Archive for May 25th, 2012

China fund may help Alibaba in Yahoo! bid: Report

NEW YORK: China Investment Corporation is in advanced talks to add up to $2 billion to the Alibaba Internet Group’s efforts to buy back a stake from struggling Internet pioneer Yahoo!, the New York Times reported.

The newspaper cited an unnamed source on Thursday as saying that Alibaba is in discussions with several potential partners, including Singapore’s Temasek, Russia’s DST Global and the US Blackstone Group, on buying back the shares.

Alibaba hopes to raise a total of around $4.6 billion.

After more than a year of negotiations, Yahoo! agreed to sell its stake in Alibaba, China’s top e-commerce player, for at least $7.1 billion, the companies announced Sunday.

The transaction will be carried out in stages, with the first step calling for a repurchase by Alibaba of up to one-half of Yahoo!’s stake, or approximately 20 percent of Alibaba’s total shares.

Yahoo! would receive from Alibaba approximately $7.1 billion, composed of at least $6.3 billion in cash proceeds and up to $800 million in newly-issued Alibaba preferred stock, the firms said.


Google breaks down copyright complaints sent to search engine for 1st time

ONLINE PIRACY INSIGHTS: Google has released data detailing the volume of complaints that the company’s search engine has received about websites hosting content that violates copyrights.

BIGGEST TARGETS: There have been more than 2.5 million complaints sent to Google Inc. about websites believed to be infringing on Microsoft Corp.’s copyrights since July 2011, according to the report released Thursday. That’s far more than any of the entertainment companies fighting for tougher laws against online piracy.

BIGGEST OFFENDERS: The websites spurring the most complaints logged by Google are: (nearly 390,000 links requested for removal) and (more than 147,000 links).

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Twitter updates its policies‎

Twitter is growing at a rapid pace and the company just announced that they have updated Twitter and its policies to bring a couple of new features and addons. As per the update, users will now receive a weekly e-mail that will showcase the latest and the most interesting news and items that they might have missed from people they are connected to on Twitter. This new e -mail is going to roll out to everyone over the next few weeks, so keep checking your inbox for new messages from Twitter. Like other Twitter e-mail notifications, you can manage your preferences for this new digest in your Notification Settings. An interesting part of this new e-mail feature is that now you can see the most engaging or popular tweets that can be seen by the people you follow, even if you don’t follow those who have written them. You can see the number of people from your network who have retweeted or have chosen those tweets to be their favourite. New languages have been added as well, so you can set your preferred language by changing it in the settings. The Discover tab has been updated as well.

Along with this, the company has brought a number of updates to its Privacy Policy, too. As per the changes, they’ve now provided more details about the information that they collect and how they use it to deliver their services. The company has also given an example: Their new tailored suggestions feature is based on your recent visits to websites that integrate Twitter buttons and widgets and it is beginning to roll out to users in a number of countries. More details about that are available here. The company has also suggested ways to set your preferences to limit, modify or remove the information they collect. The DNT (Do Not Track) browsers setting is now supported – this stops the collection of information for tailored suggestions. They’ve clarified limited circumstances in which information can be shared with others (including when the user has given the permission, or when the data isn’t private or personal). It’s important to note that their policy is not intended to limit user rights to object to a third party’s request for information.

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Facebook may let 13 year olds in. Big whoop.‎

The latest “should they-shouldn’t they” event with Facebook is the lift of the minimum age requirement ban. I get it. Kids under 13 were joining Facebook anyway. In fact, a lot of their parents lied to let their own kids in. Some parents go so far as to make Facebook accounts for their newborn babies (of course, that’s a separate issue altogether). The reason behind not letting kids under the age of 13 in was that it creates new grounds for bullying. Newsflash: kids are cruel. If you don’t want your child to be bullied, don’t send them to school. Also, newsflash number 2: bullying also occurs with kids older than 13. Only at that age it becomes a little less physical and gets called ’emotional blackmail’. After 18, it’s called “trolling”. Facebook is a safer environment for kids, in terms of bullying, than the playground at school is. On Facebook, you can block a bully and have no contact with them ever again. At school, if the kid musters the courage to complain to the teacher about the bully, said bully will get a slap on the wrist which he/she will transfer on to the bullied. Finally, if a kid is ever lucky, a bully will get thrown out of school. And then that kid’s fate is doomed.

Here’s the thing. There are way more evil forces out there on the internet than Facebook. It’s one thing if Facebook was worried about selling information of younger users but that’s really not the issue at all. The only reason I would want to kick a user under 13 off of Facebook is because of how partial they are to overusage of emoticons. And exclamation marks. Of course, some adult users put up pictures of them snogging and more their significant others and they probably don’t want their 12 year old cousins to see that. However, that’s also the same reason I don’t want my 60 year old parents and my 90 year old grandparents on Facebook. The bottom line: that’s an issue of a simple “CONTROL WHO YOU SHARE WITH”.

