|Bid||145.14 x 1300|
|Ask||145.22 x 900|
|Day's range||144.23 - 145.64|
|52-week range||116.85 - 153.39|
|Beta (5Y monthly)||1.28|
|PE ratio (TTM)||37.60|
|Earnings date||25 Feb 2020|
|Forward dividend & yield||1.92 (1.33%)|
|Ex-dividend date||26 Feb 2020|
|1y target est||146.95|
(Bloomberg) -- Last March, months before the meltdown at WeWork, Masayoshi Son worked through the prospects for another one of his favorite portfolio companies -- a startup from India called Oyo. In a spacious conference hall at his Tokyo headquarters, the Japanese billionaire huddled with lieutenants from the startup and his own SoftBank Group Corp. to brainstorm strategy. He figured Oyo had the potential to disrupt both the staid hotel business and short-term apartment rentals in Japan, according to people in the room.One bullet point scribbled on a floor-to-ceiling whiteboard, in particular, caught Son’s eye: a target of one million rooms within a year. In a burst of enthusiasm, he had everyone sign off on the goals right on the whiteboard, scrawling signatures under the words “BINDING” in all caps, according to a copy seen by Bloomberg News and the people present.Today, the Oyo unit handling apartments has about 7,500 rooms, less than 1% of the whiteboard target. Son’s aspirations turned out to be an example of dramatic overreach, part of a year in which the Japanese investor’s reputation was battered by troubles at WeWork and Uber Technologies Inc.The shortfall, which hasn’t been reported before, signals more trouble ahead for SoftBank and one of its most highly touted investments. Perhaps more concerning, the episode reveals a fundamental flaw in SoftBank’s investment strategy: Pumping billions into startups and pushing them toward outsized growth often undermines promising businesses. With its chaotic rush to expand in Japan, Oyo infuriated potential partners, alienated workers and jeopardized its reputation with local customers, according to interviews with more than two dozen of them. One incensed local customer went so far as to set up an Oyo Life Victims Association account on Twitter. Similar frustrations have been voiced by customers and hotels in India and other overseas markets.The troubles are so pronounced Son faced questions about Oyo during his earnings briefing in Tokyo last week. He conceded there have been “some conflicts with hotel owners,” but said that is normal in such businesses and overall the performance is good. “Oyo is a wonderful company,” he said.SoftBank declined to comment on the startup’s internal issues and practices beyond Son’s comments, but said it believes the company can have a sustainable expansion in Japan with good corporate governance.Oyo, founded by 26-year-old Ritesh Agarwal, has drawn particular attention in SoftBank’s portfolio of startups because of its similarities to WeWork. Both are trying to change traditional real estate businesses with technology. Both have charismatic young founders. Now, skeptics say Oyo could also fall short, further undermining Son’s grand ideas about technology investing.“Oyo is a WeWork in the making,” says Santosh Rao, head of research at New York-based Manhattan Venture Partners. “They need to slow down and pull back.”Oyo says patience is in order. In an interview, Agarwal argues his company is bringing new concepts to a business in need of fresh thinking, especially in markets like Japan. He acknowledges “teething issues” that are to be expected for a fast-growing, innovative startup and defended the use of ambitious goals.“Leaders at Oyo aspire for ambitious targets which act as directional north stars for building for scale,” he said. “From our shareholders perspective, they have said – you have a good business plan, you have continued operating as per your business plan, please keep delivering against that.”SoftBank is the largest outside shareholder at the company, whose backers also include Sequoia India and Airbnb Inc.The last thing Son needs now is another big mistake. He wants to raise capital for a successor to his $100 billion Vision Fund, but potential backers have been spooked by WeWork and Uber, as he conceded last week. At the same time, activist Paul Singer has taken a stake in SoftBank, advocating for changes to boost its share price including a buyback and more transparency.