AstraZeneca in first COVID-19 vaccine deal with Chinese company By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The company logo for pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca is displayed on a screen on the floor at the NYSE in New York

By Roxanne Liu and Ludwig Burger

BEIJING/FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products (SZ:) will produce AstraZeneca Plc’s (L:) potential COVID-19 vaccine in mainland China, the British drugmaker said on Thursday, its first deal to supply one of the world’s most populous countries.

The deal underscores Astra’s frontrunner position in a global race to deliver an effective vaccine, given that Chinese ventures are leading at least eight of the 26 global vaccine development projects currently testing on humans.

Under the agreement Shenzhen Kangtai, one of China’s top vaccine makers, will ensure it has annual production capacity of at least 100 million doses of the experimental shot AZD1222, which AstraZeneca co-developed with researchers at Oxford University, by the end of this year, AstraZeneca said.

The Shenzhen-based company must have capacity to produce at least 200 million doses by the end of next year as part of the exclusive framework agreement, its statement on the Chinese social media site WeChat said.

The two companies will also explore the possibility of cooperation on the vaccine candidate in other markets, AstraZeneca said.

They did not respond to requests for further comment.

There are no approved vaccines for COVID-19, the highly contagious respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.

AstraZeneca has signed manufacturing deals globally including the United States, Britain, South Korea and Brazil, resulting in a target to make more than 2 billion doses of the vaccine.

For China, this marks another major deal to secure access to a COVID-19 vaccine developed by a foreign company as the country’s other potential shots under development enter late stage of human trials.

Other collaborations between Chinese and Western players include a tie-up between Germany’s BioNTech (O:) and Fosun (SS:) (HK:), as well as one between Inovio Pharma (O:) and Beijing Advaccine Biotechnology.

The scramble for treatments and vaccines to curb the pandemic has boosted global pharmaceutical companies’ shares, particularly those in China.

Shenzhen Kangtai’s market value has surged almost 90% to about $20 billion over the past month, with shares hitting all-time highs on Tuesday. The Shenzhen-listed stock was down 10% on Thursday.

In 2019, the company, whose main products are vaccines for Hepatitis B, flu and measles and rubella, reported net profits of 574.5 million yuan ($82.68 million) on revenue of 1.94 billion.

(This story corrects profit figure in final paragraph)

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Facebook’s TikTok rival comes as Chinese company’s future is in limbo


Facebook Inc. on Wednesday announced its alternative to popular teen social-media app TikTok at a time when the future of its Chinese corporate owner is in limbo.

The unveiling of Instagram Reels continues a long Facebook
FB,
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tradition of rolling out features that have been popularized by competing platforms like Snap Inc.
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and making them available to Facebook’s billions of users worldwide to grab market share. In the case of Reels, it includes a video distribution algorithm similar to TikTok’s that lets consumers see the most popular videos at the moment.

The key, killer feature is the ability to create 15-second videos with editing tools embedded in Instagram’s camera.

“Facebook has a mixed track record when it comes to copying other companies’ features. Many of its attempts over the years have failed,” eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson said. “Instagram did it extremely well with Stories, which it copied from Snapchat. I believe Instagram has a similar opportunity with Reels, but it’s not a guaranteed success.”

In ordinary times, the prospect of Facebook diving into the shallow end of the pool would be daunting but the social-networking behemoth is the least of worries for ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok. It not only is navigating a possible sale of its operations in the U.S. and several other countries to Microsoft Corp.
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but enduring the wrath of the Trump Administration.

Read more: Opinion: Trump has no right to demand money from Microsoft-TikTok deal

President Donald Trump on Monday said he was ready to approve a deal but only if the U.S. government gets a cut of the sale price.

This led to howls of protest from lawyers, who said there was no precedent for such a request. James Lewis, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., told MarketWatch. “Of course we aren’t going to get a cut on the deal”. Lewis said. “It’s just not how it works. The government doesn’t get cuts from a deal.”

Shares of Facebook and Microsoft are flat in early-afternoon trading on Wednesday.





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Exclusive: TikTok’s Chinese owner offers to forego stake to clinch U.S. deal


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: TikTok logos are seen on smartphones in front of displayed ByteDance logo in this illustration

By Echo Wang and Alexandra Alper

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – China’s ByteDance has agreed to divest the U.S. operations of TikTok completely in a bid to save a deal with the White House, after President Donald Trump said on Friday he had decided to ban the popular short-video app, two people familiar with the matter said on Saturday.

U.S. officials have said TikTok under its Chinese parent poses a national risk because of the personal data it handles. ByteDance’s concession will test whether Trump’s threat to ban TikTok is a negotiating tactic or whether he is intent on cracking down on a social media app that has up to 80 million daily active users in the United States.

Trump told reporters onboard Air Force One late on Friday that he would issue an order for TikTok to be banned in the United States as early as Saturday. “Not the deal that you have been hearing about, that they are going to buy and sell… We are not an M&A (mergers and acquisitions) country,” Trump said.

ByteDance was previously seeking to keep a minority stake in the U.S. business of TikTok, which the White House had rejected. Under the new proposed deal, ByteDance would exit completely and Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:) would take over TikTok in the United States, the sources said.

Some ByteDance investors that are based in the United States may be given the opportunity to take minority stakes in the business, the sources added. About 70% of ByteDance’s outside investors come from the United States.

The White House declined to comment on whether Trump would accept ByteDance’s concession. ByteDance in Beijing did not respond to a request for comment

Under ByteDance’s new proposal, Microsoft will be in charge of protecting all U.S. user data, the sources said. The plan allows for another U.S. company other than Microsoft to take over TikTok in the United States, the sources added.

Microsoft did not respond to a request for comment.

