Thaw could release Cold War-era U.S. toxic waste buried under Greenland's ice

OSLO Global warming could release radioactive waste stored in an abandoned Cold War-era U.S. military camp deep under Greenland's ice caps if a thaw continues to spread in coming decades, scientists said on Friday.Camp Century was built in northwest Greenland in 1959 as part of U.S. research into the feasibility of nuclear missile launch sites in the Arctic, the University of Zurich said in a statement.Staff left gallons of fuel and an unknown amount of low-level radioactive coolant there when the base shut down in 1967 on the assumption it would be entombed forever, according to the university.It is all currently about 35 meters (114.83 ft) down. But the part of the ice sheet covering the camp could start to melt by the end of the century on current trends, the scientists added."Climate change could remobilize the abandoned hazardous waste believed to be buried forever beneath the Greenland ice sheet," the university said of findings published this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The study, led by York University in Canada in collaboration with the University of Zurich, estimated that pollutants in the camp included 200,000 liters (44,000 UK gallons) of diesel fuel and the coolant from a nuclear generator used to produce power."It's a new breed of political challenge we have to think about," lead author William Colgan, a climate and glacier scientist at York University, said in a statement. "If the ice melts, the camp's infrastructure, including any remaining biological, chemical, and radioactive wastes, could re-enter the environment and potentially disrupt nearby ecosystems," the University of Zurich said.The study said it would be extremely costly to try to remove any waste now. It recommended waiting "until the ice sheet has melted down to almost expose the wastes before beginning site remediation." There was no immediate comment from U.S. authorities. (Reporting By Alister Doyle; Editing by Andrew Heavens) Read more

After bruising China battle, Uber cedes to rival Didi

After a bruising two-year battle, ride-hailing firm Uber is selling its China operations to bigger local rival Didi Chuxing in a deal that will give Uber a one-fifth stake in Didi.The merged entity is worth around $35 billion - combining Didi's most recent $28 billion valuation and Uber China's $7 billion worth - said a source familiar with the matter who did not want to be named before the deal was made public.Didi confirmed the agreement on its official microblog, but gave no valuation. In a posting on Uber's website, CEO Travis Kalanick said San Francisco-based Uber Technologies would have a one-fifth stake in Didi, making it the Chinese firm's biggest shareholder. Kalanick will join Didi's board, with Didi Chuxing chief Cheng Wei joining the Uber board.Uber will continue to operate independently, the Didi posting said. "Cooperating with Uber will give the entire mobile travel industry a healthier order and a period of a higher level of development," it said.China has been a challenging market for Uber, which has spent billions of dollars in a price war with Didi.Both firms spent heavily to attract riders with discounts and both also raised billions in recent fundraisings. Uber is profitable in the United States, Canada and about 100 other cities.In an internal message to staff viewed by Reuters, Kalanick wrote: "Sustainably serving China's cities, and the riders and drivers who live in them, is only possible with profitability. This merger paves the way for our team and Didi's to partner on an enormous mission, and it frees up substantial resources for bold initiatives focused on the future of cities - from self-driving technology to the future of food and logistics."He said Uber was operating in more than 60 cities in China and "doing more than 150 million trips a month." Didi, however, claims 87 percent of the Chinese market for private vehicle ride-hailing.Richard Ji, Hong Kong-based co-founder of All-Stars Investment Ltd, which manages about $900 million and owns Didi stock, said the deal makes "huge sense". "Uber faces an uphill task in China especially since Didi is multiple times larger by transaction value and city coverage," he said."This will lead to favorable outcomes for both companies. The biggest benefit is cost savings, they no longer have to give out subsidies to drivers and passengers. It will give pricing power as the new entity will become the dominant player. That means profitability will come sooner than later."Under the deal, Didi will also invest $1 billion in Uber, which operates globally outside China, the source said, adding to a series of deals and joint ventures Didi has struck in recent years. INTERNATIONAL AMBITIONAnalysts said Didi's acquisition signals its readiness to step beyond its home market."This clearly shows Didi's global ambitions and its desire to work together with Uber to tap Chinese travelers, who are going out in big numbers. There's a possibility the two could work together in other markets," All-Stars Investment's Ji said.Didi said in its posting it will look to expand its international business and enter markets like Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, Japan, South Korea, Europe and Russia.Didi - itself created last year from a merger of two firms backed respectively by e-commerce giant Alibaba Group (BABA.N) and social network firm Tencent (0700.HK) - has invested $100 million in Lyft, Uber's main rival in the United States. It has also formed an alliance with Lyft, India's ride service Ola and Southeast Asia's ride-hailing startup Grab in an effort to compete with Uber's global dominance.The Didi deal is the latest sign that global Internet and technology companies are struggling to break into China's cut-throat market, where local entrepreneurs have built formidable businesses, partly helped by a supportive government.All of China's technology heavyweights will be stakeholders in Didi, as Uber shareholder Baidu (BIDU.O) will gain a stake. Apple Inc (AAPL.O) recently made a rare $1 billion investment in Didi.China last week issued guidelines that establish a long-awaited framework for the booming ride-hailing industry and remove uncertainty for firms such as Didi and Uber.It was unclear whether the deal would need to be cleared by China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), the anti-trust regulator."Given Didi's reported high market share, any increment would attract MOFCOM's attention. But for the parties to seek pre-closing approval, each has to meet the minimum sales threshold. That's where it's unclear whether an anti-trust filing would be required," said Marc Waha, partner at Norton Rose Fulbright. (Reporting by Heather Somerville in SAN FRANCISCO, Denny Thomas in HONG KONG, Rama Venkat Raman in BENGALURU, Jake Spring and Beijing monitoring team in Beijing, and Jeremy Wagstaff in SINGAPORE; Editing by Ian Geoghegan) Read more

