After Executive’s Arrest, China Warns Against Bullying Of Citizens


Huawei Executive Meng Wanzhou faces a possible extradition to the US.

Beijing: 

China’s foreign minister warned Tuesday against the “bullying” of any Chinese citizen, amid a diplomatic fracas over the arrest of a Huawei executive on a US warrant in Canada.

Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of telecommunications behemoth Huawei, was on December 1 arrested in Vancouver on US fraud charges related to sanctions-breaking dealings with Iran, infuriating China.

“The safety and security of Chinese compatriots are our priority, China will never sit idly by and ignore any bullying that violates the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a speech in Beijing, without directly referring to the Huawei case.

“We will fully safeguard the legitimate rights of Chinese citizens and return fairness and justice to the world,” he said at the opening of a diplomatic symposium.

The detention has raised tensions following a truce in the US-China trade war, with Beijing summoning both the Canadian and US ambassadors over the weekend.

Meng, who faces a possible extradition to the United States, is seeking her release on bail from a court in Vancouver.

China has accused Canada of treating Meng in an “inhumane” manner, citing reports in Chinese state-run media alleging she was not given adequate medical care.

Beijing has also claimed that the Chinese embassy was not immediately notified of her arrest.

“The Canadian government did not do this and the Chinese government learned this through other channels,” foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a daily briefing.

In his speech, Wang also touched on tensions with the US, calling on Washington to stop seeing trade between the countries as a “zero-sum game”.

“Take a more positive look at China’s development, and constantly expand the space and prospects for mutual benefit,” he said.

“There is no need to artificially create new opponents, and an even greater need to avoid self-fulfilling prophecies.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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WhatsApp Senior Executives Said to Have Met Government Over Fake News Tracing


Indian tech ministry officials met with senior WhatsApp executives this week to ask the Facebook unit to start tracing the origins of misinformation spread through its messaging platform, a senior government official said on Friday.

WhatsApp has been working to curb the circulation of what technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad termed “sinister” content in India, the firm’s biggest market where it boasts over 220 million users.

Such misinformation has led to the lynching of over 30 people since January last year, according to data portal IndiaSpend, prompting Prasad to call on WhatsApp to trace its origins.

WhatsApp has previously declined to trace the origin of messages, citing security issues.

“We have been asking them for traceability,” said the official at the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, declining to be identified as the meeting was private. “They (WhatsApp) are non-committal on it but we are forcing this issue.”

WhatsApp was represented by Director & Associate General Counsel Brian Hennessy and one other executive, and said it was working on measures to prevent the spread of misinformation, according to the official.

“WhatsApp regularly engages with the Government of India to discuss our commitment to maintaining a private and safe platform for people to communicate with one another,” the firm said in a statement. “We look forward to continued discussions on how we can work together towards these common goals.”

WhatsApp maintains that building traceability into its messaging service would undermine its private nature and end-to-end encryption, creating the potential for misuse. It has also said it will not weaken the privacy protection it provides.

The firm has since launched print, radio and television advertising campaigns to educate users on the dangers of misinformation. It is also conducted roadshows in partnership with mobile phone network provider Reliance Jio Infocomm.

WhatsApp has held digital literacy training for community leaders and law enforcement as well as introduced features on its app such as limits on message forwarding and labels for forwarded messages.

© Thomson Reuters 2018



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China Furious At Huawei Executive’s Arrest In Canada


Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada following a US extradition request. (file)

Beijing: 

China reacted furiously today after a top executive and daughter of the founder of Chinese telecom giant Huawei was arrested in Canada following a US extradition request, threatening to rattle a trade war truce with the United States.

The detention of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, comes after American authorities reportedly launched an investigation into suspected Iran sanctions violations by Huawei, which was already under scrutiny by US intelligence officials who deemed the company a national security threat.

The arrest stirred tensions just as the United States and China agreed to a ceasefire in their trade spat while negotiators seek a deal within three months.

“We have made solemn representations to Canada and the US, demanding that both parties immediately clarify the reasons for the detention, and immediately release the detainee to protect the person’s legal rights,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular press briefing in Beijing.

Meng was arrested in the western city of Vancouver on December 1, Canada’s ministry of justice said in a statement on Wednesday, prompting China’s embassy to say it had “seriously harmed the human rights of the victim”.

