Tag Archives: Tech

Exclusive: Russian high tech project flounders after U.S. sanctions
October 17, 2018 12:00 pm|Comments (0)

MOSCOW (Reuters) – U.S. sanctions targeting Russia’s nascent high tech industry have caused a Russian microchip company significant financial woes and delayed the launch of an initiative meant to produce substitutes for Western products, the firm’s owner said.

FILE PHOTO: Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visits a plant of Russian microchip company Angstrem-T in Zelenograd near Moscow, Russia August 3, 2016. Sputnik/Dmitry Astakhov/Pool via REUTERS

President Vladimir Putin has stressed the need to develop Russia’s domestic tech industry to make it less dependent on Western equipment. But Moscow’s efforts to manufacture Russian microchips and other high tech products have been thwarted by U.S. sanctions against a string of Russian tech companies.

Angstrem-T, which makes semi-conductors, has accumulated significant debts and is set to be taken over by state development bank VEB after failing to reimburse an 815-million-euro ($ 944.75 million) loan dating back to 2008, said Leonid Reiman, chairman of the company’s board of directors.

Reiman, Russia’s former minister of communications and information technologies, said the company’s inability to reimburse its debt was in part tied to U.S. restrictions on the import of dual-use technologies and its addition to U.S. Treasury sanctions in 2016.

The U.S. moves were prompted by Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014 and its support for separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine. It has imposed further sanctions against Russia since 2016 over other issues.

Prior to the sanctions Angstrem-T purchased most of its equipment from U.S. multinational firm Advanced Micro Devices and bought a license from IBM to produce chips.

The company is heavily reliant on U.S. products, but the sanctions now bar it from doing business with U.S. firms.

“Although we initially received the (U.S.) State Department’s consent for this project and the delivery of the technology here, the sanctions caused the deadlines for its completion to be drawn out,” Reiman told Reuters.

“The factory is working, the products are being produced, but the question of procurement remains.”

FILE PHOTO: Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visits a plant of Russian microchip company Angstrem-T in Zelenograd near Moscow, Russia August 3, 2016. Sputnik/Dmitry Astakhov/Pool via REUTERS

VEB, which Reiman said could become the majority owner of Angstrem-T by the end of the year, declined to comment.

IMPORT SUBSTITUTION

When Angstrem-T began producing its first chips in 2016 after nearly a decade of false starts and delays, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev depicted the initiative as a way Russia could surmount already existing U.S. sanctions.

“It’s good that we are starting to produce these ourselves,” Medvedev said at the factory’s opening, a month before Angstrem-T itself was targeted by the U.S. sanctions. “It’s a question of import substitution.”

Reiman would not disclose the magnitude of Angstrem-T’s debt. According to a Russian database that aggregates company data, the firm had 87.4 billion roubles ($ 1.34 billion) in debt last year. During the same period it recorded revenues of 101 million roubles.

A source in the field of microelectronics in Russia said the sanctions and repeated delays in the project had caused Angstrem-T’s products to become outdated.

The market for the 90 and 130-nanometre microchips it produces has significantly shrunk in recent years, according to the source.

A draft Russian government roadmap for the development of the microchip industry seen by Reuters says that once VEB’s takeover is complete, Angstrem-T should shift its production to the more modern 28-nanometre chips.

Such chips are used in products made by companies like Apple, Samsung and Sony.

The ministry has for several years lobbied for Russia to build a modern microchip plant, but to no avail.

Reporting by Maria Kolomychenko; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Gareth Jones

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Toyota says in talks with Geely on cooperation in hybrid vehicle tech
September 6, 2018 12:00 pm|Comments (0)

BEIJING (Reuters) – Toyota Motor Corp said on Thursday it is in talks with Chinese automaker Geely about cooperation in gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle technology, but nothing has been decided on the matter.

The Toyota logo is shown at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California, U.S., November 30, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The move comes as Japan’s biggest automaker has been increasingly embracing new automotive technologies for future growth, and has also embarked on a strategy to ramp up sales in China, the world’s biggest auto market.

Toyota said in a statement to Reuters that it and Geely are currently “communicating with each other” about gasoline-electric hybrid technology.

It was not immediately clear in what aspects of the hybrid technology Geely and Toyota are discussing cooperating.

A person familiar with the matter, however, said that the talks apparently involve a Chinese supplier of electric battery technology both companies have already been associated with but separately. Toyota declined to comment on the specifics of the cooperation.

