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Iraq PM calls for an end to sectarian divides

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Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi delivers a speech during Baghdad Dialogue Conference in Baghdad, Iraq on January 14, 2017.

Haydar Hadi | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi delivers a speech during Baghdad Dialogue Conference in Baghdad, Iraq on January 14, 2017.

With elections just months away, Iraq’s prime minister has called on the country’s political system to reform itself and move away from its divided past.

Haider al-Abadi, who belongs to the Islamic Dawa Party, said the country was previously lost with political parties built along “sectarian, ethnic or other lines.” But he added that the country is now building a new momentum that appeals to all citizens, regardless of their ethnicity.

“It’s a difficult task but we’re achieving it,” the told CNBC Sunday at the Munich Security Conference.

“This is the first time we’re sending a very very powerful message to everyone, our political system must reform itself,” he added.

2018 could set to be a year of change with parliamentary elections scheduled to be held on May 12, 2018. This will be the first elections since the defeat of ISIS and reconstruction efforts are a key focus for the current government as more than 900,000 people return to communities demolished after years of fighting.

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UiPath rises 17% in NYSE debut after one of top software IPO’s ever

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UiPath IPO at the New York Stock Exchange.

Source: NYSE

UiPath rose 17% in the company’s stock market debut on Wednesday after the software vendor and its investors reeled in $1.34 billion in the company’s IPO. The shares opened at $65.50.

The company, whose software helps businesses automate repetitive tasks, sold shares Tuesday night at $56 apiece, above its expected price range of $52 to $54. At the opening price, UiPath had a market value of $34 billion.

If underwriters buy their allotted shares, UiPath’s offering will be the third-biggest ever for a U.S. software company, behind only cloud database vendor Snowflake, which raised $3.9 billion in September, and Qualtrics, which pulled in $1.78 billion in January after spinning out of SAP. UiPath is hitting the market at a time of rapid growth, as businesses from health care to energy producers look for ways to automate operations in their finance, human resources and legal departments.

Revenue surged 81% last year to $607.6 million, and the company’s loss narrowed to $92.4 million from $519.9 million in 2019. UiPath’s gross margin of 89% is among the highest in software.

While UiPath joins a long roster of high-growth cloud software companies to go public in the last three years, its debut comes amid a shift in investor sentiment. After more than doubling in value last year, the WisdomTree Cloud Computing Fund, consisting of 58 publicly traded cloud software vendors, has dropped 6.7% this year, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average has climbed 11%, as of Tuesday’s close.

One of UiPath’s greatest strengths is its ability to keep customers and encourage them to increase spending over time. In its last fiscal year, UiPath reported net revenue retention of 145%, meaning the average existing customer increased spending by 45% from the prior year.

UiPath, which ranked 50th on CNBC’s 2020 Disruptor 50 list. was founded in 2005 in Romania by Daniel Dines, a former Microsoft engineer. Dines moved UiPath to the U.S. about a decade later and established a headquarters in New York. Roughly one-quarter of its 2,863 full-time employees are based in Bucharest, Romania.

The stock is trading on the New York Stock Exchange under ticker symbol “PATH.” Dines controls 88% of voting shares and is the largest stakeholder, with over 110 million shares valued at $6.2 billion, based on the IPO price and including some shares sold in the offering.

WATCH: UiPath CEO Daniel Dines on its public debut

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Uber and Just Eat Takeaway CEOs spar as European food delivery battle heats up

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Uber Eats delivery

Jonathan Raa | NurPhoto via Getty Images

LONDON — The CEOs of Uber and Just Eat Takeaway on Wednesday became engaged in a public spat after Uber announced it is planning to launch in Germany — a market that is currently dominated by Just Eat Takeaway.

Uber Eats will launch in Berlin in the next few weeks and potentially expand into other German cities in the coming months. The news was first reported by The Financial Times and confirmed to CNBC.

Just Eat Takeaway CEO Jitse Groen accused Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi of trying to “depress” his firm’s share price on Twitter on Wednesday. Shares of Just Eat Takeaway closed down almost 3%.

Khosrowshahi responded: “Advice: pay a little less attention to your short term stock price and more attention to your Tech and Ops.”

Shortly thereafter, Groen replied: “If I may … start paying taxes, minimum wage and social security premiums before giving a founder advice on how he should run his business.”

Uber operates its ride-hailing service in 13 cities across Germany but the company has never launched Uber Eats in what it views as a strategically important market. 

A spokesperson for Uber told CNBC: “As part of our ongoing investment in Germany, we’re excited to be launching Uber Eats to unlock the full potential of Uber’s mobility and delivery platform.”

