Sunday, September 7, 2014

Alibaba seeks to raise $24.3bn in IPO record; India and the jihadi battle of brands; Internet crash in New Zealand over fake links to nude celebrities

1 Alibaba seeks to raise $24.3bn in IPO record (San Francisco Chronicle) China's Alibaba Group is seeking to raise up to $24.3 billion in its upcoming IPO — an amount that would be the most raised by a company in a stock market debut.

The e-commerce company and its early investors are hoping to sell up to 368 million shares for $60 to $66 apiece, according to a regulatory filing late Friday that sets the stage for Alibaba Group Ltd. to make its long-awaited debut on the New York Stock Exchange later this month.

Alibaba has emerged as a hot commodity because of its e-commerce bazaar, a shopping magnet for businesses and consumers alike as China's economy steadily grows. Most of Alibaba's 279 million active buyers visit the sites at least once a month on smartphones and other mobile devices, making the company attractive to investors as computing shifts away from laptop and desktop machines.

At $66 per share, Alibaba would debut with a market value of $163 billion. That would be more than all but a handful of technology companies, a testament to Alibaba's stunning growth since former schoolteacher Jack Ma started the company in his apartment 15 years ago. The fundraising target eclipses the $16 billion Facebook raised in 2012, the most for a technology IPO. It also would top the all-time IPO fundraising record of $22.1 billion set by the Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. in 2010, according to the research firm Dealogic.

Yahoo stands to make almost as much money from the IPO as Alibaba does. The US company, which has been struggling to grow for years, is in line for a windfall of $7.3 billion to $8 billion by selling 121.7 million of is Alibaba shares. Yahoo has said it intends to distribute at least one half of its take from the Alibaba IPO to its own shareholders. That leaves open the possibility that Yahoo will use the remaining chunk of money to make acquisitions that could help its own revenue growth.

2 India and the jihadi battle of brands (Andrew North on BBC) In the global battle of jihadi brands, Osama Bin Laden's successor appears to be trying to win back ground from Islamic State (IS). Al-Qaeda has never had any success recruiting from India, despite its huge 180 million-strong Muslim population.

In fact, there has been speculation it never tried too hard in the past for fear of opening up another front with the country's massive Hindu majority. Which makes Ayman al-Zawahiri's video announcement of a new al-Qaeda wing for the Indian subcontinent look all the more desperate. But even before IS burst into global consciousness this year with its Iraq blitzkrieg, al-Qaeda in general and Zawahiri in particular had been struggling to fill the vacuum left by Bin Laden's death.

Now al-Qaeda is feeling the pressure from IS in the heart of its old stronghold in the Afghan-Pakistan borderlands. While Zawahiri's announcement seems primarily aimed at India, the man he named as the new leader of al-Qaeda's South Asia wing, Asim Umar, is reportedly a Pakistani. There have been reports of an IS recruitment drive in some Indian states too.

And where al-Qaeda failed in India, IS seems to have had some moderate success. In May, it emerged that four young Indian Muslims living near Mumbai had travelled to Iraq to join the group after reportedly being recruited online.

The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not directly reacted to Zawahiri's video message so far, saying it wants to verify it first. Since the bloodletting of partition in 1947, India's Muslims have for the most part been Indians first and Muslims second, trusting to the country's secular promises. But with IS and al-Qaeda in effect choosing India as a new battleground, those ideals could be facing a serious challenge.

3 Internet crash in New Zealand over fake links to nude celebrities (Straits Times) New Zealanders keen to view hacked photos of naked celebrities are being blamed for a nationwide Internet meltdown involving the country's main provider.

It is believed a handful of computer users clicked links on Friday evening believing they would take them to the illicit images, but instead they inadvertently installed malware triggering a crippling Internet attack.

It took telecommunications giant Spark, the rebranded Telecom Corp., until Sunday to fully repair what it termed a "dynamic" cyber-attack that overloaded its system covering more than 600,000 customers. The intimate celebrity photos, which included actress Jennifer Lawrence and singers Avril Lavigne and Rihanna, were stolen from a cloud storage system.

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