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Didi shares plunge more than 20 pct on plan to delist from NYSE, months after debut

Just five months after its debut, ride-hailing giant Didi Global said it plans towithdraw from the New York Stock Exchange and pursue a Hong Kong listing, a stunning reversal as it bends to Chinese regulators angered by its US IPO.
Reaction from investors was swift: the company’s shares fell 22.17 percent, losing about $8.4 billion in market value. At their Friday close of $6.07, Didi shares have fallen about 57 percent since their June 30 IPO price.

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“Following careful research, the company will immediately start delisting on the New York stock exchange and start preparations for listing in Hong Kong,” Didi said on its Twitter-like Weibo account.
Didi did not elaborate but said in a separate statement it would organize a shareholder vote at an appropriate time and ensure its New York-listed stock would be convertible into “freely tradable shares” on another globally recognized exchange.
Market participants said the decision ramps up uncertainty for investors in US-listed shares of Chinese companies. US-listed shares of Alibaba, Baidu and other Chinese firms fell on Friday.
“If you are a money manager and don’t understand what the rules are, it’s easier to just sell and move your money where you better understand the rules of the game,” said Michael Antonelli, market strategist at Baird.
Sources told Reuters last month that Chinese regulators had pressed Didi’s top executives to devise a plan to delist from the New York Stock Exchange due to concerns about data security.
Didi’s board convened on Thursday and approved the US delisting and HK listing plans, said two sources with knowledge of the matter.
Didi pushed ahead with a $4.4 billion US initial public offering in June despite being asked to put it on hold while Chinese officials reviewed its data practices.
The powerful Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) then quickly ordered app stores to remove 25 of Didi’s mobile apps and told the company to stop registering new users, citing national security and the public interest.
Didi, whose apps, in addition to ride-hailing, offer products such as delivery and financial services, remains under investigation.
Redex Research analyst Kirk Boodry, who publishes on Smartkarma, said Didi may need to buy shares at the $14 IPO price to avoid legal issues and at the very least pay more than the current share price.
However, uncertainty remained over what the delisting means for investors. “There may also be some hope that by doing this, Didi management will improve its regulatory relations, but I am less confident on that,” Boodry added.
The upending of Didi’s New York listing — likely to be a difficult and messy process — underscores the huge clout Chinese regulators possess and their emboldened approach to wielding it.
Billionaire Jack Ma ran afoul of Chinese authorities after blasting the country’s regulatory system, leading to the dramatic scuppering of a mega-IPO for Ant Group last year.
Didi’s move will likely further discourage US listings by Chinese firms and could prompt some to reconsider their status as US publicly traded companies.
“Chinese ADRs face increasing regulatory challenges from both US. and Chinese authorities. For most companies, it will be like walking on eggshells trying to please both sides. Delisting will only make things simpler,” said Wang Qi, chief executive of fund manager MegaTrust Investment (HK).
Didi plans to proceed with a Hong Kong listing soon and is not looking at going private, sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
It aims to complete a dual primary listing in Hong Kong in the next three months and delist from New York by June 2022, said one of the sources.
The sources were not authorized to talk to the media and declined to be identified. Didi did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment, and the CAC has yet to comment on its announcement.

“Not long after the IPO US investors had been trying to sue DiDi for failing to disclose its ongoing talks with the Chinese authorities. This is unlikely to be taken any better,” said William Mileham, an equity analyst at Mirabaud.
“It appears that DiDi are not waiting to be dual-listed, but could well be delisted from the US before it starts trading on the HK stock exchange.”

