News Archive

U.S. judge says Uber withheld evidence, gives Waymo time to investigate

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Uber Technologies Inc withheld evidence in a high-profile lawsuit filed by Alphabet Inc’s Waymo, a U.S. judge said on Tuesday, dealing a new blow to the most valuable U.S. private company as it tries to complete a multibillion-dollar stock sale.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup agreed to Waymo’s request to delay the trial scheduled for next week, saying in San Francisco federal court that it would be a “huge injustice” to force Waymo to go to trial as planned, given the new evidence.

The judge heard testimony from a former Uber security employee, who said Uber deliberately researched competitors and used technology to avoid leaving a paper trail.

Waymo has estimated damages in the case at about $1.9 billion and wants to curtail Uber’s self-driving car program, which Waymo says uses its technology.

Uber has denied using Waymo trade secrets and rejects the financial damages claim, but has fired the leader of its autonomous vehicle division.

The case has threatened Uber’s reputation as a new chief executive has taken the helm, preparing for a 2019 initial public offering and backing a major stock sale this month to an important new investor, Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp.

An Uber representative on Tuesday referred to an earlier company statement, which said Uber “has been waiting for its day in court for quite some time now” and was keen to have a jury hear the merits of the case.

Waymo has accused Uber of concealing a letter from the former Uber security analyst’s lawyer to an Uber in-house lawyer, saying the note contained important facts about the case, according to a court filing on Monday.

Alsup ordered the former Uber security analyst, Richard Jacobs, to appear in court.

At the hearing on Tuesday, Jacobs testified that his letter contained allegations that Uber’s markets analytics group “exists expressly for the purpose for acquiring trade secrets, code base and competitive intelligence.”

Jacobs said he learned of this activity through discussions at Uber with his manager and other colleagues.

Uber employees researching rivals were given training with the purpose to “impede, obstruct or influence any lawsuit against Uber,” Jacobs said, including a communication strategy “to ensure we didn’t create a paper trail that came back to haunt the company in any potential civil or criminal litigation.”

The court hearing was still ongoing on Tuesday.

Waymo sued Uber in February, claiming that former Waymo executive Anthony Levandowski downloaded more than 14,000 confidential files before leaving to set up a self-driving truck company, called Otto, which Uber acquired soon after.

Uber denied using any of Waymo’s trade secrets. Levandowski has declined to answer questions about the allegations, citing constitutional protections against self-incrimination.

The trial had been scheduled to begin on Dec. 4. Waymo said it learned of the new evidence last week after the U.S. Department of Justice shared it with Alsup.

Reporting by Heather Somerville; Writing by Dan Levine and Peter Henderson; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli

Article source:

Wall Street at records as financials rally on Powell comments

(Reuters) – Wall Street indexes edged higher to records on Tuesday after Federal Reserve chair nominee Jerome Powell’s comments on interest rate hikes and deregulation fired up financial stocks.

JPMorgan (JPM.N) and Bank of America (BAC.N) climbed about 2 percent, setting up the SP financial index .SPSY for its biggest percentage gain in more than two weeks.

“When you look at the financials as a group, they probably have a couple of tail winds – in terms of how he (Powell) thinks about regulation and interest rates and certainly the progress being made so far on tax reform,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley FBR in Boston.

Powell, in his confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee, positioned himself as an heir to the central bank policies of current chair Janet Yellen and her predecessor Ben Bernanke.

He also defended the need to potentially lighten regulation on the financial sector.

Data pointing to better-than-expected consumer confidence also helped lift sentiment.

“There is much to like about equities from a macro and fundamental basis,” said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis.

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index for November jumped to its highest in nearly 17 years. The index rose to 129.5 in November, compared with an increase to 124 expected by economists polled by Reuters.

The data follows a report on Monday that showed sales of new U.S. single-family homes hit a 10-year high in October and robust Cyber Monday and Black Friday shopping that pointed to a strong holiday shopping season.

