|Bid||0.00 x 900|
|Ask||41.68 x 1400|
|Day's Range||41.05 - 41.88|
|52 Week Range||26.19 - 43.48|
|Beta (3Y Monthly)||0.19|
|PE Ratio (TTM)||13.78|
|Forward Dividend & Yield||N/A (N/A)|
|1y Target Est||N/A|
Twitter and Facebook have taken steps to block a state-backed Chinese misinformation campaign aimed at sowing "political discord in Hong Kong”. Yahoo Finance’s Myles Udland, Jen Rogers, Andy Serwer and Dan Howley discuss
Twitter is now blocking state-run media outlets from advertising on its platform. The new policy was announced just hours after the company identified an information operation involving hundreds of accounts linked to China as part of an effort to "sow political discord" around events in Hong Kong after weeks of protests in the region. State-funded media enterprises that do not rely on taxpayer dollars for their financing and don't operate independently of the governments that finance them will no longer be allowed to advertise on the platform, Twitter said in a statement.
(Bloomberg) -- U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson made his first public attempt to renegotiate the Brexit deal by telling the European Union he wants to explore different ways to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland.In a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk, Johnson said he wants to replace the so-called backstop provision in the divorce agreement with a “legally binding commitment” not to build infrastructure or carry out checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland -- the U.K.’s new frontier with the EU -- as long as the bloc promises the same.The backstop, the most contentious part of the Brexit deal agreed between Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, and the 27 other EU governments in November, would keep the U.K. following EU customs and many other trading rules indefinitely unless it’s superseded by a trade agreement that removes the need for controls or checks along the Irish border. The EU has said it’s needed as a permanent guarantee and isn’t up for negotiation.Johnson said both sides must look at other ways to keep the border free of checks and wants a commitment “to put in place such arrangements as far as possible before the end of the transition period,” which could be as early as the end of 2020. A transition will only apply if the U.K. leaves with a deal.No SpecificsBut Johnson didn’t set out what the arrangements should be, and acknowledged there “will need to be a degree of confidence” about what would happen if they were not “fully in place” at the end of the transition period. That suggests he is prepared to replace the backstop with a different guarantee.What a No-Deal Brexit Would Mean for the Irish Border: QuickTakeJohnson made the removal of the backstop from the Brexit deal, which was not approved by the British Parliament, his key pledge on becoming prime minister last month. He’s repeatedly said that if the EU doesn’t comply, the U.K. will leave the bloc on Oct. 31 without a deal.“Time is very short,” Johnson said in his letter, which was published late Monday. “But the U.K. is ready to move quickly, and given the degree of common ground already, I hope that the EU will be ready to do likewise.”In many ways, Johnson’s position echoes May’s. She also wanted to avoid a hard border in Ireland, while having different regulations between the U.K. and EU, and wanted to find alternative “arrangements” to deliver this. She, too, was willing to offer a guarantee if those arrangements couldn’t be agreed.Deal HopesJohnson said earlier Monday that while he would prefer to negotiate Britain’s exit from the EU, he was determined to get the country out of the bloc, and was ready for any “bumps in the road.” His argument is that by talking up Britain’s readiness for a no-deal Brexit and willingness to go through with one, he’s more likely to persuade the EU to give ground.The prime minister travels to Berlin and Paris this week to discuss Brexit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron. EU leaders were “showing a little bit of reluctance” to change their position, he said, but he was “confident” they’ll eventually shift and give him a deal.The main opposition Labour Party’s Brexit spokesman, Keir Starmer, said Johnson’s plan didn’t contain any solutions.“This letter confirms that Johnson has no negotiating strategy,” Starmer said on Twitter. “He suggests (unspecified) alternatives to the backstop. And if they don’t work: further (unspecified) alternatives to the backstop. Why didn’t anyone think of that before!”No-Deal RowWith Johnson showing no sign of backing down over his willingness to leave the EU without an agreement, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn demanded the prime minister release the latest assessment of the impact of a no-deal Brexit, after the government said a leaked copy of its plans was no longer current. The Sunday Times newspaper reported that “Operation Yellowhammer,” the government’s plans for leaving the EU without a deal, warned of a three-month “meltdown” at ports, along with shortages of food and medicine. Michael Gove, the minister in charge of Brexit preparations, said on Sunday this was out-of-date information based on “worst-case planning.”