GUIYANG, China (Reuters) – The largest U.S. maker of equipment for pig farms opened a new factory in China on Saturday, investing in its third plant in the world’s top hog market in a bet the country’s ambitious push into large-scale pig farming will bring a surge in demand. […]
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has opened an investigation into KPMG’s auditing of the now-collapsed Carillion covering the years 2014 to 2017, the watchdog said on Monday. Construction and outsourcing firm Carillion collapsed this month after banks pulled the plug, raising concerns about hospitals, road and other infrastructure projects and the fate of hundreds of suppliers. The FRC said it would look at issues such as how the auditors recognized revenue on significant contracts and accounted for pensions. The trustee of Carillion’s pension scheme said on Monday it may have a deficit of about 990 million pounds.
BEIJING (Reuters) – Ford Motor Co said its China chief, Jason Luo, has stepped down after only five months at the helm for personal reasons, a sudden resignation that raises questions over how the automaker will best tackle a sales slump in the world’s biggest car market. Luo had been poached from Key Safety Systems, and it had been hoped that he would reprise his work at the auto parts maker where he engineered a significant surge in China revenue. He also oversaw its $920 million sale to China’s Ningbo Joyson Electronic and the $1.6 billion purchase of assets from bankrupt Japanese airbag maker Takata Corp.
“Jason offered his resignation for personal reasons that predate his time at Ford,” Peter Fleet, head of Ford’s Asia Pacific operations, said in the statement.
“Ford accepted Jason’s resignation as the right way for him and the company to proceed. Jason’s decision was not related to the business strategy or performance of Ford China,” Fleet said, adding that Luo’s replacement would be the subject of a future announcement.
The departure, effective immediately, is a blow to Ford, which has been falling behind rivals in the market. Its China sales slid 6 percent in 2017 compared with a 3 percent rise for the industry overall.
CHICAGO (Reuters) – New dengue vaccines being developed by Takeda Pharmaceuticals Co Ltd and U.S. government scientists are poised to provide a safer alternative to Sanofi’s Dengvaxia, according to vaccine experts, because they already take into account some of the issues that sidelined the product last year. Sanofi revealed in November that Dengvaxia – the world’s first dengue vaccine – might increase the risk of severe disease in people who had never been exposed to the virus. The news prompted an uproar in the Philippines, where more than 800,000 school-age children had been vaccinated.
Next-generation vaccines by Japan’s Takeda and the U.S. National Institutes of Health, in conjunction with Brazil’s Butantan Institute, are now in late-stage testing. They both differ significantly from Dengvaxia, which may increase the chances for a stronger, more durable immune response, according to more than a dozen dengue experts interviewed by Reuters. They expressed especially high hopes for the NIH vaccine, which protected 100 percent of volunteers who received it in a small study. Merck & Co Inc holds an exclusive license for the NIH vaccine in the United States, Canada, China, Japan and the European Union, and plans to begin its own trials in the first half of 2018. It’s too early to say whether either candidate will ultimately succeed, and experts await data from large, late-stage clinical trials.
It was a chance encounter that set Mandy Watkins and Rupert Youngman on the path to love, marriage and ultimately setting up popular womenswear brand Hush. It was 18 years ago when the then complete strangers met in Hong Kong. Australian Ms Watkins lived and worked in the city, while Briton Mr Youngman was there on holiday.
“I was visiting a mutual friend and was just supposed to be staying there a week,” says Mr Youngman. “But I met Mandy and I ended up postponing the flight back.”
The couple carried out a long-distance romance for 18 months before Ms Watkins quit her job and moved to London to be with her boyfriend.
“Somebody was going to have to move, and that somebody was going to be me,” says the talkative 49-year-old in her strong Australian accent.
“I have an English grandmother, I’d already moved away, and it was easier this way – if he had moved to me and I decided I didn’t fancy him, I’d had found that rubbish [to deal with],” she laughs.
