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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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BT reports rise in annual profits

Category : World News

BT reports a rise in full-year profits, a day after setting out its challenge to BSkyB’s dominance of the UK’s sports pay-TV market.

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Google’s future on the line as antitrust regulators meet

Category : Business

Europe and US regulators to deliberate on whether to take the company to court over its dominance of internet search

The antitrust regulators for Europe and the US, Joaquín Almunia and Jonathan Leibowitz, will meet on Monday for a discussion that could be crucial for Google’s future as they deliberate on whether to settle with the technology company or take it to court over its dominance of internet search.

Both the European Commission and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have been investigating Google for more than 18 months as they try to decide what action to take over its apparent monopoly in search and search-related advertising on opposite sides of the Atlantic.

Almunia and Leibowitz are understood to be close to separate decisions on what action to take – though some think the EC is ready to be more aggressive than the FTC, which has come under political pressure in the US to go easy on what rivals to Google say are market distortions.

If both regulators act against it, Google would almost certainly be forced to yield to demands to modify how it shows search results so that it does not favour its own services over rivals’.

The FTC confirmed that Leibowitz is in Europe but declined to give any details of his meetings or agenda.

Google has been criticised by competitors, including Microsoft, over its use of its dominance in search to push its own services such as Google Shopping over competing services in search results. Google has said that it is responding to user demand, and that rivals are just a click away.

In October Google suggested to Almunia that it could label its in-house search results, such as maps, stock prices and videos, to make clear that it had chosen them. But the EC appears not to have accepted that.

A key difference between the two regulators is the scale of Google’s position in their relative markets. In Europe, Google gets about 90% of search queries; in the US, it is 65%.

Almunia has made a number of speeches since the summer criticising Google for slow movement in negotiations that opened in July, after the EC published a list of four areas where it felt Google’s dominance could amount to an abuse of monopoly. Besides search results, they include the use of other sites’ content in short search results, portability of advertising campaigns, and rivals’ ability to advertise alongside Google on outside pages.

In September Almunia warned Google publicly that “in the absence of satisfactory proposals [from Google] in the short term, I will be obliged to continue with our formal proceedings.”

That could mean a move to court proceedings which might end with Google being fined up to 10% of its worldwide revenues, which for 2011 would amount to €2.9bn (£2.3bn).

The FTC, though, has looked less certain. FTC staff recommended to the five commissioners led by Leibowitz that the agency should act against Google, and force some sort of change in its representation of search. The commissioners have to decide by a majority what action to take. In recent days sources from the FTC have suggested that it will reach a settlement with Google that would effectively bind it to specific behaviour.

The FTC has previously reached settlements with Google over privacy, following the calamitous launch of its Buzz network – which let other people see users’ contacts – and then when Google worked around privacy protections on Apple’s Safari browser to plant cookies on web users’ systems against their wishes. A fine of $25m for the latter was recently upheld by a judge in the US, though consumer advocates had been saying it should be higher. Google had accepted the fine but did not concede that it had broken the law.

Facebook’s new business plan: from utility to monopoly | Dan Gillmor

Category : Business

In the wake of its IPO debacle, expect Facebook to leverage its market dominance aggressively – with its billion users hostage

The tweet, posted a little over two years ago by someone with deep connections in the internet world, was illuminating. It said, simply:

“A friend working for Facebook: ‘we’re like electricity.’”

I recalled that tweet last week when Facebook made two announcements of note. First, as everyone knows by now, it has a billion users – including, I suspect, nearly everyone I know. I scarcely use the social network myself, but I am constantly invited to look at items that others post there – and which are unavailable unless I log in. It is getting more and more difficult to avoid Facebook in daily life, and if Facebook gets its wish, it will be an outright necessity.

The second announcement was relatively minor in the bigger scheme of things – Facebook’s plan to charge a fee, rumored to be $7, for users who want to place a post high in their followers’ news feeds. Wall Street saw the fee as yet another way Facebook might generate revenues – an ever-stronger mandate from shareholders and the financial community in the wake of the company’s fumbled IPO.

Both moves spoke to the growing influence of this still-young company, and to its genuine potential to become what amounts to a public utility. It’s not as essential as electricity yet, but that goal is not as far out of reach as you might think.

Facebook’s ever-expanding user base is easy to understand. It’s the ultimate (so far) positive feedback loop – the network effect run wild. The service does offer value to its users, after all: convenience and connections. Sorry to say, most people value their privacy so little these days that they shrug off just about every new abuse of their personal data because the convenience and connections are worth it. Even people and companies that are deeply suspicious of Facebook’s motives – with ample reasons for their suspicions – now feel obliged to use the service anyway, compounding Facebook’s authority by posting items there and nowhere else. For people like me, who try to avoid using it, this increasingly means either signing in or not seeing things I’d like to see.

One of Facebook’s most audacious initiatives has been in the developing world. As featured in an in-depth piece in the Atlantic magazine’s new Quartz business news site, Facebook is subsidizing mobile phone data service, making it “free” for users – but with a catch: for all practical purposes, Facebook then becomes their entry into the internet. The company has made no secret of its desire to become what amounts to an alternative internet, and this is a brilliant – if disturbing – way to make that a fait accompli in a number of places where mobile data services are much more important and ubiquitous than what happens on desktop and laptop personal computers. In such places, Facebook will be wedded to national information networks and the governments that control them.

Electricity? Not exactly. But close enough.

Facebook’s goal is not just to connect people with each other, but also to be the ubiquitous entry point for those connections. It wants to become what amounts to a public utility. The more Facebook makes itself an essential part of our lives – or, more accurately, the more we make it so – the easier it will be for the company to start charging us for using it. Users have been the product until now; advertisers buy access to us and our personal data. But the $7 fee, which is surely aimed more at businesses than average users, is a way of ensuring that messages get seen.

Only Facebook (and maybe Twitter) could even attempt to do this kind of thing, because it owns the user experience so completely. In its best walled-garden days, AOL couldn’t have pulled this off with email, because even then, it didn’t have Facebook’s kind of dominance.

Market dominance always leads to distortions. Competition is always the preferred cure. But we have other methods, too, and it’s not too soon to be contemplating them. We have antitrust laws designed to curb abuses, and we regulate public utilities because we can’t trust them not to abuse their positions.

Will policy-makers awaken anytime soon? They’d better.

Google denies holding up probe

Category : World News

Google denies that it is preventing a Texas investigation into whether it is abusing its dominance of the internet search market.

Link: Google denies holding up probe

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Three weeks after launching an investigation of the deal, The FTC has presented Facebook ([[FB]] -9.6%) with a "second request" related to the Instagram acquisition. The move requires Facebook to turn over large volumes of data for the FTC…

Category : Stocks, World News

Three weeks after launching an investigation of the deal, The FTC has presented Facebook (FB -9.6%) with a “second request” related to the Instagram acquisition. The move requires Facebook to turn over large volumes of data for the FTC to go through, and guarantees a lengthy review. Facebook and Instagram’s joint dominance of the mobile photo-sharing market is probably weighing on regulators. So might the recent launch of Facebook Camera. Post your comment!

Go here to read the rest: Three weeks after launching an investigation of the deal, The FTC has presented Facebook ([[FB]] -9.6%) with a "second request" related to the Instagram acquisition. The move requires Facebook to turn over large volumes of data for the FTC…

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Best Buy May Have Already Found Its New CEO

Category : Business

NEW YORK (TheStreet) — On Tuesday, Best Buy’s interim CEO, Mike Mikan, held his first earnings conference call as the struggling retailer’s leader.

While the event produced largely underwhelming results, if you’re an optimist who can read between the lines and do some digging, there’s room for hope.

Best Buy failed shareholders and lost customers because it underestimated, never truly acknowledged and reacted with a staggering level of ineptitude to the still-emerging dominance of …

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Lin electrifies MSG with 38-point outburst vs. Lakers

Category : World News

Jeremy Lin outplayed Kobe Bryant, ended the mighty Lakers’ dominance of the Knicks and then tried to pretend it was just another game.

Read more here: Lin electrifies MSG with 38-point outburst vs. Lakers

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