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Breakfast Briefing: Cybersecurity, Uber’s Woes and an Angry China

LongFin’s Crypto Surge

LongFin’s announced acquisition of a cryptocurrency company prompted a 2,600% stock rally.

Editor’s Remarks: LongFin’s shares soared over the weekend after it announced that it had bought ziddu.com, which it described as a “blockchain-empowered global micro-lending solutions provider”. Seemingly, investors interpreted that corporate jargon as being worth somewhere in the region of $4bn – LongFin’s current market cap. Even LongFin’s CEO, Venkat Meenvalli, was stunned by his company’s swollen valuation, prompting him to comment live on Bloomberg that the recent price moves were not based on the business fundamentals of his company. Before the announcement, LongFin’s stock was trading at $5 per share before shooting to $126 and falling to its present level of $65.

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EU Decides on Uber

The European Court of Justice is set to determine whether Uber is a tax company or not.

Editor’s Remarks: Uber’s seemingly endless pipeline of lawsuits shows no sign of stopping. The ride-hailing app is about to argue in the EU’s top court that it is not a taxi company but a technology platform that connects drivers to passengers. Any decision by the EU will have wide-reaching consequences for other companies that operate in the gig economy across the 28-nation bloc. For Uber, the consequences of an adverse ruling could be dire and might further open up its European market to new entrants. Elsewhere, Uber is being investigated after a British government worker was killed by an Uber driver in Beirut.

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The Guardian Faces Court

The left-leaning newspaper prepares to defend a claim made by Appleby over the Paradise Papers.

Editor’s Remarks: The Guardian has said that it will “defend robustly” a claim made against it by the firm at the heart of this year’s Paradise Papers investigation. Appleby, an offshore law firm, has instructed UK commercial firm Osborne Clarke to go after the Guardian, as well as the BBC, following the leak of millions of documents. Despite keeping a very low profile, Appleby is one of the world’s premier offshore law firms and includes Uber, Apple, Nike, Glencore as well as KPMG, EY and PwC among its clients. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has already expressed his anger at Appleby seeking legal recourse, calling tax avoidance “an immoral scourge”.

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North Korea Behind WannaCry

The US and UK governments have said that North Korea was behind the WannaCry attack.

Editor’s Remarks: The WannaCry attack that infected over 300,000 in 150 different countries earlier this year has been blamed squarely on North Korea by both the US and the UK. One of President Trump’s aides first blamed the rogue state in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, shortly before his claims were corroborated by the UK Foreign Office. North Korea has not commented on these recent accusations. However, in October, the country said that UK rumours that it was behind WannaCry was “groundless speculation”.

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China Criticises White House

China is not happy with President Trump’s national security strategy announcement.

Editor’s Remarks: After Trump called China and Russia “rival powers” in Monday’s announcement, the Chinese foreign ministry has accused the White House of adopting a “Cold War mentality”, insisting that it “abandon outdated notions”. China’s remarks were echoed by the Kremlin, where officials said that Russia “cannot accept” being treated as a threat. Trump’s national security strategy stated that both China and Russia were trying to make “economies less free and less fair”, further reflecting his administration’s controversial “America First” doctrine. Trump’s words appear to contradict the friendship he states he enjoys with Chinese president Xi Jinping.

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