“Son needs to focus on rebuilding his reputation,” says Atul Goyal, senior analyst at Jefferies Group. “If Oyo blows up, that won’t be easy.”Agarwal got the idea for Oyo after roaming around India on a shoestring budget, witnessing first-hand the opportunity to bring order to the anarchic industry. At 19, he set up a reservation website and began working with small hoteliers on service, design and standardized accouterments like bedding and toiletries to draw more travelers. Oyo took 25% of sales.In India, the concept took off. The reassurance of basic quality fostered trust with customers and brought in extra revenue. Enamored of the idea and Agarwal, Son invested in 2015, two years after founding.But as SoftBank started the original $100 billion Vision Fund in 2017 and Son invested in the world’s biggest startups, he began to stoke Agarwal’s dreams with money and ambition, according to people directly involved. Son poured about $1.5 billion into the company and encouraged the young founder to try to become the world’s largest hotel operator by room count. That would mean surpassing Marriott International Inc., founded in 1927.The business model that worked so well in India wasn’t an obvious fit for markets like the U.S. and Europe, which already had well-established hotel chains and largely predictable quality. Yet Agarwal slogged ahead overseas, even buying a few properties outright, including the Hooters Casino Hotel in Las Vegas.Japan was supposed to be like a second home. Son is a local hero and SoftBank’s brand is ubiquitous: It operates one of the largest wireless carriers, runs the leading web portal and owns the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, which have won five of the last six baseball championships. SoftBank set up joint ventures through two subsidiaries to promote Oyo’s local business.That support fueled Oyo’s confidence as it entered Japan in early 2019. Agarwal decided to push into both its traditional hotels business and a newer operation called Oyo Life, which offers furnished apartments without the typical hassles of security deposits or guarantors. With Son’s enthusiastic backing at the March meeting, Agarwal and his team set the audacious goal of becoming the biggest operator in both businesses -- in one year.“Many entrepreneurs want to do a land grab, and it’s often the right thing to do, but you have to balance between your desire and ability to do it,” says Ben Narasin, venture partner at New Enterprise Associates Inc., which isn’t involved with Oyo.There were missteps at Oyo from the start. The Japan hotel team, led by a transplant from India named Prasun Choudhary, figured they could get to as many as 75,000 rooms in the first year, which would put them ahead of the Apa Hotels chain in the No. 1 spot. But they took as their starting point an inflated addressable market of 1.6 million rooms based on numbers from the local tourism authority: They included campgrounds, bed-and-breakfasts and pay-by-the-hour love hotels, which weren’t part of Oyo’s business plan, according to people involved at the time.Oyo Life, the apartment rentals business led by another Indian lieutenant called Kavikrut (who like many Indians goes by one name), set the goal of 1 million rooms in part because it was a stunning, round number that would exceed the capacity of the Japan market leader, the people said. That was the target that caught Son’s attention in March.To reach their goals, the two lieutenants began hiring furiously. Human resources staff conducted as many as 15 interviews a day, making offers to many the same day, people involved said. At job hunting events, prospects would get recruited on the spot, sometimes signing hand-written offer letters. Oyo Hotels surged to more than 580 people, while Oyo Life added 300, the company said.“Oyo believes that building a highly-motivated local team and strong management leadership is an important strategy for launching and succeeding in a new market,” Choudhary said in an interview. “This team is what has made it possible for us to partner with over 190 hotels.”But Oyo’s technology wasn’t ready. In the first three months after launch, the hotel operation double booked rooms because it had failed to integrate with local travel agencies, according to Oyo and former employees. Staff in India entered reservations made in Japanese manually, introducing errors. Some hotel owners found their rates reduced to just pennies by inscrutable algorithms. When they complained, the fix would take days because pricing was controlled in India, according to former employees.At the same time, Oyo Life workers struggled to keep track of keys they received from landlords because of software created in India. One tenant interviewed by Bloomberg spent the night in his car outside of his new apartment because he was given a wrong code for a lock box containing the keys. Even though it was during working hours, no one was manning the help lines at the company, he said. Two other customers interviewed by Bloomberg also had trouble getting into their apartments.