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Google, Facebook, Apple news should be regulated: UK government report

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The U.K. report’s findings could add weight to the case for further regulation of tech companies in Britain and across Europe. The recommendations in the report are non-binding and will now be considered by the U.K. government.

The report called on the U.K.’s competition authority to investigate the online advertising industry to “ensure fair competition.” Google and Facebook accounted for an estimated 54 percent of online advertising revenue in the U.K. in 2017.

“The government must take steps to ensure the position of Google and Facebook does not do undue harm to publishers,” the report said.

Last week Germany’s antitrust watchdog ruled Facebook had abused its market dominance in how it collects and merges user data. The authority said Facebook cannot combine data from separate apps like Instagram and WhatsApp without users’ consent. Facebook said it is appealing the decision.

Legal experts say antitrust authorities in Europe may be well-placed to lead the charge against tech companies in the region.

“Competition agencies are often more experienced and better resourced than data protection agencies and hence in a better position to successfully build the case against a big company like Facebook,” said Anu Bradford, a professor and director of the European Legal Studies Center at Columbia Law School, in an email to CNBC last week.

The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, is currently investigating Google for antitrust violations in its advertising business. The Commission has already levied two record fines on the company for abusing antitrust rules with its Android devices and its comparison shopping service.

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China eyeing Trump’s late May Japan trip for potential Xi summit

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As the U.S. and China work through the final stages of trade negotiations, Chinese officials are identifying international travel dates on President Donald Trump’s calendar that might offer potential for a summit off of U.S. soil, according to three sources briefed on negotiations.

One trip in particular that’s risen to the top of the list: Trump’s expected visit to Japan at the end of May, putting him in the Asia-Pacific region around the time negotiations are expected to conclude.

Neither the White House nor the Embassy of Japan would confirm the trip, in which Trump would be the first foreign leader received by Crown Prince Naruhito after he accedes to the throne on May 1.

But the three sources briefed on the negotiations, requesting anonymity to protect their relationships with the Trump administration, said it’s one option being considered. An administration official acknowledged holding the summit in Asia is China’s preference, though it remains unclear where the final location will be. Trump has said the summit could happen on either continent and that he expects a resolution by the end of May.

“I would say we’ll know over the next four weeks,” Trump told reporters gathered in the Oval Office on April 5 for an event with the Chinese vice premier. “It may take two weeks after that to get it papered, but over the next fairly short period of time, we’re going to know.”

While that timeline would put the target end date right around Trump’s trip to Japan, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said talks would not be bound by an “arbitrary timeline,” and the South China Morning Post threw cold water on a deal being done by then.

Erin Ennis, senior vice president at the US-China Business Council, suggested a later June meeting – perhaps on the sidelines of the G20 at the end of the month – would be more feasible.

“It seems like both sides want to have the deal completed first before they’re willing to discuss when and where a summit would happen,” Ennis told CNBC.

In late January, China initially invited Pres. Trump to meet Pres. Xi on the island of Hainan in the South China Sea. The White House countered with Mar-a-Lago, one venue that still remains under consideration. But China has also suggested that if its president were to travel to the U.S. solely to announce a trade agreement, it would need to be in the form of an official state visit. The two sides have been discussing a potential state visit by Xi since 2018.

The May 26-28 trip was previously reported by the Japan Times.

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Peru’s ex-president Garcia dies after shooting himself to avoid arrest

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The former president of Peru, Alan Garcia, speaks during the First International Meeting of the Pacific Basin, in Cali, Colombia, on October 5, 2011.

Luis Robayo | AFP | Getty Images

The former president of Peru, Alan Garcia, speaks during the First International Meeting of the Pacific Basin, in Cali, Colombia, on October 5, 2011.

Peru’s former president Alan Garcia died in a hospital in Lima on Wednesday, hours after shooting himself in the head to avoid arrest in connection with a bribery probe, authorities said on Wednesday.

Garcia was 69.

A skilled orator elected president twice, first as a firebrand leftist and then as a champion of foreign investment and free trade, Garcia had been dogged by allegations of corruption in recent years that he repeatedly denied.

Garcia had been one of nine people a judge had ordered to be arrested on Wednesday for alleged involvement in bribes distributed by Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction company that triggered Latin America’s biggest graft scandal when it admitted in 2016 that it had paid kickbacks to politicians across the region to secure lucrative contracts.

Members of his party announced his death to crowds gathered outside of hospital Casimiro Ulloa, where he suffered three cardiac arrests and underwent emergency surgery.