“If the government wants to be believed that it doesn’t represent the real impact, it must publish its most recent assessments today in full,” Corbyn said in a statement. “Boris Johnson’s denials can’t be trusted, and will do nothing to give businesses or consumers any confidence that the dire state of affairs described in these documents aren’t right around the corner.”What ‘No-Deal Brexit’ Means and Why It’s a Big Risk: QuickTakeMeanwhile the government is about to launch a publicity blitz aimed at preparing the public for a no-deal Brexit, according to a government official.Whereas previous information campaigns were aimed at businesses -- with long technical briefings on how different sectors should prepare for the possibility that the U.K. leaves the European Union without a deal -- the new one will be more user-friendly, said the official, who asked not to be identified.EU citizens living in Britain are being urged to apply for settled status ahead of the Brexit deadline. But despite the government warning that free movement from the bloc will end on Oct. 31, the official said most changes are likely to be symbolic in the short term. The Home Office said in a blogpost that EU citizens still had until December 2020 to make their settlement applications.To contact the reporters on this story: Robert Hutton in London at email@example.com;Ian Wishart in Brussels at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at email@example.com, ;Robert Hutton at firstname.lastname@example.org, Stuart Biggs, Robert JamesonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Twitter Inc. found and deleted hundreds of accounts it said China used to undermine the Hong Kong protest movement and calls for political change.The company said it took down 936 accounts that originated within China and attempted to manipulate perspectives on the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. Facebook Inc., acting on a tip from Twitter, said it also found a similar Chinese government-backed operation on its social network, with five fake accounts, seven pages and three groups.“Based on our intensive investigations, we have reliable evidence to support that this is a coordinated state-backed operation,” Twitter said Monday in a blog post. “Overall, these accounts were deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground.”Facebook came to the same conclusion. “Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found links to individuals associated with the Chinese government,” the company said in a blog post.This is the first significant move against coordinated disinformation from China by Twitter and Facebook. The social networks are blocked in the mainland, but many people still access the sites via technical workarounds. In Hong Kong, where the sites aren’t blocked, protesters have roiled the financial hub for 11 weeks fighting to secure democratic freedoms. The alleged disinformation campaign is one of several ways China has sought to quell the largely leaderless protest.QuickTake: Facebook, Twitter and the Digital Disinformation MessThe social networks began to remove government propaganda campaigns after discovering Russia’s network of accounts, groups and ads attempting to sow discord around the 2016 U.S. presidential election. China’s impact could ultimately be greater than Russia’s, according to Brett Bruen, the president of Global Situation Room Inc., who worked in the Obama White House on tackling disinformation and other projects. The Chinese government has been building influence in outside territories, digitally and otherwise, for many years, though it has rarely used its power over other regions, he said.“It’s like the Death Star from Star Wars,” Bruen said. “The capability is there, but has never been fully deployed. If they choose to operationalize the capabilities they’ve been building in a more aggressive way, that could present a massive change to world politics.”Twitter said the accounts it suspended “represent the most active portions of this campaign; a larger, spammy network of approximately 200,000 accounts” were taken down before they were “substantially active.”In a related announcement, Twitter said it will stop accepting advertising from state-backed media worldwide, after finding propaganda messages that Chinese-run media paid to promote on its site. The ban doesn’t affect taxpayer-funded or independently operated media like the BBC.Facebook still accepts ads from state-run media, but is looking more closely at its policies. “We’re also taking a closer look at ads that have been raised to us to determine if they violate our policies,” the company said in a statement.(Updates with Facebook considering change in policy in final paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah Frier in San Francisco at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org, Andrew Pollack, Alistair BarrFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
The company also said it will ban ads from state-backed media companies, expanding a prohibition it first applied in 2017 to two Russian entities.
Facebook and Twitter said Monday they have shut down accounts originating from China that they believe are likely to be either state-sponsored or linked to people associated with the Chinese government.
Twitter Inc and Facebook Inc said on Monday they had dismantled a state-backed social media campaign originating in mainland China that sought to undermine protests in Hong Kong. Twitter said it suspended 936 accounts and the operations appeared to be a coordinated state-backed effort originating in China. Facebook said it had removed accounts and pages from a small network after a tip from Twitter.
Twitter Inc. tweeted Monday that it has found "coordinated account activity" linked to state-backed information operations from mainland China that have attempted to manipulate the public conversation regarding the protest movement in Hong Kong. Twitter said it has suspended the accounts. "These covert, manipulative behaviors have not place on our service--they violate the fundamental principles on which Twitter was built," the social media company tweeted. "We're adding the relevant information to our archive of information operations -- the largest of its kind in the industry." Twitter's stock rallied 3.1% in afternoon trading. It has run up 45.5% so far in 2019, while the S&P 500 has gained 16.8%.
