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U.S. tech-focused hedge funds brace for heavy losses amid market slide

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss and Carolina Mandl

NEW YORK, Sept 15 (Reuters) – U.S.hedge funds that focus broadly on technology investments are bracing for heavy losses this year as gloomier economic data sparked a fresh selloff this week, shrinking hopes of clawing back any significant ground in coming months.

For fund managers, including those gathered at one of the industry’s biggest conferences in New York, MINIBOLA any optimism from last week’s market rally was sapped by a fresh sucker punch on Tuesday as the S&P 500 slid 4.3%.Many funds were already sitting on declines of 30% or more.

Speakers at a panel on the state of the industry at the SALT New York 2022 conference urged investors to stick with their bets, arguing the downturn could become a money making opportunity.

But off stage, the mood was darker.

“It will take a lot of work to get out of this hole,” said David Moon, managing director at Symmetric.io which tracks hedge fund managers’ investments and returns.

Even before this week’s decline, funds that bet on technology and health care stocks were feeling the pain. Whale Rock Capital Management LLC’s main fund tumbled 38% through August while HMI Capital Management dropped 39% in the first eight months of the year.Casdin Capital was off 50% and SoMa Partners was off 31%.

Other prominent fund managers, including some who got their start with the recently deceased Julian Robertson, credited with helping pioneer making money when stocks fall, are also in the red.Coatue Management lost 17% in the first eight months of the year while Maverick Capital is off 27% through August.

Representatives for the funds declined to comment.

“I’ve been through 9 bear markets and they absolutely suck,” said Anthony Scaramucci, managing partner of investment firm SkyBridge Capital and founder of the three-day SALT conference.

The broader S&P 500 Index fell 17% through August while the average hedge fund dropped 4% through August according to Hedge Fund Research (HFR).The HFR technology and healthcare index is down roughly 15%.

Goldman Sachs reported that hedge funds stocked up on tech stocks again last week, making it the most robust buying spree in the sector in seven months.

For many of these funds this year’s losses come after a string of strong returns fueled by a decade long bull market, investors and fund managers said.

And not all hedge fund are faring poorly this year.

Citadel reported that its Wellington fund returned 3.74% in August, bringing its year to date returns to 25.75%.DE Shaw, in its Composite fund, reported a 20% gain to investors. Representatives for the firms declined to comment.

At the SALT conference, poor returns were top of mind, as the focus of the conference also shifted from hedge funds to crypto investments.

Many of the prominent investors who appeared over the years, including Steven A. Cohen, Daniel Loeb, and Ray Dalio were absent. Private concerts and pool-side parties that featured when the conference was held at the Bellagio in Las Vegas were replaced by buffet lunches with pasta, tacos and salad at the cavernous Jacob K.

Javits Convention Center in Manhattan.

Two hedge fund executives who skipped SALT this year told Reuters they were worried about the optics of paying thousands of dollars for a ticket at a time investors were withdrawing capital from their firms.

Greg Jensen, co-chief investment officer at Bridgewater Associates, one of the world’s biggest hedge funds founded by Ray Dalio, echoed the more somber tone.Financial markets had not fully priced the prospect of a recession, he warned, just hours before the market tumbled on Tuesday and slipped more on Wednesday. (Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss and Carolina Mandl; editing by Richard Pullin)

China IPO applications jump, bucking global trend, as COVID curbs ease

By Samuel Shen and Scott Murdoch

SHANGHAI/HONG KONG, July 7 (Reuters) – A spike in listing applications from Chinese companies in June has nearly doubled China’s IPO candidates to almost 1,000, the highest in at least three years, potentially making the country a bright spot for bankers as equity offerings slow in other markets.

The rush was partly due to China’s easing of COVID curbs last month, bankers say.The IPO hopefuls also scrambled to submit their applications by June 30 to avoid having to refresh them with first-half results and further delay the process.

In IPO applications, “financial data has a life of six months, which is why you typically see a rush ahead of June 30, and Dec 31,” said a Chinese banker, who declined to be identified as he was not authorised to talk to the media.

“In addition, many projects were hampered by the COVID outbreaks previously,” he added, referring to the two-month COVID-19 lockdown of Shanghai that ended on June 1.

In Hong Kong, the $1.71 billion listing next week of Tianqi Lithium is a welcome boost for the city’s flagging capital markets but is not expected to be a trigger for more deals as global financial markets remain volatile.

“It’s a secondary listing in a hot sector like batteries. We will need to see more activity before we can declare the IPO market is back,” one banker working on the deal who could not be identified told Reuters.

The strong pipeline in China means the country’s IPO market, the world’s biggest by fundraising in the first half, will keep humming in the second half.Shanghai’s STAR Market was the top bourse in terms of IPO volume globally in the first half of this year.

Among large upcoming IPOs in China, Swiss agrochemicals group Syngenta is widely expected to list on STAR Market by year end, raising an estimated $10 billion in what could be China’s biggest float this year.

Others include Shanghai United Imaging Healthcare Co’s planned $1.9 billion share sale, and an estimated $1 billion listing by U.S.-blacklisted artificial intelligence (AI) company Megvii, according to exchange filings.

Both will list on STAR, and are in the late stage of the vetting process.

Investors are also monitoring a potential IPO revival by Jack Ma’s Ant Group, which sources told Reuters has received tentative green light from China’s central leadership.

IPO MARKET BOOST

Chinese regulators and stock exchanges accepted 444 listing applications in June alone, bringing the total number of IPO hopefuls in the pipeline to 933, according to official data.

STAR Market, Shenzhen’s ChiNext and the Beijing Stock Exchange – China’s three market places that have adopted the U.S.-style registration IPO system – witnessed a 31% jump in combined listing applications compared with the same period last year.

With Shanghai and Beijing easing COVID restrictions, and the central government rolling out economic stimulus, “I expect China’s economy to rebound in the second half, giving a boost to the IPO market,” said Felix Fei, partner at accountancy EY.

China’s IPO pipelines are heavily concentrated in innovative and strategic sectors such as industrial manufacturing, TMT, healthcare and energy, according to an analysis by KPMG.

Louis Lau, Partner Capital Markets KPMG China, said possible domestic economic recovery will “create a favourable environment for fund-raising”, which may also benefit from an expected expansion of IPO reform in China.

In the first half, IPO volume in Shanghai and Shenzhen totalled $46.3 billion, accounting for minibola roughly half of global IPO proceeds, with COVID, economic uncertainty, and rising geopolitical tensions impacting equity deals, according to KPMG.(Reporting by Samuel Shen and Scott Murdoch; Editing by Sumeet Chatterjee and Kim Coghill)

Pegasus Spyware and Citizen Surveillance: Here’s What You Should Know

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For digital spying technology, it’s a doozy of a case. Security researchers have revealed evidence of attempted or successful installations of Pegasus, software made by Israel-based cybersecurity company , on phones belonging to activists, rights workers, journalists and businesspeople. They appear to have been targets of secret surveillance by software that’s intended to help governments pursue criminals and terrorists, minibola and as the months go by, more and more Pegasus infections are emerging.

The most recent revelation is that , according to a July report from , a Canadian security organization at the University of Toronto.  in November.

To try to thwart such attacks, , its iPhone software update due to arrive later in 2022, and into its upcoming MacOS Ventura.

The US government is one of the most powerful forces unleashed against Pegasus — even though the , as reported by The New York Times in January. The US , The Guardian said in February, after a whistleblower said NSO Group offered “bags of cash” for sensitive mobile phone data from a US tech firm, Mobileum. The spyware was found on the phones of at least nine State Department officials who were either based in Uganda or involved in matters associated with the African country, and The in December. 

Pegasus is the latest example of how vulnerable we all are to digital prying. Our phones store our most personal information, including photos, text messages and emails. Spyware can reveal directly what’s going on in our lives, bypassing the encryption that protects data sent over the internet.

Pegasus has been a politically explosive issue that’s put Israel under pressure from activists and from governments worried about misuse of the software. In November, the US federal government took much stronger action,  by putting the company on the government’s Entity List.  but has sought to defend its software and the controls it tries to place on its use. NSO Group didn’t respond to a request for comment, and the Justice Department declined to comment.

Here’s what you need to know about Pegasus.

What is NSO Group?

It’s an Israel-based company that licenses surveillance software to government agencies. The company says its Pegasus software provides a valuable service because encryption technology has allowed criminals and terrorists to go “.” The software runs secretly on smartphones, shedding light on what their owners are doing. Other companies provide similar software.

Hulio co-founded the company in 2010. NSO also offers other tools that locate where a phone is being used, defend against drones and mine law enforcement data to spot patterns.

NSO has been implicated by previous reports and lawsuits in other hacks, including a in 2018. A Saudi dissident sued the company in 2018 for its alleged role in hacking a device , who had been murdered inside the Saudi embassy in Turkey that year.

details some of NSO Group’s inner workings, including its argument that Pegasus is similar to military equipment that countries routinely sell to other countries, the company’s tight ties to the Israeli government and its recent financial difficulties. It also revealed that NSO employees posted on the wall a that concludes its NSO’s abilities “rival those previously thought to be accessible to only a handful of nation states.”

In the case of the Thai activists, NSO Group didn’t comment specifically but told the Washington Post, “Politically motivated organizations continue to make unverifiable claims against NSO.”

What is Pegasus?

Pegasus is NSO’s best-known product. It can be installed remotely without a surveillance target ever having to open a document or website link, according to The Washington Post. Pegasus reveals all to the NSO customers who control it — text messages, photos, emails, videos, contact lists — and can record phone calls. It can also to create new recordings, The Washington Post said.

General security practices like updating your software and using two-factor authentication can help keep mainstream hackers at bay, but protection is really hard when expert, well-funded attackers concentrate their resources on an individual. And Pegasus installations have employed “zero click” attacks that take advantage of vulnerabilities in software like Apple Messages or Meta’s WhatsApp to silently install software. 

Pegasus isn’t supposed to be used to go after activists, journalists and politicians. “NSO Group for the sole purpose of preventing and investigating terror and serious crime,” the company says on its website. “Our vetting process goes beyond legal and regulatory requirements to ensure the lawful use of our technology as designed.”

Human rights group how it traced compromised smartphones to NSO Group.  said it independently after examining phone backup data and since 2021 has expanded its Pegasus investigations.

In September, though, Apple  for installation on iPhones. Malware often uses collections of such vulnerabilities to gain a foothold on a device and then expand privileges to become more powerful. NSO Group’s software also runs on Android phones.

Why is Pegasus in the news?

, a Paris journalism nonprofit, and , a human rights group, shared with 17 news organizations a list of more than 50,000 phone numbers for people believed to be of interest to NSO customers.

The news sites confirmed the identities of many of the individuals on the list and infections on their phones. Of data from 67 phones on the list, 37  or attempted installation, according to The Washington Post. Of those 37 phones, 34 were Apple iPhones.

The list of 50,000 phone numbers included , according to an , though there’s no proof that being on the list means an NSO attack was attempted or successful.

The episode hasn’t helped Apple’s reputation when it comes to device security. “We take any attack on our users very seriously,” Federighi said. The company said it’ll donate $10 million and any damages from the lawsuit to organizations that are advocating for privacy and are pursuing research on online surveillance. That’s a drop in the bucket for for its most recent quarter, but it can be significant for much smaller organizations, like Citizen Lab.

Whose phones did Pegasus infect?

In April, Citizen Lab also revealed that  in the Catalonia region of Spain. NSO Group Chief Executive , which covered the hacks in depth, that Spain has procedures to ensure such use is legal, but Citizen Lab said Pegasus attacks targeted the phone of Jordi Solé, a pro-independence member of the European Parliament, digital security researcher Elies Campo and Campo’s parents, according to the New Yorker. Catalonia is seeking political independence from Spain, but .

In addition to Mangin, had infected phones, The Guardian reported. 

A , wife of murdered Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi, The Washington Post said, though it wasn’t clear if the attack succeeded. But the spyware did make it onto the phone of Khashoggi’s fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, shortly after his death.

were found with infected phones, including five journalists and one adviser to the opposition party critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, The Washington Post said.

And six people working for , Citizen Lab reported in November.

What are the consequences of the Pegasus situation?

The US cut off NSO Group as a customer of US products, a serious move given that the company needs computer processors, phones and developer tools that often come from US companies. that used it to maliciously target government officials, journalists, businesspeople, activists, academics and embassy workers. These tools have also enabled foreign governments to conduct transnational repression,” the Commerce Department said.

 in November, seeking to bar the company’s software from being used on Apple devices, require NSO to locate and delete any private data its app collected, and disclose the profits from the operations. “Private companies developing state-sponsored spyware have become even more dangerous,” said Apple software chief Craig Federighi. That suit came after .

French President  and requested new security checks after his number appeared on the list of 50,000 numbers, Politico reported. He convened a national security meeting to discuss the issue.  with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, calling for the country to investigate NSO and Pegasus, The Guardian reported. The Israeli government must approve export licenses for Pegasus.

 situation. And on July 28,  in person.

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said if the allegations are verified, that  She added, “Freedom of media, free press is one of the core values of the EU.”

The Nationalist Congress Party in India .

Edward Snowden, who in 2013 leaked information about US National Security Agency surveillance practices, called for a  in an interview with The Guardian. He argued that such tools otherwise will soon be used to spy on millions of people. “When we’re talking about something like an iPhone, they’re all running the same software around the world. So if they find a way to hack one iPhone, they’ve found a way to hack all of them,” Snowden said.

What does NSO have to say about this?

NSO acknowledges its software can be misused. It cut off two customers in recent 12 months because of concerns about human rights abuses, according to The Washington Post. “To date, NSO has rejected over US $300 million in sales opportunities as a result of its human rights review processes,” the company said in a .

However, NSO strongly challenges any link to the list of phone numbers. “There is no link between the 50,000 numbers to NSO Group or Pegasus,” the company said in a statement.

“Every allegation about misuse of the system is concerning me,” . “It violates the trust that we give customers. We are investigating every allegation.”

In a statement, NSO denied “false claims” about Pegasus that it said were “based on misleading interpretation of leaked data.” Pegasus “cannot be used to conduct cybersurveillance within the United States,” the company added.

Regarding the alleged infection of State Department phones, NSO Group didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. But it told Reuters it canceled relevant accounts, is investigating, and will take legal action if it finds misuse.

NSO will try to reverse the US government’s sanction. “We look forward to presenting the full information regarding how we have the world’s most rigorous compliance and human rights programs that are based the American values we deeply share, which already resulted in multiple terminations of contacts with government agencies that misused our products,” an NSO spokesperson said.

In the past, NSO had also blocked Saudi Arabia, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and some Mexican government agencies from using the software, .

How can I tell if my phone has been infected?

Amnesty International released an open-source utility called  that’s designed to detect traces of Pegasus. The software runs on a personal computer and analyzes data including backup files exported from an iPhone or Android phone.

China's central bank accepts Ant's application for financial…

By Julie Zhu and Xie Yu

HONG KONG, June 17 (Reuters) – China’s central bank has accepted Ant Group’s application to set up a financial holding company, three people with knowledge of the matter said, a key step in finishing a year-long revamp of Jack Ma’s fintech business and reviving its stock market debut.

The People’s Bank of China’s (PBOC) expected approval of the plan is the latest sign that Ant, a tech giant with financial businesses stretching from payments to wealth management, is poised to emerge from a regulatory crackdown.

The PBOC this month accepted Ant’s application, the sources told Reuters, amid investor minibola hopes that Chinese regulators are easing a crackdown on private enterprises that started in late 2020, as growth slows in the world’s second-largest economy due to COVID-19 curbs.

Ant and the PBOC did not respond to Reuters requests for comment on Friday.

New York-listed shares of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd , the Chinese e-commerce behemoth of which Ant is an affiliate, were up 4% in early trading on Friday.

Although Ant has been working with financial regulators for months on a broad revamp, the central bank’s agreeing to review the application signals the company could get its long-awaited license soon, said the sources, who asked not to be named due to confidentiality constraints.

Chinese authorities abruptly pulled the plug on Ant’s IPO, set to raise $37 billion in the world’s biggest listing, in November 2020, soon after tech billionaire founder Ma gave a speech accusing financial watchdogs of stifling innovation.

Cracking down on Ma’s business empire, the authorities put Ant, whose businesses span payment processing, consumer lending to insurance products distribution, under the revamp.

As part of that overhaul, the PBOC in December 2020 told Reuters in a statement that Ant was drafting a plan to set up a financial holding firm and that Ant should ensure that all its financial operations were placed under regulatory supervision.