Verizon to buy Yahoo's core business for $4.8 billion in digital ad push

NEW YORK Verizon Communications Inc said on Monday it would buy Yahoo Inc's core internet properties for $4.83 billion in cash, marking the end of the line for a storied Web pioneer and setting the stage for a big new internet push by the telecom giant.Verizon (VZ.N) will combine Yahoo's (YHOO.O) search, email and messenger assets as well as advertising technology tools with its AOL unit, which it bought last year for $4.4 billion. Verizon, the No. 1 U.S. wireless operator, has been looking to mobile video and advertising for new sources of revenue outside the oversaturated wireless market.The deal came after activist investors led by Starboard Value LP lost faith in Yahoo Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer, who was hired in 2012, and forced what became a protracted sale process.Yahoo, founded in 1994, was a dominant player in the early days of the internet, but has long lost its leadership position in internet search and advertising to Google (GOOGL.O>, Facebook (FB.O) and others.Mayer said on a conference call with investors that she planned to stay at Yahoo through the deal's close. Marni Walden, head of product innovation and new business at Verizon, will head the combined internet unit and said no decisions had yet been made on the management team.Verizon could combine data from AOL and Yahoo users in addition to its more than 100 million wireless customers to help advertisers target users based on online behavior and preferences."Yahoo gives us scale that is what is most critical here," said Walden, adding that the company's audience will go from the millions to the billions. "We want to compete and that is the place we need to be."Mayer, in an interview with Reuters, said she still saw a "path to growth" for Yahoo, especially in mobile. "What's exciting about the Verizon transaction is that it brings us back to growth sooner," she said. She said she was "open-minded" about a possible role with the combined companies. Yahoo is still one of the largest properties on the internet, with hundreds of millions of customers using its email, finance and fantasy sports offerings, among others, and a heavily trafficked home page.But Google has a stranglehold on the internet search business and built an industry-leading email service, while Facebook dominates in mobile and social media. Meanwhile, traditional web banner advertising, long Yahoo's strength, has become much less lucrative in the age of mobile and video."It's a decade of mismanagement that has finally ended for Yahoo," said Recon Analytics analyst Roger Entner. "It's the continuation of an extension of Verizon's strategy toward becoming a wireless internet player and a move away from (telecom) regulation for Verizon into an unregulated growth industry."Shares of Verizon dipped 0.4 percent to $55.88, Yahoo fell 2.6 percent to $38.37. FAR BEHIND GOOGLE, FACEBOOKThe integration of Yahoo will not come without challenges. In its latest results, it reported a second-quarter net loss of $439.9 million as it wrote down the value of Tumblr, the microblogging and social media service it acquired in 2013 for $1.1 billion.With AOL and Yahoo, Verizon would still be far behind juggernauts Google and Facebook (FB.O). According to market research firm eMarketer, Yahoo is expected to generate $2.32 billion in net U.S. digital ad sales, while AOL is expected to make $1.3 billion in 2016. Facebook and Google are forecast to deliver sales of $10.3 billion and $24.63 billion, respectively, by the end of this year, according to eMarketer. The Verizon deal would transform Yahoo into a holding company, with a 15 percent stake in Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA.N) and a 35.5 percent interest in Yahoo Japan Corp (4689.T) as well as Yahoo's convertible notes, certain minority investments and its noncore patents.Yahoo executives said the remaining company is structured to "indefinitely" hold its Yahoo Japan and Alibaba stakes. They are worth about $40 billion based on their market capitalizations, while Yahoo had a market value of about $37.4 billion at Friday's close.Yahoo will continue as an independent company until the deal receives shareholder and regulatory approvals, the companies said. It is expected to close in early 2017. It plans to change its name and become a publicly traded investment company.Yahoo currently has $7.7 billion in cash, in addition to the $4.8 billion it will receive at the close of the deal, which it plans to return to shareholders, Yahoo executives said on the call.Verizon prevailed over rival bidders, including AT&T Inc (T.N); a group led by Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert and backed by billionaire Warren Buffett; private equity firm TPG Capital Management LP [TPG.UL]; and a consortium of buyout firms Vector Capital and Sycamore Partners.Under pressure from Starboard, Yahoo launched an auction of its core business in February after shelving plans to spin off its stake in Alibaba. (Additional reporting by Anya George Tharakan in Bengaluru and Deb Todd in San Francisco; Writing by Jonathan Weber; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Jeffrey Benkoe) Read more