WW Kurbo backlash is spreading as users online call out Weight Watchers International (NASDAQ:WW)for releasing a diet app for kids.Source: FOOTAGE VECTOR PHOTO / Shutterstock.com The idea of a diet app for kids is already behind some of the controversy surrounding the WW Kurbo backlash. It seems just how young of kids it targets is rubbing plenty of people the wrong way.Here's how Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) users are contributing to the WW Kurbo backlash.InvestorPlace - Stock Market News, Stock Advice & Trading Tips * "Thoughts on Kurbo, Weight Watchers' new app for kids: 1. Dieting while still growing is dangerous 2. Dieting is single biggest predictor of eating disorders 3. 95% of diets fail. What more needs to be said about this other than it is a terrible idea?" * "I chose to sign up for Weight Watchers and it turned into a fifteen year battle with my body and severely fucked up my relationship with food. But I was an adult. That was my choice. But with Kurbo, WW is targeting kids kids as young as 8." * "This new app kurbo by WW is disgusting! And it is out right dangerous! Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses and teaching young people these messages is WRONG!" * "There is a special place in hell for adults who tell KIDS to go on diets. I am OUTRAGED over @weightwatchers's new weight loss app FOR CHILDREN. As a survivor of severe anorexia - THIS IS GROSSLY NEGLIGENT." * I was five years old the first time someone made a shaming comment about my body. I spent two decades of my life hating myself, and hundreds of hours in therapy learning not to. Hey @ww_us -- kids need LoveNotDiets. You need to pull Kurbo. This app WILL cause harm." * 10 Cheap Dividend Stocks to Load Up On You can check out more of the WW Kurbo backlash by following this link. More From InvestorPlace * 2 Toxic Pot Stocks You Should Avoid * 10 Cheap Dividend Stocks to Load Up On * The 10 Biggest Losers from Q2 Earnings * 5 Dependable Dividend Stocks to Buy As of this writing, William White did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.The post WW Kurbo Backlash: Diet App for Kids Stirs Up Controversy appeared first on InvestorPlace.
Facebook removed pages, groups and accounts that it contends were "involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior" by a "small network" in China aimed at stirring anger against the protesters in Hong Kong.
(Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. President Donald Trump stepped up his assault on the Federal Reserve, urging it to cut interest rates by a full percentage point to aid global growth while complaining the “dollar is so strong that it is sadly hurting other parts of the world.”“The Fed Rate, over a fairly short period of time, should be reduced by at least 100 basis points, with perhaps some quantitative easing as well,” the president said in a tweet Monday. “If that happened, our Economy would be even better, and the World Economy would be greatly and quickly enhanced--good for everyone!”The Fed cut rates last month for the first time in a decade and signaled it was open to doing more amid slowing global growth and uncertainty over Trump’s trade war with China. Concern over the outlook has roiled financial markets and sent Treasury yields toward records lows, flashing recession-risk warnings as investors increase bets the U.S. central bank will ease policy again.Trump has previously urged the Fed to cut rates by a percentage point and resume bond purchases, while also complaining about the dollar’s strength. His wording on the currency this time was slightly different by focusing on its impact on countries other than the U.S.He also accused Democrats of hoping for an economic downturn ahead of the presidential election.“Our Economy is very strong, despite the horrendous lack of vision by Jay Powell and the Fed, but the Democrats are trying to ‘will’ the Economy to be bad for purposes of the 2020 Election,” he tweeted. “Very Selfish!”Trump has relentlessly attacked the politically-independent central bank for raising rates in 2018, with his frustration reaching the point where he began asking aides about his ability to oust the Fed chief in discussions that were reported by Bloomberg News in December.To contact the reporter on this story: Justin Blum in Washington at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at firstname.lastname@example.org, Jeff Kearns, Alister BullFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. President Donald Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports are getting a lot of blame for slowing the global economy, but it’s all the uncertainty from his Twitter habit and trade policy more broadly that could be even more harmful.According to a report by Bloomberg Economics’ Dan Hanson, Jamie Rush and Tom Orlik, uncertainty over trade could lower world gross domestic product by 0.6% in 2021, relative to a scenario with no trade war. That’s double the direct impact of the tariffs themselves and the equivalent of $585 billion off the International Monetary Fund’s estimated world GDP of $97 trillion in 2021.China would be hit harder by the uncertainty factor, with its GDP lower by 1% compared with a 0.6% chunk taken out of America’s economic output, the analysis showed.