“Toyota has been conducting the business with the open policy which also applies to the area of electrification technologies. The relationship with Geely (Toyota is exploring) is also based on this open policy,” the statement said.

Toyota’s response comes after a Chinese media report said Geely was working with Toyota on the conventional hybrid technology. The report said details on the joint effort would be announced soon.

A Geely spokesman declined to comment.

Toyota, which bet big on gasoline-electric hybrid technology in the late 1990s when it began selling the Prius hybrid, has since localized production of conventional hybrid cars in China and has been selling them here since 2015 under the Corolla and Levin names.

The company has said it plans to sell plug-in hybrid versions of the Corolla and the Levin next year.

Reporting By Norihiko Shirouzu; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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Soros Fund Management adds popular tech names, BlackRock in second-quarter
August 15, 2018 12:00 am|Comments (0)

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Soros Fund Management LLC added Facebook Inc (FB.O), Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Twitter Inc (TWTR.N), but trimmed stakes in Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) and Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) in the quarter through June, according to a regulatory filing on Tuesday.

Billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros speaks during a discussion at the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting in New York, September 27, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

The family office of billionaire George Soros also bought stakes in AT&T Inc (T.N), Chevron Corp (CVX.N) and T-Mobile US Inc (TMUS.O) and divested stakes in eBay Inc (EBAY.O), Nvidia Corp (NVDA.O), Snap Inc (SNAP.N) and Paypal Holdings Inc (PYPL.O).

Soros Fund Management also dramatically boosted its shares in BlackRock Inc (BLK.N) – the world’s largest asset management firm, overseeing $ 6 trillion – by nearly 60 percent to 12,983 total shares in the second quarter.

Other notable adjustments included paring stakes in Netflix Inc (NFLX.O), Citigroup Inc (C.N) and Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N), but raising its shares of Pandora Media Inc (P.N) and Salesforce.com Inc (CRM.N).

Soros Fund Management took share stakes in Facebook of 159,200 class A shares during the second quarter and 54,500 shares in Apple.

A number of prominent fund managers sharply cut their holdings in Apple only weeks before it became the first publicly-traded U.S. company to be worth more than $ 1 trillion.

Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital slashed its stake by 77 percent, while Philippe Laffont’s Coatue Management unloaded 95 percent. Advisory firm Diamond Hill Capital Management cut its stake by 27 percent.

Other big holders, including Sanders Capital and Adage Capital Partners, only trimmed small amounts in the second quarter.

Soros also rejigged his energy holdings, raising stakes in Devon Energy Corp (DVN.N) and Kinder Morgan Inc (KMI.N), while dissolving his stake in the VanEck Vectors Oil Services ETF (OIH.P) and cutting exposure to Canadian Natural Resources Ltd (CNQ.TO) and Williams Companies Inc (WMB.N).

Quarterly disclosures of hedge fund managers’ stock holdings, in what are known as 13F filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, are one of the few public ways of learning what the managers are selling and buying.

But relying on the filings to develop an investment strategy comes with some risk because the disclosures come 45 days after the end of each quarter and may not reflect current positions. Still, the filings offer a glimpse into what hedge fund managers saw as opportunities to make money on the long side.

The filings do not disclose short positions, or bets that a stock will fall in price. As a result, the public filings do not always present a complete picture of a management firm’s equities holdings.

Reporting by Jennifer Ablan; additional reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt, editing by G Crosse

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Tech still all the rage while bears prowl emerging markets: BAML survey
August 14, 2018 12:00 pm|Comments (0)

LONDON (Reuters) – Global investors remain overwhelmingly bullish on U.S. and Chinese tech shares, while short positions on emerging equities are growing increasingly popular, Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s latest monthly fund manager survey showed on Tuesday.

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, U.S., April 3, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Investors picked “Long FAANG and BAT” as the “most crowded” trade for the seventh straight month, BAML’s August survey found, referring to U.S. tech giants Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, and China’s Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent.

Tech has kept its crown, even though results-driven declines by Facebook and Twitter last month triggered anxiety over the mega-cap stocks responsible for the lion’s share of stock market gains in the U.S. and China.

Going short emerging-market equities was the second most popular trade, according to the survey, which was conducted between Aug. 3 and Aug. 9 – just before Turkey’s lira plunged 16 percent against the dollar on Friday.

Investors had a small underweight on EM equities, but BAML said prior EM crisis lows saw investors’ underweight at -27 percent, versus -1 percent today – suggesting investors could slash allocations a lot further from here.

Among risks to global markets, investors said for the third month in a row that trade war was the most concerning.

