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Irish Actor Ray Stevenson, Of ‘Rome’ And ‘Thor’ Movies, Dies At 58

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Ray Stevenson, the Irish actor most known for his roles as the wicked British governor in “RRR,” an Asgardian warrior in the “Thor” movie, and a member of the 13th Legion in HBO’s “Rome,” has died. He was 58.

Stevenson’s representatives told The Associated Press that he died on Sunday but had no additional facts to give on Monday.

Stevenson was born in 1964 in Lisburn. After completing the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and working in British television for several years, he made his film debut in Paul Greengrass’ 1998 feature “The Theory of Flight.” In 2004, he played a knight of the round table in Antoine Fuqua’s “King Arthur,” he later played the protagonist in the pre-Disney Marvel adaptation “Punisher: War Zone.”

Though “Punisher” received mixed reviews, he’d get another taste of Marvel in the first three “Thor” films when he played Volstagg. Other notable film roles include “Divergent,” “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” and “The Transporter: Refuelled.”

Stevenson, a 6-foot-4 imposing presence who has portrayed his share of soldiers past and present, once stated in an interview, “I guess I’m an old warrior at heart.”

On television, he played the roguish Titus Pullo in “Rome,” a role that launched his career in the United States and earned him a SAG card at 44. The popular series aired between 2005 and 2007.

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Representatives told The Associated Press that he died on Sunday but had no additional facts to give on Monday.

That was one of the major years of my life,” Stevenson recalled in an interview. “It forced me to sit in my own skin and say, just do the job.” “The job is sufficient.”

According to Brian Lowery’s Variety review of “Rome,” “the imposing Stevenson certainly stands out as a brawling, whoring, and none-too-bright warrior — a force of nature who, despite his excesses, somehow keeps landing on his feet.”

He played Blackbeard in Starz’s “Black Sails,” Commander Jack Swinburne in Germany’s “Das Boot,” and Othere in “Vikings.”

Stevenson also appeared as Gar Saxon in “Star Wars Rebels” and “The Clone Wars,” and will play Baylan Skoll in the upcoming Star Wars live-action series “Ahsoka.” The eight-episode season is scheduled to premiere on Disney+ in August.

Stevenson told Backstage in 2020 that his acting idols were “the likes of Lee Marvin (and) Gene Hackman.”

“Never a bad performance, and brave and fearless within that calibre,” observed Stevenson. “It was never the young, hot leading man; it was men who I could identify with.”

Stevenson has three boys with Elisabetta Caraccia, an Italian anthropologist whom he met while working on “Rome.”

SOURCE – (AP)

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AI Chip Firm Nvidia Valued At $2tn

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Nvidia’s market value has reached $2 trillion (£1.58 trillion), marking a new milestone in the chipmaker’s meteoric rise to the ranks of the world’s most valuable corporations.

Shares of the Silicon Valley corporation gained more than 4% in opening trading on Friday before falling slightly.

The gains built on the company’s impressive earnings announcement earlier this week.

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AI Chip Firm Nvidia Valued At $2tn

The company is profiting from improvements in artificial intelligence (AI), which has boosted demand for its processors.

The company’s turnover doubled last year to more than $60 billion, and CEO Jensen Huang told investors this week that demand was “surging” worldwide.

The corporation, which became worth $1 trillion less than a year ago, is now the world’s fourth most valuable publicly traded company, trailing Microsoft, Apple, and Saudi Aramco.

nvidia

AI Chip Firm Nvidia Valued At $2tn

After shares fell from their early Friday highs, the company’s market capitalization ended the day just under $2 trillion.

Nvidia was founded in 1993 and was originally recognized for producing computer processors that processed images, primarily for computer games.

Long before the AI revolution, it began adding capabilities to its chips that it claims to aid in machine learning, which has helped it acquire market dominance.

It is currently regarded as a vital company to monitor how quickly AI-powered technology spreads throughout the commercial world.

The firm’s stock price has more than tripled the previous year, from less than $240 per share to about $800 in midday trading on Friday.

On Thursday, the day after its earnings release, purchasers snapped up shares, boosting its value by $277 billion, the greatest one-day rise in Wall Street history.