“The tweet is mightier than the tariff,” the Bloomberg economists wrote in their report.The U.S. president’s social media posts on trade, many of which are about China, sometimes appear several times a day and other times not at all. His contradictory takes on the progress of negotiations with Beijing send a chill through businesses that are making decisions about investing and hiring.A survey released last week by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found a growing conviction among businesses that tariffs were hitting their bottom line.The Fed responded to economic headwinds with a rate cut of 0.25% last month. The Bloomberg Economics report said that while monetary policy can be used to mitigate uncertainty shocks, it cannot prevent the damage entirely. If central banks respond to demand weakness, world GDP will be 0.3% lower in 2021 than it would be in a no-trade-war scenario.To contact the reporter on this story: Eddie Spence in London at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Fergal O'Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org, Brendan Murray, Brian SwintFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Facebook and Twitter have moved to curb Chinese state-backed disinformation campaigns that targeted pro-democracy Hong Kong protesters, marking the first time the social media groups have linked propaganda operations on their platforms back to Beijing. Twitter said in a blog post that it had discovered 936 accounts originating from mainland China that were “deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground”. Separately, Facebook said that it had launched an investigation after a tip shared by Twitter about its campaign and had found and removed about 15 pages, groups and accounts that were “associated with the Chinese government” and also “focused on Hong Kong”.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- The first line in Marc Cohodes’s Twitter ID reads: “No Greater Motivator Than Disrespect.”It’s a sentiment you often hear from athletes, but rarely from an investment professional like Cohodes. And with good reason. Although being “disrespected” can be a powerful spur, it also creates blind spots that can lead one astray. You won’t find a better example of this than Cohodes’s efforts over the last year to destroy — yes, destroy — MiMedx Group Inc., a biomedical company that makes products that heal wounds and treat serious inflammation.Cohodes is a short-seller; he has spent the bulk of his career exposing companies that were committing fraud and then profiting when their stock drops. From 1985 to 2006, he partnered with another prominent short, David Rocker. Together, they uncovered wrongdoing at companies like AremisSoft Corp. and Conseco Inc. When Rocker retired in early 2007, Cohodes took over the firm, and renamed it Copper River Management LLC.Under Cohodes, the firm took on a great deal of leverage. When Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008, Copper River was crushed.(1) Cohodes closed up shop and retreated to a chicken ranch he owns in California.But he continued to bet against companies using his own money. One of his biggest winners in recent years was Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc., which he sniffed out well before the company’s stock collapsed in the fall of 2015.Cohodes first focused on MiMedx in October 2017, shortly before he was scheduled to speak at the short-seller’s mecca: the semi-annual investment conference sponsored by Grant’s Interest Rate Observer. A month earlier, Fortune magazine had ranked MiMedx No. 5 on its list of fastest growing public companies, with revenue increasing at an annual rate of 58%, and earnings per share up an average of 88% a year during the previous three years.But Cohodes had recently come to believe that some of those numbers were fraudulent. At the Grant’s conference, he read aloud from a letter he had obtained from a MiMedx whistle-blower. Sent to the company’s chief executive, Parker Petit, the letter decried the company’s “complete lack of integrity.” In his talk, Cohodes strongly suggested that MiMedx was “channel stuffing” — that is, shipping more products that its customers could use, and then booking revenue that didn’t yet exist.There was something else about MiMedx that bothered Cohodes: The company, he said, was trying to silence its critics. It had sued three bloggers who were posting negative information. And Petit had accused the shorts of acting as a “wolf pack” to bring MiMedx down. As part of Petit’s attack on short-sellers, Cohodes said, MiMedx “had the very bad idea to put on their website things about me — that I was part of the Cali cartel, I launder money, I evade taxes.”In truth, MiMedx had suggested no such thing. Petit had posted a link to a long, unsigned article denouncing an illegal practice called “naked short-selling,”(2) which had been a hot subject among financial conspiracy-mongers maybe 15 years ago. The article mentioned both the Cali cartel and Cohodes in passing. But it did not link the two, as Cohodes was now claiming.Still, Cohodes made it clear that he was offended by MiMedx’s actions against all the shorts, not just himself. “Quit intimidating the shorts, the critics, the free speakers,” he seethed. “It has to stop.”Cohodes would later tell an interviewer that Petit had showed him “the ultimate disrespect by defaming me.” He took a big short position in the stock and soon became the company’s most vocal critic.Cohodes’s allegations went well beyond channel stuffing; they also included bribing doctors and engaging in Medicare fraud. He set up a website, which he named “Petite(3) Parker the Barker,” where he posted negative information about the company. Cohodes attended a health-care conference where he interrupted Petit’s presentation to accuse the company of wrongdoing. A journalist from the website Stat recorded the confrontation.And then there were Cohodes’s tweets, which were both nasty and personal. Here’s one example (there are many others):In mid-October 2017, he tweeted this:And then, a few weeks later, this:Petit would later tell me that he felt threatened by the latter two tweets. “I didn’t know what he was capable of,” Petit said. So the MiMedx CEO reached out to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.