“It is a continuation of favorable expectations for holiday sales. The focus is largely on whether or not this momentum will continue as you move to the end of the year,” said Sandven.

President Donald Trump’s tax cut plan is facing uncertainty, with potential opposition from two Republican lawmakers who could prevent the sweeping legislation from reaching the Senate floor.

Trump was due to lobby Republicans at their weekly policy luncheon in the U.S. Capitol. The Senate was poised for a possible vote on the bill as early as Thursday.

At 12:33 p.m. ET (1733 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 151.86 points, or 0.64 percent, at 23,732.64, the SP 500 .SPX was up 16 points, or 0.62 percent, at 2,617.42 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 21.66 points, or 0.31 percent, at 6,900.18.

Real estate .SPLRCR was the only laggard among the 11 major SP sectors, falling 0.42 percent.

Emerson Electric’s (EMR.N) shares were up 3.01 percent after the company withdrew its offer for Rockwell Automation (ROK.N). Rockwell also rose 2.4 percent.

Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD.O) jumped 6.3 percent to $155.60 as Roark Capital Group, owner of restaurant chain Arby‘s, said it would buy the company for about $2.4 billion.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,784 to 1,045. On the Nasdaq, 1,750 issues rose and 1,098 fell.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Rama Venkat Raman in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Sriraj Kalluvila

Article source:

All change at Ortac Resources

Nick von Schirnding is used to high-profile jobs at companies under intense media scrutiny. His previous roles were at Anglo American (LN:AAL) and De Beers, and troubled London-listed coal miner Asia Mineral Resources (Bumi, for those with longer memories).

Article source:

Goldman Sachs among bidders for Scotiabank’s metals unit: sources

LONDON (Reuters) – Goldman Sachs Group (GS.N) is among around five bidders for ScotiaMocatta, the metals trading arm of Canada’s Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO), for which it is seeking up to $1 billion, sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

Scotiabank began a review of its ScotiaMocatta metals business in 2016 following a string of lawsuits related to the manipulation of gold and silver price benchmarks and due to dissatisfaction over its performance, sources said.

It has since hired JPMorgan in New York to help with the sale process, with the aim of completion before the end of March 2018, they added.

The bulk of ScotiaMocatta’s business is in precious metals and it is one of five banks that clear bullion in London’s $5 trillion a year gold market, the world’s biggest.

Goldman Sachs has been seeking to turn around its struggling commodities unit by hiring a number of executives after reporting the weakest commodities results in its history as a public company in the second quarter.

Goldman and four other banks were part of a group that invested several million dollars in designing and building gold and silver contracts launched by the London Metal Exchange in July.

Three sources said Goldman had put in a non-binding bid for Scotiabank’s metals unit at an auction in mid-November.

“Taking the opposite approach to any other bank, which would scale back after a tough 18 months period … Goldman is keen across all the commodity business to expand their physical franchise and wants to be aggressive on market share and pricing to expand their position,” one of the sources said.

Two of the sources said other bidders included Japanese trading house Sumitomo (8053.T) and Australian bank ANZ (Australia and New Zealand Banking Group) (ANZ.AX). The unit also attracted the interest of two Chinese banks, they said.

Scotiabank, Goldman and ANZ declined to comment. Sumitomo was not immediately available to comment.

ScotiaMocatta is one of London’s main gold trading banks with a history dating back to the 17th century. It was acquired by Scotiabank from Standard Chartered (STAN.L) in 1997 and employs more than 160 people in 10 offices around the world, according to its website.

Market sources put Scotiabank’s annual revenues from the precious metals unit at $100-$180 million with operating margins of around 25 percent.

Sources said Scotiabank was seeking up to $1 billion for ScotiaMocatta.

“A factor in the discussions is whether the buyer gets an indemnity for legal risks as Scotia still has litigation hanging over them,” one source said.

