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Billionaire Leon Black sues rape accuser and law firm, alleging defamation and racketeering

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October 29, 2021

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Billionaire investor Leon Black has escalated his battle against a former model who accused him of rape, filing a lawsuit on Thursday accusing her and her law firm of defamation and racketeering conspiracy.

In the complaint, lawyers for the former Apollo Global Management Inc chief executive accused Guzel Ganieva and the Wigdor law firm of engaging in a “criminal enterprise,” including by falsely linking Black to the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

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“Knowing that to him, and in his world, reputation matters, they set about to destroy him and make him pay anything to make them stop,” the complaint filed in Manhattan federal court said. “They are planning to line their own pockets with the results.”

Ganieva sued Black in a New York state court in June, accusing him of rape and other abuse, forcing her to sign a 2015 nondisclosure agreement about their 6-1/2-year relationship, and defaming her by claiming she tried to extort him.

“This is an obvious act of retaliation,” Ganieva’s lawyer Jeanne Christensen said in an email about Thursday’s lawsuit. “We look forward to defending ourselves against these ludicrous allegations.”

Black, 70, has forcefully denied https://www.reuters.com/world/us/leon-black-rejects-russian-womans-claims-violent-behavior-files-countersuit-2021-07-19 the claims of Ganieva, with whom he had what he now calls a “regrettable” consensual relationship from 2008 to 2014.

Those claims included that Black tried to arrange for Ganieva, now in her late 30s, to have sex with Epstein https://www.reuters.com/legal/government/leon-black-says-accuser-eyeing-payday-made-up-jeffrey-epstein-claims-2021-09-08 in 2008.

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Black has said he paid Ganieva $100,000 a month for several years not to discuss their relationship after she tried to extort him of $100 million. Those payments stopped after Ganieva tweeted about Black in March.

In the state case, Black countersued Ganieva for defamation but dropped that claim, with his lawyer saying he wanted to focus on his defense.

Black recently bolstered his legal team, adding John Quinn, a name partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, and Susan Estrich, whose clients have included former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes.

“There is really no reason Mr. Black should be defending himself,” Estrich, who said she has known Black since they studied at Dartmouth College in the 1970s, said in an interview. “Private consensual adult conduct is not the law’s business. Extortion and defamation are the business of the law.”

Black has publicly regretted his involvement with Epstein, who killed himself in a Manhattan jail in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

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Earlier this year, Black stepped down https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-apollo-global-ceo/leon-black-step-downs-as-apollo-ceo-after-review-of-epstein-ties-idUKKBN29U2LK from Apollo after an outside independent review found he had paid Epstein $158 million for tax and estate planning, though was not involved in Epstein’s criminal activities.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Jane Wardell)

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Tesla sold 52,859 China-made vehicles in November – CPCA

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December 8, 2021

BEIJING (Reuters) – U.S. electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc sold 52,859 China-made vehicles in November, including 21,127 for export, the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) said on Wednesday.

Tesla, which is making Model 3 sedans and Model Y sport-utility vehicles in Shanghai, sold 54,391 China-made vehicles in October, including 40,666 that were exported.

Chinese EV makers Nio Inc 10,878 cars last month, a monthly record high, and Xpeng Inc delivered 15,613 vehicles. Volkswagen AG said it sold over 14,000 ID. series EVs in China in November.

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CPCA said passenger car sales in November in China totalled 1.85 million, down 12.5% from a year earlier.

(Reporting by Sophie Yu, Brenda Goh; editing by Jason Neely)

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Renault Zoe goes from hero to zero in European safety agency rating

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December 8, 2021

By Nick Carey

LONDON (Reuters) – French carmaker Renault on Wednesday received a blow for its popular Zoe electric model, as the European New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) gave it a zero-star safety rating in tests that are standards for Europe.

The carmaker, which is cutting costs and working to turn around its performance after overstretching itself over years of ambitious global expansion, also received a one-star rating for its electric Dacia Spring model.

