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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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JPMorgan bullish on China techs despite regulatory crackdown

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JPMorgan Asset Management is bullish on Chinese technology stocks even though regulators are cracking down on internet giants in the mainland.

Shares of major Chinese tech companies such as Alibaba, JD.com and Meituan have tumbled this year as Beijing moved to rein in monopolistic behavior among internet giants.   

Howard Wang, head of Greater China equities at JPMorgan Asset Management, said the regulatory clampdown poses uncertainties in the near term. But in the longer term, Chinese tech companies still have the potential to grow, he said.  

“If we look at these fundamentals, and you stretch over a longer period of time, I think we’re actually in a pretty good buying spot,” Wang told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Tuesday.

Wang said price declines in Chinese tech shares — due to the regulatory risks or investors rotating out of growth stocks — appear overdone. That has resulted in “pretty decent value” in some Chinese tech stocks, he added.

Without naming specific stocks, Wang said he likes large tech companies given their beaten down valuation and potential for earnings to grow.

Shares of tech giant Alibaba in Hong Kong fell around 7.48% this year as of Monday’s close. E-commerce companies JD.com and Meituan have dropped around 16% and 10.8%, respectively.

From our standpoint as investors, it’s kinda really just hunkering down, looking at the fundamentals, making sure your companies aren’t doing anything that will be construed as unfair market practice…

Howard Wang

head of Greater China equities, JPMorgan Asset Management

Wang said Chinese tech firms could still face a bumpy road in the next few months as the regulatory clampdown continues. But the crackdown has so far been “rational,” he added.

“From our standpoint as investors, it’s kinda really just hunkering down, looking at the fundamentals, making sure your companies aren’t doing anything that will be construed as unfair market practice — at least not currently,” said Wang.

“I think when we take that into context … it actually looks like a decent environment to be investing in these stocks. Tough over the next few weeks, but overall these are the kinds of investments that you’d want to make in China,” he added.

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Biden prepared to take additional steps after Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack

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Fuel holding tanks are seen at Colonial Pipeline’s Linden Junction Tank Farm on May 10, 2021 in Woodbridge, New Jersey.

Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden said Monday that his administration was prepared to take additional steps as the energy sector grapples with a colossal cyberattack targeting one of the largest fuel pipelines in the nation.

On Friday, Colonial Pipeline paused its operations and notified federal agencies that it had fallen victim to a ransomware attack.

The assault, carried out by the criminal cyber group known as DarkSide, forced the company to shut down approximately 5,500 miles of pipeline, leading to a disruption of nearly half of the nation’s East Coast fuel supply. Ransomware attacks involve malware that encrypts files on a device or network that results in the system becoming inoperable. Criminals behind these types of cyberattacks typically demand a ransom in exchange for the release of data.

The Department of Energy is leading the federal government response in coordination with the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense. A spokeswoman for FireEye Mandiant confirmed to CNBC that the U.S. cybersecurity firm was working with Colonial Pipeline after the incident.

Biden said that since the attack that struck the jugular of America’s pipeline system, he has received regular briefings on the matter. The president said that his administration does not have intelligence to support claims that Moscow directed the ransomware attack. He added that he would still discuss the situation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“So far there is no evidence from our intelligence people that Russia is involved although there is evidence that the actor’s ransomware is in Russia, they have some responsibility to deal with this,” Biden said from the White House.

The Kremlin has previously denied claims that it has launched cyberattacks against the United States.

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the U.S. economy as Vice President Kamala Harris stands by in the East Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 10, 2021.

Kevin Lemarque | Reuters

Earlier Monday, White House national security officials described the attack as financially motivated in nature. Biden administration officials, however, would not say if Colonial Pipeline agreed to pay the ransom.

“Typically that’s a private sector decision,” Anne Neuberger, deputy national security advisor for cyber and emerging technologies, told reporters at the White House when asked about the ransom payment.

“We recognize that victims of cyberattacks often face a very difficult situation and they have to just balance often the cost-benefit when they have no choice with regards to paying a ransom. Colonial is a private company and we’ll defer information regarding their decision on paying a ransom to them,” Neuberger said.

Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber & Emerging Technologies Anne Neuberg speaks about the Colonial Pipeline outage following a cyber attack during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 10, 2021.

Kevin Lemarque | Reuters

She added that the FBI has previously warned victims of ransomware attacks that paying a ransom could encourage further malicious activity.

Colonial Pipeline did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Earlier on Monday, the DarkSide group described its actions as “apolitical” in a statement provided to CNBC by Cybereason.

“We are apolitical, we do not participate in geopolitics, do not need to tie us with a defined government and look for our motives,” the group wrote.

“Our goal is to make money, and not creating problems for society. From today we introduce moderation and check each company that our partners want to encrypt to avoid social consequences in the future,” the statement added.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Monday that the Defense Department was monitoring the nation’s fuel supply following concerns that Colonial Pipeline’s shutdown could trigger shortages of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. Kirby said there were currently no known shortages posed to the U.S. military.

