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Apr.06 -- Amazon.com Inc. has played an important role in bringing groceries and other supplies to people’s doorsteps during the global pandemic. But it’s not just battling Covid-19 and the myriad logistical complexities the virus has introduced. As last week’s developments made clear, Amazon also appears to see itself as fighting a war on its other flank—against organized labor. Bloomberg's Brad Stone reports on "Bloomberg Markets."
On Monday, workers at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island walked off the job for a second time, just one week after holding an initial strike, citing continued coronavirus fears amid 26 cases of the virus at the warehouse.
Amazon (AMZN) has entered into an agreement with the Canadian government to deliver the essential medical equipments to combat coronavirus spread.
(Bloomberg) -- The world’s biggest lockdown has brought transportation of goods in India close to a halt, even though the federal government has exempted the sector from restrictions to halt the spread of coronavirus.Daily movement of trucks has collapsed to less than 10% of normal levels, according to All India Motor Transport Congress, an umbrella body of goods-vehicle operators representing about 10 million truckers. Road transport accounts for about 60% of freight traffic in India and 87% of its passenger traffic, according to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.Trucking has emerged as a major chokepoint in global supply chains from food to medical supplies as governments around the world take ever more stringent steps to contain the pandemic, restricting the movement of vehicles as well as people to drive them. The stoppages in India, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a three-week lockdown on the nation’s 1.3 billion people from March 25, are a harbinger of the damage the measures are wreaking on the economy amid forecasts the country could see its first contraction in at least two decades.“Though the government has allowed movement of both essential and non-essential goods, the situation is very different at the ground level,” said Naveen Kumar Gupta, secretary general of AIMTC, the largest grouping of transporters in India. Almost daily clarifications by the government take time to trickle down to officials enforcing the rules, making operations difficult, according to the organization’s president, Kultaran Singh Atwal.The decline in road transport is another major setback for fuel demand in the world’s third biggest oil market, which has already been hit by the collapse in air travel. Fuel sales in March by India’s three biggest state-run retailers shrank by as much as 33%.One of the major problems facing truckers is loading and unloading because of a shortage of labor, according to AIMTC. And with the lockdown shutting highway food establishments and workshops, truckers can’t get the services they need even if they are on the road.How will the coronavirus pandemic shift power around the world? Join us on Tuesday at 10 am ET for a live virtual conversation exploring how a post-virus world might look. Register here for Bloomberg New EconomyCharting the Trade TurmoilThe world could be on the brink a food scare as the coronavirus upends supply chains and sends prices for key staples higher. Prices of rice and wheat — crops that account for a third of the world’s calories — are rapidly climbing.Today’s Must ReadsAbout face | President Donald Trump eased restrictions on exports of masks and other protective equipment needed to fight the Covid-19 pandemic after a backlash from allies around the world. Stranded sailors | Port restrictions and canceled flights are straining the ability to replace seafarers on board ships, further weakening global supply chains already snarled by the coronavirus pandemic. Supply concession | India partially lifted a ban on the exports of a malaria drug after Trump sought supplies for the U.S., according to government officials with knowledge of the matter. Plane challenge | The most dramatic contraction in civil aviation history poses a challenge for Airbus in how to balance its response. Pose a strike | The global health crisis is shining a spotlight on how Amazon and many of the world’s biggest companies treat essential workers. Swiss nonplussed | Switzerland, whose penchant for preparing for emergencies has won it praise, is facing a possible shortage of alcohol used to make hand sanitizer.Bloomberg AnalysisFunctions for the market | Food supply-chain risks persist even as panic buying ebbs. Rent effects | The coronavirus will reduce apartment REIT revenue and funds from operations in 2020, potentially by more than the 4% drop at the depths of the 2008-09 crisis. Swift response | On Feb. 27, ECB President Christine Lagarde said there was no obvious need for a monetary response to the pandemic. Four weeks later, she unleashed massive stimulus. Use the AHOY function to track global commodities trade flows. See BNEF for BloombergNEF’s analysis of clean energy, advanced transport, digital industry, innovative materials, and commodities. Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus and here for maps and charts.For 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 Opinion) -- It’s hard to overstate the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises, or SMEs, to Europe’s economy. They make up 99% of all non-financial businesses in the European Union (by number) and account for about two-thirds of private-sector jobs. Their survival through the coronavirus lockdowns is essential. So is their swift return to health once people can get back to daily business.Hence the speedy government measures to alleviate the SME cash crunch. Within days of cutting back economic activity, policymakers rolled out plans to disburse hundreds of billions of dollars to keep companies alive, packages that would typically take months to hammer out. But designing state-funded schemes that get the money where it’s needed quickly is a huge challenge. The evidence so far suggests that, while banks can help facilitate this process, there’s a limit to how much of the financial burden they’re prepared to take on. And their reticence is understandable. The long-term consequences of policy errors could be severe. Propping up companies that face a long-term solvency threat beyond the coronavirus outbreak will merely delay the inevitable; and loading up firms with yet more debt could hold back their recovery.Getting financing to SMEs is hard at the best of times. Banks are typically reluctant to lend without borrowers’ pledges of collateral, and the costs involved are high, especially for young companies. In Europe, lenders have been given incentives to lend to SMEs by being told they can set aside less of their capital to cover their overall loans. But many banks are only just recovering from the last “bad-loan” crisis, and they still see huge risks in the SME world. Even when government guarantees are in place, they would still like collateral on their loans from the company concerned.While Europe’s governments looked first to the banks to help mitigate the economic carnage cause by coronavirus lockdowns, the limits of what the industry was prepared to take on has become apparent.Take the U.K. Of the 130,000 applications submitted by SMEs as of last week, only about 1,000 have been approved, totaling a paltry 90.5 million pounds ($112 million). Under the terms of the country’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, lenders have been told they cannot demand personal guarantees for loans below a certain threshold, a requirement that had rightly incensed borrowers.British banks will be on the hook for 20% of the coronavirus scheme’s loans, with the government guaranteeing the rest, and any losses will probably be shared proportionally from the outset. Other countries have taken the view that this is too much to ask of their lenders.From the EU to the U.S., other national policymakers have concluded that their banks can offer little more than their processing services to get money to companies fast. Expecting them to take on the credit risk for 10% or 20% of the loans is seen as unrealistic when borrowers might run out of cash within weeks.Following guidance from the EU that member states could back 100% of these loans for up to 800,000 euros ($870,000), Germany this week presented a new “limitless” loan program for companies with between 11 and 250 employees. Italy will start offering similar.Switzerland’s SME program has been a model, including a first tranche of loans that are backed fully by the government for up to 500,000 Swiss francs ($514,000). Companies have been receiving funds within hours. A second tranche can follow with an 85% state guarantee.However, it’s not just banks who need to be careful about the danger of non-performing loans. Governments do too when they’re loading up on debt, especially Europe’s weaker economies. While keeping companies alive is essential, policymakers need to keep weighing up the longer term implications. Rather than letting banks off the hook completely, an alternative would be providing longer-dated debt where lenders share the risk.After all, not all businesses will survive and the banks can help be a little more cool-headed about assessing to whom that might apply — notwithstanding the inevitable howls of political anger that may be forthcoming. For example, the retail sector was already struggling with the dominance of Amazon in pre-Covid-19 days, and casual dining chains also faced severe challenges. Lenders should play a role in working through businesses’ probable chances of success.There’s also a risk in the current approach of handing out loans to companies based on a percentage of their sales. That may work for some industries, but it might leave companies that principally trade goods — whose revenues are often much higher than their profits — with too high a debt burden. One size does not fit all.Governments are doing the right thing by rushing to meet the funding needs of business through the shutdown. Which companies exit the crisis, and how, will need equal attention.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Elisa Martinuzzi is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering finance. She is a former managing editor for European finance at 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.
An Indian retail group has asked a court to allow the restart of an antitrust investigation into Amazon.com Inc and a Walmart unit that is on hold following a legal challenge by the companies, a court filing seen by Reuters showed. Amazon and Walmart's unit Flipkart did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. The appeal will likely be heard later this month at a time when both Amazon and Flipkart are battling slowing sales and logistical challenges during India's lockdown to tackle the coronavirus which has resulted in supply chain disruptions.