“Oyo operated like they were driving a Ferrari, instead of a hatchback,” said Taito Ito, executive officer at Japan Accommodation and Lodging Foundation, a hotel industry group handling about a dozen complaints against the company from its members. “It’s difficult to see this business going anywhere in Japan.”There were some satisfied customers, including one Oyo Life user who raved about the convenience of getting an apartment via an app and raking in points by paying rent with a credit card.Despite the rocky start, Agarwal landed a starring role in July at SoftBank World, an annual event Son hosts in Tokyo. On stage in front of hundreds of the Japanese company’s suppliers and customers, Agarwal explained how Oyo is using data to beat the competition. Its algorithms can evaluate properties in under five days, compared with months for traditional hotels, he said. Artificial intelligence helps Oyo predict what kind of interior design can boost demand -- like pictures of Marilyn Monroe -- and adjust prices more than 43,000 times a minute.Beaming on stage, Son said it was only a matter of time before Oyo, the third-biggest hotel chain by room count, would surpass the established giants.“In three months, he will become the world’s biggest hotel king,” Son said at the time. “This would be a first in human history.”Unbeknownst to the crowd, Agarwal and Son were in talks about an unprecedented deal at the time. To increase his stake in Oyo, the young founder would borrow $2 billion to buy out some of his earlier investors. To reassure banks including Mizuho Financial Group Inc. to lend the money, Son personally guaranteed those loans, a highly unusual arrangement. The deal would double Oyo’s valuation to $10 billion.Just weeks later, in early August, it became clear Oyo’s hotel business in Japan was falling far short of its targets. Agarwal told Choudhary to start firing under-performing staff, according to a message reviewed by Bloomberg News. But top management didn’t realize at first that labor laws in Japan prohibit such layoffs, according to former HR staff.Oyo had begun hiring before it set up all its operations, so many employees joined under temporary contracts through an outside recruiter with a plan of making them full-time after six months. When that time came, Oyo tried to cut salaries for a number of them as much as 50%, according to former employees and copies of documents seen by Bloomberg News.Alarmed by worker complaints, SoftBank sent its own compliance staff into Oyo for a week-long internal audit, the people said. In the end, Agarwal’s management withdrew the low-ball offers and said the revisions were an administrative mistake. Oyo says it wasn’t downsizing and was only making a fair assessment of staff. Choudhary acknowledges that, at first, Oyo thought it could manage performance in Japan like it has in the rest of the world.Several former Oyo Life employees, who declined to be named because they signed confidentiality agreements, described a chaotic, disorganized work environment. The company poached executives from top-tier consulting and technology firms who excelled at inspirational talk, but had little understanding of real estate and even less patience for the industry’s slow-moving ways, the people said. One of them said the real estate industry just doesn’t run on startup time.The push for growth hurt Oyo’s relationship with suppliers too. In one instance, the company placed a 100 million yen ($910,000) furniture order with Japanese maker Takumi Otsuka, clinching the deal with a handshake. A month later, Oyo canceled even though the manufacturer had already set up a dedicated line and began production, according to staff from Oyo.Oyo denied the cancellation of any confirmed orders, but acknowledged there were lapses in communication in its early dealings with Takumi Otsuka. Oyo says the two companies now share a healthy business relationship and the furniture maker remains one of its valuable suppliers. Takumi Otsuka declined to comment.In