Hong Kong hurdles

Listing in Hong Kong, however, might prove complicated, particularly in a three-month timeframe, given Didi’s history of compliance problems and scrutiny over unlicensed vehicles and part-time drivers.
Only 20 percent-30 percent of Didi’s core ride-hailing business in China is fully compliant with regulations requiring three permits relating to the provision of ride-hailing services, vehicle licensing and drivers’ licenses, sources have previously said.
Didi’s IPO prospectus said it had obtained ride-hailing permits for cities that together accounted for the majority of its rides. It has not responded to further queries about permits.
Those problems had been Didi’s main obstacle to conducting an IPO in Hong Kong earlier and it is unclear whether the bourse will approve it now, sources with knowledge of the matter said on Friday.
“I don’t think Didi qualifies to be listed anywhere before it … sets up effective protocols to manage and ensure the drivers’ responsibility and benefits,” said Nan Li, associate professor for finance at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
The Hong Kong bourse does not comment on individual companies, a spokesperson said.
Didi provided 25 million rides a day in China in the first quarter, its IPO prospectus said. Its main shareholders are SoftBank’s Vision Fund, with a 21.5 percent stake, and Uber Technologies Inc, with 12.8 percent, according to a filing in June by Didi.
Sources have also told Reuters that Didi is preparing to relaunch its apps in China by the year’s end in anticipation that Beijing’s cybersecurity investigation of the company would be wrapped up by then.

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Microsoft threatens data restriction to rival search engines as AI products grow


Microsoft Corp. has threatened to cut off access to its internet-search data, which it licenses to rival search engines, if they don’t stop using it as the basis for their own artificial intelligence chat products, according to people familiar with the dispute.

The software maker licenses the data in its Bing search index — a map of the internet that can be quickly scanned in real time — to other companies that offer web search, such as Apollo Global Management Inc.’s Yahoo and DuckDuckGo. In February, Microsoft integrated a cousin of ChatGPT, OpenAI’s AI-powered chat technology, into Bing.

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Rivals quickly moved to roll out their own AI chatbots as hype built around the buzzy technology. This week, Alphabet Inc.’s Google publicly released Bard, its conversational AI product.

DuckDuckGo, a search engine that emphasizes privacy, introduced DuckAssist, a feature that uses artificial intelligence to summarize answers to search queries.

You.com and Neeva Inc. — two newer search engines that debuted in 2021 — have also debuted AI-fueled search services, YouChat and NeevaAI.

These search chatbots aim to combine the conversational skills of ChatGPT with the information provided by a conventional search engine. DuckDuckGo, You.com and Neeva’s regular search engines all use Bing to provide some of their information, because indexing the entire web is costly — it requires servers to store data and a constant crawl of the internet to incorporate updates. It would be similarly complex and pricey to get together that data for a search chatbot.

Microsoft has told at least two customers that using its Bing search index to feed their AI chat tools violates the terms of their contract, according to the people, who spoke anonymously because they were discussing a confidential dispute.

The Redmond, Washington-based technology company said it may terminate the licenses providing access to its search index, the people said.

“We’ve been in touch with partners who are out of compliance as we continue to consistently enforce our terms across the board,” Microsoft said in a statement. “We’ll continue to work with them directly and provide any information needed to find a path forward.”

If they were cut off from Microsoft’s index, smaller search engines would have a hard time finding an alternative. Microsoft and Google are the only two companies that index the entire web, and Google’s limitations on the use of its index have led nearly all other search engines to use Bing.

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Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel and titan of silicon valley, dies at 94 


Gordon Moore, a pioneer in the microprocessor industry and a cofounder of Intel, which at one time was the world’s largest semiconductor maker, died on Friday at the age of 94, Intel said.

Moore was a giant in the technological transformation of the modern age, helping companies bring evermore powerful chips to smaller and smaller computers.

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An engineer by training, he cofounded Intel in July 1968, eventually serving as president, chief executive and chairman of the board.

Intel, based in Santa Clara, California, said Moore died “surrounded by family at his home in Hawaii.”

In its early days, Intel was known for continuous innovation, growing to become one of the biggest, most important companies in technology.

In an article in 1965, Moore first coined a theory that later became known as “Moore’s Law.” It stated that integrated circuits would essentially double in power every year. He later revised the law to say the doubling would occur every two years.

The axiom held true for decades and became synonymous with the rapid rate of technological change in the modern world.

“All I was trying to do was get that message across, that by putting more and more stuff on a chip we were going to make all electronics cheaper,” Moore said in a 2008 interview.

After earning his PhD from CalTech, Moore and a colleague in 1957 joined Fairchild Semiconductor Laboratory, one of the earliest firms to manufacture commercially viable transistors and integrated circuits.