(Bloomberg) -- Megvii Technology Ltd.’s revenue growth dissipated in the second half of 2019 after it joined Huawei Technologies Co. on a U.S. trade blacklist, underscoring the extent to which White House sanctions are hurting China’s technology leaders.The company backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. grew revenue a mere 2.7% in 2019’s second half after more than tripling sales in the first six months of the year, according to unaudited numbers for investors seen by Bloomberg. On a full-year basis, Megvii fell short of its target for 2.9 billion yuan ($409 million) in sales by almost 28%, a person familiar with the matter said, asking not to be identified discussing internal targets.Megvii and its biggest competitor, SenseTime Group Ltd., had been among China’s fastest-growing startups but are now under scrutiny after the Trump administration blacklisted them over alleged involvement in human rights violations against Muslim minorities in China. The surprise action in October encompassed several leading players in the field of artificial intelligence, a key area of contention between the world’s two largest economies.Megvii suspended certain operations while it determined which parts of the business may violate the blacklist, which prohibited the export of American technology, and that delayed some orders or shipments in the second half, another person said. To re-energize the business, the AI giant is now developing new revenue streams, including temperature detection solutions deployed to help China curb Covid-19 this year.U.S. sanctions helped tank Megvii’s attempt to go public, a $1 billion deal regarded as the unofficial coming-out party for China’s burgeoning AI sector. Megvii, backed also by Alipay-operator Ant Financial, ICBC Asset Management and Lenovo Group Ltd., this year allowed its application for a Hong Kong IPO to lapse, throwing its future plans into question. Megvii representatives declined to comment.Read more: U.S. Blacklisting Undermines Megvii IPO, China’s AI Ambition China’s advances in AI have unnerved Washington because both countries are vying for leadership in a technology at the heart of everything from autonomous driving and robot waiters to facial recognition. Chinese names like Megvii and SenseTime are joined by established players including Huawei, Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Didi Chuxing in a race with the likes of Google and Microsoft Corp. to develop systems fundamental to future modern economies.The company, last valued at about $4 billion according to people familiar with the matter, generates most of its revenue from products that combine software and sensors to help government agencies and other clients enhance public safety and optimize traffic management. Megvii disclosed in its August IPO documents that sales from that business, which it labeled “city IoT solutions,” jumped 270% to 694.8 million yuan in 2019’s first six months. It said in its prospectus that it served 112 cities in China, 38% of the country’s total, as of June.It also sells face-scanning systems to companies from iPhone-maker Foxconn Technology Group to Lenovo and Ant Financial, the payments affiliate that supports Alibaba’s e-commerce business. The company generated 207.2 million yuan from the segment it dubs “personal IoT solutions,” or 22% of its revenue. Its third major business line, solutions for logistics that deploy AI-empowered robots and sensors, made up some 5% of revenue.Megvii lost 3.4 billion yuan in 2018, partly due to changes in the value of preferred shares, according to its prospectus. It listed 1.4 billion yuan in cash, equivalents and bank balances at the end of June, while it used nearly half of that for operations in the first six months of the year. Its term deposits, which refers to short-term bank deposits with maturities of three to twelve months, stood at 3.3 billion yuan as of June, according to the IPO document.(Updates with ICBC as an investor in the fifth paragraph. A previous version was corrected to remove China Mobile as an investor.)For 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) -- Chinese artificial-intelligence giant Megvii Technology Ltd. is facing additional queries from the Hong Kong bourse ahead of its planned initial public offering, people familiar with the matter said.Some questions relate to public complaints about whether the company adequately disclosed risks related to U.S. sanctions, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. Megvii, which met Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd.’s listing committee Thursday, will need to address the concerns before it receives formal clearance to go ahead with the share sale, the people said.A recent online campaign has been encouraging people to send complaints to the listing committee and HKEX Chief Executive Officer Charles Li, lobbying the exchange not to approve Megvii’s listing application. A letter circulated online said Megvii breached the listing rules by failing to make adequate disclosures of sanction risks.Megvii filed its IPO documents in August. The exchange’s queries aren’t necessarily an indication it will block the listing, and in some previous cases it has allowed a deal to go ahead after receiving a company’s explanations. A representative for Megvii declined to comment.The IPO could be the unofficial debut on global stage for China’s artificial intelligence industry. The AI startup is among several Chinese companies that the Trump administration blacklisted over alleged involvement in human rights violations against Muslim minorities in China.Megvii has said it “strongly objects” to the blacklisting and that the company complies with all regulations in the markets in which it operates.Any deal will add to the $34.3 billion raised in Hong Kong IPOs this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The startup counts Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and its financial affiliate Ant Financial and Lenovo Group Ltd. as strategic investors.Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. are the joint sponsors of the deal, according to a preliminary prospectus.(Corrects story from November to remove reference to China Mobile as an investor in the penultimate paragraph. A previous version of this story corrected the spelling of Megvii’s name in the first deck headline.)For 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) -- Megvii Technology Ltd. for the first time revealed the stunning growth fueled by a nation’s obsession with security.The Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.