BABA Jun 2020 65.000 put

OPR - OPR Delayed price. Currency in USD
0.0100
0.0000 (0.00%)
As of 10:17AM EST. Market open.
Stock chart is not supported by your current browser
Previous close0.0100
Open0.0100
Bid0.0000
Ask0.1200
Strike65.00
Expiry date2020-06-19
Day's range0.0100 - 0.0100
Contract rangeN/A
Volume392
Open interest6.08k
  • Intel's (INTC) Q4 Earnings Beat, DCG Growth Aids Revenues
    Zacks

    Intel's (INTC) Q4 Earnings Beat, DCG Growth Aids Revenues

    Intel's (INTC) fourth-quarter 2019 results benefit from growth in the data-centric businesses, driven by robust adoption of high-performance products, including Xeon Scalable processors.

  • Intel Can’t Take Off Another Round in Chip Battle
    Bloomberg

    Intel Can’t Take Off Another Round in Chip Battle

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Intel Inc. closed out 2019 learning the hard lesson that making cutting-edge semiconductors is truly difficult.Like a prizefighter who refuses to admit he just hit the mat, the world’s biggest chipmaker is coming out swinging. And it should, because how it gets through 2020 could decide the company’s fate. Once the most advanced supplier of semiconductors, Intel struggled last year to ramp up production of chips that use its latest 14-nanometer process node, “letting customers down,” as CEO Bob Swan said in October. Its full-year results released Thursday showed that revenue climbed 2% and that net income was flat — hiding the fact that Intel dodged a bullet when it wasn’t able to supply enough of its most advanced products when clients needed them most.It tried to offer some reassurance three months ago by noting that it would increase 14-nanometer capacity 25% this year while raising capital spending to nose-bleed levels. To help overcome that slip-up, executives are keen to tell investors how many customers have signed up for its latest offerings, including a chip dubbed Ice Lake and an upgrade to its Comet Lake mobile processor, which use the next-generation 10-nanometer process. In reality, Intel is badly lagging behind both contract manufacturer Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. TSMC, for example, started selling its 10-nanometer chip technology in mid-2017 and last year boosted revenue from its more advanced 7-nanometer offerings by more than 200%. When Intel eventually hits 7 nanometers in 2021, it will be almost three years behind.Intel’s rebuttal is that so-called process-node technology isn’t the only thing. It’s right, and clients should look at total system performance to see how all the parts — the processor, memory and controllers — all slot together. No other company in the world can offer the breadth and depth that Intel can.But with Advanced Micro Devices Inc. back in the game after a decade in the wilderness and a raft of chip designers ready to tap TSMC’s technology advantage, Intel would be foolish to rest on the belief that it can stay ahead of the game while lagging behind on technology. It knows this and has committed to speeding up its migration from the pace of a new node every five to seven quarters to as little as four quarters. Yet investors ought to also note that the introduction of a new node compresses margins during the early stages before better yields provide economies of scale later. A quicker timetable won’t allow as much time to enjoy the upside before the next margin crunch comes.Intel’s strategy to offset this squeeze is to tap continued growth in the data-center market. Cloud providers like Amazon.com Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. are among customers for its 14-nanometer Cascade Lake products, while the global 5G rollout is expected to provide a couple of solid growth years. Its Data Center Group accounts for 32.6% of revenue but 46.4%  of operating income, making it Intel’s most lucrative business unit by operating margin.But that business relies on Intel’s ability to churn out leading-edge chips that, even if not equivalent to what TSMC can offer clients, won’t be too far behind. A data center operator might be willing to forgive a single-generation lag, reasoning that the broader platform integration Intel offers can provide the cost-benefit metrics it needs. A two-generation delay is hard to overlook, though. Intel’s size and strength means it won’t be easily knocked out. But it needs to get through this year unscathed if it’s to remain the undisputed heavyweight champ.(Updates with details about Intel’s 10-nanometer offerings in the fourth paragraph.)To contact the author of this story: Tim Culpan at tculpan1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Niemi at dniemi1@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tim Culpan is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. He previously covered technology for Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • It’s Hard to Pull Off 3 Billion Trips During a Pandemic
    Bloomberg