October, with Oyo Hotels short of its original targets, the company mobilized support staff to do sales. It launched Project Yukichi, named after a famed educator whose face is on the 10,000 yen bill, with the goal of that many new rooms a month. The workers, already struggling to keep up with complaints from hotel owners, were told they are also responsible for producing 30 new sales leads a month, according to former employees and company presentations. The “OYOpreneurs,” as they were called, got a three-day training session from Bain & Co. to get them up to speed, the people said.With so much energy focused on sales, customer service suffered. One Oyo Life tenant told Bloomberg News he moved into his room to find bed sheets and covers, but no bed or mattress to put them on. After facing a prospect of sleeping on the floor for a week, he hauled over a futon from his parent’s house.Yutaro Kondo, a 25-year-old entrepreneur, paid 86,000 yen for a 21-square-meter studio about an hour by train from central Tokyo. While a premium to similar listings, the contract covered internet access, all utilities and the last month free of rent. But he didn’t have heat for weeks so he moved out in December. Shortly after, he got a bill for the month that was supposed to be free.“The simplicity they offered is attractive to a lot of young people,” Kondo said. “I feel pretty disappointed they didn’t deliver on that promise.”Hotel owners are unhappy too, especially with disputes over money. Oyo aimed to increase business for its partners by dropping rates at first and then increasing the price as occupancy went up. To help ease the pain, it guaranteed owners a minimum level of revenue provided they met certain criteria. Instead, a number of hotels found the payments fell short and the company unwilling to make up the difference.Oyo acknowledged such disputes and said that in some cases hotels failed to fulfill their contractual obligations. Still, it said it decided to pay in full to mend relations. One SoftBank executive said there were troubles between Oyo and about 40 hotels out of about 200, emphasizing many hotel owners are satisfied.“Employees are exhausted from dealing with Oyo,” said Shingo Ozaki, who manages Hamakan Hotel on the southwestern island of Kyushu, which is considering ending its relationship with the startup.Oyo said it is continuously working to improve software and it launched a call center that in the past month handled 1,700 tickets from partners and guests.Late last year, after the debacle at WeWork, Son overhauled his approach to startups. At a gathering of portfolio companies in California, he cautioned founders that they need to have a strategy for profitability and that growth couldn’t be the sole target. Agarwal was in attendance.But any changes may be too late for Oyo in Japan. In December, news leaked out that SoftBank’s Yahoo Japan sold its stake in Oyo Life, liquidating the partnership without any explanation. In Japan, the hotel room count has stalled at little over 5,000, with just over 300 new rooms added in December.Oyo disclosed this week that revenue increased more than four-fold to $951 million for the fiscal year ending in March 2019, while losses surged six-fold to $335 million.“Entrepreneurship is a game where you have to learn to crawl, then walk and only then to jog and run,” said Narasin of NEA. “Skipping steps can be dangerous.”At least some hotels are giving up, tired of the troubles they’ve had with Oyo. Shoji Sato, president of the company that runs an Oyo affiliate called Sawara Kita Hotel, said the company didn’t pay revenue guaranteed for January after reducing room prices to draw more customers. He said Oyo workers often ignore his inquiries or are slow to respond too. Oyo said there is no delay in payment because the January cycle closes in mid-February.“I believed in Oyo after the salesman showed me a brochure with details about SoftBank. SoftBank is led by Masayoshi Son, who is very famous and popular in Japan,” says Sato. “Now we want to end the relationship. I am angry, of course, of course.”(Updates with financial results in fourth from last paragraph)\--With assistance from Saritha Rai and Kurumi Mori.To contact the reporters on this story: Pavel Alpeyev in Tokyo at email@example.com;Takahiko Hyuga in Tokyo at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edwin Chan at email@example.com, Peter ElstromFor 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.