He research has also contributed to a larger market rise, appearing to persuade investors that, as Derren Nathan of Hargreaves Lansdown put it, the AI boom is “living up to the hype”.

nvidia

AI Chip Firm Nvidia Valued At $2tn

“It’s being used in automotive for design, in telecommunications for network planning, and in mainstream companies to figure out and get insights into data that they haven’t been able to get before,” Bob
O’Donnell, a technology analyst based in the United States, told the BBC earlier this week.

“This is now really starting to hit the kinds of companies across the board, not just specialized tech companies and that’s a real tipping point for the industry.”

SOURCE – (BBC)

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Walmart To Acquire Smart TV Maker Vizio For $2.3 Billion In Bid To Boost Its Advertising Business

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Walmart is paying $2.3 billion for smart TV maker Vizio to boost its quickly growing advertising business and compete with Amazon.

If the purchase is completed, Walmart will gain access to Vizio’s SmartCast operating system, allowing the retail juggernaut to offer its suppliers the opportunity to display adverts on streaming devices.

Walmart Connect, which provides marketers with access to Walmart’s large consumer base, has helped the company grow its media and advertising business. Walmart reported on Tuesday that its global advertising business increased by nearly 28% to $3.4 billion last year.

The developments follow Amazon’s announcement last month that it will begin charging Prime members $2.99 per month to keep their films and TV series ad-free, in addition to the $14.99 per month or $139 per year Prime price.

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What does Walmart stand to gain from a television manufacturer?

Vizio’s SmartCast technology has 18 million active accounts and has increased 400% since 2018. The firms claim that Vizio’s platform has over 500 direct advertisers and that ads now account for most of the company’s gross profit.

In recent years, makers of streaming gear, such as Roku and Vizio, have moved their focus to advertising revenue. Vizio established its Vizio Ads business unit in 2019, claiming to be “one of the few connected TV companies with the device penetration, consumer opt-in, and infrastructure to deliver meaningful scale.”

Walmart saw Vizio’s growing consumer base and grabbed the opportunity to develop its Walmart Connect business.

“We believe the combination of these two businesses would be impactful as we redefine the intersection of retail and entertainment,” said Seth Dallaire, executive vice president and chief revenue officer at Walmart U.S.

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Who else is ramping up screen advertising?

Other large streamers, such as Netflix and Disney, have embraced the dual model, allowing them to generate revenue from commercials while simultaneously allowing customers to opt-out for a higher charge.

However, in the ever-changing streaming industry, whether consumers are prepared to pay more to see fewer commercials when they already pay subscription fees, frequently for numerous providers, remains to be seen. Many consumers “cut the cord” and ditched cable TV because they were frustrated with their ever-increasing fees.

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How did the companies’ shares fare?

Vizio stock rose about 15% in the afternoon, reaching $10.96 per share.

Walmart’s stock jumped 3.1% to $175.66 per share after exceeding Wall Street’s expectations with its sales and profit on Tuesday.

Roku, one of Vizio’s primary competitors, saw its stock drop 6.4% by midday.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Samsung Chief Lee Jae-Yong Is Acquitted Of Financial Crimes Related To 2015 Merger

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SEOUL, South Korea — On Monday, a South Korean court convicted Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong of financial crimes related to a disputed merger of Samsung affiliates in 2015, strengthening his control of South Korea’s largest corporation.

The Seoul Central District Court’s decision may relieve the legal issues surrounding the Samsung heir, less than two years after he was pardoned for bribery in a corruption scandal that helped collapse a previous South Korean government.

The court ruled that the prosecution did not provide sufficient evidence that the merger of Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries was illegally carried out to strengthen Lee’s influence over Samsung Electronics.

Samsung's chief is is acquitted of financial crimes related to 2015 merger  : NPR

Samsung Chief Lee Jae-Yong Is Acquitted Of Financial Crimes Related To 2015 Merger

Activists, progressive lawmakers, and observers questioned how Lee could be acquitted of all counts since he had previously been convicted of bribing a prior president to gain official support for the merger. The People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, South Korea’s largest civic group, claimed that the court failed to demonstrate “even a minimal level of social justice” by prioritising Lee’s interests over those of shareholders and pensioners, whose retirement funds could be reduced by the deal, which the National Pension Service approved.

