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Citigroup poaches Shah from Credit Suisse to boost tech M&A

in Connews 164 views

August 18, 2021

By Krystal Hu

(Reuters) – Citigroup has hired veteran tech banker Dhiren Shah from Credit Suisse Group AG, as it doubles down on investing in its tech franchise, according to a memo seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

The departure of Shah is the latest of a series of talent losses Credit Suisse has suffered after its lending exposure to troubled investment fund Archegos led to a $5.5 billion loss. A string of investment bankers not involved in the debacle jumped ship as a result, concerned about the financial and reputational fallout for the bank.

Shah will join Citigroup as Chairman of Global Technology mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in New York, after spending six years at Credit Suisse as head of Financial Sponsors M&A with a focus on the technology sector, said the memo, the contents of which was confirmed by a Citigroup spokesperson.

Deals which Shah has advised on this year include Atotech’s $5.1 billion sale to MKS Instruments Inc. and Blue Yonder’s $7.1 billion sale to Panasonic Corp.

Prior to Credit Suisse, Shah worked at Greenhill & Co Inc, as well as Morgan Stanley, where he was Head of Global Technology Investment Banking.

Shah will report to Citi’s global co-heads of M&A, Cary Kochman and Mark Shafir, and work closely with Philip Drury, who was named head of technology and communications earlier this year.

Banks have been ramping up hiring in M&A groups to capture more market share in a booming dealmaking environment. In its bid to rebuild the senior team, Credit Suisse hired Citigroup’s Aly Alibhai to lead its global media and entertainment group this month.

Technology is the leading sector for M&A activities globally, accounting for 22% of total volume year to date, Refinitiv data shows.

 

(Reporting by Krystal Hu; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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Taliban pledge peace and women’s rights under Islam as they strike conciliatory tone

in Connews 310 views

August 18, 2021

KABUL (Reuters) -The Taliban said on Tuesday they wanted peaceful relations with other countries and would respect the rights of women within the framework of Islamic law, as they held their first official news briefing since their lightning seizure of Kabul.

The Taliban announcements, short on details but suggesting a softer line than during their rule 20 years ago, came as the United States and Western allies resumed evacuating diplomats and civilians the day after scenes of chaos at Kabul airport https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/talibans-rapid-advance-across-afghanistan-2021-08-10 as Afghans thronged the runway.

A White House official said military flights had evacuated about 1,100 Americans from Kabul on Tuesday.

As they consolidated power, the Taliban said one of their leaders and co-founders, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, had returned to Afghanistan for the first time in more than 10 years. Baradar was arrested in 2010, but released from prison in 2018 at the request of former U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration so he could participate in peace talks.

“We don’t want any internal or external enemies,” the movement’s main spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said.

Women would be allowed to work and study and “will be very active in society but within the framework of Islam,” he added.

As they rushed to evacuate, foreign powers assessed how to respond after Afghan forces melted away in just days, with what many had predicted as the likely fast unraveling of women’s rights.

“If (the Taliban) want any respect, if they want any recognition by the international community, they have to be very conscious of the fact that we will be watching how women and girls and, more broadly, the civilian community is treated by them as they try to form a government,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told MSNBC on Tuesday.

U.S. President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said they had agreed to hold a virtual meeting of Group of Seven leaders next week to discuss a common strategy and approach to Afghanistan.

During their 1996-2001 rule, also guided by Islamic sharia law, the Taliban stopped women from working. Girls were not allowed to go to school and women had to wear all-enveloping burqas to go out and then only when accompanied by a male relative.

The U.N. Human Rights Council will hold a special session in Geneva next week to address “serious human rights concerns” after the Taliban takeover, a U.N. statement said.

Ramiz Alakbarov, U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Afghanistan, told Reuters in an interview the Taliban had assured the United Nations it can pursue humanitarian work in Afghanistan, which is suffering from a drought.

‘WALK THE TALK’

The European Union said it would only cooperate with the Afghan government following the Taliban’s return to power if they respected fundamental rights, including those of women.

Within Afghanistan, women expressed skepticism https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/times-have-changed-some-afghan-women-defiant-taliban-return-2021-08-17.

Afghan girls’ education activist Pashtana Durrani, 23, was wary of Taliban promises. “They have to walk the talk. Right now they are not doing that,” she told Reuters.

Several women were ordered to leave their jobs https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/afghan-women-bankers-forced-roles-taliban-takes-control-2021-08-13 during the Taliban’s rapid advance across Afghanistan.

Mujahid said the Taliban would not seek retribution against former soldiers and government officials, and were granting an amnesty for former soldiers as well as contractors and translators who worked for international forces.

“Nobody is going to harm you, nobody is going to knock on your doors,” he said, adding that there was a “huge difference” between the Taliban now and 20 years ago.

He also said families trying to flee the country at the airport should return home and nothing would happen to them.

RESISTANCE AND CRITICISM

Mujahid’s conciliatory tone contrasted with comments by Afghan First Vice President Amrullah Saleh, who declared himself the “legitimate caretaker president” and vowed not to bow to Kabul’s new rulers.