“Based on feedback from restaurants and communities, we believe there is strong demand for more food delivery services and a more competitive market. We look forward to helping consumers, restaurants and workers access the benefits of the Uber Eats marketplace very soon.”

In Europe, Uber Eats is currently available in the U.K., France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and Ireland. Approximately 24 million people used the app to order food from around 126,000 restaurants in Europe last year, as lockdowns resulted in more people ordering takeaways.

“Europe in particular has been a bright spot for (Eats), both in terms of some of the growth we’ve seen, but also, frankly, in terms of the strengthening of our market position,” Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, Uber’s senior vice president of delivery, reportedly told The Financial Times.

He added that Just Eat Takeaway is effectively “dominating” the German market despite its “extraordinarily high” commission rates, according to the report. “That translates into consumers and merchants actually being quite desperate for additional options,” he said.

Uber Eats takes a commission of up to 30% on each order, depending on the services that it provides.

Uber Eats hasn’t gone down well everywhere it’s been launched. The service was pulled from India last year and South Korea in 2019. Operations have also shut down or sold in parts of eastern Europe, South America and Africa.

Uber, which is hoping to reach profitability for the first time this year, said its food delivery couriers in Germany will be employed by fleet management companies that are contracted to Uber.

The company will pay the fleet management firms for each order they carry out and it’s up to them to decide how they pay their employees.

Competition in food delivery

Britain’s Just Eat and the Netherland’s Takeaway.com announced they were planning to merge in July 2019 as part of a £9 billion (dollar conversion) deal.

Others have tried and failed to go up against Just Eat Takeaway in Germany including U.K.-headquartered Deliveroo, which pulled out of Germany in 2019 to focus on other markets.

Last June, Just Eat Takeaway, one of the largest food delivery businesses in the world, announced plans to merge with Grubhub in the U.S. after Grubhub’s talks with Uber fell through.

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U.N. experts say life in danger, call for medical evacuation

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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, accused of flouting the terms of a suspended sentence for embezzlement, attends a court hearing in Moscow, Russia February 2, 2021.

Moscow City Court | Reuters

WASHINGTON – United Nations human rights experts called for the immediate medical evacuation of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny from Russia, citing concerns over his deteriorating health and prison conditions that they say may amount to torture.

“We believe Mr. Navalny’s life is in serious danger,” the group wrote in a statement Wednesday. “We are deeply troubled that Mr. Navalny is being kept in conditions that could amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in a facility that reportedly does not meet international standards,” the statement added.

“We urge the Russian authorities to ensure Mr. Navalny has access to his own doctors and to allow him to be evacuated for urgent medical treatment abroad, as they did in August 2020. We reiterate that the Russian Government is accountable for Mr. Navalny’s life and health while he is in detention,” the group added.

A Russian court in February sentenced Navalny to more than two years in jail for parole violations, charges he said were politically motivated. His detention came after spending nearly half a year in Germany recovering from a nerve agent poisoning that took place last August.

The Kremlin has denied any role in Navalny’s poisoning. On the heels of his arrest and subsequent detention, the West called on the Kremlin for Navalny’s immediate release.

Navalny, one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most vocal critics in recent years, was transferred to a prison hospital on April 19, three weeks into a hunger strike protesting against his treatment in prison and denial of urgent medical treatment.

Russian authorities had previously said that they offered Navalny medical care but that he continued to refuse it. The prison had declined to allow a doctor of Navalny’s choice from outside of the facility to administer his treatment.

On Sunday, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that the Biden administration warned the Russian government to not let Navalny die in custody.

“We have communicated to the Russian government that what happens to Mr. Navalny in their custody is their responsibility and they will be held accountable by the international community,” Sullivan said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program.

“We have communicated that there will be consequences if Mr. Navalny dies,” he added.

Confrontation over Navanly’s imprisonment and worsening health condition is the latest drumbeat in the already tense relations between Moscow and the West.

In an annual address on Wednesday, Putin warned countries of crossing Russia’s “red lines” as international pressure mounts over a massive military buildup on the border with Ukraine.

In March, the United States sanctioned seven members of the Russian government for the alleged poisoning and subsequent detention of Navalny. The sanctions were the first to target Moscow under U.S. President Joe Biden’s leadership. The Trump administration did not take action against Russia over the Navalny situation.

Last week, the Biden administration slapped Russia with another round of U.S. sanctions for human rights abuses, sweeping cyberattacks and attempts to influence U.S. elections.

In an address announcing the new measures, Biden said he was prepared to take further actions against Moscow.

“If Russia continues to interfere with our democracy, I’m prepared to take further actions to respond. It is my responsibility as president of the United States to do so,” Biden said from the White House.

Washington also expelled 10 officials from Russia’s diplomatic mission in the United States.

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