The ministry said the US is seeking her extradition and she faces a bail hearing tomorrow, adding it could not provide further details due to a publication ban that was sought by Meng, whose father, Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, is a former Chinese People’s Liberation Army engineer.

Huawei, which overtook Apple as the world’s number two smartphone maker this year, said it was unaware of any wrongdoing by Meng and was provided “very little information” about the charges.

“Huawei complies with all applicable laws and regulations where it operates, including applicable export control and sanction laws and regulations of the UN, US and EU,” the company said in a statement.

The Wall Street Journal reported in April that the US Department of Justice had opened an investigation into suspected violations of Iran sanctions by Huawei.

The New York Times said the company had been subpoenaed by the US Commerce and Treasury Departments over alleged violations of Iran and North Korea sanctions.

“China is working creatively to undermine our national security interests, and the United States and our allies can’t sit on the sidelines,” said US Senator Ben Sasse in a statement linking the arrest to US sanctions against Iran.

The arrest occurred on the same day that US President Donald Trump and Xi struck the trade war truce at a summit in Argentina.

Ye Tan, an independent Chinese economist, said Meng’s arrest could be used as a “bargaining chip” in the trade talks.

“The talks will continue but it’s going to be a lot more tense with higher stakes,” Ye told news agency AFP.

But Geng, the foreign ministry spokesman, said both countries will follow the agreement reached by Trump and Xi to “increase consultations, and work towards an earliest possible mutually beneficial agreement”.

The commerce ministry said separately it will “immediately implement” measures reached under the trade truce, which includes agricultural products, energy and autos, and was “confident” a deal could be reached in the coming 90 days.

ZTE Case

News of her detention rippled through Asian stock markets, with Shanghai and Hong Kong falling and tech firms among the worst hit.

Huawei is not the first Chinese telecoms equipment firm to face the ire of US authorities.

Earlier this year, the US imposed a seven-year ban on the sale of crucial US components to Chinese smartphone maker ZTE after finding it had failed to take action against staff who were responsible for violating trade sanctions against Iran and North Korea.

The ban nearly destroyed the Chinese tech company, forcing it to cease major operations in May.

A month later, Washington and Beijing reached a deal that would strike ZTE from the sanctions list- just days after China reportedly offered to ramp up purchases of American goods to reduce the trade imbalance with the US. American officials denied any connection between the two.

In exchange, ZTE agreed to pay a hefty $1 billion fine and put an additional $400 million in escrow in case of future violations. It was also ordered to replace its board of directors and retain outside monitors.

The case showed that China is highly dependent on imports of US-made semiconductors or computer chips and reinforced Beijing’s need to become self-reliant on this key technology.

Espionage Worries

Huawei is one of the world’s largest telecommunications equipment and services providers.

But its US business has been tightly constrained by worries it could undermine American competitors and that its cellphones and networking equipment, used widely in other countries, could provide Beijing with avenues for espionage.

In May, the Pentagon said that devices from Huawei and ZTE posed an “unacceptable” security risk. Personnel on US military bases are banned from buying ZTE and Huawei equipment.

Over the summer, Australia barred Huawei from providing 5G technology for wireless networks in the country over espionage fears.

New Zealand followed suit in November, but said the issue was a technological one.

Britain’s largest mobile provider BT announced Wednesday it was removing Huawei’s telecommunications equipment from its 4G cellular network, after the MI6 foreign intelligence service chief singled out the company as a potential security risk.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Two More Cricket Australia Executives Out Over Tamper Turmoil


The exodus at Cricket Australia grew on Wednesday as two more top executives quit the embattled governing body after a ball-tampering scandal and a scathing review triggered an outcry. Team performance boss Pat Howard, who was due to leave next year, has brought forward his departure to next week, while broadcasting chief Ben Amarfio left on Wednesday, Cricket Australia said. The latest departures come after chairman David Peever was forced out last week and former Test captain Mark Taylor quit as a director. Former CEO James Sutherland stepped down last month.

The ‘Sandpaper-gate’ scandal, where the team was caught using sandpaper to alter the flight of the ball, also cost former coach Darren Lehmann his job and prompted lengthy bans for three players.