Thankfully it did work out for the couple, who have now been married for 12 years, and have two children. And their online fashion brand Hush, which they set up from their London home in 2003, now enjoys annual sales of £17m.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s national security team is looking at options to counter the threat of China spying on U.S. phone calls that include the government building a super-fast 5G wireless network, a senior administration official said on Sunday. The official, confirming the gist of a report from Axios.com, said the option was being debated at a low level in the administration and was six to eight months away from being considered by the president himself. The 5G network concept is aimed at addressing what officials see as China’s threat to U.S. cyber security and economic security. The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has taken a harder line on policies initiated by predecessor Barack Obama on issues ranging from Beijing’s role in restraining North Korea to Chinese efforts to acquire U.S. strategic industries. Earlier this month, AT&T (T.N) was forced to scrap a plan to offer its customers handsets built by China’s Huawei [HWT.UL] after some members of Congress lobbied against the idea with federal regulators, sources told Reuters. The U.S. government has also blocked a string of Chinese acquisitions over national security concerns, including Ant Financial’s proposed purchase of U.S. money transfer company MoneyGram International Inc (MGI.O).
One of Japan’s largest digital currency exchanges has said it will refund most of the $534m (£380m) worth of virtual assets lost in a hacking attack. Coincheck has promised to use its own funds to reimburse more than 46bn yen ($423m) to customers who lost their NEM cryptocurrency coins on Friday. The Tokyo-based company suspended trading after detecting “unauthorised access” of its digital exchange. Some 260,000 customers are said to be affected by the reported theft. Coincheck said on Sunday that the amount it has promised to return covers nearly 90% of the 58bn yen worth of NEM coins lost in the attack. After the breach was discovered on Friday, the company froze deposits and withdrawals for all cryptocurrencies except Bitcoin as it assessed its losses in NEM, a lesser-known currency. The stolen Coincheck assets were said to be kept in a “hot wallet”, which is a part of the exchange connected to the internet, as opposed to a “cold wallet”, where funds are stored securely offline. The company says it has the digital address of where the assets were sent. As many as 10,000 businesses in Japan are said to accept cryptocurrencies.
New York’s chief prosecutor says the state is opening an investigation into a firm that allegedly sold millions of fake followers to social media users.
“Impersonation and deception are illegal under New York law,” said Eric Schneiderman.
The company, Devumi, stands accused of stealing real people’s identities, which it denies, according to the New York Times. The paper linked the “follower factory” to a host of celebrity accounts. The New York Times published an in-depth report on Devumi on Saturday, including interviews with people who alleged their account details and profile pictures had been copied to create realistic “bots”. It is alleged that others who wanted to increase their follower count, including actors, entrepreneurs and political commentators, could then pay to be followed by the bots. On social media, high follower accounts boost influence, which can impact public opinion, or bring advantages, such as job offers or sponsorship deals, to account holders. Mr Schneiderman said he was concerned that such “opaque” operations were undermining democracy.
Carillion “wriggled out” of payments into its company pension schemes as its troubles grew, while it carried on paying shareholder dividends and bosses’ bonuses, say MPs. The Work and Pensions select committee is questioning the way pension investments were managed at the collapsed outsourcing giant. The schemes overall are in deficit. But last year contributions to the pension funds were deferred until 2019, to help shore up the firm’s finances. The committee has published a letter from Robin Ellison, chairman of trustees of Carillion’s DB Pension Scheme, giving an account of the last few years and suggesting they have been left with a funding shortfall of around £990m.
The letter shows that pension trustees were “kept in the dark” about the state of Carillion’s finances until late last year, the committee argues, and that dividends and bonuses were paid out at the expense of pension fund contributions. The select committee’s chair, Frank Field said: “It’s clear that Carillion has been trying to wriggle out of its obligations to its pensioners for the last 10 years.” Mr Ellison will appear in person to answer questions from committee members later this week as pressure grows on those involved to explain why the pension funds’ shortfall was allowed to widen sharply as the company’s difficulties worsened.