arno Schuetze, editing by Riham Alkousaa

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Comcast says its fastest internet reaches more U.S. homes than any other provider

(Reuters) – Comcast Corp said on Thursday that its fastest-speed gigabit internet service now reaches more homes than any other provider in the United States after it completed rollout to nearly all 58 million homes and businesses it serves.

The milestone widens its greater coverage over telecoms rivals. Competitor Verizon Communications Inc races to deploy its next-generation 5G wireless service on mobile phones and in the home with speeds theoretically rivaling cable company products. Verizon launched its home internet 5G service in October, the first commercial offering of its kind in the United States.

Comcast’s high-speed internet business is one of its biggest contributors to revenue and profit as customers for its video services decline. The segment has helped prop up the media and communications conglomerate’s finances.

So-called cord cutters, many of whom continue to rely on broadband providers such as Comcast for internet services, have started defecting to video-streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Youtube TV for television programming.

That trend sparked a wave of media company mergers. Walt Disney Co struck a deal to buy 21st Century Fox for $71.3 billion and AT&T Inc bought Time Warner for $85 billion, and both have vowed to build streaming video services for consumers looking for a lower-cost alternative to traditional pay television services.

Comcast lost to Disney on a bid to buy Fox this year but prevailed against Disney in an auction to buy satellite television broadcaster and media company Sky.

Reporting by Kenneth Li; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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Robot market growth slows as trade war hits industrial spending: robot industry chief

TOKYO (Reuters) – An escalating trade war between the United States and China has dampened manufacturers’ appetite for investment in equipment, causing growth in the industrial robot market to slow, the chief of the global robot industry group said.

Many global manufacturers “are now in a wait-and-see mode, wondering whether to shift production (away from China) to, let’s say, Vietnam or the United States,” said Junji Tsuda, chief of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), in an interview on Thursday.

IFR, which brings together nearly 60 global robot suppliers and integrators, predicts worldwide industrial robot sales this year to grow 10 percent compared to last year’s 30 percent jump.

China is the world’s largest robots market with a 36 percent global share, with its sales volume exceeding the total of Europe and the Americas combined.

Tsuda, also the chairman of Japan’s Yaskawa Electric Corp, said the manufacturers would move out of the wait-and-see mode by the end of this year.

It will take a while for the direction of the trade war to be clear, Tsuda said. “But global demand for smartphones, semiconductors and autos have been solid, and the time will eventually come that they can wait no longer and will resume investment to meet the demand.”

Yaskawa, one of the world’s top robot manufacturers, last week cut its annual operating profit forecast to 59 billion yen ($524.40 million) from 65.5 billion yen, citing a slowdown in smartphone-related demand in China and growing caution over the trade dispute.

From next year onwards, however, IFR expects the robot market growth to pick up again, forecasting an average 14 percent increase per year through 2021.

($1 = 112.5100 yen)

Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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Europe’s sprawling new financial law enters into force

A disaster-free launch of MiFID 2 is not the end of the worries

AFTER years of rule-drafting, industry lobbying and plenty of last-minute wrangling, Europe’s massive new financial regulation, MiFID 2, was rolled out on January 3rd. Firms had spent months dreading (in some cases) or eagerly awaiting (in others) the “day of the MiFID” when the law’s new reporting requirements would enter into force. One electronic-trading platform, Tradeweb, even gave its clients a “MiFID clock” to count down to it.

Apprehension was understandable. The new EU law, the second iteration of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (its full, unwieldy name), affects markets in everything from shares to bonds to derivatives. It seeks to open up opaque markets by forcing brokers and trading venues to report prices publicly, in close to real time for those assets deemed liquid. It also requires them to report to regulators up to 65 separate data points on every trade, with the aim of avoiding market abuse.

Title: Europe’s sprawling new financial law enters into force
Publication: The Economist
Publisher: The Economist Group Limited
Date: Dec 31, 1969
© The Economist Group Limited, London 1969
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