Cricket Australia said the latest changes signalled a “new chapter” under the leadership of incoming chief executive Kevin Roberts.

“I think it is important at this point in time that we give cricket a fresh start and we start looking forward so we that can heal,” Roberts told reporters in Melbourne.

“We are as transparent as we can be in this situation,” he added when pressed for more details about why the pair were leaving Cricket Australia.

“But I ask that we respect Pat and Ben and everything that they have brought to the game, and the public can know that we make these changes and hard decisions with real respect and sensitivity to our people.

“And because of that I hope you understand I won’t be going into detail.”

Roberts said there would be no further “significant change at the executive level in the months ahead”.

In an earlier statement he said it was “clear that we need to deepen our relationships with fans, players and the broader cricket community”, acknowledging it had been a “turbulent year in Australian cricket”.

After the sandpaper plot in March, then-captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner were banned for 12 months, and batsman Cameron Bancroft for nine months.

A damning independent review found Cricket Australia partly responsible for the incident, saying an “arrogant” and “controlling” culture led to players cheating in the pursuit of victory.

Roberts said his organisation would heed the review’s call to meet with the Australian Cricketers’ Association and mend its fraught relationship with the players’ union.



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Opposition Demands Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath Resign Over Tech Executive’s Death


Opposition parties are demanding resignation after a tech executive was allegedly shot dead (File)

Lucknow: 

Opposition parties have demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath after a tech company executive was allegedly shot dead by a policeman in Lucknow early on Saturday, terming it an example of the dismal law-and-order situation in Uttar Pradesh.

“Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav, who is presently in Madhya Pradesh, has termed the killing a result of the prevailing ‘jungle raj’ and demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Yogi,” Samajwadi Party spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary told PTI.

“The language of the Chief Minister, who advocates encounters, has been haughty and this has led to the audacity among the policemen. Governor Ram Naik has also been speaking about improvement in law and order, but it is not actually happening. The chief minister need to take moral responsibility of this and resign,” Mr Chaudhary added.

Two constables have been arrested in connection with the gunning down of 38-year-old Apple executive Vivek Tiwari, when he allegedly refused to stop his car for checking in Lucknow’s posh Gomti Nagar area.

Echoing the demand for Chief Minister Adityanath’s resignation, Congress Legislature Party leader Ajay Kumar Lallu alleged that the incident exposed the real character of the Bharatiya Janata Party, who had come to power on the promise of ending “goonda raj” and “jungle raj”.

“Those, who have the responsibility of checking crime, are flouting human rights for the lure of praise. Since the chief minister is holding the home department, he needs to resign on moral grounds,” the Congress leader said.

In a tweet, Aam Aadmi Party spokesperson Sanjay Singh said, “Earlier, the slogan was ‘muskuraiye ki aap Lucknow mein hain’, (Smile, you are in Lucknow).

Yogi kay raj mein ghabraiye ki aap Lucknow mein hai. Apka kahin bhi encounter ho sakta hai (Under Yogi raj, be scared you are in Lucknow. You can be shot in an encounter anywhere),” he tweeted in Hindi.

Meanwhile, Congressmen, led by Legislative Council member Deepak Singh, took out a candle march in Lucknow against the incident. 





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Google Draws US Conservatives’ Ire After Leaked Video Shows Top Executives Reacting to Trump’s 2016 Election Victory


A leaked video of Google executives trying to console employees who were upset after the election of President Donald Trump has infuriated conservatives, who say the remarks illustrate the search giant’s political bias and should prompt regulators to take a close look at the company.

The new controversy stems from a roughly hour-long recording published Wednesday by Breitbart. It shows executives such as Sergey Brin, the president of Google parent Alphabet, and Sundar Pichai, the chief executive of Google, addressing staff at a private meeting days after the 2016 election, the outcome of which Pichai said caused “a lot of fear within Google.”

As they expressed their dismay, Google executives sought to assuage employees, especially immigrants, given the incoming president’s pledge before Election Day to toughen security at the border. In doing so, Google’s leaders encouraged their workers to be understanding of “all sides of the political spectrum,” said Eileen Naughton, the company’s vice president for people operations.

