Archives for April 20, 2018

China's ZTE slams U.S. ban on sales, says company's survival at risk

HONG KONG (Reuters) – China’s ZTE Corp (0763.HK) (000063.SZ) said on Friday that a U.S. ban on the sale of parts and software to the company was unfair and threatens its survival, and vowed to safeguard its interests through all legal means.

The inside of a ZTE smart phone is pictured in this illustration taken April 17, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/Illustration

The United States this week imposed a ban on sales by American companies to ZTE for seven years, saying the Chinese company had broken a settlement agreement with repeated false statements – a move that threatens to cut off its supply chain.

“It is unacceptable that BIS insists on unfairly imposing the most severe penalty on ZTE even before the completion of investigation of facts,” ZTE said in its first response since the ban was announced, referring to the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security.

“The Denial Order will not only severely impact the survival and development of ZTE, but will also cause damages to all partners of ZTE including a large number of U.S. companies,” ZTE said in a statement.

ZTE said it regards compliance as the cornerstone of its strategy, adding it invested $50 million in export control compliance projects in 2017 and plans to invest more this year.

A senior U.S. Commerce Department official told Reuters earlier this week that it is unlikely to lift the ban.

“We’re going to have to see how this unfolds. But there is no provision currently for that to occur,” the official said, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

The Commerce Department has an appeals process for companies to try to get off the list, but it is unclear whether that would be available to ZTE because the case had been previously subject to a settlement, according to people familiar with the matter.

Even so, ZTE would have little recourse in the near term because appeals would have to be approved by the Bureau of Industry and Security, the same agency that issued the ban.

Companies must submit appeals to a committee that would issue a ruling within 30 days, according to the agency’s website.

ZTE said it will not give up efforts to solve problems through communication, and it is determined to take judicial measures to protect the legal rights and interests of the company.

TRADE WAR

The ban has ratcheted up tensions between China and the United States at a time when they have already threatened each other with tens of billions of dollars in tariffs, fanning worries of a full-blown trade war that.

In China, there has been a patriotic backlash with an outpouring of support for ZTE on social media and most domestic newspapers have chosen to put the lion’s share of the blame for ZTE’s troubles on the country’s heavy reliance on foreign semiconductors.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government is considering using an emergency law to restrict Chinese investments in sensitive U.S. technologies, a senior Treasury official said on Thursday.

Trade in ZTE shares has been suspended since Tuesday. As of Monday’s close, they were worth some $19 billion.

Reporting by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Christopher Cushing

JPMorgan, National Bank of Canada, others test debt issuance on blockchain

NEW YORK (Reuters) – JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) has tested a new blockchain platform for issuing financial instruments with the National Bank of Canada and other large firms, they said on Friday, seeking to streamline origination, settlement, interest rate payments and other processes.

FILE PHOTO: A sign outside the headquarters of JP Morgan Chase & Co in New York, U.S., September 19, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

The test on Wednesday mirrored the Canadian bank’s $150 million offering on the same day of a one-year floating-rate Yankee certificate of deposit, they said in a statement. The platform was built over more than a year using Quorum, a type of open-source blockchain that JPMorgan has developed inhouse and is in discussions to spin off.

Participants in the experiment included Goldman Sachs Asset Management, the fund management arm of Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N), Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) and Legg Mason Inc’s (LM.N) Western Asset and other investors in the certificate of deposit.

Banks have poured millions of dollars to develop blockchain, the software first created to run cryptocurrency bitcoin, to streamline processes ranging from cross-border payments to securities settlement.

“Blockchain-related technologies have the potential to bring about major change in the financial services industry,” David Furlong, senior vice president of artificial intelligence, venture capital and blockchain at National Bank of Canada, said in a statement.

JPMorgan is considering spinning off Quorum because the technology has attracted significant outside interest, Umar Farooq, head of blockchain initiatives for JPMorgan’s corporate and investment bank said in an interview.

He said it was taking too much time to field requests for help from users at other companies.

Charging for assistance is not an option because software support is not the bank’s business, a person familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity. The source was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

The spin-off discussions are in the early stages and the bank has received interest from financial institutions and large enterprise technology companies, Farooq added. He declined to name the companies.

JPMorgan plans to beef up the Quorum team with dozens of engineers from the bank’s other divisions who have become familiar with the technology, he said.

Blockchain is in the early stages of development in the financial industry, but JPMorgan is optimistic about its potential, Farooq said.

“We haven’t really seen a lot of really large scale things go into production yet. There are few cases where blockchain can really shine.”

Reporting by Anna Irrera; Editing by Richard Chang