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Tech, Media & Telecom Roundup: Market Talk

21 Mar 2018 8:20 am

The latest Market Talks covering Technology, Media and Telecom. Published exclusively on Dow Jones Newswires at 4:20 ET, 12:20 ET and 16:50 ET.

0752 GMT - Vivendi ceases its power struggle with Ubisoft, selling its stake in the French videogame maker and letting Ubisoft escape the potential takeover it has been dreading since Vivendi first bought a stake in the company in 2015. Ubisoft opposed Vivendi's moves to build its stake and to the company taking any board positions, saying Vivendi would destroy shareholder value. While the sale represents a reversal for Vivendi, the EUR2 billion sale price compares favorably with the EUR794 million Vivendi spent on the 27.27% stake over three years. (sarah.sloat@wsj.com)

0444 GMT - Despite tough competition from Reliance Jio, India's incumbent wireless providers saw strong subscriber growth last month. Idea Cellular added 4.4 million while the country's biggest player, Bharti Airtel, got 4.2 million new subscribers. Most are likely from smaller players who are either shutting down operations or on the verge of doing so, says Jefferies. Jio hasn't disclosed its February figures, and the investment bank calls that firm key. While customer growth is good, it likely won't help earnings as industry revenue/user is set to remain under pressure given the competitive environment. Jefferies sees a gradual recovery starting in mid-FY20. Bharti shares are up more than 3% and Idea gains some 1.5%. (debiprasad.nayak@wsj.com)

2218 GMT -- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said it is again suspending fast-track consideration of H-1B visa petitions, a move that may slow the hiring of high-tech workers. The system allowed companies that pay a fee to get fast consideration of visa applications, but that option will be suspended during the months when most of the applications are processed. The agency said the decision will help it "reduce overall H-1B processing times." It said expects to resume fast-track processing on Sept. 10. The H-1B program is heavily used by U.S. tech firms such as Amazon.com and Microsoft, as well as outsourcing companies such as Infosys and Wipro. (laura.meckler@wsj.com)

2215 GMT - The benchmark IPC index closes down 0.8% at 47,076 points, while the Mexican peso weakens against the US dollar, as investors adopt a cautious stance ahead of the US Federal Reserve's policy decision this week. Some analysts believe the Fed could signal a faster pace of interest rate rises for the coming months, which is bad news for risky assets. The peso closed in Mexico City at 18.7625 to the greenback, compared to 18.6880. Telecom giant America Móvil down 0.3%, while bread-maker Bimbo gains 0.9%. Local markets were closed Monday as Mexicans celebrated former President Benito Juárez's birthday. (juan.montes@wsj.com)

2150 GMT - Elon Musk's SpaceX is in preliminary talks with Los Angeles port authorities to secure a major new manufacturing facility--including construction of a proposed building more than 100 feet high--to make what has been officially described as large, "commercial transportation vessels." Documents filed with the port, including discussion of assembling composite parts, suggest the goal is to turn out the company's planned BFR rocket. Slated to be reusable and ultimately intended for exploring deep space, the rocket and its spaceship require an assembly site close to water because they would be too large for road vehicles to transport to a launch pad. SpaceX has confirmed its interest, without detailing what would be built. (andy.pasztor@wsj.com)

2054 GMT - Ubisoft Entertainment says Tencent Holdings will publish several of its PC and mobile games in China, creating an opportunity for the French company to reach a massive audience. Last year, game-software revenue reached $32.5B in China, making it the top ranking country in the world by game revenue, ahead of the US and Japan, according to industry tracker Newzoo. Ubisoft is the company behind Assassin's Creed and other popular videogame franchises. It didn't identify which of its games Tencent will be publishing in China or say when. (sarah.needleman@wsj.com; @saraheneedleman)

2048 GMT - Canadian stocks closed higher on Tuesday, as gains in the energy and information technology sectors offset losses in health care and metals and mining. The S&P/TSX Composite Index was up 26.97 points, or 0.2%, to 15616.36. The blue-chip S&P/TSX 60 Index edged up to 923.47. Trading volume was 323.8M, as declines outpaced advances 804 to 792. (maria.armental@wsj.com; @mjarmental)

2019 GMT - Ride-hail firm Lyft has hired two executives from Alphabet's Google. Nilka Thomas joins as vice president of talent and inclusion, overseeing recruiting and employee relations as well as diversity initiatives. She held HR roles at Google for the last 14 years, including her last position as Director of Global Diversity, Integrity & Governance. Lyft also hires Sam Arons as director of sustainability, to oversee climate impact efforts. He was previously Senior Lead, Energy & Infrastructure at Google. (lauren.weber@wsj.com; @laurenweberWSJ)

2013 GMT - Vivendi decided to sell its entire majority stake in Ubisoft Entertainment because the videogame company made "a wonderful offer," Simon Gillham, a spokesman for Vivendi, tells the WSJ. "We felt that the situation was at a standstill and we're delighted the Guillemot brothers came up with an amicable proposal." France's Guillemot family founded Ubisoft three decades ago and in 2016 it enlisted advisory firm Lazard to help fend off any unsolicited approach from Vivendi. Ubisoft had been watching Vivendi increasingly buy up its shares, and concerns of a takeover attempt intensified when Vivendi made a successful tender offer for another French videogame company, Gameloft SE. Gillham says Vivendi will make a profit of roughly 1.2B euros under the deal with Ubisoft, and that it plans to continue having a presence in the more than $100B global videogame industry. (sarah.needleman@wsj.com)

1940 GMT - Senior official at National Highway Traffic Safety Administration withholds judgment on cause of fatal crash involving Uber self-driving car that killed pedestrian in Tempe, Ariz. "I do not have preliminary views," said Heidi King, deputy administrator at the US agency charged with overseeing roadway safety during Tuesday Senate hearing. "I await the details of the investigation and the findings regarding the accident before making judgement on any particular event," she said, adding "open investigation" constrains her from sharing certain details. Agency has dispatched special crash investigation team to Arizona and is in contact with Uber; federal, state and local authorities; and Volvo, the car maker Uber relies on for its driverless vehicles. No signs yet of specific safety-defect probe at the agency yet, with King reiterating that regulators will "review information and proceed as warranted." (mike.spector@wsj.com; @MikeSpectorWSJ)

1911 GMT - Blue Apron down 4% on news meal-kit rival HelloFresh will buy Green Chef Corporation. Berlin-based HelloFresh is slated to get a roughly $60M boost in annual revenues from the deal expected to close soon. Analysts have expected consolidation in the meal-kit industry given the rise in competition from stand-alone services and boxes now for sale by major retailers. (heather.haddon@wsj.com; @heatherhaddon)

1824 GMT - Ubisoft says Vivendi has agreed to sell its entire stake in the videogame company, putting an end to a several years-long threat of a hostile takeover. Vivendi will sell its more than 30.5M shares, which represent 27.3% of Ubisoft's share capital in a transaction that includes two new long-term investors, one of which is videogame giant Tencent Holdings, Ubisoft says. In recent years, Vivendi had been increasing its stake in the maker of "Assassin's Creed" and other popular videogame franchises, and eventually it became the French company's leading shareholder. Ubisoft began bracing for a possible takeover attempt, in part because that is how Vivendi in June successfully bought Gameloft in May 2016. "We won't relax until they sell their shares," Yves Guillemot, co-founder, and chief executive of Ubisoft, told the WSJ in September 2016, just prior to a company shareholder meeting. (sarah.needleman@wsj.com; @saraheneedleman)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 21, 2018 04:20 ET (08:20 GMT)

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