“The purchase price will be affected by whether the buyer assumes that risk or they manage to ring-fence it or leave it with Scotia,” the source added.

U.S. investors sued Scotiabank alongside other four banks in 2014, claiming that they conspired to fix gold prices from 2004 to 2013,

A separate suit was pursued by silver investors against banks including Scotiabank.

Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) agreed to pay a combined $98 million settlement on both suits.

The cases are only some of the lawsuits in which investors accused banks of conspiring to rig rates and prices in financial and commodities markets following revelations in 2012 that the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) had been rigged by British banks.

Additional reporting by Pratima Desai in London, John Tilak and Matt Scuffham in Toronto and Osamu Tsukimori in Tokyo; Editing by Veronica Brown and David Evans

Article source:

U.S. top court weighs protections for corporate whistleblowers

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday appeared hesitant to broaden protections for corporate insiders who blow the whistle on financial wrongdoing and fraud by their employers, with several justices suggesting the law does not cover those who report the violations only internally instead of to the government.

The justices heard an hour of arguments in a case that will determine the scope of a shield against employer retaliation provided under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law to individuals who come forward with information on securities law violations or fraud.

The case involves Digital Realty Trust Inc’s (DLR.N) appeal of a California federal appeals court’s ruling in favor of a fired executive, Paul Somers, after he complained internally about alleged misconduct by his supervisor but never reported the matter to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The San Francisco-based real estate investment trust company, which owns and develops data centers, said the Dodd-Frank law explicitly defines a whistleblower as someone who provides information to the SEC and therefore does not apply to Somers.

The court’s decision, due by the end of June, could have a lasting impact on the willingness of whistleblowers to report violations internally, an important tool in the fight against corporate misconduct.

Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Will Dunham

Article source:

Arby’s owner Roark gobbles up Buffalo Wild Wings for $2.4 billion

(Reuters) – Arby’s owner Roark Capital Group said on Tuesday it would buy Buffalo Wild Wings Inc (BWLD.O) for $2.4 billion, adding to its growing portfolio of U.S. restaurants after a bruising proxy fight over the direction of the chicken wing chain.

Roark, which also owns bakery chain Cinnabon, said in a statement it would pay $157 per share for Buffalo Wild Wings, a premium of 7 percent over the stock’s Monday close.

The chain will become a unit of Arby’s but will continue to operate as an independent brand. Its shares (BWLD.O) rose 6.3 percent to $155.55 in midday trading on Tuesday.

The deal marks the end of a turbulent year for the chicken wing restaurant, which saw it concede three board seats to well-known hedge fund and activist investor Marcato Capital Management. The defeat also prompted Chief Executive Sally Smith to announce her retirement after two decades in charge.

Marcato, which owns a 6.4 percent stake in the wing chain, launched its campaign in July 2016, pressuring the board to pursue strategies that it believed would boost the company’s stock price, which had lagged peers in the previous year.

Marcato, run by Mick McGuire, will vote in favor of the deal announced on Tuesday, Arby’s and Buffalo Wild Wings said in a joint statement.

Roark’s purchase, which including debt values Buffalo Wild Wings at about $2.9 billion, is the latest in a flurry of restaurant takeovers by private equity firms.

In October, casual dining chain Ruby Tuesday was bought by NRD Capital for about $335 million, while Luxembourg-based JAB Holdings took U.S. food chains Panera Bread and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts private over the last two years.

Roark has invested heavily in promoting Arby‘s, running a well-known “We got the meats” advertising campaign featuring Ving Rhames as it battles intense competition in the U.S. restaurant industry.

The private equity firm also owns stakes in burger chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. It will provide all of the equity financing for the deal, expected to close in the first quarter of 2018.

Buffalo Wild Wings reported better-than-expected profit for the first time in a year in October, helped by cost-cutting and a change in its promotional strategy, to overcome a spike in chicken wing prices.

