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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.”

samsung

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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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.

nvidia

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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The Tesla Cybertruck Is Impressive And Worrying

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There was a time when an electric Tesla truck, built to compete with America’s most popular goods, the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado, appeared to be the perfect way to propel Tesla into the mainstream.

Then, in 2019, Elon Musk revealed the Tesla Cybertruck, a bare metal box with wheels. It is the furthest thing from the mainstream. This truck has ardent fans and much more ardent detractors. However, it has good towing and hauling capabilities despite its edgy design limiting its usability. For some clients, the sacrifice is unquestionably worthwhile.

However, it is possible that Ford and GM are overly concerned.

If it’s a popularity contest, they win. Even after I put a rented Tesla Cybertruck next to a hot-pink McLaren supercar in a shopping centre parking lot in California, the McLaren drivers couldn’t stop chatting about the Cybertruck. The large, bright silver truck drew a crowd everywhere I went, attracting both young people waiting to see one in person and others, usually older, who had no idea what it was.

cybertruck

The Tesla Cybertruck Is Impressive And Worrying

The Tesla Cybertruck resembles nothing else on the road. Its size, which is not quite as long as a Ford F-150 but appears even larger, is also striking. Of course, once the Cybertruck has been on the market for a time, its appeal will fade.

There’s much to enjoy about the Cybertruck, but it also represents a terrible amount of personal arrogance in cold, unforgiving steel. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, has prioritized design and technical goals over customer needs and concerns for other drivers’ safety. As Walter Isaacson’s latest biography of Musk explains, Musk’s obsession with this structure, built from the same steel SpaceX uses for rockets, resulted in the rectilinear mass of naked metal that I was driving through the southern California hills.

It was the most enjoyable electric truck I’d ever driven. I’ve driven practically all of the other electric trucks on the market, including Fords and Rivian, and I don’t anticipate any of them outperforming Cybertruck’s sports-car-like performance. Normally, it is not a priority in a pickup. It has exceptional acceleration and steering that feels quick, sensitive, and agile. Its powerful acceleration, fast steering, and custom-designed Goodyear truck tyres reminded me of driving the Lamborghini Huracán Sterrato, a high-performance sports vehicle outfitted with off-road tyres and higher suspension. However, the Cybertruck is significantly larger and heavier.

Even a light tap on the accelerator swiftly pushed everyone else behind. With its drive-by-wire steering system, a tiny turn of its small, rectangular steering wheel produced tight bends at lower speeds, but it was easy to keep the truck in its lane at greater speeds. With four-wheel steering, it can turn around in a smaller area than one may imagine.

Tesla did not provide CNN with a Cybertruck for testing. Instead, we rented one for more than $1,000 daily from Turo, a-to-peer vehicle rental service. (Turo does not determine the rates; vehicle owners do, and Cybertruck charges have decreased slightly since then.) My Turo host guided me through the Cybertruck’s several unusual controls – by non-Tesla standards.

Instead of a stalk, steering wheel buttons control the turn signals. (Again, this is comparable to a Lamborghini or Ferrari.) I swiped up and down on a truck icon on the centre screen to shift the truck into drive or reverse. (If the screen ever goes blank, there is a row of gear selector buttons on the ceiling, right over the windscreen.) And I had to hunt around on the touchscreen to find the control for the Cybertruck’s single massive windscreen wiper. Everything made sense after driving the vehicle for an hour.

So, what’s with the rearview mirror?
It features a rearview mirror on the windscreen, but it is largely ineffective. With the bed cover closed, nothing is visible from the back window.

Many current SUVs include rearview mirrors that double as video screens, displaying a view from a camera installed in the rear. Tesla could have employed a comparable technology but didn’t. The Cybertruck’s back video view is presented in a small rectangle on the truck’s centre screen. It’s always there while you’re driving.

cybertruck

The Tesla Cybertruck Is Impressive And Worrying

This seemingly trivial element reveals Tesla’s approach to car controls. The only justification for having the rearview video display within the rearview mirror is that this is where drivers are accustomed to viewing. Similarly, the only purpose for a turn signal stalk is because it is what people expect. For better or worse, Tesla is okay with what you’re used to.

There are indicators that this mentality contributes to greater crash rates, yet if Tesla were designing a vehicle from the start, the unusual choices would be entirely understandable.

Then there’s the Cybertruck’s unusual shape. Other firms have been producing pickup trucks for well over a century, and there are reasons why they are rarely shaped like wedges. In this case, the Cybertruck’s obvious and unnecessary desire to stand out is a hindrance.

Not suitable for freight.
If you load the cargo bed in the Cybertruck and decide you want to reach anything in the front or back window, you’ll need to begin unpacking. It is not accessible by reaching over the side of the bed. The side wall is too high.

Unlike other large trucks, the Cybertruck has nowhere to put your foot to help you reach over the cargo bed’s edge to save the back tyre, which may be sticky with mud and filth. There isn’t even much room to stand on the rear bumper.

The “frunk,” or front trunk, is a rather ineffective afterthought compared to the one on the Ford F-150 Lightning. Ford’s is just larger and has plenty of power outlets, making it a truly useful office. The Cybertruck is useful as a place to sit. However, there is a reasonably sized storage bin.

For now, the Cybertruck is also more expensive than the Lightning. The Foundation Series truck that I drove cost more than $100,000. It will be next year before Tesla says it will begin building trucks for under $60,000.