(Bloomberg) -- For the last several years, hackers based in China have allegedly been sucking up vast amounts of personal data of U.S. citizens: names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, even fingerprints.On Monday, the U.S. Justice Department took another stab at stopping them.Attorney General William Barr announced that four members of China’s People’s Liberation Army had engaged in a three-months-long campaign to steal information on about 145 million Americans from Equifax Inc. In doing so, Barr detailed an audacious plan that allegedly began with a vulnerability in Apache software and uncovered a mother load of personal data.According to U.S. authorities and cybersecurity experts, the Equifax hack was one of a string of data breaches executed by Chinese hackers in which personal data was stolen. Those experts described an effort to grab so much data on so many people that the Chinese could use it to compile a database of Americans, in part to bolster spying efforts. Chinese officials rejected the accusations. “The Chinese government, military and relevant personnel never engage in cyber theft of trade secrets,” China’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Tuesday.Last year, Barr announced charges against a Chinese national who was part of “an extremely sophisticated hacking group operating in China” that stole information from four large American businesses, including data on 78.8 million people from the computer network of health insurer, Anthem Inc.China has also been linked to a 2018 cyber-attack at Marriott International Inc., yielding data on 500 million guests, and an infamous 2015 incident in which data from the federal Office of Personnel Management was stolen on 21 million individuals, including Social Security numbers and 5.6 million fingerprints.“Chinese spying is over the top increasingly dangerous,” said Jim Lewis, a senior vice president and director of the Technology Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, when asked about the charges involving Equifax. “The PLA has more personal data on Americans than anyone else.”The Equifax hack represents a major “counterintelligence operation” by the Chinese government for future use, including advancing artificial intelligence capabilities, said William Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center.“They have more than just your credit score,” Evanina told reporters during a briefing on Monday. “They have all of your data.” He added that his biggest concern is that the Chinese will use the data to target people who don’t work in national security and therefore might not be aware of an operation.U.S. officials said there was no evidence the stolen Equifax data was being used. However, Barr said the Equifax hack “fits a disturbing and unacceptable pattern of state-sponsored computer intrusions and thefts by China and its citizens that have targeted personally identifiable information, trade secrets and other confidential information.”John Hultquist, senior director of intelligence analysis at the cybersecurity firm FireEye Inc., said the Equifax incident is “just one example of a shift by Chinese state hackers toward organizations that aggregate data.”“Government bureaucracies, hospitality and travel organizations have been targeted alongside telecommunications firms and managed service providers in intrusions designed to allow access to huge amounts of data and proprietary information,” he said.Cybersecurity experts offered different views on the purpose of the stolen data.The data taken from Equifax may have been used as part of an attempt to compile a database of U.S. personally identifiable information, according to Priscilla Moriuchi, who is director of strategic threat development at the cybersecurity company Recorded Future, Inc. This database can be used for purposes including developing cover identities for Chinese intelligence officers, validating information from other intelligence services, or “building profiles of individuals that may be susceptible to recruitment by Chinese intelligence, “ she said.Ben Buchanan, a cybersecurity expert at Georgetown University, said the data gleaned may have uses such as providing “financial context on targets of interest to China.”“It probably wasn’t too taxing for the hackers to get even this voluminous amount of data, so why not take it?” he said.Aside from allegedly stealing personal data, China has also been accused of pilfering intellectual property from U.S. companies, including by hacking. Former National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander, who served under presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, has called it the “greatest transfer of wealth in history.”In 2018, for instance, the U.S. indicted Chinese intelligence officers for stealing technology underlying a turbofan used by airlines while members of China’s Ministry of State Security were charged with targeting government agencies and more than 45 technology companies in the U.S.According to the indictment announced on Monday, the hack at Equifax began in May 2017, maybe earlier, and continued through July of that year. The defendants exploited a vulnerability in Apache software that was used by Equifax’s online dispute portal, where users could research and dispute inaccuracies in their credit reports. Apache had announced a vulnerability in certain versions of its Struts software, and it wasn’t patched on Equifax’s online dispute portal, according to the indictment.Equifax “holds a colossal repository of sensitive personally identifiable information, including full names, addresses, Social Security numbers, birth dates, and driver’s license numbers,” according to the indictment, which alleged that the People’s Liberation Army obtained the names, birth dates, and Social Security numbers for 145 Americans, in addition to the driver’s licenses for at least 10 million Americans, and the credit card numbers and other personally identifiable information on 200,000 U.S. consumers. PLA hackers also obtained personal data belonging to nearly a million citizens of the U.K. and Canada, according to the indictment.Despite major investments in security measures, Equifax appeared to have been compromised “by poor implementation and the departures of key personnel in recent years,” according to a September 2017 story in Bloomberg Businessweek. A congressional report in 2018 found that Equifax failed to modernize its security to match its aggressive growth strategy.On Monday, Equifax Chief Executive Officer Mark Begor said, “Having China indicted for this really changes the stakes for all of us.”“These cyber-attacks are getting more challenging for every company,” he said. “It definitely raises the bar for all of us on what we need to do to defend the sensitive data that we have.”(Updates with comments from China’s foreign ministry in fifth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Jenny Surane.To contact the reporters on this story: Alyza Sebenius in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org;Chris Strohm in Washington at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrew Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org, Andrew PollackFor 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.