    It’s Hard to Pull Off 3 Billion Trips During a Pandemic

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- There’s never a good time for the outbreak of a deadly virus, but this one is particularly bad. China’s Lunar New Year is often dubbed the world’s largest migration, a stretch of weeks when hundreds of millions of people visit their families. Before the pandemic started spreading, officials were expecting 3 billion airplane and train trips during the holiday rush between Jan. 10 and Feb. 18. Millions more have gone abroad.Little wonder, then, that the travel industry is suffering. With the death toll up to 25 and more than 800 infected, tourists are staying home. Some have no choice: The government has put seven cities on lockdown and airports are stepping up screening measures. On Friday, China ordered all travel agencies to suspend sales of domestic and international tours.Shares of China Southern Airlines Co. – the carrier most exposed to the site of the outbreak – have slid 14% since the second death from the virus was confirmed, while Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., which said it would waive fees for tickets to and from the mainland, has slumped 7.6%. The country’s largest online travel agency, Trip.com Group Ltd. has tumbled 12%.If the SARS outbreak of 2003 is any guide, things could get even worse. In May of that year, Chinese air passenger traffic fell 71%, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Bernstein Research cited concerns of a repeat outcome when it cut Trip.com’s rating one notch to “market perform” earlier this week. The Nasdaq-listed company, which changed its name from Ctrip.com last year, issued a statement Thursday saying it would refund travelers who’ve been diagnosed, or those in close touch with them.The hope is that, like SARS, the turbulence will eventually pass. For Trip.com, however, the business challenges are bigger than the coronavirus. In recent years, the company has struggled to keep up with competition from digital rivals like Meituan Dianping and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.Few travel companies have benefited more from China’s transition to the world’s biggest source of tourists in 2012. Despite the trade war and Hong Kong’s protests,(3) China’s outbound tourism numbers have continued to rise. According to Euromonitor International, 108.39 million overseas trips were taken last year, a 9.5% gain, after surging 11.7% in 2018. Trip.com now makes up a quarter of its total sales from outbound Chinese visitors, from under 15% five years ago, reckons Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Vey-Sern Ling.But the hotel-booking sector is getting crowded. Meituan Dianping has recently overtaken Trip.com as China’s top site, just five years after the food-delivery giant started dabbling in the business. Meituan now has 47% of China's market, ahead of Trip.com, with 34%, according to TrustData. Now, Meituan is moving further into Trip.com’s territory with luxury hotels, while chains like Marriott International Inc. are pushing for direct booking on their China websites. Alibaba said part of the $13 billion it raised from its Hong Kong listing in November would go toward fliggy.com, its online travel group site.If there’s any lesson to be gleaned from all this, it’s the benefit of diversification. While China’s superapp business model has arched some eyebrows (how can one company possibly provide digital payments, taxis, food delivery, massages and pet grooming?) there’s a decent case to be made for having some crisis-proof subsidiaries. Consider AirAsia Group Bhd, Southeast Asia's most successful budget airline, which is setting up a regional fast food franchise.Plans could already be underway for Trip.com to diversify its investor base, with the company discussing plans to go public in Hong Kong, Bloomberg News reported earlier this month. Here, Alibaba is a successful model. With its second listing, the company is now closer to its Chinese end-users, and Alibaba’s New York-listed stock has soared 14%.The four-month span of the SARS outbreak shows how quickly things can turn around: While China’s growth dipped in the second quarter of 2003, it swiftly resumed in the following months. Given how much more important the Chinese shopper is to the economy now, the damage could be more painful. A 10% fall in discretionary transportation and entertainment could shave 1.2 percentage points from China’s growth domestic product, according to “back of the envelope” estimates by S&P Global Inc. Hong Kong retailers and restaurants, just coming off the pain of last year's protests, were already suffering. For those companies that enjoyed the fast-rising Chinese consumer, it may be time to devise a plan B. (Updates to include China’s measures to suspend travel-agency sales.)(1) Hong Kong, followed by Macau, are the top two destinations of mainland Chinese travelers.To contact the author of this story: Nisha Gopalan at ngopalan3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachel Rosenthal at rrosenthal21@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Nisha Gopalan is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering deals and banking. She previously worked for the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones as an editor and a reporter.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Business Wire

    Alibaba Group Will Announce December Quarter 2019 Results on February 13, 2020

    Alibaba Group will announce December quarter 2019 results on February 13, 2020

  • Hong Kong Risks Squandering Its Alibaba Dividend
    Bloomberg

    Hong Kong Risks Squandering Its Alibaba Dividend

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Hong Kong is missing an opportunity to displace the U.S. as an offshore listing venue for Chinese companies by keeping trading fees too high. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s $11 billion offering in November showed the potential for the city’s stock exchange to attract U.S.-listed mainland enterprises amid an unsettled trade relationship between the two largest economies. Relatively expensive costs threaten to undermine that appeal.Investors get more for their dollar when they trade on the New York Stock Exchange. In Hong Kong, bid-ask spreads are wider and minimum investment requirements are higher. That increases the chance of so-called slippage, when there is a difference between the expected price of a trade and the level at which it is actually executed. With zero stamp duty and lower minimum trade requirements, the NYSE has a more favorable environment for active investors.Alibaba’s Hong Kong trading volume has slumped since the internet giant made its debut on the local exchange. On Nov. 26, shares valued at the equivalent of about $1.79 billion changed hands. Since mid-December, that figure has dropped to a daily average of about $322 million. The Hong Kong listing has made no dent in Alibaba’s stock trading in New York, where volume has averaged $3.2 billion since late November.To be sure, trading costs are by no means the only factor — or even the main one — in deciding where to buy and sell. To begin with, the U.S. is a more deep and liquid market. It has other advantages, including a more active and developed options market that gives traders more ways to hedge or speculate on stocks. That said, Hong Kong could do a better job of rolling out the welcome mat.Since losing out to New York for Alibaba’s record $25 billion initial public offering in 2014, Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd. has made a number of rule changes to enhance its viability as a platform for technology startups from China and elsewhere. In April 2018, the exchange amended its provisions to admit companies with dual-class shares. Smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp.  and internet services company Meituan Dianping listed soon after, demonstrating that when HKEX makes smart decisions, the exchange benefits.More U.S.-traded Chinese companies are looking at Hong Kong for potential secondary listings. They include travel services provider Trip.com Group Ltd., formerly known as Ctrip; game and website operator Netease Inc.; web search provider Baidu Inc.; and e-commerce giant JD.com Inc. The way is open for Hong Kong to create a new offshore ecosystem for U.S.-listed Chinese companies seeking better positioning for the mainland while hedging their bets against a renewed deterioration in the U.S.-China relationship after the phase one agreement was signed this month.It makes little sense to squander this opportunity by maintaining trading costs that are a major barrier to entry. The Hong Kong government and the exchange must work together to make dual listing opportunities both beneficial and attractive to companies while encouraging investors to trade here. However, HKEX regulators seem to have their heads in the sand when it comes to reducing fees and the minimum buy-in to entice more companies. That may be a reflection of its monopoly status: Unlike the NYSE, which must compete with Nasdaq, HKEX has no local rival.Reducing fees would lower the barrier to entry for active investors and increase trading volume. As I wrote in September, cutting stamp duty would help improve liquidity and make Hong Kong stocks more attractive to retail and institutional investors. The ripple effect from this would further strengthen Hong Kong’s position as a global financial center. It’s time for the government and exchange to look beyond the immediate impact of reduced revenue and consider the long term.  To contact the author of this story: Ronald W. Chan at chartwellhk@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Matthew Brooker at mbrooker1@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Ronald W. Chan is the founder and CIO of Chartwell Capital in Hong Kong. He is the author of “The Value Investors” and “Behind the Berkshire Hathaway Curtain.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • 3 High-Yield Tech Stocks for Dividend Investors to Buy Right Now
    Zacks

    3 High-Yield Tech Stocks for Dividend Investors to Buy Right Now

    Check out these three high-yield tech stocks we found using our Zacks Stock Screener that dividend investors might want to buy right now...