They continued to position for a global monetary tightening cycle led by the U.S. Federal Reserve. A net 54 percent of investors were underweight bonds, while 20 percent were overweight global banks, which gain from higher interest rates.

Overall, global investors became more cautious in August, raising their cash allocation to 5 percent from 4.7 percent. The increased caution was tempered with a more positive outlook on the profit cycle, with a net 5 percent saying profits will improve.

European fund managers were relatively more bullish, cutting their cash allocations to 4.3 percent from 5 percent.

The proportion of European investors expecting stronger economic growth rose to the highest since April, and the share expecting a recession in the next 12 months also fell to its second lowest ever.

U.S. EQUITIES IN FAVOR, UK STOCKS DUMPED

Investors’ allocation to U.S. equities rose to the biggest overweight since January 2015, making the U.S. the top equity region for the first time in five years as Wall Street stocks delivered strong earnings.

The U.S. was the most favorable region in terms of corporate profits, according to 67 percent of surveyed investors – the highest proportion in 17 years.

Meanwhile, investors pulled money from UK equities, which saw the biggest one-month drop in allocations since May 2016 as concerns of a no-deal Brexit rose.

After six months of falling allocations to euro zone equities, investors added to the region again.

As the S&P 500 volatility gauge .VIX hit its lowest since January on Aug 9, surveyed investors showed the lowest conviction on record for buying volatility.

Accordingly, going long volatility would be a staunchly contrarian bet, going against the grain of current investor thinking, while BAML also suggested “long BRIC/short FAANG” and “long bonds” as trades for the contrarian investor.

Reporting by Helen Reid; editing by Sujata Rao, Larry King

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Britain hires ex-Obama official to advise on tech economy
August 2, 2018 12:00 am|Comments (0)

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain has hired Jason Furman, chief economist in former U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration, to chair a new panel that will steer its approach to digital technology, the UK government said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: Council of Economic Advisers Chair Jason Furman speaks at a Brookings Institution forum on “Achieving Strong Economic Growth” in Washington April 8, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

The panel will look at competition in the digital economy and how technological progress can be squared with the protection of privacy and society at large.

Furman served as chair of the U.S. Council of Economic Advisers between 2013 and 2017 and is currently a professor of economic policy at Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“His experience will be invaluable as we ensure that our market-regulating institutions are fit for purpose in the digital age,” British finance minister Philip Hammond said.

Britain wants to keep close ties with the European Union around digital regulation after Brexit, although it will not be a part of the bloc’s Digital Single Market – a plan to make online trade easier between EU countries.

Britain’s digital industry turned over about 116.5 billion pounds ($ 153 billion) in 2016, or around 7 percent of economic output.

“While digital markets have produced significant consumer benefits, including in the UK, we need to fully understand how competition policy needs to adapt going forward,” Furman said.

“Our focus needs to be on ensuring that consumers continue to benefit from these new technologies while maximizing the innovative potential from the economy.”

Furman’s panel will operate from September through to early 2019, when it is due to submit its findings to the government.

Reporting by Andy Bruce; editing by Stephen Addison

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Weak outlook overshadows tech firm Akamai's profit beat
August 1, 2018 12:00 am|Comments (0)

(Reuters) – Akamai Technologies Inc’s (AKAM.O) forecast for third quarter revenue largely missed Wall Street expectations on Tuesday, even as its second quarter profit topped estimates on strength in its cloud security business.

Shares of the company, which were initially up after results, fell 3.5 percent to $ 72.60 in after-hours trading.

It forecast current-quarter revenue of $ 656 million to $ 668 million, while analysts on average were expecting $ 668 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Akamai provides services to companies to speed up their web pages, but has been under pressure as larger customers such as Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) develop their own in-house know-how to handle web traffic.

The company has been responding by shifting its focus to cloud security.

Revenue from Akamai’s web business rose nearly 11 percent to $ 351 million in the second quarter. However, this growth was the slowest in at least six quarters.

“(Revenue) is a little lower than what we’d like to see from the web division,” Chief Executive Officer Tom Leighton said on an earnings call with analysts.

On the same call, Chief Financial Officer James Benson said the company was nonetheless “optimistic” about web division growth.

Revenue from the company’s cloud security business – which provides data centers with safe ways to operate and deliver content – rose 33 percent to $ 155 million in the quarter.

The company’s overall revenue rose 9 percent to $ 663 million, narrowly beating the average analyst estimate of $ 662 million.

Net income fell to $ 43 million, or 25 cents per share, in the quarter ended June 30, from $ 57 million, or 33 cents per share, a year earlier, as expenses rose 16 percent.

