Author: Reuters Staff

FB – Ethiopia to build local rival to Facebook, other platforms

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia has begun developing its own social media platform to rival Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp, though it does not plan to block the global services, the state communications security agency said on Monday.

3D-printed Facebook and Twitter logos are seen in this picture illustration made in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina on January 26, 2016. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Ethiopia has been engulfed since last year in an armed conflict pitting the federal government against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which controls the Tigray region in the country’s north.

Supporters of both sides have waged a parallel war of words on social media.

The government wants its local platform to “replace” Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and Zoom, the director general of the Information Network Security Agency (INSA), Shumete Gizaw, said.

Shumete accused Facebook of deleting posts and user accounts which he said were “disseminating the true reality about Ethiopia”.

International human rights groups have criticized the Ethiopian government for unexplained shutdowns to social media services including Facebook and WhatsApp in the past year. The government has not commented on those shutdowns.

Facebook’s Africa spokesperson, Kezia Anim-Addo, declined to comment on Ethiopia’s plans and did not respond immediately to a query about Shumete’s accusations.

But in June, days before national elections, Facebook said it had removed a network of fake accounts in Ethiopia targeting domestic users which it linked to individuals associated with INSA, which is responsible for monitoring telecommunications and the internet.

Spokespeople for Twitter and Zoom did not immediately reply to comment requests.

Shumete declined to specify a timeline, budget and other details, but told Reuters: “The rationale behind developing technology with local capacity is clear … Why do you think China is using WeChat?”

He said Ethiopia had the local expertise to develop the platforms and would not hire outsiders to help.

Social messaging app WeChat is owned by China-headquartered Tencent Holdings, is widely used in the country, and is considered to be a strong tool by Chinese authorities for monitoring its population.

Shumete also referred Reuters to comments he made on Friday to a local media outlet in which he accused Facebook of blocking users who were “preaching national unity and peace”.

He also told Al-Ain Amharic that authorities were working on the platform to replace Facebook and Twitter, while a trial has already been completed of a platform to replace WhatsApp and Zoom and that platform will soon be operational.

Reporting by Dawit Endeshaw; Writing by Maggie Fick; Editing by Angus MacSwan

BLK – BlackRock Japan hires former BOJ member Masai to board

FILE PHOTO: Bank of Japan’s (BOJ) new board member Takako Masai attends a news conference at the BOJ headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, June 30, 2016. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

TOKYO (Reuters) – BlackRock Japan said on Monday it was hiring former Bank of Japan policymaker Takako Masai as an external board member, effective Tuesday.

Masai served as the sole female member of the central bank’s nine-member board for five years until June.

Reporting by Leika Kihara

TPR – Coach owner Tapestry quarterly sales beats estimates

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a Coach store on Madison Avenue in New York, January 23, 2013. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

(Reuters) – Coach handbag maker Tapestry Inc beat quarterly sales estimates on Thursday, as a vaccine-aided reopening of economies boosted demand for designer apparel and purses.

Net sales rose to $1.62 billion in the fourth quarter from $714.8 million a year earlier, topping analysts’ average estimate of $1.56 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Reporting by Mehr Bedi in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi

ILMN – Illumina closes $7.1 billion deal for cancer test maker Grail amid regulatory hurdles

FILE PHOTO: The offices of gene sequencing company Illumina Inc are shown in San Diego, California January 11, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake

(Reuters) – Illumina Inc has completed its $7.1 billion acquisition of cancer detection test maker Grail Inc, it said on Wednesday amid challenges posed by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the European Union antitrust regulators.

The life sciences company said there is no legal impediment to the closure in the United States and that the move will ensure the deal does not expire before the regulatory processes conclude.

The U.S. antitrust regulator did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment.

The cash-and-stock deal was announced in September last year by Illumina to gain access to Grail’s flagship Galleri blood test used to diagnose cancers at early stages when the disease is easier to treat.

The deal will face a trial on Aug. 24 at the FTC, which had in March filed a complaint seeking to block the deal, arguing that Illumina is the sole provider of the DNA sequencing that Grail uses and could prevent others from entering the market.

EU antitrust regulators in July opened a full-scale investigation after warning that the deal could curb innovation and competition.

The company said on Wednesday it would hold Grail as a separate company during the European Commission’s ongoing regulatory review.

“We will abide by any outcome ultimately reached by the courts,” Charles Dadswell, general counsel of Illumina, said.

Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

GM – General Motors to replace battery modules for some Bolt electric vehicles after fire risks

FILE PHOTO: General Motors Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra announces a major investment focused on the development of GM future technologies at the GM Orion Assembly Plant in Lake Orion, Michigan, U.S. March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo

(Reuters) – Automaker General Motors Co said it will replace all battery modules in some Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles (EVs) under a recall announced last month.

The module replacements, which could start as early as later this month, come after GM recalled its 2017-2019 model year Bolt battery-powered cars for the second time in less than a year. Two fire incidents were reported after the initial recall, including one in a Bolt that had updated software.

GM, the largest U.S. automaker, said in a statement issued on Monday it would replace recalled vehicles’ lithium ion battery modules with new modules, rather than replacing entire battery packs. “The battery pack case, wiring and the other pack components are not defective and do not need replacing,” it said.

GM said earlier the high-voltage batteries being recalled were produced at South Korean manufacturer LG Chem Ltd’s Ochang facility in Korea. The automaker said on July 23 it and LG had identified the presence of two rare manufacturing defects in the same battery cell as the root cause of battery fires in certain Bolt EVs.

A spokesperson for LG Energy Solutions (LGES), a wholly owned LG Chem battery subsidiary, said LGES “will actively cooperate to ensure that the recall measures are carried out smoothly.”

In late July, GM said its second-quarter results included $800 million in costs associated with the recall of Bolt EVs.

The automaker also asked owners to charge their vehicle after each use and avoid depleting the battery below approximately 70 miles of remaining range, where possible, to reduce the risk of a fire.

GM said it was still recommending customers park vehicles outside immediately after charging and not leave them charging overnight. It said customers should also seek out the software update issued as part of the initial recall.

The automaker plans to use a different-generation battery when it launches electric Hummer and Cadillac vehicles over the next year.

Reporting by Akriti Sharma in Bengaluru and David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

AAPL – Apple works with Chinese suppliers for latest iPhones -Nikkei

FILE PHOTO: The Apple Inc logo is seen at the entrance to the Apple store in Brussels, Belgium July 2, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

(Reuters) – Apple Inc is working with more Chinese suppliers to produce its latest iPhones, Japan’s Nikkei newspaper said on Wednesday, as a tech feud stemming from a trade war with the United States prompts Beijing to strengthen domestic firms.

Luxshare Precision Industry Co Ltd is set to build up to 3% of the upcoming iPhone 13 series, and two firms it acquired last year will supply key components and parts for the latest iPhones, the paper said, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Lens Tech Co Ltd will supply metal casings and Sunny Optical Tech Group Co Ltd will supply rear camera lenses, the paper said on its website, with BOE Tech Group Co Ltd also supplying components.

Apple did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Luxshare has won orders over its Taiwanese rivals Foxconn and Pegatron Corp, and will start building the iPhone 13 Pro this month, the paper said.

Reuters reported that Foxconn set up a task force to fend off the growing clout of Chinese electronics manufacturer Luxshare to study it the company was supported by any Chinese government entity, among other concerns.

Last month, Apple forecast slowing revenue growth as a global chip shortage starts to affect iPhone production.

Reporting by Derek Francis in Bengaluru; Editing by Clarence Fernandez