The other thing that I notice about this scenario is how Facebook users go through the five stages of grief whenever there’s any change to the service. It was the same case with Newsfeed, Timeline and multiple other features that were a complete overhaul to the format. Users started with denial – threaten to stop using Facebook if the format didn’t go back. I call that denial because in general, most Facebook users (not all), deny their inability to get off the social network. Then comes anger. Zuckerberg you information stealing b-word. And multiple versions of that very statement become the popular contemporary status update. Bargaining. Ok Facebook, if you remove this one feature which steals my information, maybe I’ll be okay with all these other features that steal my information. Facebook’s answer to that is usually silence anyway. Depression. Mostly because you now have to figure out the way the new format works to get back to your stalking. And finally acceptance. Usually, these five stages take about 24-48 hours after a new format is rolled out.

I will say that the one thing I personally worry about when it comes to younger kids is creepy child predators. I think that kids need to be taught at younger ages what type of interaction is appropriate and what is not. More than bullying, I think this is an issue that parents of these kids need to talk about with the kids. If it weren’t a massive invasion of privacy, one could also argue that Facebook needs to keep tabs on how younger kids are interacting, especially with adults. Parents could have access to their kids’ accounts but then I also worry about paranoid helicopter moms who’ll take the slightest negative message from one of their kids’ friends and turn it into a mountain. So basically, when kids younger than 13 join Facebook, the issue is not keeping them safe from other kids, it’s keeping them safe from some adults.

Bottom line: a 12 year old logging on to the internet has violence, b**bs and other societal taboos without any context, all at his or her fingertips. I say keep them on Facebook so they stay away from the other trash.

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My liege, Civilization V is free to play on Steam this weekend

The time of being born into power is coming to a close, as democracy sweeps across this world of ours. Now, if you want to be a leader of a country, you need to be smart – a student of conquest and diplomacy – and this weekend you can study up in Civilization V on Steam, free of charge.

You can install the game through Steam and play until you bring the world around to your type of thinking, up until 1pm PT on Sunday. And if you like Civilization V, it just so happens you can also purchase it at a 75% discount this weekend, which brings the price down to $7.49. A good ruler must also be able to spot a good bit of marketing. The expansion, Gods and Kings, is a little more than a month away, after all.

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NBCUniversal may buy Microsoft’s stake: Reports

BANGALORE: NBCUniversal is in talks with U.S. technology group Microsoft to buy back, Adweek reported, quoting sources.

Several sources said negotiations have progressed to the stage where NBCU parent company Comcast was conducting due diligence, the report said.

A possible deal would help MSNBC have its own website with its own brand, the story said, quoting one person with knowledge of the talks.

The companies were likely to negotiate a deal ensuring secures real estate on, similar to the treatment Fox Sports receives, the report quoted one source as saying.

NBC and Microsoft were not available for comment.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook gives up $75 mn in dividend income

SAN FRANCISCO: Apple Inc Chief Executive Tim Cook will not be earning dividend income on the more than 1 million shares to which he is entitled, which will cost him about $75 million.

Apple said in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday that Cook had asked to be excluded from a recently instituted company program through which employees can accumulate dividends on their restricted stock units that are still vesting.

Asked why Cook was doing this, Apple declined to comment beyond the filing.

Cook, who took over as chief executive from late co-founder Steve Jobs in August, has 1.125 million outstanding restricted Apple shares that are vesting over the next 10 years.

In January, Apple’s board granted Cook 1 million restricted stock units (RSUs) for running the company during Jobs’ medical leaves and as a retention tool. Half of those units are due to vest in 2016 and the remainder are due to vest in 2021.

Apple said in March that it would pay a cash dividend of $2.65 per share to its shareholders.

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Facebook mkt makers’ losses total at least $100 mn

Claims by four of Wall Street’s main market makers against Nasdaq over Facebook’s botched IPO are likely to exceed $100 million, as they and other traders continue to deal with thousands of problems with customer orders.

A technical glitch delayed the social networking company’s market debut by 30 minutes on Friday and many client orders were delayed, giving some investors and traders significant losses as the stock price dropped. The exchange operator is facing lawsuits from investors and threats of legal action from brokers.

Four of the top market makers in the Facebook IPO — Knight Capital, Citadel Securities, UBS AG and Citi’s Automated Trading Desk — collectively have probably lost more than $100 million from problems arising from the deal, said

a senior executive at one of the firms. Knight and Citadel are each claiming losses of $30 million to $35 million, potentially overwhelming a $13 million fund the exchange set up to deal with potential claims.

Nasdaq also has to contend with the outside prospect that it could lose the Facebook listing entirely after having just obtained it.

