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Epic Games chief to speak in S.Korea as Google, Apple face app store challenge

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November 10, 2021

By Stephen Nellis

(Reuters) – The chief executive of “Fortnite” creator Epic Games and other vocal critics of Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google plan to speak in South Korea, where the two American tech giants face new regulations forcing them to open their app stores to third-party payments.

Tim Sweeney and representatives from Match Group plan to speak at a conference next week about fairness in online ecosystems, according to a representative for the companies.

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Sweeney’s visit to Korea comes a day after a U.S. judge denied Apple’s request https://www.reuters.com/technology/us-judge-skeptical-apples-request-pause-fortnite-antitrust-orders-2021-11-09 to pause a set of court orders handed down after a lengthy antitrust trial between Apple and Epic Games. Those orders could require Apple to allow developers to create in-app buttons and links to third-party payment systems.

In August, South Korean lawmakers amended the country’s Telecommunication Business Act. Under the change, the operators of app stores would have to allow third-party payment systems in their stores instead of forcing developers to use in-app payment systems that charge commissions.

The Korean Communications Commission (KCC) has asked both Apple and Google to submit compliance plans.

Last week, Google said it had submitted a plan https://www.reuters.com/technology/google-plans-allow-third-party-payments-systems-skorea-2021-11-04 that would for the first time allow third-party payments, but it is unclear whether the plan will lower costs for developers.

Rather than charge its standard 15% commission for the use of its in-app payment system, Google said it will charge developers who use their own payment system an 11% commission. Those developers will likely pay an additional 3% to 4% in fees to an outside payment processor.

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Apple has not said whether it has submitted a compliance plan. In October, a Korean official told Reuters https://www.reuters.com/technology/skorea-targets-apple-over-new-app-store-regulation-2021-10-15 Apple has told regulators it does not believe it needs to make any changes to its current business practices, potentially putting the iPhone maker on a collision course with regulators.

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Karishma Singh)

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Canada’s Shopify records Black Friday sales up 21%

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November 27, 2021

(Reuters) – Canadian e-commerce company Shopify Inc recorded worldwide sales of nearly $2.9 billion on Black Friday, an increase of about 21% in comparison to last year, the company said Saturday.

New York, London and Los Angeles were among the top-selling cities, the company said, while apparel and accessories was the top-selling product category.

Shopify also said it funded 23,000+ tonnes of carbon removal to counteract emissions from the delivery of every order placed on its platform on Black Friday.

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(Reporting by Aakriti Bhalla in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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Xiaomi to open car plant in Beijing with annual output of 300,000 vehicles – Beijing govt

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November 27, 2021

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi Corp will build a plant that can produce 300,000 vehicles annually in Beijing for its electric vehicle unit, authorities in the capital said on Saturday.

The plant will be constructed in two phases and Xiaomi will also built its auto unit’s headquarters, sales and research offices in the Beijing Economic and Technological Development Zone, the government-backed economic development agency Beijing E-Town said on its official WeChat account.

Beijing E-Town said it anticipated the plant reaching mass production in 2024, a goal announced by Xiaomi’s Chief Executive Lei Jun in October.

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In March, Xiaomi said it would commit to investing $10 billion in a new electric car division over 10 years. The company completed the business registration of its EV unit in late August.

The company has been opening thousands of stores to spur domestic sales growth for its smartphone business but eventually intends to use these shops as a channel for its plans to sell electric vehicles.

(Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by William Mallard)

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Eni sells Snam 49.9% stake in Algeria gas pipelines for 385 million euros

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November 27, 2021

MILAN (Reuters) -Italian energy group Eni has agreed to sell gas group Snam 49.9% of its stake in strategic pipelines carrying Algerian gas into Italy for 385 million euros ($436 million), the two companies said on Saturday.

The pipelines will be jointly controlled by the two companies, they said in a joint statement.

Italy imports more than 90% of its overall gas needs and Algerian gas currently accounts for around 30% of flows.

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“This transaction allows us to free up new resources to be used on our energy transition path,” Eni Chief Executive Claudio Descalzi said.

Eni is working on spinning off a series of oil and gas operations into new joint ventures to help reduce debt and fund its shift to low-carbon energy.

Snam, which owns a 20% stake in the TAP pipeline that carries Azeri gas into Italy, makes most of its money from managing Italy’s gas transport grid.

It has pledged to spend more on new green business lines such as hydrogen and, like other gas grid operators in Europe, is upgrading its gas network to be hydrogen ready.

“In the future, North Africa could also become a hub for producing solar energy and green hydrogen,” Snam CEO Marco Alvera said.

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The pipeline companies involved in the deal posted net income of around 90 million euros in 2020.

($1 = 0.8836 euros)

(Reporting by Stephen Jewkes, editing by Giselda Vagnoni)

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