Excluding items, the company earned 83 cents per share, beating the average analyst estimate of 80 cents.

Akamai said in quarter three it expects to report adjusted earnings of 80 cents to 86 cents per share. Analysts were expecting earnings of 80 cents.

Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Rosalba O’Brien

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U.S. tech enforcer says will read 'closely' EU statement on Google
July 18, 2018 6:56 pm|Comments (0)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The head of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which has investigated Alphabet’s Google in the past for abuse of web dominance, said on Wednesday he would take a close look at Europe’s recent decision to fine the company 4.34 billion euros ($ 5 billion).

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager addresses a news conference on Google in Brussels, Belgium, July 18, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Speaking at a hearing in Capitol Hill, FTC Chairman Joseph Simons said he had spoken on Tuesday with EU antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager.

“We’re going to read what the EU put out very closely,” Simons told a subcommittee of the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee.

In addition to the fine, equal to about two weeks’ revenue, EU antitrust regulators ordered Google to stop using its Android mobile operating system to block rivals. The U.S. tech company said it would appeal.

Asked about the dominance of Google and Apple in the smartphone market, Simons said: “There is the two of them so they compete pretty heavily against each other.”

He added that markets dominated by few companies are where antitrust enforcers often expect to find “problematic conduct.”

The FTC had previously investigated Google for abusing its huge market share in web search, but ended the probe in early 2013 with a mild reprimand.

Also at the hearing on Wednesday, lawmakers from both political parties pressed the five agency commissioners to do more to stop robocallers and to ensure better security for sensitive data.

To tackle these and other issues, the commissioners – three Republicans and two Democrats – said the agency needed more resources and more authority, specifically the ability to create rules relatively quickly.

Simons and others also called for legislation to give the FTC the authority to seek civil penalties in the case of a data breach.

Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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Walmart, Microsoft in partnership to use cloud tech
July 17, 2018 6:54 am|Comments (0)

(Reuters) – Retail giant Walmart Inc said on Tuesday it entered into a strategic partnership with Microsoft Corp for wider use of cloud and artificial intelligence technology, in a sign of major rivals of Amazon.com Inc coming together.

FILE PHOTO: Shopping carts are seen outside a new Wal-Mart Express store in Chicago July 26, 2011. Wal-Mart Stores Inc reporterd a higher-than-expected quarterly profit May 19, 2106, as sales in the U.S. market rose, sending the retailer’s shares up nearly 10 percent. REUTERS/John Gress/File Photo

The five-year agreement will leverage the full range of Microsoft’s cloud solutions, including Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365, to make shopping faster and easier for customers, the Bentonville Arkansas-based company said.

As part of the partnership, Walmart and Microsoft engineers will collaborate to migrate a significant portion of walmart.com and samsclub.com to Azure, Walmart added.

While Walmart is doubling down on its e-commerce presence to better compete with Amazon, Microsoft has been working on a technology that would eliminate cashiers and checkout lines from stores, Reuters reported last month.

Microsoft’s technology aims to help retailers keep pace with Amazon Go, the ecommerce giant’s highly automated store format.

The Windows software maker has also shown the sample technology to retailers from around the world and has had talks with Walmart about a potential collaboration, Reuters reported.

Through the partnership, Walmart plans to defend itself from Amazon’s retail ambitions and expertise in data, and boost its online presence.

Reporting by Rishika Chatterjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier

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Messaging For Customer Service: Bozeman Startup Quiq Brings Its Tech To Office Depot, Overstock.com
July 14, 2018 6:49 am|Comments (0)

Things have been looking up for customers of Office Depot since last year, when the commercial-messaging startup, Quiq, came to their rescue. According to Mike Myer, Quiq’s founder and CEO, Office Depot customers no longer have to call or fill out an online inquiry form to find out, say, what a particular location has in stock or the status of an existing order. Today, that customer can send a text and have it answered by a helpful Office Depot employee almost immediately. (The first text reply generally gets to the customer within a minute, and the entire back-and-forth is usually completed in less than ten).

Office Depot (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Skiers in Jackson Hole are in luck as well, says Myer, who spoke to me from Quiq’s offices, located in the improbably booming tech hub of Bozeman, MT. Wondering about snow conditions or tram hours? All that’s needed is to text the resort for an immediate and up-to-the-minute response. For the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Company, whose entire customer base is a certifiably mobile-only whenever they’re on or headed toward the slopes, this makes a lot more sense, Myer tells me, than a desktop- and email-based support approach.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Gondola. (Photo by Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)

Overstock.com has also recently implemented Quiq’s solution and is now providing up-to-the minute order information via text. According to Overstock, the most quantifiable “aha” they’ve enjoyed from the new approach is the open rate: 98% for text messages as opposed to “in the single digits” for email.

Micah Solomon, Forbes.com: Tell me what Quiq is and what makes it special.

Mike Meyer, CEO and Founder, Quiq: Quiq is a company in Bozeman Montana that’s focused on making people’s lives easier. You, me and nearly all the consumers out there lead a digital-first lifestyle, where we are always connected. People love text messaging (SMS, Facebook Messenger, Apple Business Chat, Web chat, etc.) because it’s convenient and fits in with the crazy pace of our lives. By bringing text to business communication, Quiq makes it as easy to talk with companies as it is with friends.

No one likes to make phone calls (let alone to customer service!) and waiting for an email response is like waiting for paint to dry. Messaging is also more efficient for companies since one agent can serve multiple customers concurrently, unlike phone calls, and there’s no seemingly endless back and forth with to solve even a single issue, like there can be with email.

Who are some of Quiq’s marquee clients?

Pier 1, Brink’s Home Security, Tailored Brands (Men’s Wearhouse, Joseph A. Bank), Overstock, Office Depot, Tile, Insikt, and about 80 other great companies.

If my readers want to see your technology in action, where can they look?

Here’s an example they can see for themselves. Go to http://officedepot.com on your mobile phone, you’ll see a Text Us link right next to the phone number at the bottom of the page, which is powered by Quiq. If you were to have a question about a product or order with Office Depot, all you have to do is use that link to get assistance.

There’s a lot of excitement (and apprehension) about AI and chatbots. Your solution takes a different tack. Is this a philosophical choice on your part, a practical one, or both? Tell me your thoughts here. 

The hype curve for AI and chatbots is nearing the apex. But I wouldn’t say that these technologies are much help by themselves to true customer service at the moment. Most consumers (me included) can’t point to a satisfying interaction they’ve had with a chatbot that has solved a true, actual customer service issue. Getting the weather from Alexa is perfectly suited for a chatbot. Checking payment status or getting account info is harder, but within chatbot capabilities. Getting an actual customer service issue that requires troubleshooting resolved is orders of magnitude harder.

Quiq is in a great place at a great time because our success isn’t dependent upon how fast AI research is able to solve the chatbot problem. There is a ton of ROI and customer satisfaction to be gained from just adding messaging into existing contact centers with human agents serving customers via text messaging.

This doesn’t mean that I’m opposed to AI and chatbots, when properly deployed  I think where they excite me most is in the realm of “bot fusion”: the fusion of chatbots and human agents. A lot of people think about chatbots as first handling the conversation and then passing it to a human if the bot can’t handle it. But we think that agents and bots can work together. There may be a specific dialog that a bot can handle during a conversation between the agent and customer. For instance, identity verification or return address confirmation. If the bot gets confused in its task, it can tap the agent for help. The fusion is the seamless transition of the conversation back and forth between the human agent and their bot assistant without the customer’s awareness.

What role will telephone and email support have in the contact center of the future?

In the future, I believe the majority of interactions in the contact center will be messaging, rather than phone or email. Frankly, I don’t see a need for email to continue to be offered for much longer as a channel in the contact center, since it is so prone to laggy, circular conversations. The phone will still have a place but only in a minority of interactions, and even these will likely start with messaging. Why will the phone still have value? Because there are, and will continue to be, situations in which the consumer wants to be solely focused on troubleshooting a problem. In these cases, speaking is likely to continue to be more efficient than typing. But, the voice conversation will be multimedia, meaning that the agent and customer will be able to text back and forth and view images and video at the same time that they’re on the phone call.

Any advice  you can share for other entrepreneurs?   

The biggest challenge for entrepreneurs is finding and hiring the right people who can stand side-by-side to build a business from the ground up. It isn’t easy work. My advice for entrepreneurs is 1) find a great market opportunity, 2) hire amazing people, and 3) set the direction. Then, get out of the way and let the magic happen!

What about working with investors and partners?

When working with investors and partners, you need to make sure you keep your focus. While investors and partners are important, they’re not building your product and they are not the ones buying it, so be sure to allocate focus to them in the appropriate proportion.

What is the competitive landscape for Quiq?

