- Uber: new charges on endless judicial drama
- Oil rebounds in Asia, Opep suspends the market
- Mexico: the government will no longer fix fuel prices
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 08:58 PM PST
Uber: new charges on endless judicial drama
San Francisco – The clouds keep piling up for Uber, now accused of having set up an organized system to escape justice, adding to the hassle of his new boss named to put the group back on the right track.
According to a former employee, the U. S. Driver Car Rental Service (VTC) has set up a system to retrieve information about competitors and regulators, exchanged and stored via Uber-linked mailboxes and servers.
Uber “has put in place a sophisticated strategy to destroy, conceal, cover up and falsify records or documents with the intent to prevent or impede government investigations” or any pending or future legal proceedings, is written in a letter sent by the U. S. Department of Justice to a California judge.
Because of this new element, partially made public during a hearing in San Francisco, the California court postponed sine die the trial that was supposed to oppose, from Monday, Uber to Waymo, Alphabet’s autonomous car subsidiary (Google’s parent company).
Waymo accuses Uber, who also works on driverless driving, of stealing technology secrets from him.
According to Uber, this testimony has nothing to do with Waymo and does not change the substance of the case.
Former employee Richard Jacobs, who was responsible for “intelligence” (“global intelligence”) at Uber, said his former employer paid him $4.5 million to avoid denigrating the group.
“Uber is going to be very expensive because judges have no sense of humour about collusion and concealment at this level,”said analyst Rob Enderle.
It is a new ball at the foot of Dara Khosrowshahi, appointed at the end of August to put the group back on track after months of scandals, with a planned stock market flotation in 2019.
This ambition requires that the group must be presented to the American stock exchange authorities, which will examine its accounts. It will also have to convince potential investors that the era of scandals attached to Travis Kalanick, the controversial former boss pushed out by worried investors in June, is now over.
But if the new manager had recently decreed that Uber should move “from an era of growth at all costs to one of responsible growth”, this objective now sounds like a pious wish, as the Herculean task seems to be similar to cleaning up Augias’ stables.
As recently as last week, Uber revealed the hacking of 57 million user data in 2016, which has led to investigations. The group is suspected of hiding this piracy for months.
But that’s not all: the U. S. justice system also investigates suspicions of corruption abroad or the use of other illegal software to spy on competition or evade government control. In several countries, Uber has turned his back on the traditional taxis, which see in him their scheduled death.
The billions of SoftBank-
The group has also been working with regulators abroad, particularly in London, one of its largest markets, where it has recently lost its licence. On Monday again, it was the Israeli justice system that banned Uber because of problems with passenger insurance.
Accusations about a system of organized industrial cover-up and espionage come at a time when the group is negotiating a huge, multi-billion dollar investment led by the Japanese SoftBank. The consortium of investors is expected to inject 1 billion in cash and also wants to take a stake of up to 14%.
Uber wants to see this investment as a sign of “confidence” but SoftBank is in a strong position to lower the price of the shares due to the setbacks of the VTC group.
According to a SoftBank spokesman on Wednesday, the funds “Benchmark, Menlo Ventures and other historical investors intend to sell shares” to the consortium.
Especially since the group continues to lose hundreds of millions of dollars. According to the American press, Uber, which does not publish certified accounts, increased its loss in the third quarter to $1.46 billion.
Uber “has a long way to go to regain the trust of users (…) and that of the financial community,”said analyst Jack Gold.
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 08:43 PM PST
Oil rebounds in Asia, Opep suspends the market
Singapore (awp/afp) – Oil prices rebounded Thursday in Asia under the effect of cheap purchases in a market that awaits the meeting of Opep and its partners on a possible prolongation of the agreement restricting their production.
At about 02:30 GMT, the barrel of light sweet crude (WTI), the American benchmark for crude oil, for delivery in January, took five cents to 57.35 dollars in electronic exchanges in Asia.
The barrel of Brent, European reference, also for delivery in January, earned 26 cents, at 63.37 dollars.
The day before, prices had fallen, fuelled by figures on the sharp rise in inventories of refined products in the United States and the fall in American oil inventories.
Members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opep) and their major partners, including Russia, are meeting on Thursday in Vienna to discuss the extension of an oil agreement aimed at limiting their crude oil production in order to rebalance the market. This agreement is currently in force until March 2018.
Opep’s heavyweight, Saudi Arabia, is campaigning for a nine-month extension, but speculation about Russia’s attitude is on the rise.
Moscow may have a clear incentive to oppose an extension of the agreement or shorten its duration, as its oil field of “Sakhalin 1” in the Okhotsk Sea is expected to see its production increase, analysts say.
“The Saudis are aware that Russia must stand by them to demonstrate their strength and unity,”said Shane Chanel, analyst at ASR Wealth Advisers.
“As he would do to prevent a young child from having a crisis, the Opep will take gloves with Russia and will be keen to respect his wishes”. But “Saudi Arabia and Russia need $74 million and $72 million respectively to balance their economies and it is in their interest to extend the agreement.
Analysts warn in any case against a fall in prices if an agreement does not go far enough.
“The market has already taken into account a nine-month extension. If the Vienna Accord falls below that, prices could plummet uncontrollably,”said Jeffrey Halley, an analyst at Oanda.
On Wednesday, the WTI gave 69 cents to close at 57.30 dollars on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
In London, the Brent ended at $63.11 on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE).
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 08:40 PM PST
Mexico – After 70 years of state monopoly, the Mexican government will stop fixing fuel prices all over the country on Thursday following the opening of the energy sector to private capital.
The Department of Finance used to set maximum gasoline and diesel prices on a daily basis.
Prices had already been gradually released in the north of the country. From now on, this liberalization will affect the south and centre of the country, which concentrates the majority of the population, particularly the metropolitan area of Mexico City with more than 20 million people.
In 2013, a constitutional reform opened the door of the energy sector to private capital, both Mexican and foreign, ending the monopoly that the state-owned company Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) had held since the nationalization of oil in 1938.
This reform was passed when the country’s largest oil field was exhausted and oil prices on international markets fell from 2014 onwards.
But the reform was accompanied by a 20% increase in fuel prices, which led to demonstrations in early 2017.
“In the regions where this process of flexibilisation has already taken place, where maximum prices have been abolished, we do not see any price surges”, the Under-Secretary of State for Finance Miguel Messmacher said on Wednesday.
He assured that the government would ensure that fuel prices, which are a source of great concern to the public, would not go up.
In Mexico, 78% of the service stations continue to be operated by Pemex but are now present in Mexico with other Mexican companies and international giants such as British British petroleum, Anglo-Dutch Shell and American Gulf.
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