Alibaba invests $200 million in Snapchat
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is investing $200 million in photo-messaging app Snapchat, a source familiar with the deal said, striking its latest Silicon Valley deal as the Chinese ecommerce company builds up mobile services. The investment values the Los Angeles-based company at around $15 billion, according to Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the situation. This places the four-year-old company into the top ranks of privately held startups.
The suspension of a project to build a port city project off Colombo on land reclaimed from the Indian Ocean has prompted China to defend its investment. President Maithripala Sirisena has vowed to take a relook at deals between China and his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa, saying they were not transparent. India has been viewing China’s involvement in Lanka with growing alarm.
The wife of a blogger and critic of religious extremism who was hacked to death in Dhaka in February has said that police nearby failed to act when the couple were attacked on a university campus in the city. Avijit Roy, a US citizen of Bangladeshi origin, was killed by machete-wielding assailants. His wife, Rafida Bonya Ahmed, suffered head injuries and lost a finger. “While Avijit and I were being attacked, the local police stood close by and did not act,” Rafida said in an e-mail statement.
Pakistan will soon begin executing criminals on death row whose appeals have been exhausted, an interior ministry spokesman said recently, reversing an earlier announcement that only those convicted of terrorism would be executed. It has drawn a lot of flak from rights bodies.
Germany’s ambassador to India has rebuked a German university professor for what he said was the rejection of an internship application from a male Indian student on grounds of India’s “rape problem”. Ambassador Michael Steiner accused Annette Beck-Sickinger, a biochemistry professor at Leipzig University, of an “oversimplifying and discriminating generalisation” in dealing with the student applicant.
Vietnam Airlines Co Ltd will list its shares on the country’s stock exchange by November this year, the chief executive of the airline told reporters recently. “We will follow the rule to list within one year (from the initial public offering date),” Pham Ngoc Minh said.
Confidence at big manufacturers worsened in Jan-March and is seen turning negative in the second quarter as a slumping yen ramped up raw material import costs, a survey showed, complicating Tokyo’s stimulus-driven campaign to revive the economy. The yen skidded to 8-year lows against the dollar.
China has no need to change its prudent monetary policy stance, central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan said. “The new normal condition is not special. There are problems, (but) this does not necessarily require a new monetary policy formula,” Zhou told a news conference recently.
Mercedes-Benz plans to sell more compact cars to tap the fastest growing part of India’s premium car market, a move analysts say could help the German automaker overtake rival Audi as the country’s top luxury car seller. Mercedes launched a refreshed version of its entry-level, compact car – the B-Class recently and it plans to increase sales of such models by 50 per cent this year. Compact cars made up a fifth of Mercedes’ total sales in 2014.
Two Indian firms could get a boost from tech majors in what might turn out to be the first direct investment in the country by Google Inc and Alibaba. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is in talks with Indian online marketplace Snapdeal over a potential cash investment, a person familiar with the negotiations said. The source, who declined to be named because talks are not public, said that negotiations were “ongoing”.
Mars Inc. said it was on track to open its first chocolate plant in India, where its popular Snickers and Galaxy bars will be made to meet growing demand. Mars International India, a wholly owned subsidiary of Mars Inc., signed a memorandum of understanding with the Maharashtra government in Mumbai for a $160 million plant in Pune, Maharashtra. Mars India currently imports chocolate and manufactures its Pedigree and Whiskas pet care products.
Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Inc. said it would open 100 stores in India this year to help consumers in the world’s third-largest smartphone market “experience” the company’s devices, but will not sell them at these stores. Xiaomi, whose low-priced but feature-rich smartphones have made it the biggest smartphone vendor in China, entered India in July and sells its phones primarily through flash sales on online retailer Flipkart. com. The ‘service and experience stores’ would be set up over 500 to 1,000 square feet and will launch in southern Indian cities.
Bangladesh expelled a senior North Korean diplomat on Monday after he was caught smuggling $1.4 million worth of gold, government officials said. Bangladeshi customs officers found Son Young Nam, the First Secretary of the North Korean Embassy in Dhaka, trying to smuggle 27 kg (60 pounds) of gold into the country on Friday. North Korea is under tight international sanctions that restrict its ability to move money through conventional means. The diplomat was released, in accordance with diplomatic protocol, but Bangladesh asked North Korea to withdraw him.
A student march through central Myanmar in protest against a new education law began as an unremarkable procession from the country’s seat of learning and culture, Mandalay, to the commercial hub of Yangon. But it morphed into a wider protest for political rights that prompted a violent crackdown by the authorities.
Nigeria has brought in hundreds of mercenaries from South Africa and the former Soviet Union to give its offensive against Boko Haram a shot in the arm before a March 28 election, according to regional security, defence and diplomatic sources. Rumours about the use of foreign “soldiers of fortune” against the Islamist militant group gained substance in March.
Australian authorities are investigating claims by Islamic State that an Australian teenage recruit died after blowing himself up in Iraq and local media reported that bomb-making materials had been found at his family home in Melbourne.
