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Breakfast Briefing: Flawed Chips, VW’s Plan and Edotco’s IPO

Glenn Hutchins Speaks on BTC

The Silver Lake Partners co-founder says that bitcoin masks the underlying innovation in blockchain.

Editor’s Remarks: The bitcoin rollercoaster was perhaps the biggest story of 2017 but for Hutchins it is a distraction from what is going on in the wider cryptocurrency world. Although several famous “establishment” names such as Mike Novogratz and the Winklevoss twins have spoken out publicly in favour of cryptocurrencies, Hutchins is probably the biggest finance player to back the burgeoning sector. Through his family office, North Island, Hutchins has made $5m worth of investments in cryptocurrency companies but so far says he has not bought a single bitcoin.

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Fears About Flawed Chips

Tech experts have described a design flaw in nearly all PC and smartphone chips in the last 10 ten years. 

Editor’s Remarks: The world’s leading chip experts say that there is a common flaw in the world’s current computer chips that might expose users to cyber attacks. The problem is deemed to be an architectural one and not something that is the responsibility of individual manufacturers. Intel and ARM Holdings have so far said they are working to solve the issue, while AMD also said that its designs were impacted too. The problem is likely to be solved through an industry-wide effort that will utilise a combined software and hardware solution.

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Volkswagen Joins Aurora

The famous carmaker has joined forces with the self-driving startup to herald the autonomous era.

Editor’s Remarks: The German automaker announced the Aurora partnership in a move that reflects a wider trend of similar joint ventures within the industry. Volkswagen aims to have a fleet of self-driving taxis on the road by 2021 and will launch dozens of test vehicles this year with Aurora. Aurora was started in 2017 by Chris Urmson, who formerly headed Google’s self-driving team, Sterling Anderson, the previous head of Tesla’s autopilot, and Drew Bagnell, who founded Uber’s self-driving unit. In all, Volkswagen aims to spend €34bn to scale up its efforts in self-driving and electric vehicle research in the next five years.

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JD.com Opens a Supermarket

The Chinese e-commerce giant opened its first chain of high-tech supermarkets in Beijing. 

Editor’s Remarks: JD’s move follows Alibaba’s recent foray into physical supermarkets last year, as China’s tech giants diversify their revenue streams. JD’s new chain, 7Fresh, enables customers to use a mobile app while browsing the store, alongside robotic trolleys and screens that display information about the items people pick up. The chain is very much catered to China’s middle class and leverages JD’s exceptional supply chain dynamics, which benefits hugely from the company’s partnership with US giant Wal-Mart. Alibaba, meanwhile, is scheduled to open a further 30 of its Hema stores in Beijing this year.

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Axiata’s Planned $500m IPO

The Malaysian wireless carrier is considering an IPO of its tower unit, Edotco, as early as this year.

Editor’s Remarks: Axiata is Malaysia’s largest wireless carrier and is contemplating inviting banks to pitch for the deal this quarter, according to sources in the company. Edotco’s potential float would be a huge lift to the Malaysian market, which last year hosted $1.7bn worth of IPOs. Alongside Edotco, Malaysia’s Edra Power Holdings is also looking to list on the Kuala Lumpur stock exchange this year. Edotco raised $700m last year in a private placement, which reduced Axiata’s stake to 62.4%. Company insiders also stress that the deal is still being deliberated and the plug could be pulled at any time.

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