The results boosted its stock price by 20 percent but the shares overall this year have lagged peers such as Wingstop (WING.O), which has risen 31 percent.

Reporting by Sruthi Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

Article source:

Emerson Electric pulls Rockwell Automation bid off table

(Reuters) – Industrial-automation systems maker Emerson Electric Co (EMR.N) said on Tuesday it abandoned its bid for Rockwell Automation Inc (ROK.N) after several rejections, and instead will pursue bolt-on acquisitions as originally planned.

“Clearly, the Rockwell opportunity is dead, and we’re moving on,” Emerson’s Chief Executive David Farr said on a call with analysts, after expressing disappointment in a statement that Rockwell’s board had refused to discuss a potential merger.

Emerson’s shares rose 3.1 percent to $63.82, while Rockwell’s were up 1.7 percent at $194.22 in midday trading.

The move to focus on smaller, bolt-on deals is not new for Emerson. In fact, Farr, who has been at the helm for 17 years, had previously indicated that he would consider only small, bolt-on acquisitions.

Farr said on Tuesday that Emerson would be interested in some assets of General Electric Co (GE.N), if GE looks to sell, and some assets that are now part of GE’s Baker Hughes (BHGE.N).

He said on the call that Emerson would keep trying to strengthen its position in hybrid and discrete automation, but declined to give names of companies it was interested in buying.

Farr said the company would seek bolt-on acquisitions valued at $500 million to $1.5 billion over the next couple of years.

The $29 billion offer for Rockwell, which would have created an industrial automation giant, was Emerson’s bid to diversify its businesses and reduce exposure to volatile energy prices.

Emerson first made an offer of $200 per share for Rockwell in August. It then raised its offer twice – to $215 per share and $225 per share, but was rejected.

Rockwell argued that the offers undervalued it and that the combined company’s industrial customers would be worse off because its products would no longer be available on a single platform.

“The Rockwell Automation Board and management team are committed to the execution of our strategy, which we are confident will continue delivering extraordinary shareowner returns,” Rockwell said in a statement on Tuesday.

With the Rockwell deal falling through, Emerson said it plans to speed up the rate of share repurchases over the next month and buy back up to $1 billion over the next 12 months.

Emerson continues to expect more than $2.8 billion in operating cash flow for fiscal 2018.

Rockwell’s shares have risen 2.2 percent since news of the deal first became public on Oct. 31. Emerson’s shares have fallen 8.1 percent in the same time.

Emerson’s strength is in process automation, helping power plants and factories in sectors such as mining and cement operate more efficiently. Rockwell, on the other hand, is a leader in so-called discrete automation, helping assemble component parts to make cars, household appliances and computer systems.

Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas and Arunima Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Sayantani Ghosh

Article source:

Vale plan paying off: bank

The bank’s mining team has upgraded Vale to overweight (outperform) and would see a 12% improvement in its share price by the end of 2018, to US$11.70 per share, compared to Rio’s 4% increase to $49/share, which has it rated as the equivalent of sector perform.

Article source:

Trevali shuffles executive

The company’s COO of six years, Paul Keller, has moved to the role of VP of major projects and technical support, continuing to lead optimisation and expansion initiatives at operations.

The COO position has been given to Bryant Schwengler, who was general manager at Trevali’s copper-lead-zinc mine in New Brunswick, Canada.

Southern Silver in sight of silver giants

Southern Silver in sight of silver giants

St Barbara: 'Ain't seen nothing yet'

St Barbara: ‘Ain’t seen nothing yet’

RESOURCEStocks QA: Thundelarra's Tony Lofthouse

RESOURCEStocks QA: Thundelarra’s Tony Lofthouse

Vic Gold sets the pace in Yukon

Vic Gold sets the pace in Yukon

Finally, Gerbrand van Heersen has also been appointed as senior vice president of business initiative/development. He was previously CFO of Rosh Pinah Zinc Corp.

Article source: