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FILE PHOTO: An American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 flight approaches for landing at Reagan National Airport in Washington
FILE PHOTO: An American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 flight from Los Angeles approaches for landing at Reagan National Airport shortly after an announcement was made by the FAA that the planes were being grounded by the United States in Washington, U.S. March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

March 24, 2019

(Reuters) – American Airlines said Sunday it will extend flight cancellation through April 24 because of the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX after two fatal crashes since October and cut some additional flights.

American, the largest U.S. carrier, said it is cancelling about 90 flights a day. American is the second-largest U.S. operator of the MAX in the United States with 24 jets, behind Southwest Airlines with 34.

American said earlier this month it was flying about 85 flights a day out of its 6,700 daily departures on 737 MAX planes when the grounded was announced.

The airline said it was making the announcement “to provide more certainty to our customers and team members and better protect our customers on other flights to their final destination.”

Boeing Co is expected as early as Monday to formally disclose a planned upgrade to its anti-stall system to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that has been in the works since October’s Lion Air crash but still needs approval from U.S. regulators.

The FAA has said it plans to mandate the upgrade by April, but it is still not clear if the upgrade will address any issues after the March 10 Ethiopian Airlines crash.

American, Southwest and United Airlines were all meeting with Boeing this weekend to review the software upgrade, Reuters reported Saturday.

The FAA said earlier the “design changes” would result in flight control system enhancements that will provide “reduced reliance on procedures associated with required pilot memory items.”

Reuters reported Thursday the upgrade will include a previously optional warning light. Many airlines, including American, already had the optional light.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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FILE PHOTO: Werner Baumann, CEO of Bayer AG poses for a picture during the annual results news conference of the German drugmaker in Leverkusen
FILE PHOTO: Werner Baumann, CEO of Bayer AG poses for a picture during the annual results news conference of the German drugmaker in Leverkusen, Germany February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo

March 24, 2019

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Bayer’s management retains the backing of its supervisory board, its chief executive said, after pressure on the company increased when a second jury in the United States ruled its glyphosate-based Roundup weed killer caused cancer.

Bayer, which denies allegations that glyphosate or Roundup cause cancer, acquired Monsanto, the maker of Roundup, for $63 billion last year.

Its shares have fallen a third over the last 12 months burdened by thousands of lawsuits over a suspected cancer link to Roundup.

“The share price is significantly impacted by the legal cases related to glyphosate in America, the discounts are greatly exaggerated,” Chief Executive Werner Baumann told Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS).

“The management board enjoys the full backing of the supervisory board,” added Baumann, who has been Bayer CEO for almost three years.

A U.S. jury last week found that Roundup caused cancer, a blow to the company eight months after another jury issued a $289 million verdict over similar claims in a different case. That award was later reduced to $78 million and is on appeal.

Baumann defended Bayer’s move to acquire Monsanto, saying it “was and is a good idea”, according to the FAS interview.

Asked about a potential breakup of Bayer, Baumann said the group had a clear strategy based on three divisions — pharmaceuticals, crop science and consumer health.

“We want to strategically develop these three pillars, all three markets are attractive.”

Talk of a break-up has been fueled since it emerged in December that activist fund Elliott had taken a stake.

(Reporting by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Keith Weir)

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FILE PHOTO: Candle flames burn during a commemoration ceremony for the victims at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town Bishoftu
FILE PHOTO: Candle flames burn during a commemoration ceremony for the victims at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town Bishoftu, near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo

March 24, 2019

By Jason Neely

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – The chief executive of Ethiopian Airlines has rejected media reports that optional equipment for Boeing 737 MAX planes was critical for safety aboard a flight that crashed this month.

The crash of flight 302 and a similar one involving Indonesia’s Lion Air in October, both flying the new 737 MAX 8, have cost 346 lives and sparked the biggest crisis in decades for Boeing.

Grieving families, nervous travelers and airlines around the world are looking for answers while Boeing prepares updates aimed at getting the 737 MAX, with sales worth $500 billion at stake, back in the air.

In a sign of the impact on Boeing’s business, Indonesia’s Garuda is pushing to dump a $6 billion order for the grounded planes.

Teams from the three U.S. airlines that own 737 MAX jets were also heading to Boeing’s factory in Renton, Washington over the weekend to review a software upgrade.