(4) And whaddya know: On Dec. 1, two agents showed up at Cohodes’s ranch. One of them took the lead in dressing down the short-seller. Here’s how Bloomberg News described the scene:The agent said he wouldn’t leave until Cohodes promised not to post further threatening tweets about Petit. The agent said there would be consequences if they had to return. … He asked Cohodes several times: “Do you understand?”Cohodes, who insists that his tweets were not threatening, was enraged by the FBI visit. From where he sat, the intervention of the FBI was a new low in short-seller intimidation — and disrespect. And Cohodes was going to prove to Petit — and everyone else — that it wouldn’t work. As he put it to me in a recent email, “I refuse to be cowed by bullies.”Fast forward to June 2018. Just seven months after Cohodes jumped into the MiMedx fray, Petit was gone. So was Bill Taylor, the company president. The allegations hurled at the company by Cohodes and his allies, most of whom were also short the stock, had spurred the MiMedx audit committee to bring in an outside law firm to conduct an investigation. The company concluded, well, here’s how the board put it in a news release:Petit and Taylor … emphasized short-term business goals over compliance and ethics, purposely took action to disregard revenue recognition rules under GAAP and manipulate the timing and recognition of revenue.The board also announced that because of the financial improprieties, it would have to restate earnings going back to 2012, that its stock would be delisted from the Nasdaq exchange, and that both the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department were conducting investigations. (Petit and Taylor have denied wrongdoing; the government investigations appear to be continuing.)At first glance, this appeared to be a huge victory for the shorts. Although the audit committee never used the phrase “channel stuffing,” its wording strongly implied that’s what had taken place. An $18 stock when 2018 began, MiMedx dropped to $1.15 by year’s end; any short-seller who rode it all the way down made a fortune.(5) In early December, MiMedx’s accountants at Ernst & Young LLP resigned from the account — months after agreeing to audit the company’s books. That’s never a good sign.But if you looked a little closer, it wasn’t quite the slam dunk it seemed. The internal investigation came up with no proof that MiMedx officials had bribed doctors, as Cohodes had alleged. Nor was there any evidence of Medicare fraud. Cohodes had claimed that MiMedx was “in a death spiral.” It wasn’t. As for the resignation of Ernst & Young, the firm had abandoned the assignment after Cohodes and another short-seller, a firm called Aurelius Value, had sent the auditors letters containing dozens of allegations of financial fraud. The company believes the auditors were scared off by the letters. (E&Y declined to comment.)Today, MiMedx has a new chief executive with extensive biotech experience. It has a reconstituted board. The company hopes to complete its restatement by mid-December, at which point it will be able to rejoin the Nasdaq.Yet, Cohodes and his allies, rather than declare victory, have doubled down. The accusations they are making today are, if anything, more extreme than the claims they made when Petit was in charge. They appear to be hellbent on destabilizing the company. “I will take these guys down if it is the last thing I do,” Cohodes declared in an interview earlier this year.In that same interview, he listed “12 distinct categories of egregious wrongdoing.” They included: Medicare fraud, endangering patient safety, evidence destruction, extortion, rape and sexual harassment, influence peddling, securities fraud and bribery. He routinely describes MiMedx as “a criminal enterprise.”None of this appears to be true. That’s my next column.(1) Cohodes would later testify in a lawsuit that Goldman Sachs bore some responsibility for Copper River’s failure because it mishandled the firm’s trades during the 2008 financial crisis. Goldman has denied the allegation.(2) Proponents believed that naked short-selling was at the heart of Wall Street’s version of the deep state. The chief proselytizer was Patrick Byrne, the CEO of Overstock.com.(3) Cohodes always spells Petit’s last name with an extra “e”; petite, of course, is “little” in French. He says it is because Petit is “a small man of stature, soul and mind.”(4) According to Bloomberg News, Petit also reached out to Senator Johnny Isakson, a Georgia Republican. Isakson, too, informed the FBI.(5) Cohodes acknowledges that he got out well before MiMedx hit its low.To contact the author of this story: Joe Nocera at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Stacey Shick at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Joe Nocera is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering business. He has written business columns for Esquire, GQ and the New York Times, and is the former editorial director of Fortune. His latest project is the Bloomberg-Wondery podcast "The Shrink Next Door."For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
has been one of Asia’s strongest performing currencies this year, hurting the competitiveness of Thai exports and its key tourism sector, which generates more than a fifth of GDP. Thailand said on Monday that second-quarter agricultural output fell 1.1 per cent, exports dropped 6.1 per cent, and imports fell by 2.7 per cent year on year. Veerathai Santiprabhob, governor of Thailand’s central bank, said on Monday that the bank would lower its 2019 economic forecast of 3.3 per cent because of slowing growth.