Ant had been valued as a tech firm for its IPO, but the forced change to a financial holding company will make it subject to capital requirements and regulations similar to those for banks.

CREDIT-SCORING LICENSE

Reuters reported last week that China’s central leadership had given Ant a tentative green light to revive its IPO in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Aiming to file a preliminary prospectus for the share offering as early as next month, Ant is awaiting final feedback from financial regulators, especially the PBOC, on the set-up of the financial holding firm, one source said.

To formally revive its mega-listing, Ant has to secure the key financial holding license and complete its restructuring, the sources said.

The scuttled IPO marked the start of the crackdown that hit China’s technology giants and was quickly extended to other sectors, including property and private education, wiping billions off market values and triggering layoffs at some firms.

Beijing, however, has softened its stance in the last few months.Vice-Premier Liu He told tech executives last month the government supported the development of the sector.

Apart from the financial holding company license, Ant’s personal credit-scoring joint venture has applied for a permit, as part of the fintech major’s business revamp.

The central bank has mostly finished vetting the credit scoring license, said another source with direct knowledge of the matter, after having accepted the application for the unit in November.

Ant has agreed to establish the JV with partners including three state-owned companies under a plan allowing state-backed investors to take a combined 48% stake in its key asset – a data treasure trove of over 1 billion users.

Ant will own 35% of the venture, and the only non-state-backed shareholder, Transfar Group, will hold 7%, while Hangzhou Xishu will get the remaining 10%, the PBOC said in November.

Hangzhou Xishu is an entity that operates employee stock ownership plans, another source has told Reuters.

But recently, regulators have suggested further tweaks of the shareholding structure to increase the holdings of state investors, with license approval expected after the adjustment is made, said the fourth source.

Ant, via super-app Alipay, collects data from over 1 billion users, many of whom are young, internet-savvy people without credit cards or sufficient bank credit records, as well as 80 million merchants, according to analysts and its IPO prospectus.

U.S.-listed shares of Chinese companies Pinduoduo, Bilibili, Baidu, NIO, JD.COM and Tencent Music were up between 1.6% and 6.2% on Friday.

(Reporting by Julie Zhu and Xie Yu; Ediitng by Sumeet Chatterjee and William Mallard)

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Sadiq Khan says new Met commissioner must recognise `deep cultural…

Juli 24, 2022   Uncategorized   No comments

Sadiq Khan has pledged to block the appointment of a new Met commissioner unless they grasp the “true extent” of the organisation’s “deep cultural problems”.

In what he said was a “personal” mission to change the Met after a series of “appalling scandals”, the London Mayor invoked the Stephen Lawrence inquiry as a model for reform.

Catálogo Bolas 2013 FINAL 8

Speaking at City Hall in London’s Docklands, he called for the appointment of a “reforming commissioner”, four months after the resignation of the previous officer-holder, Dame Cressida Dick.

Her departure opened a rift between Priti Patel and Mr Khan, who nevertheless said he was “hopeful” about working with the Home Secretary to select a new Met boss.

The mayor said: “I won’t support the appointment of a new commissioner unless they can demonstrate they understand the true extent of the cultural and organisation problems.

“London needs a reforming commissioner… I’ll accept nothing less.”

The Met has been rocked by a series of high-profile scandals in recent years, including the murder of Sarah Everard by serving police officer Wayne Couzens, and racist texts exchanged by members of Charing Cross police station.

Noting the reforms made after the Stephen Lawrence inquiry in 1999, which concluded that the Met was “institutionally racist”, Mr Khan called for improved vetting of officers and changes to the misconduct process.

“This judgment was a landmark moment in the history of British race relations, triggering far-reaching reforms to policing, public services and criminal law,” he said.

“There’s no doubt that the police and criminal justice system have made significant and positive steps forward since then.

“But it’s become painfully clear that further reform on a far-reaching scale is now urgently needed.”

Admitting that rebuilding public trust would not “happen overnight”, Mr Khan said after his speech that reforming the police was a “personal” matter.

“It’s really important for the next commissioner, for the police to understand that trust or confidence… is integral to keeping our city safe,” he said.

“It’s personal for me because I experienced the bad old days of the police service in the 70s and 80s.

“I remember the impacts on people of colour, people like me, we heard stories about the police being abusive and minibola misusing their powers.”

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