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Euro NCAP said the latest Zoe had a worse seat-mounted side airbag than earlier versions. Euro NCAP noted the Renault Laguna had been the first car ever to receive a five-star rating in 2001.

“Renault was once synonymous with safety,” Euro NCAP secretary general Michiel van Ratingen said in a statement. “But these disappointing results for the ZOE and the Dacia Spring show that safety has now become collateral damage in the group’s transition to electric cars.”

In the year through October, the Zoe was the third top-selling fully-electric car in Europe, behind Tesla’s Model 3 in top place and Volkswagen’s ID.3.

In a press release titled “Hero to Zero,” UK insurance group Thatcham Research noted the Zoe had initially received a five-star rating back in 2013.

“It’s a shame to see Renault threaten a safety pedigree built from the inception of the rating,” said Matthew Avery, Thatcham’s chief research strategy officer and a Euro NCAP board member.

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Eleven cars received ratings in Euro NCAP’s final round of tests for 2021, which did not include Tesla models.

A number of other vehicles received five-star ratings, including BMW’s electric iX, Daimler’s electric Mercedes-Benz EQS, Nissan’s Qashqai and Volkswagen’s VW Caddy.

(Reporting By Nick Carey; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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Weibo shares close down 7.2% in Hong Kong debut

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December 8, 2021

By Scott Murdoch

HONG KONG (Reuters) -Chinese social media giant Weibo Corp’s shares closed 7.2% below their issue price in Hong Kong on Wednesday, as it became the latest U.S.-listed China stock to seek out a secondary listing closer to home.

The Hong Kong debut was in line with a fall in Weibo’s primary listing in New York after a torrid week for U.S.-listed China shares, which are facing greater U.S. regulatory scrutiny and also under pressure from Chinese authorities.

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Weibo, which raised $385 million for its Hong Kong listing, opened at $256.20 and closed at HK$253.2 after a volatile debut session.

The stock had been priced at HK$272.80 each in its secondary listing in which 11 million shares were sold.

“For Weibo, it’s a matter of timing. The Hong Kong market had started to rebound this week and now we are seeing some softness emerging in the market,” said Louis Tse, Wealthy Securities director in Hong Kong.

Weibo’s fall came as Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index closed Wednesday up 0.06% while the Tech Index was 0.03% higher.

Some major stocks such as Alibaba Group Holdings, down 4.35%, were off sharply as sentiment towards tech majors remains fragile.

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“The listing market in Hong Kong is very lukewarm right now,” said Dickie Wong, Kingston Securities executive director.

“Plus, there is regulatory pressure from the (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission) on Chinese companies to disclose basically everything within three years.

“So there is a major trend that most of the U.S.-listed Chinese companies will seek secondary or dual primary in Hong Kong so they can exit the U.S. market if they need to.”

Ride-hailing giant Didi Global decided last week to delist from New York https://www.reuters.com/technology/didi-global-start-work-delisting-new-york-pursue-ipo-hong-kong-2021-12-03, succumbing to pressure from Chinese regulators concerned about data security and denting sentiment toward Chinese stocks.

Hong Kong and China’s mainland STAR Market have attracted $15.2 billion worth of secondary listings from U.S. listed Chinese companies so far this year, according to Refinitiv data.

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“The moves are probably based on the increasing recognition that the U.S.-China decoupling will not stop and will proceed steadily,” said LightStream Research analyst Mio Kato, who publishes on Smartkarma.

“I would expect a continuous flow of listings from New York to Hong Kong over the next year or two.”

The U.S administration is progressing plans to delist Chinese companies if they do not meet the country’s auditing rules, which could affect more than 200 companies.

Chinese companies https://www.reuters.com/business/us-sec-mandates-foreign-companies-spell-out-ownership-structure-disclose-2021-12-02 that list on U.S. stock exchanges must disclose whether they are owned or controlled by a government entity, and provide evidence of their auditing inspections, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said last week.

(Reporting by Scott Murdoch and Donny Kwok; editing by Richard Pullin and Louise Heavens)

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