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“Squid Game,” Netflix Inc’s (NFLX.O) biggest original series launch, is estimated to be worth almost $900 million for the streaming giant, Bloomberg News reported late on Saturday, citing figures from an internal Netflix document.

The nine-episode thriller, in which cash-strapped contestants play childhood games with deadly consequences in a bid to win 45.6 billion won ($38.58 million), became an international hit after it launched last month.

In comparison to its estimated net worth, the show cost just $21.4 million to produce, Bloomberg said.

According to the report, about 132 million had watched at least two minutes of the show in its first 23 days, easily breaking the record set by U.K. costume drama “Bridgerton,” which was streamed by 82 million accounts in its first 28 days.

Netflix had earlier announced the show had amassed 111 million fans, but Bloomberg said those figures were based on slightly older data.

Los Gatos, California-based Netflix estimated that 89 per cent of people who started the show watched more than one episode, the news agency said, and 66 per cent of the viewers finished watching the series in the first 23 days.

Netflix did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request to comment on the report. An attorney for the company told Bloomberg that it would be inappropriate for Bloomberg to disclose the confidential data contained in the documents that it had reviewed.

The series is also the first Korean drama to snatch the top spot on Netflix in the United States, and has even spurred interest among people in learning Korean.

In China, where Netflix is unavailable without a VPN, a Beijing bakery has introduced a Squid Game-themed confection-making challenge in its store.

The show has even drawn positive comments from Amazon Inc (AMZN.O) founder Jeff Bezos, with the billionaire calling the work “impressive and inspiring.” Amazon’s streaming service Prime Video competes with Netflix.

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Czech car makers will produce quarter a million fewer cars than expected this year due to the global shortage of chips and the automotive sector will lose 200 billion crowns ($9.14 billion) in sales, the Auto Industry Association (AutoSAP) said on Sunday.

AutoSAP said domestic passenger car production dropped by 53.1 per cent in September year-on-year, to 56,157 cars.

It said the chip shortage impact would exceed that of pandemic shutdowns last year, and called on the government to activate an aid programme created amid the coronavirus pandemic last year to compensate firms for wages of idled workers.

AutoSAP said production rose 2.9 per cent year–on-year cumulatively in the January-September period to 831,653 cars.

“Already since August, production has been significantly affected by output curbs and the September statistic confirms the negative trend,” AutoSAP said.

The country’s biggest producer, Volkswagen(VOWG_p.DE) ‘s Skoda Auto, has said it would significantly limit or shut production at its Czech plants from next week, possibly until the end of the year.

The car sector is the backbone of the highly industrialised Czech economy, employing 180,000 workers, and makes up a quarter of industrial output.

SAP said 120 billion crowns in revenue would be lost at car makers and a further 80 billion at parts suppliers. The 200 billion crowns in revenue equals to about 3.3 per cent of the country’s expected nominal gross domestic product this year.

The other car makers with assembly plants in the Czech Republic are Hyundai (005380.KS) — which has been the least affected by the chip shortage — and Toyota (7203.T) .

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Investor Michael Burry of “The Big Short” fame said he was no longer betting against Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) and that his position was just a trade, CNBC reported on Friday.

Burry’s Scion Asset Management said in a regulatory filing in mid-May it had put options on 800,100 Tesla shares as of the end of the first quarter. Details on the strike price of the puts, their value and whether they were part of a broader trade were not available.

Based on Tesla’s closing price of $667.93 at the end of the first quarter, the value of that many shares would have been about $534 million. The actual value of the options position was not known.

Put options give investors the right to sell shares at a certain price in the future.

Options analysts said at that time it was possible the puts disclosed in the filing might be part of a larger trade that would curb losses if the put position went against the fund.

“No, it was a trade,” Burry was quoted as saying in an email to CNBC on Friday, when asked whether he was still shorting Tesla.

“Media really inflated the value of these things. I was never short tens or hundreds of millions of any of these things through options, as was reported. The options bets were extremely asymmetric, and the media was off by orders of magnitude,” Burry told CNBC.

One of the investors profiled in the book “The Big Short” and the film of the same name for betting more than $1 billion against the US housing bubble, Burry has previously been skeptical of Tesla’s sky-high valuations.

Tesla and Scion Asset Management did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.