But conservatives quickly seized on the leaked video Wednesday as evidence that Google is trying to undermine Trump and silence his supporters – and some White House allies even suggested investigating the company as a result.

“They control 91% of all search and they get to decide what everyone sees. If this isn’t a Monopoly I don’t know what is,” tweeted Donald Trump Jr.

Brad Parscale, the president’s campaign manager, said the company “needs to explain why this isn’t a threat to the Republic,” adding in his own tweet: “Congressional hearings! Investigate.”

In response, Riva Sciuto, a spokeswoman for Google, defended the search giant’s meeting. “For over 20 years, everyone at Google has been able to freely express their opinions at these meetings,” she said in a statement. “Nothing was said at that meeting, or any other meeting, to suggest that any political bias ever influences the way we build or operate our products.”

Still, the video’s publication – on Breitbart, a right-leaning news site once led by Stephen Bannon, the president’s former top strategist – could prove problematic for Google in the nation’s capital.

Like Facebook, Twitter, and its other tech peers, Google for months has weathered allegations that it stifles conservative news and views. Trump accused Google in August of having “rigged” search results to display negative stories about him – a charge that Google strongly denied. And this week, GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., even threatened to drag Google to Capitol Hill to answer for its political leanings. “An invite will be on its way,” McCarthy tweeted. The GOP lawmaker similarly helped orchestrate an entire congressional hearing focused on allegations of conservative bias at Twitter, raising the specter that one of Google’s executives could soon be forced to appear in front of their Republican critics.

The video unearthed by Breitbart provides a glimpse into how executives and employees in Silicon Valley – a liberal-leaning part of California that overwhelmingly backed Trump’s Democratic foe, Hillary Clinton – thought about the company’s changing role in the immediate fallout from the 2016 election. Trump’s surprise victory sparked soul-searching in the technology industry over echo chambers, fake news and coastal elitism. Employees, meanwhile, pushed their leaders to fight Trump’s agenda – particularly on immigration, given that the tech industry employs large numbers of high-skilled foreign workers.

Some tech companies did not immediately take responsibility for playing a role in shaping the election. Days after the election, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the idea that fake news spread on Facebook influenced the outcome of the US election was “crazy.” Zuckerberg later said he regretted his “dismissive” comments.

The executives at Google, however, directly addressed these concerns in the meeting. When asked about misinformation and how its personalization algorithms shape peoples’ opinions, Pichai said in the video that YouTube plays a big role in the discussions about social media. He also acknowledged there “seems to be a selection bias” around how people are able to access information.

To Breitbart, however, the recording reflected “a determinism to thwart both the Trump agenda and the broader populist movement emerging around the globe.” The site seized on comments from executives like Kent Walker, who now oversees Google’s policy operations around the world. Walker spoke broadly about the rise of populist movements globally, fueled by forces like fear and “xenophobia.”

Yet the article omitted the full context of some of the exchanges between executives and their employees. For one example, a Google employee asked Google’s leaders if they see “anything positive from this election result.” Breitbart noted they burst out laughing, and that Brin said, “Boy, that’s a really tough one right now.” But it did not detail a moment when Pichai and Page highlighted potential benefits: That Trump could improve US infrastructure or that it could be the end of congressional gridlock.

Brin then said that no one knew what to expect from a Trump presidency.

“Maybe he’ll do something great, who knows?” Brin said. “It will take a little bit of wishful thinking.”

© The Washington Post 2018





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Google Executives Seen Discussing Donald Trump In Leaked 2016 Video, Draws Flak


Google for months has weathered allegations that it stifles conservative news and views.

A leaked video of Google executives trying to console employees who were upset after the election of President Donald Trump has infuriated conservatives, who say the remarks illustrate the search giant’s political bias and should prompt regulators to take a close look at the company.

The new controversy stems from a roughly hour-long recording published Wednesday by Breitbart. It shows executives such as Sergey Brin, the president of Google parent Alphabet, and Sundar Pichai, the chief executive of Google, addressing staff at a private meeting days after the 2016 election, the outcome of which Pichai said caused “a lot of fear within Google.”

As they expressed their dismay, Google executives sought to assuage employees, especially immigrants, given the incoming president’s pledge before Election Day to toughen security at the border. In doing so, Google’s leaders encouraged their workers to be understanding of “all sides of the political spectrum,” said Eileen Naughton, the company’s vice president for people operations.