(Bloomberg) -- If one Japanese business has its way, professional wrestlers will be the next hit entertainment export from the country that introduced the world to Hello Kitty and animation sci-fi films such as “Akira.”No, they’re not wrestlers from the country’s traditional sport of sumo. Instead, think of theatrical choke holds and acrobatic throws in a ring. Entertainment company Bushiroad Inc. is betting that Tetsuya Naito, Tama Tonga and other Japanese wrestlers can become just as famous as Hulk Hogan or Stone Cold Steve Austin.Better known for its trading cards and anime characters, Bushiroad has been preparing for this moment for a long time, after buying New Japan Pro-Wrestling seven years ago. Once a popular form of entertainment, pro-wrestling was eclipsed for years by the rise of manga and animation. Only recently has it made a cult-like comeback, with revenue climbing fivefold under the Tokyo-based company’s ownership.“What’s important is what we do outside the mat,” said Bushiroad’s Chief Executive Officer Yoshitaka Hashimoto, a former IBM marketing employee who took the company public last month. “We do great in the ring, but how can we present it to the rest of the world? One option is video-streaming.”Bushiroad’s shares rose 11% on Monday, the highest since the IPO. The stock is up 32% since trading began, giving the company a market value of about $369 million.Hashimoto is seeking to tap into global demand for Japanese media, from the Dragon Ball manga and anime franchise to award-winning movies such as Studio Ghibli’s “Spirited Away.” The archipelago’s animation industry pulled in 2.16 trillion yen ($20.5 billion) in 2017, while the market for trading and gaming cards climbed 24% to 109 billion yen in the year to March. By comparison, New Japan Pro-Wrestling only has sales of about 5 billion yen each year.Bushiroad, which already streams matches in the U.S., France and other places, is looking to expand the service to English-speaking countries. That could put it in the in the same ring as World Wrestling Entertainment, which has been making its own effort to expand online distribution. The U.S. franchise is reported to be in talks to buy Fite TV, a popular boxing and mixed-martial arts streaming platform.Founded in 2007, Bushiroad considers itself a promoter and developer of intellectual property. In addition to designing and selling cards and mobile games, the company operates an internet radio station featuring anime voice actors, promotes a girls band called BanG Dream!, and puts on musical shows by anime actresses. Bushiroad also publishes comics and sells anime figurines.Bushiroad’s sales climbed 27% to 28.9 billion yen for the year that ended in July 2018, although growth is seen slowing to 8.5% for the latest fiscal period to July. Trading-card and mobile games generated more than half of revenue; a fifth came from pro-wrestling.The company plans to use some of the proceeds from last month’s public offering for games and animation production, advertisements and human-resource development, Hashimoto said. About 4 billion yen of the 7.2 billion yen IPO was newly issued shares, while the rest were sold by existing shareholders.“Pro-wrestling, card games and animation — they were all seen as subculture 20 years ago, but they’ve since grown into a mainstream culture,” Hashimoto said. For example, 4 in 10 New Japan Pro-Wrestling fans are now women, versus mostly men a generation ago.To run New Japan Pro-Wrestling, Bushiroad hired Harold George Meij, a Dutch executive who was formerly CEO of toy company Tomy Co. and worked at several multinational companies in Japan. Meij, who said he grew up watching Japanese pro-wrestling as a child when his father worked in in the country, said he doesn’t think Japanese pro-wrestling is inferior in any way to WWE, which had $930 million in revenue last year.“We hardly perform with the microphone,” Meij said. “We do it from beginning to end, with power fighters, technical fighters, or people who can do acrobatic stunts.”Pro-wrestling has been popular for decades in Japan. Rikidozan, a former sumo wrestler who switched to pro-wrestling in 1951, is considered the father of Japanese professional wrestling. Others past stars include Giant Baba and Antonio Inoki, who in the 1970s popularized martial-arts attacks and submission holds. Inoki, who once fought Hulk Hogan, later became a politician.When Bushiroad bought New Japan Pro-Wrestling in 2012, the franchise was struggling amid weak economic growth and tough competition from mixed-martial arts. Under new management, each wrestler was told to set up a Twitter account and start tweeting to fans. The wrestlers were farmed out to quiz shows and other TV programs to attract viewers. There are about 70 wrestlers on its roster, and about 20 are foreigners.“New Japan Pro-Wrestling used to see themselves as just a sports organization,” Meij said. “Now we consider every wrestler to be a piece of intellectual property, a kind of anime character.”