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U.S. FTC says court should allow antitrust lawsuit against Facebook to proceed

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November 17, 2021

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Federal Trade Commission said on Wednesday that a federal court should allow an antitrust lawsuit it filed against Facebook to go forward as the company has “interfered with the competitive process by targeting nascent threats through exclusionary conduct.”

In August the FTC refreshed its antitrust case against Facebook, now Meta Platforms, adding detail on the accusation the social media company crushed or bought rivals and asking a judge to force it to sell Instagram and WhatsApp.

The lawsuit represents one of the most significant challenges the FTC has brought against a tech company in decades, and is being closely watched as Washington aims to tackle Big Tech’s extensive market power.

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In a filing with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the FTC said that for more than a decade, Facebook’s market share – for example, more than 70% of daily active users – exceed the levels needed to establish monopoly power.

It said that Facebook sought to maintain its monopoly position by buying photo-sharing app Instagram and secure messaging app WhatsApp.

Meta disagreed.

“The FTC has once again brought a monopolization case without a monopolist. Its claims ignore the reality that people have more choices than ever before in how they share, connect, and communicate, and its second complaint should be dismissed just like the first,” a Meta spokesperson said in a statement.

The FTC also argued that Facebook was wrong to ask that Chair Lina Khan be recused from voting to approve the amended complaint. The FTC said it was originally filed before she was nominated to the commission and it would be the court, not the commission, which decided the case.

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Facebook had said that Khan prejudged the case because of her previous work.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz and Chris Sanders, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Grant McCool)

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Walmart veteran Biggs to step down as CFO next year

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November 29, 2021

By Uday Sampath Kumar

(Reuters) -Walmart Inc said on Monday longtime executive Brett Biggs will step down from his role as chief financial officer of the world’s largest retailer next year.

Biggs, the finance chief since 2015, helped oversee a period of rapid change at Walmart as the brick-and-mortar retailer launched and expanded a number of initiatives to help fend off competition from Amazon.com Inc.

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Walmart made its biggest overseas investment in 2018 with a $16 billion deal to buy a majority stake in Indian online marketplace Flipkart, and beefed up its U.S. e-commerce business through the purchase of apparel retailers Modcloth and Bonobos.

Monday’s announcement came as a surprise to some analysts who had viewed Biggs as next in line for Walmart’s top job.

“Bret Biggs was a candidate to ultimately succeed Doug McMillon as CEO, given his long tenure at the company and broad experience across business units and functions outside of finance,” said Jason Benowitz, senior portfolio manager at Roosevelt Investment Group.

“However, we expect McMillon to serve many more years at the helm,” Benowitz added.

Walmart’s shares were down 1% in late morning trade.

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Biggs had held several finance positions, including CFO of the company’s international division and U.S. business, since joining the company in 2000.

Biggs will remain in the role until a successor is named next year, Walmart said, adding he will continue to represent the company as a board member of its fintech startup until January 2023.

The startup, a joint venture with investment firm Ribbit Capital, aims to develop financial products for Walmart’s employees and customers.

Walmart said it was considering internal and external candidates to replace Biggs, as the company deals with surging labor and supply chain costs that have eaten into its profit margins.

(Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli, Shounak Dasgupta and Sriraj Kalluvila)

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Cyberpunk maker CD Projekt misses quarterly profit forecast

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November 29, 2021

(Reuters) – CD Projekt, the Polish video game maker behind “Cyberpunk 2077”, missed expectations on Monday with its third-quarter net profit, weighed down by higher costs.

The company’s flagship game has helped to boost sales and earnings this year but its third-quarter net profit of 16.3 million zlotys ($3.92 million) was down 78% from the previous quarter, missing analyst expectations for a 51% drop to 36 million zlotys.

(Reporting by Anna Pruchnicka; Editing by David Goodman)

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Cyber Monday spending expected to slow as shoppers see fewer deals

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November 29, 2021

By Uday Sampath Kumar

(Reuters) -U.S. retailers are estimated to generate online sales of up to $11.3 billion on Cyber Monday, a decline in growth from a year earlier as fewer discounts and limited choices due to global supply chain disruptions deter shoppers.

Retailers had also spread out promotional deals across more weeks this year to protect profit margins from surging supply chain costs and to better manage inventories amid widespread product shortages ahead of the Christmas shopping season.

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Those attempts have pinched sales on what are traditionally some of the biggest shopping days of the year, with Adobe Analytics data over the weekend showing spending online during Black Friday fell for the first time ever.

“Online sales on big shopping days like Thanksgiving and Black Friday are decreasing for the first time in history, and it is beginning to smooth out the shape of the overall season,” said Taylor Schreiner, director, Adobe Digital Insights.

U.S. spending on Cyber Monday, which gained popularity in the mid-2000s, is expected to be between $10.2 billion and $11.3 billion, according to estimates from Adobe. 

That translates to roughly flat growth at the midpoint compared to last year’s $10.8 billion, which was a near 15% jump from 2019.

Excitement on social media around Cyber Monday is also ebbing.

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“Cyber Monday continues to be extremely relevant, particularly in the digital world, but the buzz has been more muted than we’ve seen in recent history,” said Rob Garf, general manager of retail at Salesforce.

Discount rates in the United States in the week leading up to Cyber Monday were on average 8% lower than they were last year, according to Salesforce.

The holiday season kicks off just as the new Omicron coronavirus variant has triggered uncertainty over the economic reopening, but experts say it is too early to predict the impact on consumer spending.

(Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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