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CFO arrest row: China denies Huawei poses security threat after EU warning

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Beijing, Dec 10: China on Monday strongly defended Huawei after a warning from the EU that the tech giant posed a security risk, amid an ongoing row over the arrest of its Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in Canada at the behest of the US.

In response to accusations by European Commission Vice President Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said the government had never forced Huawei to install a covert access route on mobile phone units to control them.

“I want to emphasize that Chinese laws and regulations don’t allow any institution to force any enterprise to install a ‘backdoor’. The Chinese government always encourages its companies to abide by local laws and regulations,” Lu was quoted as saying by Efe news.

He reiterated Beijing’s demand of an immediate release of Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou who was arrested in Vancouver on December 1 after the US accused the tech giant of selling equipment in Iran in violation of American sanctions.

Meng, who is also the daughter of the group’s founder and CEO, had a bail request rejected on Friday by a Canadian court.

EU’s Ansip said on Friday that the bloc should be “worried” about Huawei and other Chinese companies over the security risks they pose.

Ansip claimed that China was developing mandatory “backdoors” — malicious software that allows any phone unit to be accessed and controlled without the user’s knowledge.

In response, Lu said it was “ridiculous” to undermine the company based on “speculations”.

“We have noticed some people from certain countries keep saying that Huawei may threaten their national security. But they did not provide a single evidence,” the spokesperson said.

He stressed that the company had “won the trust of its partners” and signed agreements to build 5G networks with more than 20 countries, including Portugal, France and Germany.

The spokesperson also commented on Japan withdrawing Huawei and Chinese telecom giant ZTE from the government procurement list, due to alleged security breaches by the two firms.

“The Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary (Yoshihide Suga) said the relevant regulations don’t aim to exclude the relevant enterprises or equipment. I want to stress that Chinese enterprises and cooperation in Japan is for mutual benefit,” Lu said.

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Markets open on positive note

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Mumbai, Feb 20: The 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) on Wednesday opened on a positive note during the morning session of the trade.

The BSE Sensex opened at 35,564.93 before touching a high of 35,581.14 and a low of 35,520.21.

It was trading at 35,528.69 up by 176.08 points or 0.50 per cent from its Tuesday’s close at 35,352.61.

On the other hand, the broader 50-scrip Nifty at the National Stock Exchange (NSE) opened at 10,655.45 after closing at 10,604.35.

The Nifty is trading at 10,656.25 in the morning.

IANS

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PF funds’ investment in IL&FS bonds have no government guarantee: Finance Ministry

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New Delhi, Feb 19 (IANS) The provident and pension fund trusts that invested in the IL&FS bonds now fear loss of money as the debt-ridden company’s bonds are unsecured debt, and the Finance Ministry says superannuated bonds do not carry any government guarantee and all such instruments have to face all market-related risks.

“Since these are investments in bonds, the government does not ensure any guarantee on them as such and if these are invested in stock markets, they carry the market risks as applicable. It is between the bond issuer and bond holders…,” the Finance Ministry said in response to IANS queries.

Thousands of crores of money of more than 15 lakh employees of both public and private sector companies have exposure to IL&FS bonds.

However, queries sent to the EPFO Commissioner and Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar remained unanswered.

Over 50 funds that manage retirement benefits of over 15 lakh employees have exposure to IL&FS. PF trusts of state electricity boards, public sector undertakings (PSUs) and banks are among them. The provident and pension fund trusts have filed intervening applications in the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) stating that they stand to lose all the money since the bonds are under unsecured debt.

Usually, retirement funds have a low-risk appetite and invest in “AAA” rated bonds (which IL&FS bonds used to be once upon a time) and get assured returns with low interest rates.

The worries of pension and provident fund trusts come from the classification of IL&FS profiling its companies as to which can meet the dues obligations. Many important trust managing funds of PSUs like MMTC, IOC, Hudco, SBI and IDBI are among those filing petitions. From private sector, HUL and Asian Paints are among the petitioners.

IL&FS is currently under resolution process at the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). The process will decide under Section 53 of the IBC the order of priority for distribution of proceeds of the process.

The beleaguered company has informed the NCLT that of the 302 entities in the group, 169 are Indian companies, out of which only 22 are emerging as those which can meet all obligations (green), while 10 firms can pay to only secured creditors (Amber). There are 38 companies of IL&FS (red) which cannot meet any obligations of payment, and 120 entities are still being assessed.

These PF and provident funds trusts are worried that if payment is limited to secured creditors, then only financial creditors like banks will receive the dues while unsecured bond-holders will be get any payments.

IL&FS bonds attracted investments by PF trusts as it had the shareholding of SBI and LIC giving its bonds the comfort factor.

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Sachin Bansal invests Rs 650 crore in Ola

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Bengaluru, Feb 19 (IANS) Internet entrepreneur and Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal has invested Rs 650 crore, or about $92 million, in ride-hailing platform Ola in his personal capacity as investor, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

This investment is part of Ola’s larger Series J funding round. It is also the largest investment by an individual in Ola to date, it said.

“Ola is one of India’s most promising consumer businesses that is creating deep impact and lasting value for the ecosystem. On one hand, they have emerged as a global force in the mobility space and on the other, they continue to build deeper for various needs of a billion Indians through their platform, becoming a trusted household name today,” Bansal said.

He further said he has known Ola founder Bhavish Aggarwal as entrepreneur and friend over the years and that he has great respect for what he and the team at Ola have built in 8 years.

“We are extremely thrilled to have Sachin onboard Ola as an investor. Sachin is an icon of entrepreneurship and his experience of building one of India’s most respected businesses ground up, is unparalleled,” Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal said.

Ola integrates city transportation for customers and drivers onto a mobile technology platform ensuring convenient, transparent, safe and quick service fulfilment, the statement added.

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