Facebook backer logs off with $400m
One of Facebook’s earliest backers has sold a large chunk of his stake in the social network profit.
Peter Thiel, who is also a Paypal co-founder, cashed in 20.1 million shares, raising $395.8m.
The value of Facebook shares fell sharply since their launch. Mr Thiel had already sold shares worth more than $640m during the flotation.
Despite the dramatic fall, Mr Thiel, who owned around 10 per cent of the firm due to his $500,000 investment in 2004, sold his shares for an average of $19.73.
Mr Thiel, who has sold 80 per cent of his holding, but still owns around 7 million shares.
Apple biggest company ever
Apple is the most valuable company of all time, with a market value of approximately $623bn.
The computer maker has now gone past Microsoft’s record of $620.58bn set in 1999. The news comes even before the launch of the iPhone 5, and possibly a smaller and cheaper iPad.
Despite its market valuation, Apple faces several challenges.
The strength of the US dollar against the euro and other currencies makes US-made goods more expensive overseas. Apple also faces competition from Samsung’s Galaxy S3 and HTC’s One X smartphones.
Dell expects downturn
PC maker Dell has expects third-quarter revenue to dip by between 2% and 5% on second-quarter levels.
This follows the world’s third-largest PC maker revealed second-quarter revenue of $14.5bn.
The news caused shares to fall by 3.7pc, to $11.88.
Dell warned of a “challenging” second half for computer sales, but said it was on track to transform its operation. Dell has started to focus more on higher-margin corporate needs and less on the home consumer.
“We’re transforming our business, not for a quarter or a fiscal year, but to deliver differentiated customer value for the long term,” said Michael Dell, chairman and chief executive.
Apple TV almost here
A new Apple-style TV could be here soon.
Microsoft’s Xbox Live service already has a video game system that streams live television directly through its own console.
Linking up with Verizon, FiOS, AT&T’s U-Verse and Comcast, allowed Microsoft to build on its sizable lead in the living room. It has 40 million Xbox Live customers, while Apple has sold fewer than 10 million Apple TVs.
Apple usually takes a 30pc cut of digital content and apps purchased on its devices, and it wants the same deal with its next-generation Apple TV set-top box.
Apple is also not scared of messing with its own partners’ services and revenue streams. Its built-in iMessage app for the iPhone often bypasses text message and the 99-cent songs Apple sells on iTunes has a negative effect on album sales.
E-crime costs UK 200mn pounds a year
Retailers want the Government and police to take e-crime more seriously after a new survey revealed the problem costs UK firms 205mn pounds a year.
The UK is a world leader in online retailing – with the largest internet spend per-capita of any country and 11pc of global internet retail sales.
But retailers lack confidence in the official response to e-crime, which is the biggest emerging threat to the retail sector, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
Of those questioned in the survey, 60pc of firms said it was unlikely they would report any more than 10pc of e-crimes to police.
In relation to the total value of sales, e-crime is twice as costly as overall retail crime.
The most expensive type of e-crime for retailers was personal identification-related frauds, which resulted in 20m pounds of losses in 2011-12.
Card fraud was in second place, with 15m pound losses to retailers during the same period.
Other categories of e-crime include phishing (bogus websites).
After the US, UK brands and companies are the second most targeted in the world.
Economy beats expectations
Thailand’s economy grew more than expected in the April to June period thanks to domestic consumption and recovery in manufacturing.
Growth was 3.3pc in the second quarter, compared to the previous three months. Analysts had predicted growth of 1.7pc.
Thailand has done various things to help domestic demand after last year’s floods.
Compared with the same period last year, the economy grew by 4.2%.
The floods led to factories being shut and production suspended, which hit the country’s exports and manufacturing sector.
New super-speed internet in Asia
A high-speed undersea data cable has opened to traffic in Asia – but it won’t improve speeds in Pattaya.
The 7,800km-long Asia Submarine-cable Express (ASE) connects Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines.
It transfers data via an optical fibre system at 40 gigabits per second, three milliseconds faster than any other cable between Singapore and Tokyo.
That may not sound much to get excited about, but could prove critical to financial trades.
So-called “high frequency trades”, controlled by computers, involve making what may be hundreds of thousands of transactions in less than a second - all determined by a program that tracks market conditions.
Anti-corruption group aims high
A new anti-corruption group has started to look at how to stop graft in Thailand.
Among the aims for the new partnership are to hold regular dialogues about fighting corruption, promoting public advocacy campaigns, and sharing information.
The Anti-Corruption Network (ACN) is a private sector group led by a consortium of Thai businessmen and more than 30 industry associations, which include the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the Thai Bankers’ Association, the Federation of Thai Industries, and the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET).
On Anti Corruption Day in December 2012, UNDP will hold an art exhibition at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center (BACC) featuring anti-corruption themed art from as many as 30 Thai universities. We don’t like to be cynical, but we think it may take more than talking shops to stamp out the truly institutionalised problems that affect Thailand.
Phuket tourism looking strong
C9 Hotelworks, a consulting firm, is optimistic about tourism in Phuket.
C9 said there was an 11pc surge in airport arrivals in the first half of the year for a total of 2.32 million passengers to Phuket. The hospitality industry had a strong 75pcoccupancy rate.
An increase in direct international flights set the stage for a record forecast of 9.3 million passengers travelling through the airport this year.
New flights from China and Russia and low-cost carriers are driving a new era of mass tourism.
The top growth markets are China, Eastern Europe and Malaysia.
Pattaya to get Khmer rival?
Pattaya could be getting a rival as the Cambodian town of Sihanoukville shapes up for tourism.
The tiny town in southern Cambodia has been quietly developing over the past ten years, and now it looks they are speeding up even more quickly. Scheduled flights to Sihanoukville from Siem Reap restarted at the end of last year, and the first ship to cruise the Gulf of Thailand in a decade stopped off there, and with it about 1,000 Chinese tourists.
The luxury hotel chain Marriott will open a resort in Sihanoukville next year featuring an 18-hole golf course and a marina. After finishing a bridge from the mainland to an island a kilometre off the coast, the developer Koh Puos Investment Group has started building a luxurious resort complete with a casino.
Attempts to put Sihanoukville on the tourist map also highlight wider issues that have plagued the tourism industry in Cambodia.
In 2007, Sihanoukville was the scene of an airplane crash which killed all 22 people on board, and that came six months after its airport reopened following decades of disuse following the Khmer Rouge era.
Work on Sihanoukville Airport took place and was finished in 2009, but it took two more years for scheduled flights to restart.
Cambodia Angkor Air (CAA) is meant to be the national flag carrier, but 49pc of it is owned by Vietnam Airlines. That means it has little motivation to develop new domestic destinations and every reason to control Cambodia’s air routes to channel tourists in and out of Vietnam.
Meanwhile, Vietnam Airlines planning executive Do Thi Phuong Trinh said connections between Sihanoukville and Ho Chi Minh City would be decided “based on market demand at the appropriate time”.
As yet, there are still no direct overseas connections to Sihanoukville, while CAA’s only international destination remains Ho Chi Minh City — Vietnam Airlines’ main hub — more than three years after Cambodia’s new national carrier first began flying.
Air Asia CEO Tony Fernandes has publicly complained that airport charges in the country were overly expensive compared to the rest of the region.
Societe Concessionaire des Aeroports (SCA), which operates all three of Cambodia’s air terminals, has offered incentives at Sihanoukville including a waiver on ground-handling fees in a bid to get airlines to fly there.