One focus for investigators is software Boeing installed on the MAX series designed to push a plane’s nose down if it senses too sharp an ascent and an indicator that shows that angle of flight.

OPTIONAL ITEMS

Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said it was important not to confuse safety-critical equipment with optional items.

“A Toyota is imported with all the necessary equipment to drive, like the engine and the wheels, but with air conditioning and the radio optional,” Tewolde said.

“When Boeing supplies aircraft there are items which are mandatory for safety and then there are optional items,” he added, noting the angle of attack indicator was optional.

Some media reports have questioned whether having this installed may have helped the cockpit crew regain control of flight 302, which crashed near Addis Ababa on March 10 killing all 157 aboard.

Tewolde rejected this, adding: “The angle of attack indicator was on the optional list along with the inflight entertainment system.”

He echoed the words of Norwegian Air which said it had not selected the cockpit light warning of discrepancies between angle of attack sensors for its fleet of 18 MAX 8 aircraft.

“We have chosen not to fit this particular optional extra …it is not a safety critical feature nor is it a requirement by any aviation authority,” Norwegian told Reuters.

Ethiopian Airlines is Africa’s biggest airline with a modern fleet of Boeing, Airbus and Bombardier aircraft and a flying history that dates back to the 1940s.

They have been flying Boeing planes since 1962 and have four MAX 8 jets, with another 25 worth some $3 billion on order.

GARUDA

Garuda has written to Boeing asking to cancel its order for 49 737 MAX 8 planes, CFO Fuad Rizal said on Friday. CEO Ari Askhara told Reuters customers had lost trust in the plane.

The airline might switch to other Boeing models, Rizal told Reuters, adding it was in negotiations with Boeing while a move to Airbus planes was not under consideration. Garuda rival Lion Air is weighing what to do with an even bigger order following its crash, which killed all 189 passengers and crew aboard.

It has 190 Boeing jets worth $22 billion at list prices waiting to be delivered.

Boeing has said it is been working closely with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on a software upgrade and training set to be deployed across the 737 MAX fleet in the coming weeks.

The FAA which certifies planes expects to approve these design changes no later than April, it has said.

American Airlines pilots this weekend were preparing to test the planned software upgrade, saying they want their own safety guarantees on the fix.

Southwest and United Airlines said they would also review documentation and training associated with Boeing’s updates.

(Reporting by Jason Neely; additional reporting by Jamie Freed in Singapore, Cindy Silviana and Bernadette Christina Munthe in Jakarta, David Shepardson in Washington and Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; editing by Keith Weir)

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FILE PHOTO: U.S and China trade talks in Beijing
FILE PHOTO: Chinese staffers adjust U.S. and Chinese flags before the opening session of trade negotiations between U.S. and Chinese trade representatives at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. Mark Schiefelbein/Pool via REUTERS

March 24, 2019

(Reuters) – Ahead of fresh high-level trade talks this week, China is not conceding to U.S. demands to ease curbs on technology companies, the Financial Times reported on Sunday, citing three people briefed on the discussions.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are scheduled to travel to Beijing for talks starting on March 28, the White House said on Saturday.

The FT report said Beijing had yet to offer “meaningful concessions” to U.S. requests for China to stop discriminating against foreign cloud computing providers, to reduce limits on overseas data transfers and to relax a requirement for companies to store data locally.

China made an initial offer on digital trade that the United States judged as insufficient, the report said, citing a source.

China then retracted the offer after the United States demanded stronger pledges, the report said, without giving further details.

The White House and China’s Commerce Ministry did not respond to requests from Reuters for comment on Sunday.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday that the talks aimed at resolving the trade dispute were progressing and a final agreement seemed probable.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Neil Fullick)

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FILE PHOTO: A wing of the Boeing 737 MAX is pictured during a media tour of the Boeing 737 MAX at the Boeing plant in Renton, Washington
FILE PHOTO: A wing of the Boeing 737 MAX is pictured during a media tour of the Boeing 737 MAX at the Boeing plant in Renton, Washington December 7, 2015. REUTERS/Matt Mills McKnight/File Photo

March 23, 2019

By Tracy Rucinski

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Teams from the three U.S. airlines that own 737 MAX jets were heading to Boeing Co’s factory in Renton, Washington, to review a software upgrade on Saturday, even as Southwest Airlines Co began parking its 34 MAXs near the California desert.