Shares in Tesla rose marginally after the bell on Friday.

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Xia Haijun

Evergrande Group’s (3333.HK) chief executive is holding talks in Hong Kong with investment banks and creditors over a possible restructuring and asset sales, two people said, as the Chinese developer battles against default on more than $300 billion in debts.

CEO Xia Haijun, a confidant of chairman Hui Ka Yan and who runs Evergrande’s day-to-day operations including financing, has been in Hong Kong, where the property firm has a major presence, for more than two months, the two sources told Reuters.

A third source said Xia was talking to banks and creditors in Hong Kong, but did not say what was being discussed.

Shenzhen-headquartered Evergrande, which is reeling under more than $300 billion in liabilities, has left its offshore investors in the dark about repayment plans after already missing three rounds of interest payments on its dollar bonds.

Xia’s talks with investment banks and creditors in Hong Kong has not previously been reported.

One of the sources said Xia needed to communicate with foreign banks on loan extensions and repayments. The source declined to disclose the identity of the creditors that Xia had spoken to in recent days.

“Xia also needs to sort out how many off-balance sheet debts the group has offshore, because many were underwritten at subsidiary levels and he himself may not be even aware of (that),” he said. “Before that they cannot work on restructuring and talk to bondholders.”

Evergrande has been scrambling to divest some of its assets to raise cash – efforts that have not yet yielded much success – as concerns have grown in recent weeks about a possible collapse and the impact on global markets and China’s economy.

Chinese state-owned Yuexiu Property (0123.HK) has pulled out of a proposed $1.7 billion deal to buy Evergrande’s Hong Kong headquarters building over worries about the developer’s dire financial situation, Reuters reported on Friday.

A Chinese central bank official said on Friday the spillover effect of Evergrande’s debt problems on the banking system was controllable and the risk exposures of individual financial institutions were not big.

Evergrande and Xia did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.

The sources, who have direct knowledge of the development, declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.

PUBLIC APPEARANCE

Evergrande Chairman Hui has not appeared in public in recent weeks or announced plans to address the group’s woes, leaving investors wondering if they would have to book losses when the 30-day grace periods end this month for unpaid bond coupons.

Last month, the developer issued a statement saying Hui had urged company executives to ensure the quality delivery of properties and redemption of wealth management products.

Xia, who is also vice president of the board, joined the company in 2007 and is responsible for Evergrande’s capital operation and management, as well as legal affairs and overseas affairs, according to the company’s website.

He has been in Hong Kong since July, according to one of the sources. The second source said Xia had been meeting Chinese investment banks in the city to explore possible asset sales.

Evergrande, once China’s top-selling developer, has said that it is looking to dispose of stakes in assets including its services and electric vehicle units to raise funds.

The developer is finalising details to sell 51 per cent of its Evergrande Property Services (6666.HK) unit to Hopson Development (0754.HK) for HK$20 billion ($2.57 billion).

Investment bank Moelis & Co and law firm Kirkland & Ellis, representing bondholders who currently hold $5 billion worth of Evergrande nominal offshore bonds, demanded last week more information and transparency from Evergrande.

The developer said last month it had appointed Houlihan Lokey and Admiralty Harbour Capital as joint financial advisers to examine its financial options, as it warned of default risks amid plunging property sales.

REUTERS
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The Nord Stream 2 pipeline is completed and ready to pump Russian gas to Europe, but nothing is flowing yet because it is still awaiting clearance from Germany’s energy regulator.

Europe’s most controversial energy project, which is led by Russian gas giant Gazprom (GAZP.MM), has faced resistance from the United States and Ukraine among others.

A move by the German regulator last week to ask the pipeline operator, Swiss-based Nord Stream 2 AG, for assurances it will not break competition rules suggests it could take several more months before the 1,200 km pipeline gets the green light.

WHAT’S THE HOLD-UP?

Germany’s Federal Network Agency – which regulates the country’s electricity, gas, telecommunications, post and railway sectors – has until early January to come up with a recommendation on whether or not it will certify the pipeline that runs from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea.

While technical requirements have been met, the key sticking point is whether Gazprom will comply with European unbundling rules that require pipeline owners to be different from suppliers of gas flowing in them to ensure fair competition.