Many hoteliers for the last several years have minimized the impact of short-term rentals on their bottom lines in what could be seen as an Airbnb defense. But a new report suggests that alternative accommodations, as well as growth in hotel supply, curb U.S. hoteliers' options to hike average daily rates during peak periods. "In […]
Every January, about 3,000 hotel executives, owners, developers, and management companies gather in Los Angeles to make pronouncements about the health of the industry and their goals for the year. While hotel companies always say that they are optimistic about the future—they’re making more deals, creating new brands, expanding existing brands—the numbers tell a murkier […]
Let's talk about the popular Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ:MAR). The company's shares saw a double-digit share...
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Marriott (MAR) is strengthening its presence worldwide, with 2019 being the company's seventh consecutive record-breaking year of organic room signings.
Frits van Paasschen, the former CEO of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, is joining the board of alternative accommodations brand Sonder as the company pushes ahead with ambitious plans for 2020. Van Paasschen has been advising the company on an informal basis for a number of months, but his new role firms up the relationship. “I […]
(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 email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachel Rosenthal at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis 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.
M.A.’s story is not unique, but that doesn’t make it any less horrifying. After leaving home to live with a friend in 2014, she faced being kicked out of her temporary residence. It was around this time, a complaint in a civil suit alleges, she met a person who began posting graphic images of her […]
These sectors are directly related to the outbreak of Coronavirus in China in a positive or negative way,putting the spotlight on these ETFs and stocks.
Hilton (HLT) continues to drive unit growth. Bu expanding presence, Hilton strives to meet growing demand for hotels and drive the top line.
Marriott International has failed to halt a lawsuit against it in a Thai court filed by Minor International. The parent company of Minor Hotels Group advised investors of the outcome on Thursday. Minor, however, is still unable to proceed with the legal case in Thailand, pending another outcome later this month of a temporary injunction […]
Hyatt (H) announces the opening of Hyatt Place Waco-South in Waco, TX. The company's efforts to expand presence worldwide are noteworthy.
