Economy

Uber announced Wednesday it raised $3.5 billion from the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia to fuel global expansion plans for the ride-sharing giant.The deal gives Uber, already one of the largest venture-funded startups, a valuation, or implied v…

A granddaughter of Sumner Redstone alleged Wednesday that the ailing media mogul is being manipulated by his daughter, vowing to help stop her purported bid to “seize” his corporate empire.The statement from Keryn Redstone deepens the family drama, set…

US auto sales slipped into lower gear in May, with the country’s leading automaker General Motors taking a hard hit as consumers curbed spending ahead of the summer driving season.Analysts had expected softer May sales following a blockbuster April as …

British retailer Marks & Spencer declared it would stop playing background music in its shops on Wednesday in a move hailed as a victory by anti-noise campaigners.

“This decision is the result of extensive research and feedback from our customers and colleagues,” a spokeswoman for the company said.

Speakers will begin to go silent over the next few weeks at the brand’s 300 clothing and home outlets across Britain, which have payed music since 2006.

Pipedown, a group that campaigns against “piped” music in public places, had recently staged a protest at the Marks & Spencer choice of tunes and hailed the move as a coup.

“This decision, which will save M&S money, is the result of years and years of determined campaigning by Pipedowners and other people, who have refused to be fobbed off with bland dismissals,” the group said in a statement.

“Now we can shop in peace.”

Shops pay to license the music they play, with costs typically around £1,600 ($1430, 2,000 euros)a year per 10,000 metres of floor space, according to licensing company PRS.

The global smartphone market is sputtering in 2016, with Apple likely to see its first “down” year for the iPhone, a research report said Wednesday.Research firm IDC said worldwide smartphone sales will likely increase just 3.1 percent to 1.48 billion …

US cloud computing giant Salesforce said Wednesday it was buying rival Demandware for $2.8 billion in a move that expands its offerings to the retail sector.

Salesforce, known for computing platforms that help manage marketing and other business services, will integrate with Demandware, which works with retail groups such as Design Within Reach, Lands’ End, L’Oreal and Marks & Spencer.

“Demandware is an amazing company — the global cloud leader in the multibillion dollar digital commerce market,” said Marc Benioff, chairman and chief executive of Salesforce.

“With Demandware, Salesforce will be well positioned to deliver the future of commerce as part of our Customer Success Platform and create yet another billion dollar cloud.”

A statement by the firms said San Francisco-based Salesforce would acquire Massachusetts-based Demandware in a cash deal expected to close by July 31.

The deal brings together the Salesforce enterprise cloud which helps companies in marketing, analytics and other services with the retail platform of Demandware, according to the companies.

“Demandware and Salesforce share the same passionate focus on customer success,” said Tom Ebling, CEO of Demandware.

“Becoming part of Salesforce will accelerate our vision to empower the world’s leading brands with the most innovative digital commerce solutions that enable them to connect 1:1 with customers across any channel.”

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday said he would delay a sales tax hike that threatened to derail the fragile economy, but analysts said it highlighted the failure of his years-long efforts to spark growth.

The decision by Abe also drew a warning from credit rating agency Fitch, which said it would “undermine the credibility” of Japan’s commitment to paying down one of the world’s biggest national debts.

Abe had repeatedly said he would follow through on the levy hike, planned for 2017, after it was already delayed once.

But on Wednesday he said raising the tariff to 10 percent from eight percent would be pushed back by more than two years to late 2019, when he is likely no longer in office.

That means the tough job of raising taxes will be pushed onto his successor.

Abe insisted that delaying the tax hike would give Tokyo breathing room to take his faltering Abenomics growth plan “one step further”.

“We will do our utmost to create an environment conducive to raising the tax from October 2019,” he said.

The Japanese leader — who swept to power in late 2012 on a pledge to kick-start growth with his Abenomics policy blitz — is expected to announce a fresh spending package within several months.

The top-selling Yomiuri newspaper earlier said the stimulus could reach 10 trillion yen ($90 billion).

Japan’s economy remains weak and there were widespread fears that another sales tax hike would hammer the world’s number three economy by taking a bite out of consumer spending.

“It’s hard to say that ‘Abenomics’ has been successful if (Abe) has to postpone a tax hike,” said Masamichi Adachi, senior economist at JPMorgan in Tokyo.

Japan’s last sales tax rise in April 2014 was blamed for pushing Japan into a brief recession.

But critics say it is crucial to shrink a debt mountain that is more than twice the size of the economy, as social welfare costs balloon in the ageing nation.

– ‘Clear risks’ –

Much of Japan’s debt is held domestically at low interest rates which have allowed the country to avoid a Greek-style cash crunch.

But a loss of confidence in Tokyo’s ability to pay its debts could send interest rates soaring and increase the risk of a bankruptcy.

Ratings agencies have previously cut Japan’s credit standing over its debt.

Fitch on Wednesday warned of a possible move, but said it would await more details on Tokyo’s fiscal plans “before drawing conclusions for Japan’s ratings”.

By contrast, Standard & Poor’s said its would not change its rating, noting that there were “clear risks” to Japan’s economy if the tax was raised next year, citing weakness overseas and a strong yen.

Last week at a G7 summit, Abe hinted at the delay as he warned over a global economic “crisis”.

Abe compared it to the situation before the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, which set off the global financial crisis.

That claim was rejected by some of his rich nation counterparts, and many saw it as a bid to justify delaying the tax hike.

Previously, Abe said his government would only push back the long-planned tax hike in the event of “a grave situation” — on the scale of the collapse of Lehman Brothers or a major earthquake.

Abe’s blueprint for igniting the once-powerhouse economy consisted of a mix of massive central bank monetary easing, government spending and efforts to slash red tape.

The plan appeared to work at first as it sharply weakened the yen, a plus for Japan’s exporters, and which set off a stock market rally.

But that initial optimism has given way to growing doubts as the economy struggles to gain traction over three years later.

Japan holds upper house parliamentary elections in July and Abe’s time in office ends in September 2018 unless his party approves an exceptional measure to extend his leadership.

The OECD on Wednesday slashed its economic growth forecast for Brazil, citing political uncertainty and corruption worries.The Brazilian economy is now expected to contract by 4.3 percent this year, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Develop…

The world risks getting caught in a low-growth trap, denting the future of generations to come, unless governments step up spending quickly, the OECD warned Wednesday.Tepid recovery since the global economic crisis in 2008 “has precipitated a self-fulf…

Microsoft is out to use Windows software to do for altered reality what it did for personal computers: make them commonplace.The US technology giant on Wednesday announced that Windows software already powering a wide range of devices including HoloLen…

Taking over US agrochemicals giant Monsanto will take time, the head of German chemicals and pharmaceuticals group Bayer said in a magazine interview Wednesday. “Our planned takeover of Monsanto will be a marathon rather than a sprint,” chief executive…