Deputy national security advisor Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall told reporters at the White House that the administration did not forecast a fuel shortage.

Colonial Pipeline wrote in a statement Monday afternoon that it hopes to restore service by the end of the week.

“Actions taken by the Federal Government to issue a temporary hours of service exemption for motor carriers and drivers transporting refined products across Colonial’s footprint should help alleviate local supply disruptions and we thank our government partners for their assistance in resolving this matter,” the statement added.

The Colonial Pipeline attack comes as the Biden administration works to pass a $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan aimed at addressing, in part, America’s critical infrastructure vulnerabilities.

“Unfortunately, these sorts of attacks are becoming more frequent. They’re here to stay. And we have to work in partnership with businesses to secure networks to defend ourselves,” Commerce Secretary Gina Marie Raimondo told the CBS Sunday program “Face the Nation.”

“It’s an all-hands-on-deck effort right now. And we are working closely with the company, state, and local officials to make sure that they get back up to normal operations as quickly as possible, and there aren’t disruptions in supply,” she said, adding that investing in infrastructure is a top priority for the administration.

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Ireland’s tourism trade prepares to re-open for good

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Bruce Yuanyue Bi | The Image Bank | Getty Images

DUBLIN — When Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin announced the phased re-opening of hospitality businesses for June, hotel managers like Niall Coffey breathed a sigh of relief. 

Ireland’s tourism and hospitality industries have been the worst hit during the pandemic and previous attempts at re-opening have been upended by fresh surges of Covid-19.

“I think we have no choice but to stay open at this stage because from a financial survival (view), we really need to do it,” said Coffey, who is general manager of Harvey’s Point, a four-star hotel in Donegal in northwest Ireland.

Save for brief re-openings last summer and Christmas, bars, restaurants and hotels have been largely shut since March 2020.

Now, as the vaccination campaign gathers pace, Coffey and others are preparing for June 2 when they can begin allowing some guests back through the doors. Then over the following weeks, bars and restaurants can open up, albeit with restrictions on numbers and guidelines on indoor and outdoor dining.

Des O’Dowd, owner of the Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa in Cork, said that businesses have shouldered a lot of costs in trying to re-open safely over the last year.

“You try and send back food to suppliers. We’ve closed twice, having to go through fruit and veg and throw it out or try to find a home for that. We’ve been closed and beer has been going off,” he told CNBC.

“It is an expensive process to start and stop and to do that again now would be heart-breaking so I hope that this is it, that we’re opening and there’s no going back.”

The government has since acknowledged that the hospitality and tourism industry, a significant employer in Ireland, will need further stimulus support even after restrictions are lifted. Tourism was worth about 9.3 billion euros ($11.3 billion) to the Irish economy in 2019, with 2 billion euros of tourism-related taxes paid to the exchequer.

Beyond food and supplies, many hotels and bars have needed to invest in refurbishment and equipment to ensure Covid compliance.

“This time last year we were really facing into an unknown. We were going around with tape measures trying to measure two meters and we had to buy a lot of dividers between tables,” O’Dowd said.

Now he said the hotel has a better grasp of what a safe re-opening looks like, including providing antigen testing for the hotel’s 225 employees, adding further costs to re-opening and staying open.

Domestic visitors 

International tourism 

Niall Gibbons, the chief executive of government agency Tourism Ireland, said that the EU’s planned digital green certificate — or so-called vaccine passports in some quarters — is a step in the right direction to making international travel possible again.

Tourism Ireland is a joint government body between Ireland and Northern Ireland tasked with promoting the island of Ireland to overseas visitors.

According to the group, overseas spend by tourists in Ireland in 2019 was 5.8 billion euros ($7 billion), with activity in the sector employing 325,000 people. So it is keen to open the country up again in the latter half of the year.

The EU’s certificate would allow visitors from other countries to verify their vaccination or negative test status upon their arrival in an EU country.

“There are other factors that will be needed as well before the international (travel) restart gets going. First and foremost, we need to work with government on a roadmap,” Gibbons told CNBC.

Photo Taken In Ireland, Cork

Francis Gormezano / EyeEm | EyeEm | Getty Images

“There are factors like mandatory hotel quarantine, the testing regime that will be in place, air connectivity and getting that up and running again.”

Ireland implemented mandatory hotel quarantine earlier this year, where people arriving in the country from certain locations are required to quarantine in a hotel for two weeks. The system has been beset with its fair share of challenges

“Quarantine and tourism don’t go hand in hand,” Gibbons said. He added that he backs a plan similar to the EU’s traffic light system that was in place last year, which indicated which countries had lower infection rates and were safer to travel to.

“Ultimately that’s the place that we all want to try and get to across the European Union,” he said.

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