Here are this week’s headlines, brought to you by our Student Commercial Awareness Team:
- Huawei Develops AI Chip Amidst US-China Tensions and Scepticism Towards Chinese Tech Goods
Reported by Rui Ci
On Wednesday 10 October 2018, China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, the world’s largest telecom equipment maker, unveiled an AI chip that will power its servers. This marks a push by the company into the domestic public cloud market which is currently dominated by Alibaba.
The chip is meant for data centres that crunch mountains of data and is twice as powerful as its nearest competitor Nvidia’s v100. This will be the first time Huawei uses its own chips in its servers instead of relying on chips from US vendors such as Intel and Nvidia. However, the company will continue using a mixture of its chips and those from other vendors in its servers to cater to various price points.
This development is foregrounded against China’s push to develop its domestic semiconductor market amidst the US-China trade wars. The ‘Made in China 2025’ strategy aims to reduce China’s dependence on foreign technology. Some of the targets put in place to achieve this vision include having locally-made chips inside 40% all smartphones in the Chinese market by 2025. Beijing and state-backed funds have also stepped in to support the chip market. In March 2018, the country’s state chip fund, also known as the ‘Big Fund’, raised an estimated $32 billion of financing.
Huawei’s push to develop its domestic cloud business can be viewed against the growing scepticism of Western consumers towards Chinese tech goods due to concerns about security risks and spying by Beijing. Last week, Bloomberg published a report alleging that Chinese spies had used a malicious chip to infiltrate almost 30 US companies, including Amazon and Apple. Huawei has also been barred from selling telecom gear in the US and from supplying equipment to Australia for the country’s planned 5G mobile network.
- Patisserie Valerie Face Winding Up Order
Reported by Zara Smith
Patisserie Valerie owner has uncovered potentially fraudulent accounting irregularities. Following this, the finance director Chris Marsh has been suspended.
There is investigation into the financial irregularities and HMRC has issued a winding-up petition to seek £1.14 million in taxes against its principal trading subsidiary – Stonebeach. The company has stated there is a hearing scheduled on the 31st October; it is compliant with the HMRC in addressing the petition.
The financial status of the company is now vulnerable; so, it continues to engage with its professional advisers to understand better the financial position. The last trading update for Patisserie Valerie was in May, when its half-year profits were 14.2% up on the previous year at £11.1million and it had cash reserves of £28.8million. However, it is possible there has been mis-statement of accounts, which means its cash position could also be affected.
Patisserie Holdings was listed on the stock market in 2014, however shares in the company have now been suspended. A well-known entrepreneur, Luke Johnson, owns 37% of the shares. Mr Johnson has commented on the situation stating: “We are all deeply concerned about this news and the potential impact on the business. We are determined to understand the full details of what has happened and will communicate these to investors and stakeholders as soon as possible.”
For more information, see here.
- The UK to Support Tougher Punishment on Illegal Wildlife Trafficking
Reported by Jutha Cheewat
The Illegal Wildlife Trade conference 2018 brought together leaders from 80 nations. The goal of this London conference is to tackle the mass trafficking of wildlife deeming it a serious criminal offense.
Theresa May stated clearly that she is supporting the agenda.
“The illegal wildlife crime makes us all poorer, not just those countries robbed of their wildlife, natural habitat, and resources, but all of us who are cheated of our natural inheritance, the rich diversity of our living world […] We need to treat this billion-dollar criminal enterprise in the same way we do other serious and organised crimes.”
One of the challenges in dealing with this particular problem is how States should enforce penalties on international criminal organisations.
At the conference, many initiative projects were put forward. This includes a Wildlife Financial Taskforce. The initiative will, through the assistance of global banks, identify potential money laundering of wildlife criminals.
Another initiative is the Ivory Alliance 2024. The project aims to eventually impose national bans on ivory sales in participating countries.
Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary added that “The interests of humanity cannot be separated from the interests of wildlife – the one depends on the other,” he said. “If we fail to act, quite simply we will never be forgiven.”
The discussion focused on empowering the existing national law enforcement agencies to improve their performances with international co-operation.
Read more here.