But conservatives quickly seized on the leaked video Wednesday as evidence that Google is trying to undermine Trump and silence his supporters – and some White House allies even suggested investigating the company as a result.

“They control 91% of all search and they get to decide what everyone sees. If this isn’t a Monopoly I don’t know what is,” tweeted Donald Trump Jr.

Brad Parscale, the president’s campaign manager, said the company “needs to explain why this isn’t a threat to the Republic,” adding in his own tweet: “Congressional hearings! Investigate.”

In response, Riva Sciuto, a spokeswoman for Google, defended the search giant’s meeting. “For over 20 years, everyone at Google has been able to freely express their opinions at these meetings,” she said in a statement. “Nothing was said at that meeting, or any other meeting, to suggest that any political bias ever influences the way we build or operate our products.”

Still, the video’s publication – on Breitbart, a right-leaning news site once led by Stephen Bannon, the president’s former top strategist – could prove problematic for Google in the nation’s capital.

Like Facebook, Twitter and its other tech peers, Google for months has weathered allegations that it stifles conservative news and views. Trump accused Google in August of having “rigged” search results to display negative stories about him – a charge that Google strongly denied. And this week, GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., even threatened to drag Google to Capitol Hill to answer for its political leanings. “An invite will be on its way,” McCarthy tweeted. The GOP lawmaker similarly helped orchestrate an entire congressional hearing focused on allegations of conservative bias at Twitter, raising the specter that one of Google’s executives could soon be forced to appear in front of their Republican critics.

The video unearthed by Breitbart provides a glimpse into how executives and employees in Silicon Valley – a liberal-leaning part of California that overwhelmingly backed Trump’s Democratic foe, Hillary Clinton – thought about the company’s changing role in the immediate fallout from the 2016 election. Trump’s surprise victory sparked soul-searching in the technology industry over echo chambers, fake news and coastal elitism. Employees, meanwhile, pushed their leaders to fight Trump’s agenda – particularly on immigration, given that the tech industry employs large numbers of high-skilled foreign workers.

Some tech companies did not immediately take responsibility for playing a role in shaping the election. Days after the election, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the idea that fake news spread on Facebook influenced the outcome of the U.S. election was “crazy.” Zuckerberg later said he regretted his “dismissive” comments.

The executives at Google, however, directly addressed these concerns in the meeting. When asked about misinformation and how its personalization algorithms shape peoples’ opinions, Pichai said in the video that YouTube plays a big role in the discussions about social media. He also acknowledged there “seems to be a selection bias” around how people are able to access information.

To Breitbart, however, the recording reflected “a determinism to thwart both the Trump agenda and the broader populist movement emerging around the globe.” The site seized on comments from executives like Kent Walker, who now oversees Google’s policy operations around the world. Walker spoke broadly about the rise of populist movements globally, fueled by forces like fear and “xenophobia.”

Yet the article omitted the full context of some of the exchanges between executives and their employees. For one example, a Google employee asked Google’s leaders if they see “anything positive from this election result.” Breitbart noted they burst out laughing, and that Brin said, “Boy, that’s a really tough one right now.” But it did not detail a moment when Pichai and Page highlighted potential benefits: That Trump could improve U.S. infrastructure or that it could be the end of congressional gridlock.

Brin then said that no one knew what to expect from a Trump presidency.

“Maybe he’ll do something great, who knows?” Brin said. “It will take a little bit of wishful thinking.”

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)





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Mumbai HDFC Bank Executive’s Killer Wanted Rs 35,000, Say Police


Siddharth Sanghvi was killed in Mumbai by a man called Sarfaraz Shaikh, the police said.

Mumbai: 

The body of HDFC Bank vice president Siddharth Sanghvi, who went missing last week, has been found in Mumbai and the man who killed him has been arrested, the police said on Monday. The 39-year-old bank executive is suspected to have been killed in a robbery, the police say.

Sarfaraz Shaikh, a 20-year-old driver, who was arrested on Sunday, allegedly killed the executive because he needed money, Deputy Commissioner of Police Abhinash Kumar said. He was detained in Navi Mumbai and handed over to Mumbai Police, which placed him under arrest, the police said.