Most problematic, however, is the manufacturing quality. The cabin is relatively good, although spartan, but that’s the easy part, especially because Tesla eliminates most switches. The difficult element is creating a body from stainless steel, particularly one with relatively straight edges that do not conceal misalignments.

Body panel alignments are primarily cosmetic in most automobiles and trucks. Having large, irregular gaps between different body portions does not look nice. However, most automobiles are not composed of thick, hard-edged stainless steel. Our Cybertruck’s front corners had openings large enough to see daylight through and hard edges protruding from the body.

cybertruck

The Tesla Cybertruck Is Impressive And Worrying

I was concerned that if this vehicle collided with a pedestrian or if someone slid while climbing over the bedside, the unforgiving metal might inflict serious injury. It’s not knife-edged, but it appears to rip through the skin when it hits soft flesh with enough force. I emailed Tesla to see if they had any issues, but I am still awaiting a response. Tesla has been waiting to respond to CNN’s questions for years.

This is not a truck that customers will buy in large numbers, and it’s not simply because Tesla still needs to produce them. It’s entertaining and engaging, but there’s little need to acquire this instead of something more ordinary and useful for those who want to get the job done. It doesn’t do much better – or at least anything significant – than a Ford F-150 Lightning or a Chevrolet Silverado EV, and it will undoubtedly be worse in several critical respects.

If you want to attract a crowd, this is your ride. At least as long as the novelty lasts.

SOURCE – (CNN)

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In His Annual Letter, Warren Buffett Tells Investors To Ignore Wall Street Pundits

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OMAHA, Nebraska – Warren Buffett credited his longtime partner, the late Charlie Munger, with creating the Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate he is credited with leading, and warned shareholders in his annual letter on Saturday not to listen to Wall Street pundits or financial advisors who advise them to trade frequently.

Buffett said he always writes his letters with knowledgeable, long-term investors in mind, such as his sister Bertie, and attempts to give them what he believes they want to know about Berkshire.

“She is sensible – very sensible – instinctively knowing that pundits should always be ignored,” Buffett wrote about Bertie. “After all, if she could accurately forecast tomorrow’s winners, would she openly share her unique insights, increasing competitive buying? That would be like discovering gold and then throwing out a map to the neighbours indicating its whereabouts.”

Buffett told investors that Berkshire is a safe place to park their money as long as they don’t expect “eye-popping performance” like in the past because there are no attractively priced acquisition targets large enough to make a meaningful difference in the Omaha, Nebraska-based company’s results. However, he stated that Berkshire would be ready to invest $167.6 billion when the casino-like stock market seizes.

Munger, Buffett’s longtime investing partner, died in November at the age of 99, removing one of the key sounding boards Buffett relied on for decades as Berkshire acquired companies such as See’s Candy, Geico Insurance, BNSF Railway and others to reshape the failing textile mill they took over in the 1960s into the massive eclectic conglomerate Berkshire is today.

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In His Annual Letter, Warren Buffett Tells Investors To Ignore Wall Street Pundits

Buffett devoted a portion of last year’s annual letter to Berkshire shareholders to an homage to Munger, but this year’s edition began with even more appreciation for the revered curmudgeon’s services to the company over the years. Buffett stated that “Charlie was the ‘architect’ of the present Berkshire”, who recognised early on that buying excellent enterprises at reasonable rates was preferable.

“Charlie never sought to take credit for his role as creator but instead let me take the bows and receive the accolades,” Buffett said in a statement. “In some ways, his connection with me was like that of an elder brother and a caring father. Even when he knew he was correct, he handed me the reins, and when I made a mistake, he never reminded me of it.”

buffett

In His Annual Letter, Warren Buffett Tells Investors To Ignore Wall Street Pundits

Buffett also discussed how Berkshire’s insurance businesses, such as Geico, excelled last year, but its enormous utilities and BNSF railway underperformed. He also informed shareholders that he has no plans to sell its shares in approximately 30% of Occidental Petroleum and 9% of five significant Japanese trading companies but that he has yet to buy the oil company completely.

Berkshire’s diverse portfolio of operations and the good performance of its investments generated a profit of $37.57 billion, or $26,043 per Class A share, in the fourth quarter. This is more than double Berkshire’s $18.08 billion profit, or $12,355 per Class A share, posted a year ago.

However, Buffett emphasised that investors should mainly overlook such bottom-line figures since the paper worth of its stocks heavily influences them. Instead, he has always encouraged investors to focus on Berkshire’s operating earnings, which exclude investments.

By that metric, Berkshire reported a 28% increase in operating earnings to $8.48 billion, or $5,878.21 per Class A share. This is up from $6.63 billion, or $4,527.06 per Class A share.

buffett

In His Annual Letter, Warren Buffett Tells Investors To Ignore Wall Street Pundits

FactSet Research questioned three analysts, and they expected that Berkshire would report quarterly operating earnings of $5,717,17 per Class A share.

Berkshire’s stock has established several new peaks in recent weeks, reaching $632,820 per Class A share Friday morning as investors eagerly awaited Buffett’s letter. Buffett is admired for his extremely successful track record and the wise advice he has given over the years. His yearly letter is consistently one of the most-read papers in the corporate sector.

Berkshire also repurchased $2.2 billion of its stock in the fourth quarter, bringing the total to $9.2 billion for the year.

SOURCE – (AP)

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