Iraqi security forces and militias fought their way into Saddam Hussein’s home city of Tikrit, advancing on two fronts in their biggest counter-offensive so far against Islamic State militants. In a possible response to the fighting north of Baghdad, militants in the Islamic State stronghold of Anbar west of the capital launched 13 suicide car bomb attacks on army and security positions in the provincial capital of Ramadi. Army and militia fighters captured part of Tikrit’s northern Qadisiya district, the provincial governor said, while in the south of the Tigris river city a security officer said another force made a rapid push towards the centre.
US has asked Vietnam to stop letting Russia use a former US base to refuel nuclear-capable bombers engaged in shows of strength over the Asia-Pacific region, exposing strains in Washington’s relations with Hanoi. The request came as US officials said Russian bombers have stepped up longdistance flights in a region already rife with tensions between China, US ally Japan and Southeast Asian nations.
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said last month that he will seek re-election in a snap poll next month, which will almost certainly see him extend his 26 years at the helm of the oil-exporting nation by another five. The authoritarian leader’s decision to run in the election on April 26 will for now end speculation over his would-be successor, a question closely followed by investors. Nazarbayev, a former steelworker nicknamed “Papa” and officially titled “Leader of the Nation”, has run his Central Asian state since 1989 when he headed the local Communist Party. He faces no real challenge from a small and disparate opposition in his steppe nation, a non-OPEC oil exporter five times the size of France.
Scientists identified almost 1,500 new creatures in the world’s oceans in 2014, including a humpbacked dolphin and a giant jellyfish, and reckon that most species of marine life are yet to be found. The experts publishing their findings on Thursday listed a total of 228,450 marine species worldwide, ranging from seaweeds to blue whales, and estimated that between 500,000 and 2 million more multicelled marine organisms were still unknown.
The French sporting world paid tribute to three stars killed in a helicopter crash in Argentina during filming of a reality TV show earlier this week. Yachtswoman Florence Arthaud, Olympic swimming gold medallist Camille Muffat and Olympic bronze winning boxer Alexis Vastine were among 10 killed.
Consumer inflation probably edged up in February for the third straight month in India, underscoring the risk of a rebound in inflationary pressures if fuel and food prices pick up. A plunge in global oil prices and weak consumption have driven down inflation in Asia’s thirdlargest economy to around 5 per cent from double digits in 2013, giving room to the central bank to cut interest rates twice so far this year to spur growth. Consumer prices are likely to have risen by 5.2 per cent in February from a year earlier, according to a Reuters’ poll of economists, compared with January’s 5.11 per cent, on higher food prices.
South Korea’s central bank plans to expand its lending programme for small and medium-sized enterprises by about 3.5 trillion won ($3.1 billion) to support their investments and operations, its chief told reporters. He, however, did not elaborate on the details such as the timing of the increase.
Eighty-three percent of all the lights in Syria have gone out since the start of the conflict four years ago, a research report based on satellite images said on Thursday. More than 200,000 people have been killed and nearly four million have fled the country.
India’s economy is recovering and its ability to withstand external shocks has improved, but growth is likely to fall short of government targets, the International Monetary Fund said recently. It forecast that Asia’s thirdlargest economy would grow by 7.5 per cent in the 2015- 16 fiscal year, up from 7.2 percent in the last fiscal year. That is less optimistic than the forecasts in PM Narendra Modi’s annual budget, which foresees growth of up to 8.5 per cent in 2015-16.
Saudi Arabia has recalled its ambassador from Stockholm after a diplomatic row between the two countries over Swedish criticism of Riyadh’s human rights record, Saudi Arabia and Sweden said. Saudi Arabia confirmed the report, saying the move was prompted by remarks by Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom that amounted to “an interference in its internal affairs”.
Saudi Arabia dismissed Iranian calls for an end to its air strikes on neighbouring Yemen on Sunday, saying Tehran should not interfere in the conflict. Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies began air strikes against Iranian-allied Houthi militia fighters in Yemen more than two weeks ago, to try and prevent them making further advances.
Aid agencies said recently that 2014 was the worst year of the Syrian conflict so far and that three United Nations Security Council resolutions aimed at alleviating the suffering had failed miserably. Syria’s crisis started in March 2011 with protests against the government and descended into a civil war that has killed more than 200,000 people.
Twitter users turned to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for tonguein- cheek fashion advice, the day after he said the niqab, a face covering veil worn by some Muslims, was rooted in an “anti-women” culture. Users of the social media service criticised Harper, who made the comment as part of an ongoing push by the ruling Conservatives to ban face coverings in Canadian citizenship ceremonies.
Sania Mirza became the first Indian to climb to the top of the WTA doubles ranking after she teamed up with Swiss great Martina Hingis to claim the Family Circle Cup title. The 28-year-old won her third successive doubles title with Hingis to achieve the top ranking milestone.
Several types of large Chinese military aircraft will have “breakthroughs” this year after years of development, state media reported, as China pushes its territorial claims in the region. Its largest domestically made military transport aircraft, known as the Xi’an Y-20, “will be available for delivery in the near term”, Tang Changhong, deputy chief engineer of Aviation Industry Corporation of China (Avic), told the official Xinhua news agency.
A NASA astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts climbed into a Russian Soyuz capsule on Wednesday and left the International Space Station, wrapping up nearly six months in orbit, a NASA Television broadcast showed. The three are Barry “Butch” Wilmore and flight engineers Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova, from the Russian space agency Roscosmos.