President Martin Vizcarra said on Twitter that he was “consternated” by Garcia’s death, and sent his condolences to his family members.

Garcia governed as a nationalist from 1985 to 1990 before remaking himself as a free-market proponent and winning another five-year term in 2006.

He had denied wrongdoing involving Odebrecht, and blamed his legal troubles on political persecution.

“Others might sell out, not me,” Garcia said in broadcast comments on Tuesday, repeating a phrase he has used frequently as his political foes became ensnared in the Odebrecht investigation.

Interior Minister Carlos Moran said at a news conference before Garcia died that the former president had told police he needed to call his attorney after they arrived at his home in Lima to arrest him.

“He entered his room and closed the door behind him,” Moran said. “Within a few minutes, a shot from a firearm was heard, and police forcibly entered the room and found Mr. Garcia sitting with a wound in his head.”

Last year, Garcia asked Uruguay for political asylum after he was banned from leaving the country to keep him from fleeing or obstructing the investigation. Uruguay rejected the request.

Garcia would have been the third former president in Peru to have been jailed in the Odebrecht case. Ollanta Humala spent nine months in pre-trial detention in 2017-2018 and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was arrested without charges last week.

A fourth former president, Alejandro Toledo, is fighting extradition from California after a judge in Peru ordered him jailed for 18 months in connection with Odebrecht in 2017.

All have denied wrongdoing in connection with Odebrecht.

In Peru, criminal suspects can be ordered to spend up to three years in jail before trial if prosecutors can show they have evidence that likely would lead to a conviction and the suspect would likely flee or try to interfere in the investigation.

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India’s Jet Airways suspends operations after banks reject funds plea

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Embattled Jet Airways said on Wednesday it was halting all flight operations after its lenders rejected its plea for emergency funds, potentially bringing the curtains down on what was once India’s largest private airline.

The carrier, saddled with roughly $1.2 billion of bank debt, has been teetering for weeks after failing to receive a stop-gap loan of about $217 million from its lenders, as part of a rescue deal agreed in late March.

“The airline has been left with no other choice today but to go ahead with a temporary suspension of flight operations,” the company said in a two-page statement late on Wednesday.

At its peak, Jet operated over 120 planes and well over 600 daily flights. The airline, which has roughly 16,000 employees, has in recent weeks been forced to cancel hundreds of flights and to halt all flights to overseas destinations, as funds have dried up.

Intense competition from low-cost carriers, like Interglobe-owned IndiGo and SpiceJet, together with higher oil prices, hefty fuel taxes and a weak rupee have piled pressure on the airline in recent months.

In its statement on Wednesday, the airline thanked its loyal customers for their patronage and support over 25 years and said it “sincerely and profusely apologizes for the disruption to the travel plans of all its guests.”

The airline said it would continue to work with its lenders, who are trying to identify an investor willing to buy a majority stake in the airline and attempt to turn it around.

Jet Airways said it would continue to support the bid process initiated by the banks and that it hopes to resume flying soon. Its lenders, led by State Bank of India (SBI), have been seeking expressions of interest for an up to 75 percent stake in the airline. Initial expressions bids were submitted last week.

Jet Airways, in its statement, said it had been informed late on Tuesday night by its lenders that they were unable to consider its request for critical interim funding.

“Since no emergency funding from the lenders or any other source is forthcoming, the airline will not be able to pay for fuel or other critical services to keep the operations going,” the airline said.

Two sources at state-run banks told Reuters that the banks had rejected a request for 4 billion rupees ($58 million) from Jet to keep itself temporarily afloat.

“Bankers did not want to go for a piecemeal approach which would keep the carrier flying for a few days and then again risk having Jet come back for more interim funding,” said one of the bank sources directly involved in Jet’s debt resolution process.

The sources declined to be named as they were not authorized to discuss the matter with the media. SBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The crisis at Jet, which owes vast sums to suppliers, pilots lessors and oil companies, has deepened in recent weeks as its lessors have scrambled to de-register and take back planes, in a sign the bank rescue plan had failed to assuage their concerns.

India’s aviation regulator said on its website on Wednesday that lessors had applied to de-register another four Boeing Co 737 planes.

An analysis of the latest data disclosed by India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation shows that Jet’s lessors have, so far, sought to deregister and repossess at least 48 planes operated by Jet. Once deregistered, lessors are free to reclaim a plane and lease it to another airline.

The rapid exodus of planes risks further eroding value from the carrier, even as lenders scurry to find an investor willing to buy a majority stake in the airline.

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