It was not immediately clear how much support Saleh enjoys in a country wearied by decades of conflict.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the Taliban should allow the departure of all those who want to leave Afghanistan, adding NATO’s aim was to help build a viable state and warning the alliance could strike if the country again becomes a breeding ground for terrorism.

The decision by Biden, a Democrat, to stick to the withdrawal deal struck last year by his Republican predecessor Trump has stirred widespread criticism at home https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-lawmakers-set-hearing-probe-events-afghanistan-2021-08-17 and among U.S. allies.

Biden’s approval rating dropped by 7 percentage points to 46%, the lowest level of his seven-month-long presidency, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted on Monday. It also found that less than half of Americans liked how he has handled Afghanistan.

Biden said he had had to decide between asking U.S. forces to fight endlessly or follow through on Trump’s withdrawal deal. He blamed the Taliban takeover on Afghan leaders who fled and the army’s unwillingness to fight.

Washington was blocking the Taliban from accessing any Afghan government funds held in the United States, including about $1.3 billion of gold reserves at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, a Biden administration official said.

(Reporting by Kabul and other bureaus; Additional reporting by Rupam Nair; Writing by Jane Wardell, Robert Birsel, Jane Merriman, Patricia Zengerle and Lincoln Feast; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Peter Cooney)

Factbox-From e-commerce to education, China’s season of regulatory crackdown

in Connews 128 views

August 18, 2021

SHANGHAI (Reuters) -China’s months-long regulatory crackdown on an array of private companies has unsettled tech upstarts as well as decades-old firms, ushering in a new, uncertain environment.

Top antitrust regulator the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) issued sweeping draft rules on Tuesday governing online competition as the cabinet updated rules for operators of information infrastructure that experts say target data-rich firms.

Here are sectors facing tougher regulatory measures:

E-COMMERCE

Traditional e-commerce has been one of the biggest targets with a record fine of $2.75 billion in April for Alibaba over its “choose one from two” feature that bars vendors from selling on rival sites.

Smaller companies also faced fines over issues of consumer rights and labour.

In May, rival JD.com was fined 300,000 yuan ($46,000) over false information on food products.

In late July, the regulator ordered better protection for workers of food delivery firms.

Tuesday’s draft laws are widely expected to affect the sector by reining in fake reviews and inflated public metrics, while barring use of data or algorithms to hijack traffic or influence user choice.

GAMING AND SOCIAL MEDIA

Regulators have yet to directly target gaming and social media firms, but fierce criticism from state media over issues from celebrity watching to video game addiction have spurred big share sell-offs, or changes by the companies.

Weibo Corp, which runs a Twitter-like service, dropped a ranking feature after the People’s Daily newspaper, backed by the ruling Chinese Communist Party, criticised celebrity hype by social media this month.

In August, the Economic Information Daily described online gaming as “spiritual opium”, generating a storm that wiped $60 billion off the market value of industry giant Tencent Holdings at one point.

Tencent later announced curbs on minors’ access to its most popular game, “Honor of Kings”.

EDUCATION

Publicly listed tutoring firms saw massive sell-offs after regulations last month barred private, for-profit tutoring companies from raising capital overseas among other limits.

Social media giant ByteDance laid off staff in its education unit, Reuters reported, while online tutoring company VIPKid stopped lessons by foreigners.

ONLINE FINANCE

In November, shortly before what would have been a record share sale by Ant Group Co Ltd, draft rules by banking regulators set tighter controls on online lending, where the company was a giant player.

They also set limits on cross-provincial online loans and capped loans to individuals.

A day later, the central bank halted Ant Group’s IPO, and in April, the regulator ordered the separation of its payment and personal finance businesses.

RIDE-HAILING

In June, the Cyberspace Administration of China told top ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing to stop accepting new users, days after it listed on the New York Stock Exchange, a measure that knocked about a fifth off its share price.

Analysts and investors say the Didi measures have more to do with big data and overseas listings by Chinese firms than competitive practices. Draft rules ordered data-rich Chinese firms to run a security review before listing overseas.

BITCOIN

In May, three financial regulators widened curbs on cryptocurrency by barring its use for payment or settlement by banks and online firms, as well as exchanging it for fiat currencies and halting investments by fund managers.

Provincial governments’ later curbs on bitcoin mining unleashed a wave of shutdowns, with state-linked tabloid Global Times estimating short-term closures of 90%.

PROPERTY

In July, the housing ministry and seven regulators took aim at the property management sector with a notice that chipped more than a tenth off the CSI 300 Real Estate sub-index.

As the economy emerges from its 2020 coronavirus slump, authorities tightened curbs this year on real estate borrowing to prevent any asset bubble, setting caps for developers and banks.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Investors are watching healthcare closely after the State Council, or cabinet, urged lower prices of medicines and reforms in June.

Tech firms will also brace for a data security law that mandates risk assessments and reports to authorities, as well as a law to protect personal information that governs storage of user data.

($1=6.4818 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Josh HorwitzEditing by Clarence Fernandez)

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