Facebook shares ended regular trading on Thursday up 3.2 per cent at $33.03, about $5 short of their offering price. Action on the stock, however, has essentially become secondary to the fallout from the IPO — its price, its size, its execution and questions about selective disclosure of its financial prospects.

Regulators including the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin are now looking into how the IPO was handled. The US Senate Banking Committee is also reviewing the matter.

BROKERS UP IN ARMS Advisers familiar with the situation said many investors are now finding out, nearly a week after the fact, that their orders were not executed at the prices they thought.

Fidelity, in a statement, said it was working with regulators and market makers on its clients’ issues “and we will continue to do so until we are confident that Nasdaq has done everything it can to mitigate the impact to our customers.”

Morgan Stanley is also still tending to trade orders placed by brokerage customers on Friday, two people familiar with the situation said. Nasdaq has said all orders were returned by 1:50 p.m. EDT last Friday, but a Morgan Stanley Smith Barney source said it did not get trade information in a “systemic, orderly way.”

Late Thursday, the company held a call with its brokers and told them adjustments would be made to thousands of trades so that no limit orders would be filled at more than $43 a share for stock from the IPO day, a person familiar with the call said.

While brokerages may have received confirmation of trades made on Friday, many were still handling customer disputes over what price they received on the trades, officials said.

The question is “who is going to eat the cost” of compensating those investors, said Alan Haft, a financial adviser with California-based Kings Point Capital LLC, which has $200 million in assets.

One prominent plaintiffs lawyer said what happened with Facebook was reminiscent of the dot-com bubble.

“This is just another spin on the same game of unfair treatment of individual investors,” said Stanley Bernstein of Bernstein Liebhard. He chaired the plaintiffs’ committee in an IPO class-action suit challenging the role of investment banks in more than 300 IPOs between 1998 and 2000. The litigation ended in a $586 million settlement in favor of the plaintiffs.

MARKET MAKERS LOOM The claims by market makers Knight and Citadel could end up dwarfing some of the brokerage issues, though.

“They are certainly facing the specter of some significant lawsuits if this pool is not enough,” a source familiar with Knight’s situation said of the Nasdaq claims pool.

Citadel has sent its losses to Nasdaq for potential compensation, a source familiar with the matter said. Citadel’s hedge fund was not affected.

The head of trading at Instinet said it still had no idea when Nasdaq would respond to requests for accommodation — essentially, compensation for the order problems — or if those requests would be honored.

“Were gonna be looking at a loss on our books” if Nasdaq does not honor the requests, Mark Turner said. “We basically made most of our clients whole because Nasdaq told us to go through the process and file for accommodation. If Nasdaq does not accommodate us we’re going to end up taking a loss.”

“I don’t know that I want to put a dollar amount on that but it’s not nearly as significant as Knight’s ($30-$35 million),” he said.

Citadel and Knight, as market makers to the Nasdaq, honor their clients’ buy, sell and cancellation orders. The orders are supposed to be processed by the exchange within milliseconds, but there was a nearly two-hour delay in processing Facebook orders at the Nasdaq.

During that time, market makers had no idea where their orders stood. And in reality, the price clients bought or sold at was sometimes different than the price they actually got.

For example, Facebook shares began trading with an opening cross price – the first price at which those not in on the IPO could buy or sell – of $42 per share. If an order to sell 10,000 shares at $42 went in at that time, but wasn’t filled until later in the day when shares were trading at around $39, a market maker like Citadel or Knight would make up the difference – in this case, at a cost of $30,000.

FEWER PROBLEMS ELSEWHERE Several analysts who cover exchanges said Nasdaq’s legal liability should be limited, though. According to the analysts, securities rules give Nasdaq wide discretion in determining what, if any, compensation it should pay to customers who claim that they suffered losses due to trading execution.

Under exchange rules, Nasdaq’s liability regarding client losses from certain trading issues is limited to $3 million a month. Market makers will be arguing that Nasdaq was so grossly negligent that its actions during the IPO opening override the limits, said a source with knowledge of Knight’s situation.

Other firms said they did not have similar problems to those of Knight, raising questions about the scope of the losses.

“The problems were where people were trying to cancel orders; we didn’t have that,” said Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak & Co in New York. “Because we didn’t have a problem doesn’t mean there weren’t problems.”

E*Trade Financial Corp said its market making operations realized losses of “well under a million dollars.”

Charles Schwab Corp had a “small number” of the “tens of thousands of clients” who traded Facebook whose issues still have not been resolved, a spokesman said. “Each one requires some analysis to resolve, which can be time consuming.”

Shares of Nasdaq fell 1 cent to $21.80 on Thursday. As of Thursday’s close the stock was down 5.2 per cent from its last close before the Facebook debacle. Over the same period NYSE Euronext is down just 0.1 per cent.

The slide in the shares is adding to the pressure on Nasdaq Chief Executive

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