The factory visits indicate Boeing may be nearing completion of a planned software patch for its newest 737 following a fatal Lion Air crash in Indonesia last October, but the timing for a resumption of passenger flights on the jets remains uncertain.

Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration, which must approve the software fix and new training, are under U.S. and global scrutiny since the MAX suffered a second deadly crash involving Ethiopian Airlines in Addis Ababa on March 10, which led to a worldwide grounding of the fleet.

The Allied Pilots Association (APA), which represents American Airlines pilots, said it has been in talks with Boeing, the FAA and airlines to get the airplanes flying again as soon as possible, albeit with an acceptable level of safety.

“Right now we’re in wait and see mode to see what Boeing comes up with,” Captain Jason Goldberg, a spokesman for APA, said on Saturday. “We’re hopeful, but at the same time the process can’t be rushed.”

APA is among a delegation of airline safety experts and pilots set to test Boeing’s software upgrade, meant to change how much authority is given to a new anti-stall system developed for the 737 MAX, in Renton.

The system, known as the Maneuver Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, is suspected of playing a role in both disasters, which together killed 346 people.

Both crashes are still under investigation.

Southwest, the largest operator of the MAX in the world, and United Airlines said they would also review documentation and training associated with Boeing’s updates on Saturday. United has 14 MAXs while American has 24.

Meanwhile, Southwest said it was starting to move on Saturday its entire MAX fleet to a facility in Victorville, California, at the southwestern edge of the Mojave Desert, while the global grounding remains in effect.

“The planes being in one place will be more efficient for performing the repetitive maintenance necessary for stationary aircraft, as well as any future software enhancements that need to take place,” spokeswoman Brandy King said.

(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Tom Brown)

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FILE PHOTO: A J.P. Morgan logo is seen in New York City
FILE PHOTO: A J.P. Morgan logo is seen in New York City, U.S. January 10, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith/File Photo

March 23, 2019

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey’s banking watchdog has launched an investigation into JP Morgan over complaints about a report it published on Friday, state-owned Anadolu news agency said on Saturday.

The BDDK watchdog was quoted as saying that it had received complaints that the report hurt the reputation of Turkish banks and caused volatility in financial markets. A judicial process will be carried out regarding JP Morgan, Anadolu said.

It was not immediately clear what JP Morgan’s report was about.

BDDK also said it was investigating claims that some banks lead clients to buy foreign currencies in a manipulative and misleading way and that a judicial process would be carried out regarding those involved, Anadolu reported.

(Reporting by Umit Bektas; Writing by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Clelia Oziel)

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FILE PHOTO: Mike Lynch, Founder and Chairman of Autonomy Corporation, poses for photographers at an awards ceremony in central London
FILE PHOTO: Mike Lynch, founder of Autonomy, poses for photographers at an awards ceremony in central London March 13, 2008. REUTERS/Toby Melville

March 23, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – British entrepreneur Mike Lynch vigorously denies new U.S. criminal charges against him, his spokesman said on Saturday ahead of a court case over the sale of his firm Autonomy which will begin in London next week.

U.S. prosecutors on Friday added three new criminal charges to their indictment against Lynch related to the $11.1 billion sale of his software company Autonomy to Hewlett-Packard in 2011.

Lynch faces a new charge of securities fraud, which carries a maximum prison term of 25 years, as well as additional charges of wire fraud and conspiracy in the 17-count indictment filed with the federal court in San Francisco.

“These are baseless, egregious charges issued on the eve of the trial in the UK, where this case belongs, and Dr Lynch denies them vigorously,” a spokesman for Lynch said.

Mike Lynch, once hailed as Britain’s answer to Bill Gates, faces Hewlett-Packard (HP) in London’s High Court on Monday in a multi-billion dollar showdown over the U.S. technology company’s 2011 purchase of Autonomy.

HP is accusing Lynch and former Autonomy Chief Financial Officer Sushovan Hussain of involvement in accounting irregularities that caused it to overpay for the company.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle,; Writing by Alistair Smout, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, second from left, talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping as U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, left, and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, right, look on before their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China February 15, 2019. Andy Wong/Pool via REUTERS

March 23, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will travel to Beijing for the latest round of high-level trade talks scheduled to start on March 28, the White House said in a statement on Saturday.

The United States also will receive a Chinese trade delegation led by Vice Premier Liu He for meetings in Washington that are set to begin on April 3, the White House said.