According to Mr Kumar, Sarfaraz had bought a motorcycle and needed about Rs 35,000 to pay off a loan. On Wednesday night, he cornered the 37-year-old bank executive after work in the parking lot of his office and demanded money. When the banking executive raised an alarm, Sarfaraz stabbed him.

Panicking, he took the body to neighbouring Thane and after dumping it, he took the banker’s car to Koparkhairane in Navi Mumbai and abandoned it before running away, the police said.

Mr Sanghvi’s family went to the police and filed a missing report after he did not return home till late on Wednesday night.

A day later, the executive’s car was found abandoned near a high-rise apartment building in Navi Mumbai, with bloodstains and a knife on the rear seat.

Two days after that his father received a call, with the caller telling him that his son was safe and he need not worry.

The police said that the call was made from Mr Sanghvi’s phone from Navi Mumbai, although the SIM card was different. The police found that the phone with Sarfaraz.

Mr Sanghvi lived in south Mumbai’s affluent Malabar Hill area with his wife and eight-year-old son. A specialist in credit and market risk, he joined the bank in 2007.

His disappearance unnerved banking and corporate circles and fanned several theories, including one of murder by jealous colleagues and suspected professional rivalry.

On Monday, the police raised doubts about the theory but said that all angles will be investigated.

Shaikh has been charged with Mr Sanghvi’s murder. He was produced before a Mumbai Court and sent to police custody till September 19.

(With inputs from PTI)





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Tesla Shares Reel as Executives Quit and CEO Smokes Pot on Webcast


Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk was filmed smoking marijuana and wielding a sword on a webcast, just hours before the automaker said its recently-appointed accounting chief would leave, the latest in a string of unusual behaviour and executive departures that have stunned investors.

Shares of the electric carmaker tumbled more than 6 percent on Friday to $263.24 (roughly Rs. 19,000), with investors on edge after a tumultuous August during which Musk proposed and then abruptly pulled the plug on a go-private deal.

Chief Accounting Officer Dave Morton resigned after just one month in the job because of discomfort with the attention on the company and pace of work during that time, Tesla said in a filing on Friday. It later said that Chief People Officer Gaby Toledano would not return from a leave of absence, just over a year after joining.

Later on Friday, Tesla named a new president of automotive operations, promoting eight-year Tesla employee and former Daimler truck exec Jerome Guillen into the role overseeing all automotive operations and reporting to Musk.

That move, described in a company blog with several other promotions as a result of board and management discussions, gives Musk a seasoned auto industry veteran to lean on at a time when some investors have called for a new chief operating officer. Shares barely moved after hours, when the promotions were announced.

Morton and Toledano, whose departures come shortly after the US Securities and Exchange Commission opened an inquiry into Musk’s aborted privatisation plan, join dozens of senior executives who have left Tesla.

“Since I joined Tesla on August 6th, the level of public attention placed on the company, as well as the pace within the company, have exceeded my expectations. As a result, this caused me to reconsider my future,” Morton said in the filing.

Late on Thursday, Musk was filmed drinking whiskey, briefly smoking marijuana and wielding a Samurai sword during a 2-1/2-hour live Web show with comedian Joe Rogan that swiftly spread across social media.

Taking a puff from a joint, which Rogan said was a blend of tobacco and marijuana and legal in California, Musk said he “almost never” smoked.

“I’m not a regular smoker of weed,” Musk said. “I don’t actually notice any effect … I don’t find that it is very good for productivity.”

It was the latest in a string of unconventional behaviour by the billionaire South African native who is also CEO of rocket startup SpaceX.

Even before Musk’s surprise Aug. 7 tweet that he had funding “secured” for a go-private deal, Tesla had been under scrutiny from investors, analysts and short-sellers as it works to hit production targets and slow its cash burn.

Morton, who is walking away from a $350,000 (roughly Rs. 2.52 crores) base salary and a $10 million (roughly Rs. 72.10 crores) new-hire stock grant that would vest over four years, said he believed “strongly” in Tesla and that he had no disagreements with the company’s leadership or its financial reporting.

Analysts on Friday reiterated their call for Tesla to bring in another senior leader.