As the company grew, the seeds were planted for the transformation of the peninsula of land south of San Francisco into what became known as Silicon Valley.

Moore and longtime colleague Robert Noyce struck out on their own in 1968, bringing along a third, Andy Grove, who would become a future Intel CEO.

Moore retired from Intel in 2006.

Over his lifetime, he donated more than $5.1 billion to charitable causes through the foundation he set up with his wife of 72 years, Betty.

“Though he never aspired to be a household name, Gordon’s vision and his life’s work enabled the phenomenal innovation and technological developments that shape our everyday lives,” said Harvey Fineberg, president of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Leaders of Intel heaped tribute on Moore.

“He was instrumental in revealing the power of transistors, and inspired technologists and entrepreneurs across the decades,” said Intel chief executive Pat Gelsinger.

“He leaves behind a legacy that changed the lives of every person on the planet. His memory will live on,” Gelsinger added on Twitter.

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Credit Suisse, UBS among banks in DOJ Russia-sanctions probe


Credit Suisse Group AG and UBS Group AG are among banks under scrutiny in a US Justice Department probe into whether financial professionals helped Russian oligarchs evade sanctions, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Swiss banks were included in a recent wave of subpoenas sent out by the US government, the people said. The information requests were sent before the crisis that engulfed Credit Suisse and resulted in UBS’s proposed takeover of its rival.

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Subpoenas also went to employees of some major US banks, two people with knowledge of the inquiries, said.

The Justice Department inquiries are focused on identifying which bank employees dealt with sanctioned clients and how those clients were vetted over the past several years, according to one of the people. Those bankers and advisers may then be subject to further investigation to determine if they broke any laws.

Credit Suisse and UBS both declined to comment. UBS fell as much as 7.2 percent and was 5.5 percent lower as of 10:14 a.m. in Zurich on Friday.

Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine resulted in expanded sanctions, Credit Suisse was well-known for catering to wealthy Russians. At its peak, the bank managed more than $60 billion for Russian clients, who generated between $500 million and $600 million a year in revenue.

At the time it discontinued its business with individual Russian clients last May, Credit Suisse held about $33 billion for them, 50 percent more than UBS, despite the latter’s larger wealth management business.

The probe by US regulators may prompt UBS to further scrutinize its smaller rival’s client list after the emergency takeover. Credit Suisse has seen a number of relationships blow up in recent years, from Bill Hwang at Archegos Capital Management to Lex Greensill at his eponymous finance company and Luckin Coffee founder Lu Zhengyao.

The Justice Department last year launched its KleptoCapture task force to enforce sanctions on wealthy Russians who are political allies of President Vladimir Putin. The US government has since seized a number of yachts, private planes and luxury properties.

Last month, the US moved to seize homes in New York, Florida and the Hamptons owned by sanctioned oligarch Viktor Vekselberg.

A number of individuals have also been charged with helping oligarchs hide assets — British businessman Graham Bonham-Carter was arrested in October on charges that he illegally transferred $1 million to maintain US properties for sanctioned billionaire Oleg Deripaska. A former senior Federal Bureau of Investigation agent was also charged with helping Deripaska violate sanctions in January.

Banks can face serious penalties for violating US sanctions. BNP Paribas in 2014 agreed to pay nearly $9 billion after pleading guilty to US charges for processing transactions for sanctioned Sudanese, Iranian and Cuban entities. In 2019, Standard Chartered Bank agreed to pay more than $1 billion to settle a Justice Department probe, in which a former bank employee pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate US sanctions on Iran.

As the Credit Suisse rescue plan emerged over the weekend, UBS expressed general concern about taking on its rival’s potential legal liabilities. While the Swiss government has said it will guarantee up to 9 billion francs ($9.8 billion) in losses UBS might incur from the deal, it indicated that funding is earmarked for the wind down of “difficult-to-assess assets.”

US Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco in early March said the Justice Department was responding to the “uncertain geopolitical environment by beefing up its national security division, which enforces sanctions violations.

“Corporate crime and national security are overlapping to a degree never seen before, and the department is retooling to meet that challenge,” Monaco said.

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