-backed startup tripled revenue to 949 million yuan ($133 million) in the first half. It generated more than 73% of those sales from AI services for major clients like government agencies, hospitals and real estate developers, the company said in a filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.Seven-year-old Megvii is said to be angling to raise as much as $1 billion in its initial public offering, becoming the first of China’s fast-rising AI stars to debut and beating Sensetime Group Ltd. to the punch. Its share sale however will run up against a host of uncertainties from violent pro-democracy protests that’ve gripped Hong Kong to the Trump administration’s increasingly aggressive campaign to contain China’s tech champions.Megvii is moving forward even as other companies pump the brakes on their Hong Kong listing ambitions, wary of the turmoil. Its fundraising will further Beijing’s effort to lead the sector by 2030. That’s in turn prompting the Trump administration to sound the alarm about investment into Chinese technology.Megvii generates the bulk of its revenue from products that combine software and sensors to help government agencies and other clients enhance public safety and optimize traffic management. Sales from that business, which it labeled “city IoT solutions,” jumped 270% to 694.8 million yuan in 2019’s first six months. Megvii said it served 112 cities in China, 38% of the country’s total, as of June. It posted 5.2 billion yuan in losses for the first half, while adjusted profit reached 32.7 million yuan.‘IPOs‘ have been pretty disappointing in the past few months, but since AI is a hot category at the moment it could gain more traction,” said Mark Tanner, founder of Shanghai-based research and marketing company China Skinny.Read more: China AI Startup Files for Hong Kong IPO Despite ProtestsThe filing kicked off the formal process for an IPO, though it could be months before Megvii’s actual debut. The offering faces particular challenges. Washington has upped its rhetoric about inspection of investment into Chinese technology, which may erode the interest of U.S. money managers in the country’s AI startups.In a list of risk factors, Megvii warned of possible economic and trade restrictions similar to curbs imposed on Huawei Technologies Co. Should that happen, it would prevent the company from procuring technology, and impair its ability to develop solutions. The company stressed that it’s made sure it’s compliant with relevant restrictions, while making contingency plans to minimize the negative impact of potential curbs.Read more: Trump Aides Say He Has Power to Force Companies From China (2)Megvii also warned that sanctions on sales of American technology to Huawei may roil industries from consumer electronics to telecommunications. “Prolonged restrictions against Huawei could cause a turmoil to all such industries, which may in turn materially and adversely affect our business,” it said.Megvii also sells face-scanning systems to companies from iPhone-maker Foxconn Technology Group to Lenovo Group Ltd. and Ant Financial, the payments affiliate that supports Alibaba’s e-commerce business. The company generated 207.2 million yuan from the segment it dubs “personal IoT solutions,” or 21.8% of its revenue. Its third major business line, solutions for logistics that deploy AI-empowered robots and sensors, made up some 5% of revenue.Megvii counts Alibaba and its financial affiliate Ant Financial and Lenovo Group Ltd. as strategic investors. Alibaba indirectly held 14.3% of its shares, while Ant Financial indirectly held 15.1%.Read the IPO filing here.(Corrects story from August to remove reference to China Mobile as an investor in final paragraph.)For 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) -- Wayfair Inc. soared as much as 51% after the online home-goods retailer said first-quarter net revenue growth would at least meet its forecast and that the sharp sales increase at the end of March has continued into April.Shares of Wayfair, which gets about 85% of revenue in the U.S., posted their biggest intraday jump ever Monday, climbing as high as $76.47.In a business update, the Boston-based company said its gross revenue growth rate more than doubled toward the end of last month, and that demand has been seen across most home goods categories in all of its markets. The outlook gave it some breathing room after Wayfair said just last week that the coronavirus was resulting in disruptions to its supply chain.Meanwhile, the company also announced it’s raising capital through a convertible notes offering, led by Great Hill Partners and Charlesbank Capital Partners. The Spruce House Partnership, one of Wayfair’s largest shareholders, also participated.Jefferies analyst Jonathan Matuszewski said Wayfair’s update shows that the company’s “pureplay e-comm business model is taking share in an environment where about 80% of the category is closed for business, its largest online competitor is focused elsewhere and consumers are spending on their homes.” The analyst, who rates the stock buy and has a price target of $89, said the convertible offering “provides additional cushioning” if a sustained economic slowdown materializes over in the coming months.Matuszewski also highlighted the revenue trends from January through early March. “Growth of slightly below 20% sits above the high-end of management’s guidance for 15-17%,” he said, adding that recent efforts to streamline workflows and prioritize high return-on- investment initiatives “may be bearing early fruit.”Wayfair led home-good peers higher Monday and is the top performer in the Bloomberg Intelligence North America Home Products Stores & Other Specialty Retail Index. The stock is down about 23% this year, compared with the 46% plunge for the index.Wayfair will report results for the first quarter ended March 31 in early May. The stock has 14 buy ratings, 13 holds, and 5 sells, with an average 12-month price target on the shares of $74.For 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.
You can share your thoughts with Thyagaraju Adinarayan (firstname.lastname@example.org), Joice Alves (email@example.com) and Julien Ponthus (firstname.lastname@example.org) in London. When it comes to stock picking, UK retail investors seem to trust in what they see around them and that's TV binge watching and Amazon deliveries. "Many retail investors are investing in the companies we are all turning to help us weather the COVID-19 storm, such as streaming services like Netflix, delivery services like Amazon and supermarkets like Tesco", said Iqbal Gandham, UK Managing Director at eToro.