As relations between the United States and China deteriorate over trade, Hong Kong’s autonomy, cyber security and the spread of the novel coronavirus, TikTok has emerged as a flashpoint in the dispute between the world’s two largest economies.

ByteDance has been considering a range of options for TikTok amid U.S. pressure to relinquish control of the app, which allows users to create short videos with special effects and has become wildly popular with U.S. teenagers.

ByteDance had received a proposal from some of its investors, including Sequoia and General Atlantic, to transfer majority ownership of TikTok to them, Reuters reported on Wednesday. The proposal valued TikTok at about $50 billion, but some ByteDance executives believe the app is worth more than that.

ByteDance acquired Shanghai-based video app Musical.ly in a $1 billion deal in 2017 and relaunched it as TikTok the following year. ByteDance did not seek approval for the acquisition from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which reviews deals for potential national security risks. Reuters reported last year that CFIUS had opened an investigation into TikTok.

APP SCRUTINY

The United States has been increasingly scrutinizing app developers over the personal data they handle, especially if some of it involves U.S. military or intelligence personnel. Ordering the divestment of TikTok would not be the first time the White House has taken action over such concerns.

Earlier this year, Chinese gaming company Beijing Kunlun Tech Co Ltd sold Grindr LLC, a popular gay dating app it bought in 2016, for $620 million after being ordered by CFIUS to divest.

In 2018, CFIUS forced China’s Ant Financial to scrap plans to buy MoneyGram International Inc over concerns about the safety of data that could identify U.S. citizens.

ByteDance was valued at as much as $140 billion earlier this year when one of its shareholders, Cheetah Mobile (NYSE:), sold a small stake in a private deal, Reuters has reported. The startup’s investors include Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp.

The bulk of ByteDance’s revenue comes from advertising on apps under its Chinese operations including Douyin – a Chinese version of TikTok – and news aggregator app Jinri Toutiao, as well as video-streaming app Xigua and Pipixia, an app for jokes and humorous videos.





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Trump has not ruled out sanctions on Chinese officials: official By Reuters


© Reuters. U.S. President Trump hosts law enforcement briefing on MS-13at the White House in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump has not ruled out additional sanctions on top Chinese officials as a result of actions he took on Monday to punish China for its handling of Hong Kong, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council said on Tuesday.

Trump signed the Hong Kong Autonomy Act on Monday. It allows him to impose sanctions and visa restrictions on Chinese officials and financial institutions involved in the imposition of China’s new national security law in Hong Kong.

Bloomberg News reported that Trump has ruled out additional sanctions on top Chinese officials for now so as not to further escalate tensions with Beijing.

National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot noted that Trump last week issued sanctions against Chinese Communist Party officials for their treatment of minority Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province.

“In no way has he taken anything off the table with respect to further sanctions of party officials for actions in Hong Kong or on other issues. Any suggestion otherwise by anonymous sources is flat out wrong,” Ullyot said.

White House discussions are ongoing about potential targets for U.S. sanctions over Hong Kong and no final decisions have been made, according to a person familiar with the matter.

U.S. policymakers have assembled a list of officials at various levels of the Chinese government and Communist Party, the source said.

Among the names being pushed by some congressional China hawks is Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who has backed Beijing’s implementation of a new draconian national security law in Hong Kong, the source said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the legislation Trump signed, plus an executive order ending Hong Kong’s special status under U.S. law, were justified.

“General Secretary Xi Jinping made a choice to violate the Chinese Communist Party’s promises to Hong Kong that were made in U.N.-registered treaty. He didn’t have to do that and he made that choice,” Pompeo told reporters. “We have to deal with China as it is, not as we wish it to be.“

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.





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India asks court to stymie potential challenge to Chinese app ban By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Smartphone with Chinese applications is seen in front of a displayed Indian flag and a “Banned app” sign

By Aditya Kalra

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s government has petitioned a state court to stop any of the Chinese companies whose 59 apps it recently banned from obtaining an injunction to block the order, according to two sources and the legal filing.

India last month outlawed dozens of Chinese apps including ByteDance’s popular video-sharing app TikTok, Alibaba ‘s (N:) UC Browser and Tencent’s (HK:) messaging app WeChat, saying they posed a “threat to sovereignty and integrity”.

Chinese firms have faced hostility since a border clash that killed 20 Indian soldiers, with Delhi intensifying scrutiny of Chinese imports and any funding from China.

Two sources with direct knowledge of the filing said the government had presented a so-called caveat in the High Court of the western state of Rajasthan, suggesting it expects one or more of the companies to challenge the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology’s ban.

Such caveats are typically filed to prevent a ruling in favour of companies without hearing the government, Indian lawyers said. The filing, which one of the sources said was presented on Friday, has not previously been reported.

“Let nothing be done till the applicants (government) are heard in the matter,” said the court filing signed by Additional Solicitor General of India Rajdeepak Rastogi.

GUARDING CYBER SPACE

The order to ban the apps was passed to safeguard “the interests of Indian mobile and Internet users and ensure safety and sovereignty of Indian Cyber Space,” said the filing, which was seen by Reuters.

It was not immediately clear why the government approached the court in Rajasthan and whether there were plans to file similar petitions elsewhere.

India’s IT ministry and the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Indian courts do not comment on cases.

Previously, China has expressed strong concern about the ban, which could hurt expansion plans and cost jobs, and said it may violate World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.

None of the Chinese companies has yet mounted a legal challenge, with industry sources saying they were waiting for further clarity from the Indian government.

India’s IT ministry recently asked the companies associated with the 59 apps to answer a detailed questionnaire within three weeks on their business structure and data storage practices, the industry sources told Reuters.

The decision to ban the apps has jolted companies like ByteDance, which counted on India as an important growth market for TikTok and had plans to invest $1 billion in the country.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.





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