President Donald Trump said on Friday the negotiations with China were progressing and a final agreement seemed probable, as the world’s two largest economies seek to ease tensions from an eight-month-old trade war.

But earlier this week, Trump warned the United States may leave tariffs on Chinese imports for a while, though Beijing has pushed for them to be removed as part of any deal.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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FILE PHOTO: An employee speaks over his phone as he sits at the front desk inside the office of Ola cab service in Gurugram
FILE PHOTO: An employee speaks over his phone as he sits at the front desk inside the office of Ola cab service in Gurugram, previously known as Gurgaon, on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee/File Photo

March 23, 2019

By Chandini Monnappa and Chris Thomas

BENGALURU (Reuters) – The southern Indian state of Karnataka kept the door open on Saturday to talks with local ride-hailing service Ola to avoid a ban that could help rival Uber build market share.

Karnataka earlier this week issued a notice to suspend Ola’s license for six months for violating government rules by running motorcycle taxis which are not allowed for safety reasons.

State capital and technology hub Bengaluru is among Ola’s top three markets in India.

V. P. Ikkeri, state commissioner for transport and road safety, told reporters the department had seized and issued fines for about 258 bikes during a probe after complaints.

Ola’s permit, obtained in 2017 and valid to 2021, allows it to run three and four-wheeler taxis in Karnataka. The company, backed by SoftBank Group Corp and Tencent Holdings Ltd, has until Monday to respond to the suspension notice.

“It’s a temporary suspension and if they give us a satisfactory response, then we won’t need to implement the ban,” Ikkeri said, adding that Ola would face financial penalties.

Ola did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It could lose out badly to Uber if pushed out of the market for an extended period.

“If Uber comes up with a strategy to lock in some of the drivers or customers with more incentives, it will be difficult for Ola to make a comeback,” said Neil Shah, partner and research director at Counterpoint Research.

“Assuming the top three (Indian) markets contribute to roughly 35-40 percent of Ola’s revenues, if the ban is upheld, we could be looking at a 5-10 percent revenue hit to the company.”

On Friday, the company said it was evaluating all options to find an “amicable solution” and was working closely with the authorities.

Ikkeri also said the department had sent a notice about penalties to the last known address of Rapido, another motorcycle taxi operator in Bengaluru. Rapido could not be reached for comment despite multiple attempts by Reuters.

(Reporting by Chandini Monnappa and Chris Thomas in Bengaluru; Editing by Martin Howell and Andrew Cawthorne)

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FILE PHOTO: The Citigroup Inc logo is seen at the SIBOS banking and financial conference in Toronto
FILE PHOTO: The Citigroup Inc (Citi) logo is seen at the SIBOS banking and financial conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada October 19, 2017. Picture taken October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

March 23, 2019

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Citigroup Inc has fired eight bankers and suspended three others from its equities trading desk in Hong Kong after an internal probe revealed misconduct in their dealings with clients, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The action was taken after a review raised concerns related to the accuracy of disclosure to clients by the involved sales traders on some transactions where Citi was acting in a principal capacity, one of the people said.

Principal trade refers to a brokerage acting as the counterparty to settle deals with clients, instead of just broking a securities transaction between different parties.

“A review of Hong Kong-based cash equities execution identified personal conduct that did not meet our standards and we have taken appropriate action,” the U.S. bank said in a statement to Reuters on Saturday.

“Instances where the capacity in which Citi was acting was not accurately represented were detected in relation to facilitation trading,” it said.

The names of the traders against whom actions were taken were not immediately known.

Citi said it was fully compliant with relevant local regulations, and “enhanced regional procedures and controls for facilitation trading” had been introduced to ensure complete transparency.

The bank, which has a large presence in markets, corporate and investment banking businesses in Asia, said its clients had been notified about the development and a team was in place to ensure minimal disruption at the start of trading on Monday.

Bloomberg first reported the development on Friday.

Global banks have been beefing up compliance procedures in Hong Kong, as the securities regulator in the Asian financial hub has stepped up its crackdown against failures to comply with guidelines for equities trading and underwriting functions.

Last week, the regulator banned UBS from leading IPOs in the city for a year, while fining it and rivals, including Morgan Stanley, a combined $100 million for due diligence failures on a series of stock listings.

(Reporting by Anshuman Daga and Sumeet Chatterjee; Editing by Tom Hogue)

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