IN THE PAPERS
In The Papers 22 March
Google set to reveal China plans | Skype founders to invest in disruptive tech
The Wall Street Journal reports that China Telecom, the country's largest fixed-line operator by subscribers, posted an increase in net profit for 2009. Its 2008 results were weighed down by an impairment loss on assets. Net profit for 2009 grew to CNY14.42 billion (USD2.11 billion), from CNY884 million a year earlier, when the company took a CNY24.17 billion impairment loss on property, plants and equipment associated with a mobile phone unit. Revenue rose 12 percent to CNY209.37 billion from CNY186.53 billion. The company said it plans to increase its capital spending slightly this year on its high-growth broadband and value-added mobile services segments.
The paper also says that Chinese TV maker Skyworth Digital Holdings has joined South Korea's LG Display and state-owned Guangzhou-Kaide Technologies Development in a venture that will build a USD4 billion LCD plant in China. The joint venture, to be called LG Display (China), was first announced by LG Display in November as part of its effort to tap into the fast-growing Chinese LCD market. Skyworth said the joint venture's total registered capital will be USD1.33 billion, of which LG Display will contribute 70 percent, Guangzhou-Kaide 20 percent and Skyworth 10 percent. The venture is still awaiting Chinese government approval.
In yet more news from China, the Financial Times says that Google could reveal as early as Monday the closure of its Chinese search engine and its plan for the rest of its China operations, according to a source. The internet giant said on 12 January it was no longer willing to censor its Chinese search engine and could pull out of the country unless a solution was found. Since then, Google employees, advertisers and the millions in China who use its services have been waiting to discover the company's plans.
The paper also says that the founders of Skype, Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, have raised a new venture capital fund for investing in so-called 'disruptive' early-stage European technology. Atomico Ventures, the London-based group established in 2006, has raised USD165 million for its second fund. The firm will focus on early-stage software and internet companies that have the potential to be "transformative", said Zennstrom. "The type of companies we are looking at are consumer-facing and also small business... that do not need to build up sales forces around the world to scale and grow."
The paper also notes that US software firm Novell has rejected an unsolicited takeover offer from hedge fund Elliott Associates, calling the USD5.75 a share cash offer "inadequate". Elliott, which owns about 8.5 percent of Novell, announced its USD2 billion offer earlier this month. Novell said its board had authorised a review of alternatives for realising value for shareholders, including share buy-backs, dividend payments, a joint venture or alliance, or the sale of the company.
The Sunday Tribune reports that the Department of Justice has been using user-edited encyclopedia Wikipedia as a source for official reports. The encyclopedia was referenced in a report on gambling in Ireland, written in 2008. The report mentioned two different types of slot machines, saying the Class II machines are "not so nearly regulated by the state" -- a statement sourced from Wikipedia.
The same paper says that new research from the National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE) indicates that one in three children aged between nine and 16 years of age has been asked for personal information by someone new they met on the internet. The study, which questioned 700 students, said those who had been approached for the information had been asked for a photo, phone number, address or the name of the school they attend. Only 4 percent actually gave all the information. Thirty percent said their parents do not monitor their online activity, while more than half said their parents do not use filtering software to block sites.
The paper also writes that a fifth of mobile operator Digicel Pacific's earnings came from subscribers in Haiti. Denis O'Brien's main mobile firm, Digicel Group, is buying Digicel Pacific for USD825 million. Digicel Pacific had earnings of USD83 million in the latter half of 2009. According to the credit ratings agency Fitch, 16 percent of its revenues came from Haiti, with the earthquake-stricken region also accounting for 20 percent of its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of goodwill (EBITDA).
The Sunday Business Post reports on HR Locker, a company that supplies web-based human resource systems to SMEs. Managing Director John Dennehy says online marketing is an essential tool for web-based start-ups, and the company is working with Dublin City University research centre Link to develop an online marketing strategy with good search engine rankings and social media tools. HR Locker is planning a British launch later this year and is currently in discussions with VC investors.
The same paper says that a new survey by the Irish Computer Society reveals a lax attitude to protecting sensitive data. A quarter of those surveyed have had a breach of their personal information, with e-mail addresses, telephone numbers or even sensitive financial information getting into the hands of unintended recipients. More than 200 company managers, employees and IT staff were surveyed as part of the study, with almost 10 percent revealing a data breach had happened more than once, and a fifth of respondents revealing their company or organisation had experienced a data breach. The survey also revealed a lack of faith in a transparent approach to such breaches, with the majority of respondents saying they doubted companies that were hacked would tell those whose data had been compromised. One-third did not know who had responsibility for data protection within their own organisation.
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