“We have been calling for a co-CEO or COO to assist to codifying the leadership structure and in so doing, the culture at Tesla,” said James Albertine, analyst at brokerage Consumer Edge, speaking before the promotions were announced.

“We think this is further evidence that the time is now for management and the board to address these issues.”

Sobering effect on investors
Tesla’s $1.8 billion (roughly Rs. 13,000 crores) junk bond maturing in August 2025 plunged as much as 4 cents on the dollar to below 82 cents, a record low, in Friday trading, pushing the yield above 8.8 percent.

Coupled with an upfront cost of 21 percent of insured value, it now costs an investor around $280,000 (roughly Rs. 2.01 crores) to insure $1 million (roughly Rs. 7.21 crores) of Tesla debt for a year.

With Tesla’s stock falling to its lowest level since April, short sellers added 810,000 shares to their positions, bringing the total as of Thursday to about 32.6 million shares, according to S3 Partners, a financial technology and analytics firm.

Tesla has told investors it expects to turn a profit in the second half of this year, a forecast the company’s head of investor relations, Martin Viecha, reiterated at a conference earlier this week sponsored by RBC Capital Markets, RBC analyst Joseph Spak wrote in a note on Thursday.

Viecha also restated Tesla’s forecast that it will build 50,000 to 55,000 of its Model 3 sedans in the current quarter, and indicated the company’s working capital will improve as production increases, Spak wrote.

Prominent short-seller Andrew Left has sued Tesla and Musk, saying in his proposed class-action complaint on Thursday that Musk’s issuance of materially false and misleading information related to his abandoned plan harmed both short-sellers and those hoping the stock would rise.

© Thomson Reuters 2018



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Apple Loses Key Sales Executives as India Strategy Stumbles


Cook has suggested India could be the next China, which is now Apple’s second largest market.

Apple Inc. has lost a trio of pivotal executives in India in recent weeks as it struggles to boost iPhone sales in the world’s fastest-growing major smartphone market, people familiar with the matter say.

Among the executives who’ve departed are its national sales and distribution chief, the head of its commercial channels and mid-market business, and the head of telecom carrier sales, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters. Apple’s Indian sales team is now undergoing a restructuring, one of the people said.

The executive exodus is a symptom of Apple’s persistent malaise in India, where high tariffs inflate the price tags of imported gadgets such as the iPhone and consumers gravitate toward cheaper alternatives from the likes of Xiaomi Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. Instead, the company resorts to marketing iPhones that are a few generations old and doesn’t manufacture its latest models domestically, thereby incurring import levies.

Its inability to grow the business and single-digit market share stand in stark contrast to the publicly upbeat comments of Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook, who’s used phrases like “very bullish” and “very optimistic” when speaking about the Asian country.

Caught up in those challenges is Michel Coulomb, who took over as head of Indian operations in December 2017. While Coulomb has rich experience in carrier-led sales, his team has been slow to cultivate business relationships in the market, the people said. Apple’s also had difficulties understanding the country, leaving the sales team direction-less, they said. The company’s representatives didn’t respond to emailed questions.

Apple’s failure to get going in India compounds its troubles elsewhere in Asia — the iPhone X for instance has been a disappointment in China. In India, where it has a market share of about 2 percent, Apple sold just 3.2 million iPhones in 2017, according to Counterpoint Research, In the first half of 2018, fewer than a million devices moved, it estimates.

“iPhone India sales were weak in the first half of 2018 and, even if they show a big jump in the traditionally strong second half, Apple will still fall short of last year,” said Neil Shah, a research director with Counterpoint.

Cook has suggested India could be the next China, which is now Apple’s second largest market. While the iPhone’s price tag puts it out of reach for most, the CEO has predicted that young, aspiring Indians moving up the socio-economic ladder would increasingly look to upgrade. In May this year, he said on a conference call with investors that India had set a new first-half sales record.

The world’s most valuable company has stepped up its activity of late, setting up an app accelerator and a mapping development center, while starting from mid-2017 to assemble some of its older models in the country. But it needs to do more, Shah said.

“It has not put great focus or investments into India because the market is so minuscule,” said Shah. The inattention could send more users to Android phones, making it difficult for Apple to build a user base and win loyalty. “It’s a Catch-22 situation for Apple in India.”





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