The Nord Stream 2 operator claims the rules are aimed at torpedoing the pipeline and last week scored a partial victory when an advisor to the European Union’s top court recommended that Gazprom could challenge the EU rules.

The project’s identically-sized sister pipeline, Nord Stream 1, has been exempt from unbundling rules since opening in 2011 because it was treated as an interconnector rather than as direct supplier.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE RECOMMENDATION?

Once a three-member independent ruling committee at the network agency has made its recommendation it goes to the European Commission, which has another two months to respond.

If both bodies are in agreement that the pipeline fulfils all regulatory requirements then certification can be issued relatively quickly, but if they aren’t the process could be further delayed.

Certification can be only given if both have worked out any differences that may arise, which means that it could take until spring 2022 before the pipeline gets certified and can officially start operation.

CAN THE AGENCY REALLY BLOCK THE PIPELINE?

Effectively, no. Even though certification is a requirement the network agency is quite limited in how it can prevent Gazprom from simply starting to pump gas right away.

Its toughest tool is a one-time 1 million euro ($1.2 million) fine on the operator if it starts operation without certification.

As a regulator it can also launch an investigation but any legal process is expected to be lengthy and will not result in a short-term prevention of gas flows.

Gazprom, meanwhile, said in August it expects Nord Stream 2 to deliver 5.6 billion cubic metres bcm, about a tenth of the pipeline’s annual capacity, already in 2021 if supplies start in October.

WHAT’S GOING ON BEHIND THE SCENES?

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in recent months, has made it clear to Russian President Vladimir Putin that playing by the rules was vital in ensuring ongoing political support for the pipeline, two government sources familiar with the matter have said.

Merkel openly said that the political basis for operating Nord Stream 2 was Russia’s commitment to continue to use Ukraine as a gas transit route in the future as well.

“Putin is smart enough to know that the sentiment among German politicians regarding the project will become rather problematic, so he should not provide any reason to endanger operations,” one of the sources said.

IS THE NETWORK AGENCY POLITICALLY INDEPENDENT?

No. For its own recommendation the agency needs a binding assessment on supply security by Germany’s Economy and Energy Ministry, of which it is a part.

“Certification can only be granted if the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy determines that granting certification will not jeopardize the security of gas supply of the Federal Republic of Germany and the European Union,” a spokesperson for the agency said.

The Economy Ministry has said it is currently working on this assessment, but has not given a timeline for when it will be completed. Should it determine that operating Nord Stream 2 will put gas supply at risk the agency cannot certify it.

WILL GERMANY’S ELECTION HAVE AN IMPACT?

Until a new government is in place, Germany’s Economy Ministry is led by Peter Altmaier, a member of Merkel’s conservative party, which has backed the pipeline.

Under Merkel, who is still running the country until a new coalition is formed, Germany recently struck a deal with Washington to allow the controversial pipeline to go ahead.

As a result, the threshold for the next government reversing the deal is very high, even in the likely event that the Greens – which have fiercely opposed the project – become part of the next ruling coalition, two people familiar with the matter said.

In addition, Olaf Scholz, who led the Social Democrats to victory in last month’s election and stands a good chance to succeed Merkel as chancellor, has been in favour of the pipeline.

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Boeing Co (BA.N) and US regulators said Thursday that some titanium 787 Dreamliner parts were improperly manufactured over the past three years, the latest in a series of problems to plague the wide-body aircraft.

The quality issue does not affect the immediate safety of flights, the company and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said.

Boeing said the parts were provided Leonardo SpA (LDOF.MI), which bought the items from Italy-based Manufacturing Processes Specification (MPS). MPS is no longer a supplier to Leonardo, Boeing said. Shares in Italy’s Leonardo extended losses and were recently down 5.5 per cent. Boeing shares were down 1.3 per cent.

Leonardo declined to comment. MPS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The parts include fittings that help secure the floor beam in one fuselage section, as well as other fittings, spacers, brackets, and clips within other assemblies.

Undelivered aircraft will be reworked as needed, Boeing said, adding that any fleet actions would be determined through its normal review process and confirmed with the FAA.

The defect was found as the planemaker grapples with other problems in its 787 that have caused it to cut production and halt deliveries since May.

Problems started in September 2020 when the FAA said it was investigating manufacturing flaws. Airlines using that model removed eight jets from service.