It portrayed the decision as a blow to years of efforts to alter the management culture of South Korea’s family-owned conglomerates and their close ties to the government. South Korean corporate leaders face lenient sentences for corruption, business irregularities, and other crimes, with judges frequently citing concerns about the country’s economy.

Lee was charged with stock price manipulation and accounting fraud, and prosecutors demanded a five-year prison sentence. It wasn’t immediately apparent if they will appeal. Lee denied misconduct in the current case, referring to the 2015 merger as “normal business activity.”

Lee, 55, declined to answer reporters’ questions as he left the court. Lee’s lawyer, You Jin Kim, applauded the verdict, saying it proved the merger’s legality.

S. Korean court acquits Samsung chief over 2015 merger case

Samsung Chief Lee Jae-Yong Is Acquitted Of Financial Crimes Related To 2015 Merger

Lee, a third-generation business heir officially appointed chairman of Samsung Electronics in October 2022, has overseen the Samsung group of companies since 2014, when his father, former chairman Lee Kun-hee, died following a heart attack.

Lee Jae-yong spent 18 months in prison after being convicted in 2017 on unrelated bribery charges linked to the 2015 transaction. He was originally sentenced to five years in prison for offering 8.6 billion won ($6.4 million) in bribes to then-President Park Geun-hye and a close confidante to secure government approval for the 2015 merger, which was critical to strengthening his control over the Samsung business empire and establishing a father-to-son leadership succession.

Park and her confidante were both convicted in the scandal, and outraged South Koreans organised months-long rallies demanding an end to dubious business-political links. The demonstrations eventually resulted in Park’s removal from office.

Lee was released on parole in 2021 and pardoned by South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol in August 2022, continuing a pattern of leniency towards big white-collar crime in South Korea and preferential treatment for convicted tycoons.

Some shareholders opposed the 2015 merger, claiming it unjustly enriched the Lee family while harming smaller stockholders.

There was also widespread outrage over how the national pension fund’s investment in Samsung C&T, the merged business, plummeted by an estimated hundreds of millions of dollars after Park persuaded the National Pension Service to approve the merger.

Prosecutors claim that Lee and other Samsung officials harmed shareholders of Samsung C&T, a major construction company, by manipulating corporate assets to engineer a merger that benefited Cheil, an amusement park and clothing company in which Lee was the majority shareholder.

Prosecutors also said that Samsung executives used accounting fraud to boost the value of Samsung Biologics, a Cheil subsidiary, by more than 4 trillion won ($3 billion), making the transaction appear fair. The court said that the prosecution’s evidence was insufficient to demonstrate that the 2015 merger was carried out illegally or solely to bolster Lee’s influence over Samsung Electronics and that broader commercial factors were likely involved. The court said it was unclear whether the deal’s terms harmed shareholders’ interests adversely, and prosecutors failed to prove that Samsung officials committed accounting fraud. When Lee ran Samsung Electronics from behind bars, relaying his choices through visiting company executives, there was no visible sign of business problems. Nonetheless, South Korean business organisations, like the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, hailed Lee’s acquittal, claiming that prolonging Lee’s legal issues would have harmed Samsung’s speed and decisiveness as it faces increased competition in semiconductors and other areas.

Oh Se Hyung, an official of the Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Fairness, described the verdict as a “collapse in economic and judicial justice.”

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Samsung Chief Lee Jae-Yong Is Acquitted Of Financial Crimes Related To 2015 Merger

“It’s tragic that a wrongful merger and clear accounting irregularities were ruled as not guilty, and you have to question the roles played by the prosecution and the judiciary that led to this,” the attorney general said.

Lee has been navigating one of his most difficult periods as the CEO of one of the world’s major computer chip and smartphone manufacturers, with Russia’s war on Ukraine and other geopolitical instability harming the global economy and deflating technology expenditure.

The business reported a 34% drop in operating profit for the October-December quarter last week, as slowing demand for its TVs and other consumer electronics products offset hard-earned profits from a slowly improving memory chip market.

SOURCE – (AP)

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