Sun, Jan 15, 2017 - Page 14 News List

World Business Quick Take

Agencies

RATINGS AGENCIES

Moody’s to settle with US

Ratings agency Moody’s Corp has agreed to pay about US$864 million in a settlement with US authorities over its inflated ratings of risky mortgage securities that contributed to prompting the 2008 global financial crisis, the US Department of Justice said on Friday. The agreement was signed between Moody’s Investors Services, Moody’s Analytics and parent company Moody’s Corp, and 21 US states and the justice department. The authorities accused the credit rating agency of overvaluing the ratings of securities backed by subprime mortgages or at-risk loans at the center of the US’ worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

FRANCE

Fillon urges privatizations

Francois Fillon, the conservative politician seen by opinion polls as most likely to win the presidential election this year, said Paris should sell state stakes in firms deemed not to have a strategic importance for the country. “The state should only be a shareholder in strategic companies,” Fillon said in an interview with French magazine Capital. He also told the magazine that the nation“must not show any signs of weakness” in terms of ensuring its technology companies could challenge bigger international rivals such as Google, Apple Inc, Facebook Inc and Amazon.com Inc.

RIDE-HAILING

Russians to pay Uber VAT

Uber Technologies Inc has asked its Russian drivers to temporarily bear the load of a new tax charge, causing some of them quit to avoid paperwork and tax filings. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law in July last year to levy an 18 percent value-added tax on electronic goods and services provided by global Internet companies starting this year. Uber has passed these duties on to its drivers, requiring them to pay the VAT on the company’s service fee. Uber would later reimburse them these payments, it said, adding that the company would refrain from raising prices for passengers.

UNITED KINGDOM

Nissan to test driverless car

Japanese automaker Nissan Motor Co said it is to conduct its first European real-world trials of self-driving cars in London, choosing the nation just months after it said it would build two new models in the country despite concerns over Brexit. The government has said it wants to encourage the development and testing of autonomous driving technology in the nation, helping build an industry to serve a worldwide market it says could be worth about £900 billion (US$1.1 trillion) by 2025.

TECHNOLOGY

Microsoft to buy Maluuba

Microsoft Corp on Friday announced a deal to buy Maluuba, a Montreal start-up focused on making machines able to think the way people do. Bringing on board Maluuba cofounders Kaheer Suleman and Sam Pasupalak, along with their team from the start-up, was intended to accelerate Microsoft’s “ability to develop software so computers can read, write and converse naturally,” the company said. “Maluuba’s vision is to advance toward a more general artificial intelligence by creating literate machines that can think, reason and communicate like humans,” Microsoft artificial intelligence and research group executive vice president Harry Shum said.

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