Boeing was able to resume deliveries of the 787s in March after a five-month hiatus – only to halt them again in May after the FAA raised concerns about its proposed inspection method.

In July, the FAA said some Dreamliners had a manufacturing quality issue near the nose of the plane that must be fixed before Boeing can deliver to customers.

REUTERS
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Binance will stop the use of the Chinese yuan on its peer-to-peer trading platform, the latest move by major global cryptocurrency exchanges to cut their ties with mainland Chinese investors following an intense crackdown on the sector.

Binance, one of the world’s largest exchange by trading volumes, said in a Wednesday statement it will remove the Chinese yuan section of its consumer-to-consumer platform on Dec. 31 this year, and mainland Chinese users will have their accounts switched to “withdraw only mode”

China’s most powerful regulators last month intensified a crackdown on cryptocurrencies with a blanket ban on all crypto transactions and mining, causing crypto exchanges and service providers scrambling to sever business ties with mainland Chinese clients.

Binance’s origins lie in China, though it emphasised in Wednesday’s statement that it withdrew from mainland China in 2017, the time of a previous regulatory crackdown.

Also on Wednesday, OKEX, another major cryptocurrency exchange with its origins in China said in a statement it had shifted its core business to international markets since 2017 and stopped promoting and providing services to the mainland China market.

In its latest move, China added cryptocurrency mining to a draft list of industries in which investment is restricted or prohibited.
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Honda Aircraft Co on Tuesday rolled out plans for a new light business jet that can fly non-stop across the United States, as the company looks to tap into skyrocketing demand for private travel.

The plane would seat up to 11 and offer up to 20 per cent better fuel efficiency than other jets in the category, the company said.

Honda Aircraft unveiled the new design at the National Business Aviation Association show in Las Vegas, the industry’s largest business jet show. It did not guarantee that the plane would be produced or offer a timeline for taking orders

Honda Aircraft, a subsidiary of Japan’s Honda Motor Co Ltd (7267.T), currently produces a six-seater HondaJet.

Honda’s plans come as business aviation traffic is soaring above pre-pandemic levels, with some corporate jet operators having to refuse new clients.

Due to COVID-19 wealthy travellers see flying private in smaller groups as safer and more convenient than travelling commercial.
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Jamie Dimon

Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) chief executive, said on Monday at a conference that cryptocurrencies will be regulated by governments and that he personally thinks bitcoin is “worthless.”

“No matter what anyone thinks about it, government is going to regulate it. They are going to regulate it for (anti-money laundering) purposes, for (Bank Secrecy Act) purposes, for tax,” Dimon said, referring to banking regulations in a conversation held virtually by the Institute of International Finance.

Dimon, head of the largest US bank, has been a vocal critic of the digital currency, once calling it a fraud and then later saying he regretted the statement.

This summer, JPMorgan gave wealth management clients access to cryptocurrency funds, meaning the bank’s financial advisers can accept buy and sell orders from clients for five cryptocurrency products.

Stating that his views are different from those of the bank and its board, Dimon said he remains skeptical.

“I personally think that bitcoin is worthless,” Dimon said. “I don’t think you should smoke cigarettes either.”

“Our clients are adults. They disagree. If they want to have access to buy or sell bitcoin – we can’t custody it – but we can give them legitimate, as clean as possible access.”

Bitcoin trading showed no immediate reaction to Dimon’s comments. The cryptocurrency was last up 5 per cent for the day at $57,304.

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Britain and Italy have agreed to pursue a new trade partnership, the British trade department said on Wednesday following talks on the sidelines of a G20 ministerial meeting in Italy.

Britain, seeking to establish new trading ties around the world following its exit from the European Union, said talks would start on a new partnership aimed at promoting exports and investment.

“Enhancing our bilateral relationship with Italy is a win-win, which will boost export opportunities and investment promotion for our businesses,” trade minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said.

As a member of the EU, Italy’s trade with Britain is governed by the EU-wide deal which came into force after Brexit, and which some exporters say has increased barriers to the movement of goods and services.

But Trevelyan said talks with Italy could promote British exports like life sciences and defence, and help improve ties in growth sectors like digital services and green technology.

The aim is to form a new partnership which sees both sides meet annually at ministerial level and fosters more business-to-business partnerships, the trade department said.