  • Bloomberg

    Intel and Softbank Beware. Open Source Is Coming to the Chip Business

    (Bloomberg) -- After revolutionizing software, the open-source movement is threatening to do same to the chip industry.Big technology companies have begun dabbling with RISC-V, which replaces proprietary know-how in a key part of the chip design process with a free standard that anyone can use. While it’s early days, this could create a new crop of processors that compete with Intel Corp. products and whittle away at the licensing business of Arm Holdings Plc.In December, about 2,000 people packed into a Silicon Valley conference to learn about RISC-V, a new set of instructions that control how software communicates with semiconductors. In just a few years, RISC-V has grown from a college teaching tool into an open-source standard being explored by industry giants including Google, Samsung Electronics Co., Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Qualcomm Inc. and Nvidia Corp.“Most of the major companies are putting substantial efforts into RISC-V,” said Krste Asanovic, a computer scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, who was part of the team that developed the standard. He’s co-founder of SiFive Inc., a startup that sells chip designs based on RISC-V (pronounced “risk five”).Open source harnesses the contributions of multitudes, not just the proprietary ideas of a few companies. New code is shared, so anyone can see it, improve it and build their own contributions on top of it. After being dismissed by giants like Microsoft Corp. in the 1990s, this expanding body of work has become the foundation of the internet, smartphones and many software applications. Last year, IBM bought open-source pioneer Red Hat in the biggest software deal in history. Even Microsoft got on board, acquiring GitHub, the largest repository of open-source code.Opening up even small parts of the chipmaking process is anathema to many in the $400 billion industry. But if enough companies commit to an open-source approach, that could create a shared pool of knowledge that may be hard for Intel and Arm to keep up with.Early developments focus on instruction sets, which govern the basic functions of processors. Only two have mattered for years. One is Intel‘s X86, which dominates computer processors. Buying a chip from Intel or licensee Advanced Micro Devices Inc. is the only real way to use this instruction set. And Intel is the only company that can change it.The other instruction set is the basis of all major smartphone components. It is owned by Arm, a unit of Softbank Group Corp. This can be licensed for a fee, so other companies use it to design their own chips. But again, only Arm can alter the fundamentals.This has left the rest of the industry relying on the innovation of just two companies. That was not a problem for decades because most processors were general-purpose components that got faster and more efficient each year through production advances. Those industry axioms are unraveling, though. The steady march of chip miniaturization has bumped up against the laws of physics, while artificial intelligence and a flood of data from the internet and smartphones require new ways of processing information. A fresh set of instructions will help create better chips to power driverless cars, speech recognition and other AI tasks, RISC-V’s backers say.Google is using RISC-V in its OpenTitan project, which is developing security chips for data center servers and storage devices. “There are a range of other computational tasks, such as machine learning, that could benefit from an open computing architecture,” said Urs Holzle, who has overseen the technical infrastructure of Google’s massive data centers for years.Samsung said it will use SiFive designs in chips it’s making for mobile phone components. RISC-V has appeared in microcontrollers – a basic form of a processor – that are part of more complex chips sold by Qualcomm and Nvidia. Western Digital Corp., one of the largest makers of data-storage devices, plans to use the technology in some products and has open-sourced its designs. Alibaba has announced a chip based on RISC-V and several universities have published open-source designs.There are 200 Chinese members of the RISC-V Foundation, a non-profit group created in 2015 to promote the use of the instruction set. An Indian project developed six processors using the technology.RISC-V specifications are developed, ratified and maintained by the foundation’s technical committee, made up of engineers and other contributors from several member companies. Proposed revisions are posted on GitHub. RISC-V designs can either be free or licensed. While there’s no strict requirement to stick to the official specifications, members have an incentive to make their designs compatible. This gives chip customers multiple options for the blueprints they need to design components that communicate properly with the software, according to backers of the project.It’s still very early days, though. In terms of actual chips created, sold and used, RISC-V is nowhere. Arm’s technology is in almost all the 1.4 billion smartphones made each year. More than 200 million PCs sold annually are based on Intel’s X86 instruction set.One criticism of RISC-V is that it won’t end up saving money because there’s more work involved in using open standards. This echoes complaints raised about Linux and other open-source software when they were gaining ground decades ago.Arm said the idea that RISC-V reduces costs doesn’t make sense. “Innovation goes far beyond an instruction set,” said Tim Whitfield, a vice president of strategy at the company. “Arm’s IP is highly configurable and provides our partners with the flexibility to innovate and differentiate where they can add real value while minimizing risk and cost.”Martin Fink, Western Digital’s former chief technology officer who still advises the CEO, said it’s about spurring innovation in a crucial field that’s still locked down, rather than saving money. “It’s free as in freedom not as in free beer,” he added. “It’s about community and collaboration.”Other RISC-V backers argue that the more-collaborative process will eventually reduce the cost of creating chips, especially for data center operators and other companies that are increasingly designing their own processors, according to David Patterson, a former Berkeley professor and a distinguished engineer at Google. “Companies all over the world are collaborating to develop because it saves them money,” he said.Pressure on the incumbents to step up their game might be the biggest immediate impact of RISC-V. Last year, Arm announced a try-before-you-buy plan with a much lower fee so smaller companies and academic institutions could do exploratory work using its instruction set.Intel said it is adding new instructions that will help with AI processing and other new areas. “Intel engineers have continually advanced the X86 architecture standard, providing best-in-class performance,” the company added in a statement. Qualcomm, one of Arm’s biggest customers, sees room for multiple approaches, including RISC-V, according to Keith Kressin, a senior vice president of product management at Qualcomm.To contact the reporter on this story: Ian King in San Francisco at ianking@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Alistair Barr, Vlad SavovFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Facebook, Apple, Alibaba, Amazon and Alphabet
    Zacks

    The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Facebook, Apple, Alibaba, Amazon and Alphabet

    The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Facebook, Apple, Alibaba, Amazon and Alphabet

  • Tech Daily: Facebook, Apple, Digital Taxes & More
    Zacks

    Tech Daily: Facebook, Apple, Digital Taxes & More

    Facebook's role in elections and its UK expansion, Apple's Cook in Ireland, Alibaba's certification and the EU ban on facial recognition technology are the top stories.

  • Jack Ma’s Booming Loan Business Threatens Visa, AmEx in China
    Bloomberg

    Jack Ma’s Booming Loan Business Threatens Visa, AmEx in China

    (Bloomberg) -- As Visa Inc., Mastercard Inc. and American Express Co. prepare to enter China for the first time, one of their biggest competitive threats will come from a company that doesn’t issue credit cards.Jack Ma’s Ant Financial, already the biggest player in China’s $27 trillion payments market, is leveraging its ubiquitous Alipay mobile app to mount a rapid expansion into consumer lending.Instead of issuing cards, Ant allows customers to borrow with a few taps on their smartphones. The loans are wildly popular among China’s army of mobile-savvy shoppers, who often lack formal credit histories but generate enough financial data via Alipay for Ant to make informed decisions on whether they’ll default. The company’s outstanding consumer loans may swell to nearly 2 trillion yuan ($290 billion) by 2021, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analysts, more than triple the level two years ago.“The consumer loans business has been growing at breakneck speed, but there are so many untapped users,” Huang Hao, president of Ant’s digital finance operations, said in a phone interview outlining the company’s strategy.Ant’s push into China’s 10 trillion yuan market for short-term consumer loans will make it an even more formidable challenger to U.S. card companies, which are counting on the world’s second-largest economy as a source of long-term growth.Many Chinese consumers and businesses are ditching credit cards as Ant and its main competitor Tencent Holdings Ltd. make app-based spending, borrowing and investing increasingly user-friendly. In a Nielsen survey of more than 3,000 Chinese people born after 1990, nearly 61% said they use online consumer credit while only 45.5% had a credit card.“For credit card companies coming to China, the biggest challenge is how to attract people,” said Zennon Kapron, managing director of Singapore-based consulting firm Kapronasia. “A lot of Chinese millennials are digital first, used to using Alipay as their first platform for payments, loans and wealth management.”The card giants appear to be moving forward with their China plans despite the headwinds. AmEx’s application to start a bank card clearing business has been accepted by the country’s central bank, while Mastercard has called China a “vital” market and Visa has said it’s working closely with regulators for a license.As part of its phase-one trade agreement with the U.S., China said it won’t take longer than 90 days to consider applications from providers of electronic-payments services. Regulators are opening the industry to foreign competition amid an unprecedented push to give international firms access to the country’s financial sector.Read more: Visa, Mastercard, AmEx Win Easier Access to China MarketIn response to questions from Bloomberg on the threat posed by Ant, Visa said it sees significant potential to support the growth and evolution of digital payments in China and is approaching the market with a long-term focus. Mastercard said it would continue to work with regulators to advance its application and is committed for the long haul. AmEx declined to comment.Ant, an affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. that’s widely expected to pursue an initial public offering in coming years, started its consumer-credit business in 2015. Its loans tend to be small: half the users of Ant’s Huabei (translation: “just spend”) service borrow less than $290 and usually pay it back within months.The Hangzhou-based company, which declined to disclose the value of its outstanding loans, keeps delinquencies in check by tapping into a trove of data amassed by Alipay and Alibaba.Many customers have been using the payments and e-commerce platforms for years -- handing over details from ID cards to addresses and spending habits. Once Ant extends a loan, it can track how the money is spent via Alipay. The result is a bad-debt ratio stands at about 1%, below the 1.24% national average for credit cards.Read more: China’s Gen Z, With Little Income, Gets Hooked on Easy CreditAnt keeps some of the loans on its own balance sheet, charging interest rates that range from about 5% to 18%, according to Huang. But most are passed on for a fee to banks and other financial institutions.“We’re set to continue to work with more banks and finance companies,” Huang said. “We are, at the end of the day, a platform.”The risk for Visa, Mastercard and AmEx is that a swathe of Chinese consumers and businesses will view credit cards as obsolete. About 60% of borrowers on Ant’s Huabei platform don’t have one, and many smaller merchants don’t accept cards because they find it’s cheaper and easier to use Alipay or Tencent’s WePay. The former, with more than 900 million users, is Alibaba’s preferred payments provider.“The competitive landscape is full of local players,” said Hang Qian, a partner at Oliver Wyman, a consultancy. “The key challenges are how to promote small merchants to accept credit cards and how to get e-wallet users to switch.”\--With assistance from Alfred Liu.To contact the reporter on this story: Lulu Yilun Chen in Hong Kong at ychen447@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Patterson at mpatterson10@bloomberg.net, Jodi SchneiderFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Amazon to Use Mom-and-Pop Shops as Delivery Points in India
    Zacks

    Amazon to Use Mom-and-Pop Shops as Delivery Points in India

    Amazon (AMZN) teams up with mom-and-pop stores (kirana shops) in India in order to strengthen its delivery system in the country.

  • Business Wire

    Alibaba Cloud Named First Public Cloud Vendor in the World to Obtain Trusted Partner Network (TPN) Certification

    Alibaba Cloud becomes the first public cloud vendor in the world to obtain the prestigious Trusted Partner Network (TPN) certification

  • Masayoshi Son Is No Angel. He Might Want to Give It a Try
    Bloomberg

    Masayoshi Son Is No Angel. He Might Want to Give It a Try

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- The reputation of Masayoshi Son, the world’s most prolific unicorn breeder, came crashing down last year with the collapse of WeWork. An 80% writedown on The We Co., and a 970 billion yen ($8.8 billion) loss at the SoftBank Vision Fund delivered some cold hard truths about his vulnerability.You might think that Son would have learned his lesson. Instead, he’s doubling down, with plans to start a $108 billion fund that's even bigger than the first. To win back investors’ confidence, though, the chairman of SoftBank Group Corp. might want to consider a different tack: becoming an angel.That’s not just a euphemism. Angel investing would take Son back to basics. Compared with the SoftBank Vision Fund, a SoftBank Angel Fund should be:Much smaller: $50 billion max. Write lighter checks: Nothing larger than $10 million.(1) Invest earlier: No later than Series A.This concept of smaller, lighter, earlier ought to become a mantra. But it takes guts — Son would have to rein in the swagger that comes with writing fat paychecks. Not that his habit of throwing billions at Southeast Asian startups isn’t bold; but when that business already has a product, traction, brand awareness and market leadership, then you can’t exactly call it brave — especially when it’s other people’s money.Angel investors take a punt on new companies at the earliest stages, often before a product has been fully developed or any revenue acquired. In the past, they were generally rich individuals who knew the founders and were parting with a relatively modest amount of cash to give young entrepreneurs a leg up. The average angel and seed deal size in the fourth quarter was $1.8 million, according to Crunchbase News. When Son entered the venture capital scene in 2016 with a $97 billion checkbook, this old-school model of investing — based on the careful assessment of a startup’s revenue, return and growth — was thrown out the window. Son’s Vision Fund tends to invest much later, in rounds such as Series E, F or even H. Son also wielded his giant fund to pick winners, and by extension nominate losers, in ways that defied logic. He offered WeWork founder Adam Neumann just 12 minutes to make his pitch, and then told him that his company wasn’t being crazy enough, New York Magazine reported last year. Neumann should aim to make WeWork ten times bigger than originally planned, the founder of the co-working space operator was told.WeWork was by no means an exception. Son muscled his way into a host of startups, often forcing founders to choose between playing for Team SoftBank or getting defeated by it. Consider online lending startup Social Finance Inc. Co-founder Mike Cagney told Bloomberg Businessweek that Son gave him a choice: Take SoftBank’s money, or watch it go to a competitor. (He took the deal.) In 2019 alone, SoftBank was an investor in four of the world’s five largest funding rounds, according to a report by CB Insights. The result was not only implosions like WeWork, but overvalued unicorns like Uber Technologies Inc. and Slack Technologies Inc. whose stocks have fallen since their IPOs. It also made many founders and investors wary of Son and his approach, which may be making it harder for him to cut deals.Masayoshi Son isn’t timid, to be sure. His reputation is built upon decades of courageous bets that netted him, his investors, and his founders billions of dollars. The most famous being Jack Ma and a little e-commerce company that became Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. But the past few years suggest he’s forgotten those roots as a supporter of scrappy young upstarts.Most recently, he’s reported to be offering up to $40 billion to help Indonesia build its new capital city. He’s already opted to join a steering committee that will oversee construction of the new metropolis on Borneo Island — 1,200 kilometers (746 miles) away from current capital Jakarta — alongside former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. While there’s something noble about offering advice to a developing nation as it grapples with congestion and flooding, it’s hard not to feel that Son is perhaps straying a bit far from his core mission. After all, he has his investors and staff to look after. Shifting to angel investing wouldn’t be entirely altruistic. This segment is the hottest sector of funding right now, according to data compiled by Crunchbase News. Whereas late-stage investing — the type the SoftBank Vision Fund specializes in — has declined over the past year, angel and early-stage investing is on the rise.Son prides himself on being a visionary, with a 100-year time horizon. That makes for good headlines and big numbers. But if he wants to secure his legacy, there’s nothing more honorable than being an angel.(1) Even $10 million is huge by some standards.To contact the author of this story: Tim Culpan at tculpan1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachel Rosenthal at rrosenthal21@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tim Culpan is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. He previously covered technology for Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Business Wire

    Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund/HSBC JUMPSTARTER 2020 Grand Finale Announced a Series of Engaging Programs

    Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund/HSBC JUMPSTARTER 2020 Grand Finale Announced a Series of Engaging Programs

  • World’s Biggest Producer of Plastic to Curtail Its Use
    Bloomberg

    World’s Biggest Producer of Plastic to Curtail Its Use

    (Bloomberg) -- China will curtail its consumption of single-use plastic in an effort to tackle a soaring amount of the discarded material that has quickly become one of the world’s most pressing environmental crises.Non-degradable plastic bags will be banned in places such as supermarkets and shopping malls in major cities, as well as for the country’s ubiquitous food delivery services by the end of this year, according to a plan released by the National Development and Reform Commission on Sunday.“China is catching up with the rest of world,” said Leiliang Zheng, an analyst at BloombergNEF. “The EU is the leader in solving the plastic crisis and has already passed a law to widely ban single-use plastic items in 2019, and many developing countries in Africa and Southeast Asia are also tracking the problem.”About 300 million tons of plastic waste is generated each year, and 60% of that has been dumped in either landfills or the natural environment, according to a United Nations report. Whether it ends up in the ocean, a river or on land, plastic’s durability and resistance to degradation make it nearly impossible to completely break down, causing it to persist for centuries.Regulations on single-use plastic are on the rise globally, according to a BloombergNEF report. France banned the use of plastic plates, cups, and cotton buds starting Jan. 1 with the goal of phasing out all single-use items by 2040. Thailand and New Zealand have both placed restrictions on or banned single-use plastic bags. An Indonesian ban comes into effect this June.Many countries in Africa have implemented limits on the manufacture of plastic or attempted to restrict the consumption of the material through levies. Still, India held off imposing a single-use plastic ban last year over fear the policy would trigger an economic slowdown, according to BNEF’s Zheng.Taking MeasuresThe use of plastic in China has risen as online shopping and food delivery apps have become part of everyday life, even in rural areas. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which organizes a 24-hour shopping marathon every year, has been criticized for shipping 1 billion packages in a single day.The new policy may increase the costs for e-commerce platforms that will need to adjust their packaging strategies, according to Zheng, who added that alternatives to plastic such as biodegradable materials or recycled plastics are still more expensive.China will ban non-degradable, single-use plastic straws nationwide by the end of 2020, it said, with the goal of reducing the “intensity of consumption” of such plastic utensils by takeout services in urban areas by 30% by 2025. By 2022, some delivery services in major cities including Beijing and Shanghai will be forbidden from using non-degradable packaging, with the ban extended to the whole country by 2025.While China’s regulations are likely to slow the flow of plastic usage and improve the country’s recycling rate, the International Energy Agency said the initiative could be a headwind for the oil industry, which is expecting plastics and petrochemicals to comprise half of its long-term demand growth through 2050.Several global oil majors, including Saudi Arabian Oil Co. and Exxon Mobil Corp., are investing in petrochemical plants in China to tap into that growing demand. Packaging accounts for more than a third of current plastics consumption.“The new policy will suppress demand for plastics, a potential risk for oil and chemical companies,” Zheng said.\--With assistance from Dan Murtaugh and Heesu Lee.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Lucille Liu in Beijing at xliu621@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: John Liu at jliu42@bloomberg.net, Aaron Clark, Jason RogersFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Morgan Stanley’s Top-Performing Fund Buys Undervalued Stocks
    Bloomberg

    Morgan Stanley’s Top-Performing Fund Buys Undervalued Stocks

    (Bloomberg) -- A top-performing Morgan Stanley fund is betting on cash-rich consumption-focused stocks in Asia, especially China, to manage risks in market cycles this year.Sign up for Next China, a weekly email on where the nation stands now and where it's going next.The Wall Street firm’s Asia Opportunity Fund, which focuses on equities in the region excluding Japan, returned 44% in the past year, beating 99% of its peers, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The portfolio focuses on undervalued companies with low debt or net cash on their balance sheets, many of which are found in consumer sectors, said Kristian Heugh, who has been co-managing the fund since its inception in 2016.“We seek to protect investors’ capital by focusing on high quality companies with sustainable competitive advantages and purchasing them at a discount to our estimate of intrinsic value,” Heugh said. “We remain vigilant in selling names approaching our estimate of their intrinsic value and redeploying that capital in what we believe are the next big ideas.”China is the $1.5 billion fund’s largest-weighted country, accounting for 57.7% of assets as of end-December. Heugh said the world’s second-largest economy will remain a key focus this year despite its slower growth in 2019.Asian consumer stocks provide “high returns on capital, low leverage and quality growth prospects,” Hong Kong-based Heugh said. The region offers “the highest ratio” of high-quality companies that have generated both 15% return on invested capital and 15% revenue growth over the past three years, he added. The MSCI Asia ex Japan Index has gained 3.4% so far this year. With more than 800 million people emerging from poverty since market reforms began in 1978, China is an especially attractive hunting ground for consumption names, Heugh said. Key themes he’s looking at include better quality food and drink as well as access to Internet services, health care and better education opportunities for children.As a result, the Asia Opportunity Fund’s largest positions in China focus on the education, food, beverages, restaurants and travel sectors. Food-delivery giant Meituan Dianping, distiller Kweichow Moutai Co. and soy sauce maker Foshan Haitian Flavouring & Food Co. were among the top contributors to the fund’s peer-beating performance last year.The top five performers are trading at an average valuation of more than 50 times earnings estimates for 2020, compared with about 14 times for the MSCI Asia excluding-Japan Index. All have net cash on their balance sheets.While only about 1% of the portfolio is allocated to Southeast Asia due to expensive valuations, its Asean revenue exposure is higher thanks to investments in key regional Internet stocks Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Naver Corp.“Alibaba owns Southeast Asia’s largest e-commerce platform Lazada, Tencent is the largest gaming company in this region, and Naver owns Line which is popular among Southeast Asian mobile Internet users,” Heugh said.(Updates with MSCI AC Asia ex Japan Index performance in fifth paragraph. An earlier version of the story corrected the name of the fund)To contact the reporter on this story: Ishika Mookerjee in Singapore at imookerjee@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Lianting Tu at ltu4@bloomberg.net, Kurt SchusslerFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • ByteDance Readying Assault on Tencent’s Mobile Gaming Kingdom
    Bloomberg

    ByteDance Readying Assault on Tencent’s Mobile Gaming Kingdom

    (Bloomberg) -- ByteDance Inc. is preparing a major push into the mobile arena’s most lucrative market, a realm Tencent Holdings Ltd. has dominated for over a decade: games.Sign up for Next China, a weekly email on where the nation stands now and where it's going next.The world’s most valuable startup has rapidly built a full-fledged gaming division to spearhead its maiden foray into hardcore or non-casual games, according to people familiar with the matter. Over the past few months, ByteDance has quietly bought up gaming studios and exclusive title distribution rights. It’s embarked on a hiring spree and poached top talent from rivals, building a team of more than 1,000. Its first two games from the venture will be released this spring, targeting both local and overseas players, one person said.Commonly compared to Facebook Inc. because of its billion-plus users and sway over American teens via social media phenom TikTok, ByteDance is looking to expand its horizons. It started as a popular news aggregator with the Toutiao app in China before setting the world ablaze with short-form video sharing on TikTok and its Chinese twin app Douyin. Now it’s looking to go beyond cheap ads and develop recurring revenue streams by taking on the Tencent gaming goliath in the chase for coveted distribution rights.“Having fully established itself as a leader in short video with over one billion users across its apps, ByteDance is now building multiple game studios by acquiring experienced game developers and talent,” said Daniel Ahmad, analyst with Asia-focused gaming research firm Niko Partners. “Its massive global user base and investment in gaming could make it a big disruptor in the gaming space this year.”Read more: ByteDance Is Said to Weigh TikTok Stake Sale Over U.S. ConcernsGaming in China has long been a Tencent fortress, with Netease Inc. a distant second. But ByteDance might be the one company capable of upsetting that status quo, having already defied convention by surviving and flourishing outside the orbit of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent, who between them have locked up much of the country’s internet sphere. Toutiao is a key channel for Chinese game publishers to acquire new users, with 63 of the top 100 ad spenders among mobile games in 2019 devoting most of their ads to the news app, according to data tracked by Guangzhou-based researcher App Growing.Representatives for ByteDance, Tencent and Netease declined to comment for this story. Shares in Tencent went down as much as 0.6% during morning trading on Monday.Read more: Snap CEO Spiegel Says TikTok Could Grow Bigger Than InstagramOver the past few years, ByteDance has churned out several casual games that have grown popular with the help of its video platforms, but those quick hits made money mostly through ads. Its new foray into gaming involves a much bigger investment and is shaping up to be a major strategic shift, targeting more committed gamers who will splurge on in-game weapons, cosmetics and other perks.It could help the company diversify its sources of revenue at a time when the Chinese economy shows signs of slowing and TikTok draws scrutiny in the U.S. ByteDance is also testing a new paid music app in Asia, adding to its swelling portfolio of ventures. Steady revenue sources would help position ByteDance for an eventual initial public offering.While the move into serious gaming is very much at an embryonic stage, ByteDance is making up for its inexperience by poaching veteran staff from rivals, said the people, who asked not to be named because the plans are private. One of the gaming division’s creative teams is led by Wang Kuiwu, who joined from China’s Perfect World, a major game developer and esports tournament organizer. Yan Shou, ByteDance’s chief of strategy and investment, oversees operations, the people said. The unit runs independently from existing efforts to create casual mobile titles, they said.Read more: TikTok Owner Is Testing Music App in Bid for Next Global HitByteDance is making a global push that includes hiring publishing and marketing staffers based overseas, according to job descriptions viewed by Bloomberg News. One post seeks people to work with influencers and internal platforms to promote games, while another asks candidates to be responsible for “managing indie mobile game publishing projects throughout their life cycle.” This hiring spree is also evident in postings this month for more than a dozen game-related positions on Chinese career site Lagou.com, ranging from product managers to 3-D character designers based in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.Acquiring talent also means buying up studios wholesale. Game studios acquired by ByteDance over the past year include Shanghai Mokun Digital Technology and Beijing-based Levelup.ai, as shown in public company registration information. The company also hired the core developer team from a Netease outfit called Pangu Game, after China’s second-largest gaming firm canceled the studio’s existing projects, according to people familiar with the matter.ByteDance’s game pipeline will include massively multiplayer online games with Chinese fantasy elements, said two people. Its newly acquired studios have pedigree in the genre: Pangu Game’s 2017 hit Revelation is a PC online role-playing game where warriors and sorcerers slay Chinese mythological beasts, while Shanghai Mokun has created several similar titles since its founding in 2013.The challenge of invading Tencent’s turf will nevertheless be immense. Tencent has three of the world’s most popular multiplayer mobile titles in PUBG Mobile, Call of Duty: Mobile and Honour of Kings. They are the blueprint for games that are free to play but rich on in-game purchases -- which accounts for a huge swath of mobile revenues -- that rivals like ByteDance try to emulate. More broadly, Tencent’s locked in a billion-plus users across Asia into a WeChat app that mashes elements of payments, social media, on-demand services and entertainment.Read more: China Will Drive Mobile Spending to Record $380 Billion in 2020Tencent and Netease also enjoy the advantage of having long-established relationships with Chinese regulators, who in 2018 began a campaign to root out gaming addiction that drastically constricted the number and variety of games allowed to be published in the country. Tencent saw hundreds of billions of dollars wiped off its market value as a result and is still recovering. Getting into gaming potentially exposes ByteDance to more regulatory scrutiny domestically, even as it battles U.S. lawmakers’ accusations that TikTok can be used to spy on Americans.Still, ByteDance can’t call itself a true internet giant without a substantial presence in gaming. Last year, 72% of all consumer spending on mobile came in games, according to App Annie, and the market is fiercely competitive. ByteDance’s critical advantage is that it already has a vast and engaged audience among the all-important teenage demographic: it can leverage Douyin/TikTok to channel users toward its games. That mirrors the winning approach Tencent took more than a decade ago when it exploited the reach of its social media platforms to enter gaming. ByteDance will have to prove that the strategy still works.“Gaming is a strategic vertical for tech companies in China as it is a key way to generate additional revenue from a large audience,” Ahmad said. “While they may be able to develop a number of hit titles in the China market, we believe it will still be difficult for them to truly challenge Tencent.”(Updates with analyst comment from fourth paragraph)To contact the reporter on this story: Zheping Huang in Hong Kong at zhuang245@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net, Edwin Chan, Vlad SavovFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Google Joins The Trillion-Dollar Club: Who's Next?
    Zacks

    Google Joins The Trillion-Dollar Club: Who's Next?

    Google Joins The Trillion-Dollar Club: Who's Next?