Hotel companies hardly ever shy away from creating new brands, even when they may sound and look like ones they already have. Hilton is the latest hospitality giant to debut another brand. The McLean, Virginia-based company on Thursday introduced Tempo by Hilton with a celebration in New York City. It is the sixth brand Hilton […]
(Bloomberg) -- Want the lowdown on European markets? In your inbox before the open, every day. Sign up here.Grindr is sharing detailed personal data with thousands of advertising partners, allowing them to receive information about users’ location, age, gender and sexual orientation, a Norwegian consumer group said.The service -- described as the world’s largest social networking app for gay, bi, trans, and queer people -- gave user data to third parties involved in advertising and profiling, according to a report by the Norwegian Consumer Council that was released Tuesday. Twitter Inc. ad subsidiary MoPub was used as a mediator for the data sharing and passed personal data to third parties, the report said.“Every time you open an app like Grindr, advertisement networks get your GPS location, device identifiers and even the fact that you use a gay dating app,” said Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems. “This is an insane violation of users’ EU privacy rights.”The consumer group and Schrems’s privacy organization have filed three complaints against Grindr and five adtech companies to the Norwegian Data Protection Authority for breaching European data protection regulations. Schrems’s group Noyb will file similar complaints with the Austrian DPA in the coming weeks, according to the statement.Match Group Inc.’s popular dating apps OkCupid and Tinder LLC share data with each other and other brands owned by the company, the research found. OkCupid gave information pertaining to customers’ sexuality, drug use and political views, to the analytics company Braze Inc., the organization said.In a statement, Grindr said “while we reject a number of the report’s assumptions and conclusions, we welcome the opportunity to be a small part in a larger conversation about how we can collectively evolve the practices of mobile publishers and continue to provide users with access to an option of a free platform.”A spokeswoman for Match Group said OkCupid uses Braze to manage communications to its users, but that it only shared “the specific information deemed necessary” and “in line with the applicable laws including GDPR and CCPA.” Braze also said it didn’t sell personal data, nor share it between customers. Twitter is investigating the issue to “understand the sufficiency of Grindr’s consent mechanism” and has disabled the company’s MoPub account, a representative said.European consumer group BEUC urged national regulators to “immediately” investigate online advertising companies over possible violations of the bloc’s data protection rules, following the Norwegian report. It’s also written to European Commission executive vice-president Margrethe Vestager to take action.“The report provides compelling evidence about how these so-called ad-tech companies collect vast amounts of personal data from people using mobile devices, which advertising companies and marketeers then use to target consumers,” BEUC said in an emailed statement. This happens “without a valid legal base and without consumers knowing it.”The European Union’s data protection law, GDPR, came into force in 2018 setting rules for what websites can do with user data. It mandates that companies must get unambiguous consent to collect information from visitors. The most serious violations can lead to fines of as much as 4% of a company’s global annual sales.Where Tech Giants Are Getting Slapped Over Privacy: QuickTakeIt’s part of a broader push across Europe to crack down on companies that fail to protect customer data. In January last year, Alphabet Inc.’s Google received a fine of 50 million euros ($56 million) from France’s privacy regulator following a complaint by Schrems over the company’s privacy policies. Prior to GDPR, the French watchdog levied maximum fines of 150,000 euros.The U.K. threatened Marriott International Inc. with a 99 million-pound ($128 million) fine in July following a hack of its reservation database, just days after the U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office proposed handing a 183.4 million-pound penalty to British Airways in the wake of a data breach.Schrems has for years taken on large tech companies’ use of personal information, including filing lawsuits challenging the legal mechanisms Facebook Inc. and thousands of other companies use to move that data across borders.He’s become even more active since GDPR kicked in, filing privacy complaints against companies including Amazon.com Inc. and Netflix Inc., accusing them of breaching the bloc’s strict data protection rules. The complaints are also a test for national data protection authorities, who are obliged to examine them.In addition to the European complaints, a coalition of nine U.S. consumer groups urged the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the attorneys general of California, Texas and Oregon to open investigations.“All of these apps are available to users in the U.S. and many of the companies involved are headquartered in the U.S.,” groups including the Center for Digital Democracy and the Electronic Privacy Information Center said in a letter to the FTC. They asked the agency to look into whether the apps have upheld their privacy commitments.(Updates with FTC complaint from U.S. consumer groups in last two paragraphs)\--With assistance from Stephanie Bodoni and Ben Brody.To contact the reporters on this story: Sarah Syed in London at email@example.com;Natalia Drozdiak in Brussels at firstname.lastname@example.org;Nate Lanxon in London at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Giles Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org, Amy ThomsonFor 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.
Remember those massive headline-grabbing fines that the UK’s data protection regulator handed out to Marriott and British Airways last year? The two proposed penalties — Marriott at $130.4 million (£99.2 million) and British Airways at $241.1 million (£183.4 million) — came within a day of each other last July, but not much has been heard […]
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