We think about our competitive landscape in three broad buckets: 1) legacy chat vendors, 2) CRM vendors with a messaging option, and 3) social vendors adding messaging. Quiq is the first messaging platform built from scratch for asynchronous messaging, as opposed to adding messaging onto their synchronous systems.

[Author’s Note: LivePerson’s messaging solution, LiveEngage, was also built from the ground up for asynchronous communications, to the best of my knowledge. Read about LiveEngage in my previous article.]

Our goal isn’t to displace existing CRM or customer support systems.  Quiq integrates seamlessly with Salesforce, Zendesk, Oracle and internal systems.  So, we’re only competing against other messaging solutions, not the incumbent systems.

Live Content: Keynote Speaker Micah Solomon on Customer Service, Customer Experience, Company CultureMicah Solomon

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Trump to use U.S. security review panel to curb China tech investments
June 27, 2018 6:20 pm|Comments (0)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he will use a strengthened national security review process to thwart Chinese acquisitions of sensitive American technologies, a softer approach than imposing China-specific investment restrictions.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a lunch meeting with Republican members of Congress at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 26, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

The Treasury Department has recommended that Trump use the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), whose authority would be enhanced by new legislation in Congress, to control investment deals. The legislation expands the scope of transactions reviewed by the interagency panel to address security concerns, Trump said.

The decision marks a victory for Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a fierce White House debate over the scope of such curbs.

Mnuchin had favored a more measured and global approach to protecting U.S. technology, using authority approved by Congress, while White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, the administration’s harshest China critic, had argued for China-specific restrictions.

“We are not, on a wholesale basis, discriminating against China as part of a negotiation,” Mnuchin said on CNBC on Wednesday.

The investment restrictions are part of the administration’s efforts to pressure Beijing into making major changes to its trade, technology transfer and industrial subsidy policies after U.S. complaints that China has unfairly acquired American intellectual property through joint venture requirements, unfair licensing and strategic acquisitions of U.S. tech firms.

“I have concluded that such (CFIUS) legislation will provide additional tools to combat the predatory investment practices that threaten our critical technology leadership, national security, and future economic prosperity,” Trump said in a statement that did not specifically name China.

U.S. stocks rose after Trump announced the new approach to U.S. investment restrictions but reversed gains in afternoon trading.

Senior administration officials told reporters on a conference call that sticking with CFIUS, a process companies are familiar with, would ensure strong inward investment into the United States while protecting the “crown jewels” of U.S. intellectual property.

Trump said in his statement that upon final passage of the legislation, known as the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act, he will direct his administration “to implement it promptly and enforce it rigorously, with a view toward addressing the concerns regarding state-directed investment in critical technologies.”

If Congress fails to pass the legislation quickly, Trump said, he would direct the administration to implement new restrictions under executive authority that could be applied globally.

The decision to stick with CFIUS was a pragmatic move because the new CFIUS legislation “will put a crimp in China’s efforts to move up the value chain in high tech,” said Scott Kennedy, head of China studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

But it will likely do little to stop the activation of U.S. tariffs on $ 34 billion worth of Chinese goods, scheduled for July 6, or jump-start trade negotiations between the two economic superpowers, Kennedy said.

And the mixed messages from the administration do not help Trump’s negotiating position, he said.

“It shows the Chinese that the Trump administration is still undependable and can be moved back from the most hardline positions,” Kennedy added.

Mnuchin on CNBC downplayed the dissent within the administration, saying that Trump wants to hear differing views on important issues, but the administration’s economic team typically comes together on major recommendations such as the investment restrictions.

Mnuchin said the new CFIUS legislation, passed 400-2 in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, would broaden the types of transactions that could be reviewed by the panel on national security grounds, including minority stakes, joint ventures and property purchases near U.S. military bases.

“This isn’t a question about being weak or strong, this is about protecting technology. We have the right tools under this legislation to protect technology,” Mnuchin said.

COMMERCE EXPORT CURBS

Trump also said that he has directed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to examine U.S. export controls and recommend modifications that may be needed “to defend our national security and technological leadership.”

A Commerce Department spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment on the study.

The CFIUS legislation is headed for negotiations between U.S. House and Senate lawmakers in the coming weeks to craft a final version, with guidance from the Treasury.

A sticking point that could emerge is language in the Senate version that would reinstate the ban on Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE Corp (000063.SZ) from purchasing U.S. components for a year. The Commerce Department ban had effectively shut the Shenzhen-based company down, angering Beijing.

The House version has less stringent language prohibiting the U.S. Department of Defense from purchasing any ZTE communications gear.

Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Steve Orlofsky

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