(Updates with shares in fifth paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Takashi Nakamichi in Tokyo at email@example.com;Masatsugu Horie in Tokyo at firstname.lastname@example.org;Mei Futonaka in Tokyo at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Marcus Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org, ;Yuji Okada at email@example.com, Reed Stevenson, Russell WardFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Iran warned the U.S. against apprehending a supertanker carrying the Middle East country’s oil and said it couldn’t be clear on the ship’s ultimate destination, leaving the fate of the vessel uncertain as it sailed into the Mediterranean Sea from Gibraltar, where it had been detained.The tanker, formerly called the Grace 1 and re-named the Adrian Darya 1, was signaling Kalamata, Greece -- at least for now -- with an arrival date of Aug. 26, according to tanker-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg at 5:25 p.m. London time. It had previously been showing an arrival date of Aug. 25.The vessel left Gibraltar Sunday night after being detained there since early July, when British forces seized it on suspicion of carrying oil to Syria in violation of European sanctions. The U.S., which has sanctions against Iran, is seeking to prevent anyone from doing business with the ship.Iranian Crude Tanker Leaves Gibraltar Waters: What Happens Next?U.S. sanctions mean Iran cannot be “very transparent” about the destination of the tanker, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said at a press conference in Helsinki. He said the U.S. is trying to “bully others from purchasing our oil” and that he hopes the release of the vessel will de-escalate tensions in the Persian Gulf.A spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.The incident is one of several in recent months that have strained relations between Iran and the West, following the U.S. reinstatement of sanctions on the Islamic Republic last year. Iran has maintained that the ship’s original detention on July 4 was unlawful. The Persian Gulf state continues to hold a U.K.-flagged tanker, the Stena Impero. Aggression in the region has threatened shipping in recent months in the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most critical waterway for oil supplies.“The U.S. surely can’t seize the Iranian tanker and, if it does, it would pose a threat to international maritime security,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said. Iran warned the U.S. via “diplomatic channels,” including Switzerland, against interfering with the tanker, in international waters, Mousavi said at a news conference in Tehran. Swiss diplomats serve as interlocutors between the U.S. and Iran.Destination UnclearIt’s not known where the Iranian vessel is ultimately headed. Greek authorities haven’t received formal notification that the vessel intends to head to a port in the country, according to a spokesman for Greece’s coast guard. Kalamata’s port usually serves pleasure craft like sailboats and cruise ships, data compiled by Bloomberg show.The waters off Kalamata could be a possible location for ship-to-ship cargo transfers, according to two vessel brokers without specific information about the tanker’s plans. A ship’s destination is entered manually into its Automatic Identification System and is picked up by vessel-tracking. The destinations can be altered multiple times on the same journey.Gibraltar rejected an attempt by the U.S. to block the Iranian supertanker, saying that EU regulations don’t allow it to seek a court order to detain the vessel.U.S. ComplaintA complaint unsealed in Washington stated that “Oil Tanker ‘Grace 1,’ all petroleum aboard it and $995,000 are subject to forfeiture,” according to a Justice Department statement. The statement alleges a “scheme to unlawfully access the U.S. financial system to support illicit shipments” of oil from Iran to Syria in violation of U.S. sanctions, money laundering and terrorism statutes.Gibraltar last week released the vessel, after the government said Iran had provided assurances that the ship would not sail to a destination sanctioned by the EU. In response, the U.S. said it was gravely disappointed with Britain, and it warned that ports, banks and anyone else who does business with the vessel or its crew might be subject to sanctions, according to two administration officials.(Updates vessel’s estimated arrival date in second paragraph, request for comment in fifth. An earlier version of this story included an incorrect spelling for a port official in Kalamata, Greece.)\--With assistance from Serene Cheong, Anthony DiPaola, Alex Longley, Julian Lee, Paul Tugwell, Kati Pohjanpalo and Nick Wadhams.To contact the reporters on this story: Brian Wingfield in London at firstname.lastname@example.org;Arsalan Shahla in Tehran at email@example.com;Verity Ratcliffe in Dubai at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Alaric Nightingale at email@example.com, Brian Wingfield, Rachel GrahamFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. Finance Minister Olaf Scholz suggested Germany could muster 50 billion euros ($55 billion) of extra spending in an economic crisis, putting a number on a possible fiscal stimulus for the first time.While Scholz signaled that action by Germany isn’t imminent, domestic and global warning signs are increasing pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to consider suspending its balanced-budget policy. They include an economy that shrank in the second quarter and the risk of expanded trade conflict with the U.S.Scholz mentioned the number in the context of extra borrowing during the financial crisis more than a decade ago, saying “the last crisis cost us 50 billion euros, according to my estimates.”“We have to be able to muster that and we can muster that,” he said while answering questions from the public in Berlin on Sunday. “The biggest problem is uncertainty, including that caused by the Chinese-U.S. trade war.”Germany’s auto industry has been a frequent target of President Donald Trump and could get hit if he follows through on tariff threats against the European Union. At a recent rally in New England, he said the EU is “worse than China, just smaller.”German output fell 0.1% in the second quarter. Paired with a slump in business expectations, the data raise the risk that Germany is on the verge of entering a recession, the first in more than six years.Merkel said last week that the economy is “heading into a difficult phase” and her government will react “depending on the situation.” It was her first suggestion that a more proactive response might be required, though she said she didn’t see an immediate need for fiscal stimulus.Business leaders and candidates to lead the Social Democratic Party, Merkel’s junior coalition partner, are calling on the government to loosen its purse strings and abandon the zero-deficit policy.Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Merkel’s successor as head of the Christian Democrats, said last week that the party stands by the policy. “We invented and will continue to defend it,” she said on Twitter.Scholz on Sunday confirmed speculation that he’s a candidate for the SPD chairmanship, which will be decided at a party convention in December.Der Spiegel magazine reported on Friday that Merkel’s government is ready to back off its balanced-budget policy and expand borrowing if the economy slides into recession.Scholz said there would be fiscal leeway in a crisis because Germany has reduced its national debt to less than 60% of gross domestic product in recent years.To contact the reporter on this story: Birgit Jennen in Berlin at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: James Ludden at email@example.com, Tony Czuczka, Chris ReiterFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- As Hong Kong’s unrest continues, some in the city are looking to the less expensive rents, leafy green streets and relative political shelter of neighboring Taiwan as a safe haven.The number of people moving to Taiwan from Hong Kong has risen rapidly -- up 28% over first seven months of 2019 compared to a year earlier -- fueled in recent months by anti-government protests that have swept the former British colony amid fear its autonomy from Beijing is being eroded.Upwardly mobile entrepreneurs, salespeople and managers say they are attracted by a better quality of life in the democratically run Taiwan -- including cheaper property prices, business opportunities and a safer living environment.Hong Kong’s violence has increased in recent weeks as police and protesters clash and demonstrations spread across the city, including sit-ins that paralyzed its international airport for two straight days last week. China has doubled down on support for local leader Carrie Lam amid fears it will send in its army to restore order, and the city’s economy has begun feeling the toll of 11 straight weeks of rallies. With no end in sight, some residents are looking for a way to leave.Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has been vocal in her support for Hong Kong’s protesters in their pursuit of greater democracy, a contrast to the aggressive police tactics Lam’s China-backed government has used to try and subdue the rallies. The independence-leaning Tsai is up for reelection in January and has seen her support ratings rebound since the movement began, as Taiwanese voters recoil at the scenes unfolding in Hong Kong. China considers Taiwan part of its territory.‘No Future’“I want to move to Taiwan because Hong Kong is in a period of white terror and ruled by the police, which scares me,“ said 37-year-old retail salesperson Steven Chen, a Hong Konger who said he was working to move to the island. “I saw no future for the city when it returned to China some 20 years ago, but now it’s dangerous to live in as the police are not protecting people.”Chen said he was borrowing money from friends and family to come up with the NT$6 million ($190,000) Hong Kong citizens need in order to apply for residency through a Taiwanese government investment scheme.Chen said he has joined every protest since July 1 in support of Hong Kong’s mostly student protesters, including one in which he was almost hit by a rubber bullet. He saw his life as being in danger.Dozens of Hong Kong protesters involved in the July ransacking of the city’s Legislative Council arrived in Taiwan last month to seek asylum, the Apple Daily newspaper reported. They were preceded by prominent activist and bookseller Lam Wing-kee, who fled to the island over the extradition legislation that sparked the current protest movement.New arrivals from Hong Kong accounted for 9.4% of all immigration to Taiwan in the first half of the year -- almost double last year’s percentage -- according to Bloomberg calculations based on data from Taiwan’s immigration agency.The trend is likely to continue as the Taiwanese government has no caps on relocations from Hong Kong and is open to more of its residents coming. “We welcome them,” says Taiwan’s interior minister Hsu Kuo-yung, adding that applications from Hong Kong have risen at least 30% in recent weeks.A timeline of Hong Kong’s historic summer of protestIn a late 2018 survey from the Chinese University of Hong Kong -- before the protests started -- Taiwan ranked as the third most popular destination for Hong Kongers planning to move overseas, after Canada and Australia.Norris Lo is another Hong Konger attracted by what Taiwan has to offer. She and her husband plan to open a pastry shop in the central city of Taichung next year. After considering countries like Australia and New Zealand, they opted for Taiwan due to its affordability.“We want to open a small store of our own, and it’s impossible to do so in Hong Kong,” the 34-year-old pastry teacher said. She also cited the financial hub’s soaring cost of living and densely packed environment.“We don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel,” she says. “If we could see a better future in the next 10 or 20 years, we would be willing to wait. But we don’t see it.”\--With assistance from Matt Turner.To contact the reporters on this story: Cindy Wang in Taipei at firstname.lastname@example.org;Chinmei Sung in Taipei at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Samson Ellis at firstname.lastname@example.org, ;Brendan Scott at email@example.com, Karen LeighFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.