  • The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: AMZN, WMT, EBAY and BABA
    Zacks

    The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: AMZN, WMT, EBAY and BABA

    The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: AMZN, WMT, EBAY and BABA

  • Bloomberg

    Private-Debt Market Offers Rare 12% Yields, But There’s a Catch

    (Bloomberg) -- Scott Bluestein has a favorite type of debt investment: companies with no profits, no cash flow, and in some cases even no revenue.While that may seem like a recipe for disaster for most fixed-income money managers, it’s perfectly normal in the world of venture debt. And few companies in the space have been more successful in recent years than Bluestein’s Hercules Capital Inc., the largest nonbank lender in the business.The market for venture debt operates largely in the shadow of venture equity, the segment of startup financing famous for providing early funding for technology giants such as Facebook Inc. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Winning wagers tend to not produce the sort of eye-popping payouts the equity side has become renowned for, but they’re also less risky, relatively speaking. Flying under the radar also has its benefits, according to Bluestein.While investors have plowed hundreds of billions of dollars into direct-lending funds over the past few years amid a global hunt for yield, the $15 billion venture debt market has yet to see the same influx of cash. As a result it’s largely avoided the intense competition, record dry powder and pricing pressures seen in other corners of private credit. In fact, the Hercules chief executive expects core loan yields to keep pace with the long-term average of about 12% going forward.“Venture debt has historically mystified the direct-lending market,” Bluestein said in an interview. “We have the opportunity to partner with and help finance some of the most exciting growth-stage technology and life-sciences companies in the world.”Hercules’s current borrowers include rare-disease drug developer BridgeBio Pharma Inc. and fake-meat producer Impossible Foods Inc.Lending to such companies requires a unique blend of credit, equity and industry expertise, according to Bluestein. The ability to assess why the companies are burning cash is critical.“Venture lending is a pretty esoteric, specialized part of the market,” Bluestein said. “It requires significant domain expertise. It requires an achievement of scale from a performance perspective.”Hercules originally provided BridgeBio a $35 million secured term loan in June 2018. The financing had grown to $75 million by the time BridgeBio went public a year later. Since then, its market capitalization has ballooned to $4.3 billion.As for Impossible Foods, Hercules closed a $50 million commitment in the second quarter of 2018. A year later, the meat-substitute company reached a $2 billion valuation. In both deals, Hercules made equity investments alongside the loans. In others, it often receives equity kickers in the form of stock warrants.Of course, the lender’s record isn’t spotless. Portfolio company Sungevity Inc. filed for bankruptcy in 2017, and the debt was subsequently converted into equity of the company that bought some of its assets. BIND Therapeutics Inc. went bust in 2016, though Hercules says it was able to fully recover its outstanding commitment.Last year, the company’s main challenge was unrelated to its investments. Founder and then-CEO Manuel Henriquez was forced to step aside after being charged by federal prosecutors in March for participating in the college-admissions cheating conspiracy.Wall Street was quick to cut its expectations for publicly-traded Hercules’s shares, worried that access to capital and origination growth may be hurt. The stock has since recovered, and the company said earlier this week it had surpassed more than $10 billion in committed debt capital since its inception in 2003. Assets under management stood at $2.3 billion as of Sept. 30.Niche PlayOthers are also growing in the space. Avenue Capital has sought to raise about $500 million for a venture debt fund, Reuters reported in November. Specialty lenders in the business also include TriplePoint and Horizon Technology Finance, while Silicon Valley Bank is seen as an industry pioneer.Still, the strategy isn’t for everyone. Direct-lending giant Ares Capital Corp. exited the space in 2017, offloading its $125 million portfolio of venture loans to Hercules. CEO Kipp deVeer at the time attributed the exit to the overwhelming challenge of overseeing so many small and complicated financings.Along with being relatively small, maturities on the loans tends to be short. That makes for a fast-churn, research-intensive business. The average tenor of a Hercules loans is 36 to 48 months, but the actual average duration is just a year-and-a-half, according to Bluestein.“Our portfolio turns about every 18 months,” Bluestein said. “The treadmill is set at 10, and you can’t stop.”While recent high-profile venture-capital stumbles such as WeWork may make investors wary of startup financing broadly, Bluestein welcomes the greater scrutiny and caution, acknowledging there have been a number of so-called unicorns where valuations reached extreme levels.“It’s a positive. It puts more focus on fundamentals,” Bluestein said. “Anything that makes the market more realistic is good for business.”(Updates with Hercules assets under management in 13th paragraph.)\--With assistance from Lisa Abramowicz.To contact the reporter on this story: Lisa Lee in New York at llee299@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Natalie Harrison at nharrison73@bloomberg.net, Adam Cataldo, Boris KorbyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Exclusive: China's Ant aims for $200 billion price tag in private share sales - sources
    Reuters

    Exclusive: China's Ant aims for $200 billion price tag in private share sales - sources

    HONG KONG/BEIJING (Reuters) - Ant Financial [ANTFIN.UL] shares are being offered privately at levels which value the Chinese financial giant at $200 billion (£153.4 billion), two people with knowledge of the discussions said, lifting it up the ranks of the most valuable unlisted companies. Alibaba affiliate Ant, which had an implied valuation of $150 billion during a 2018 fundraising, is preparing to step up plans for eventually going public in Hong Kong and mainland China, three other sources told Reuters. Speculation has grown that Ant, the world's largest so-called "unicorn" -- a newly-formed unlisted tech firm valued at $1 billion or more -- is working towards an IPO this year.

  • Internet-Commerce Outlook: Weak Earnings Outlook & Rich Valuation
    Zacks

    Internet-Commerce Outlook: Weak Earnings Outlook & Rich Valuation

    Internet-Commerce Outlook: Weak Earnings Outlook & Rich Valuation

  • Focus on AMZN, WMT & More in India Despite Regulatory Woes
    Zacks

    Focus on AMZN, WMT & More in India Despite Regulatory Woes

    Indian e-commerce space gets pepped up with the growing initiatives of overseas companies like Amazon (AMZN), Walmart (WMT) among others.

  • Why this Cheap E-Commerce Stock Up 140% in a Year is a Strong Buy for 2020
    Zacks

    Why this Cheap E-Commerce Stock Up 140% in a Year is a Strong Buy for 2020

    Vipshop Holdings (VIPS) stock has soared 140% in the last year to crush Alibaba as the online discount retailer expands its customer base...

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