Success of Pokemon GO adds impetus for change at Nintendo

TOKYO/SINGAPORE The phenomenal success of Pokemon GO and the surge in Nintendo Co's (7974.T) market value by $17 billion in just over a week has been seized upon by one of its most vocal investors to press for a change of strategy at the company.Until Pokemon GO, a mobile game, was launched just over a week ago, Nintendo had taken every opportunity to say its main focus was still gaming consoles, and games for smartphones were just a means to lure more people to them.But the success of Pokemon GO - unforseen even by its creators - has shown the potential for augmented reality and for Nintendo to capitalize on a line-up of popular characters ranging from Zelda to Super Mario.Seth Fischer, founder and chief investment officer at Oasis Management, is one of Asia's best known hedge fund managers and has long been a small but loud shareholder. Encouraged by the success of mobile games like "Candy Crush", he has campaigned for years for the Japanese console maker to develop and sell games for platforms run by Apple (AAPL.O) and Google (GOOGL.O)."I hope they will now understand the power of smartphones," Fischer told Reuters. "And as a result, I hope this means there is a whole change in strategy." "My next focus with Nintendo is for them to focus on monetizing the rest of their 4,000 patents for mobile gaming, multi-player gaming, et cetera. I think they could be making 30 to 60 billion yen ($290 million to $570 million) annually from licensing." Fischer has described Oasis as an advisor to entities that own Nintendo shares and a shareholder. The fund's direct holding is not listed among the company's largest investors.Nintendo President Satoru Iwata last year cautioned against hoping for too much change at the company. The expansion into smartphone games was "not because we have lost our enthusiasm or prospects for the console business", he said at the time. A Nintendo spokesman, asked about its mobile strategy, said last week there were three main objectives: "To maximize exposure of Nintendo's intellectual properties to consumers, to make profits on mobile devices, and to create synergies with the console business." He did not comment further on Pokemon GO."JUNK FOOD"Serkan Toto, founder of Tokyo-based game industry consultancy Kantan Games, said Nintendo still saw itself as a console maker."When you sell $400 dedicated devices and you sell the gamer boxed software for $60 a piece - for them this is the gold standard," he said. "For them, mobile is the junk food: enjoy while you wait for the bus. It's not something that Nintendo sees for itself." Pokemon GO, however, has been a runaway success, marrying a classic 20-year old franchise with augmented reality. Players walk around their neighborhoods in real life, search out and capture Pokemon cartoon characters on their smartphones.The game was created by Nintendo, Google-spinoff Niantic, and Pokemon Company. Nintendo owns a third of Pokemon Company and both have undisclosed stakes in Niantic.Nintendo has not commented on next steps, which many speculate could now involve other favorite characters.The hardware-focused group had planned to introduce a device called Pokemon GO Plus, which could allow it to piggyback on the success of the mobile game. The device vibrates when a Pokemon character is nearby, enabling players to catch them without constant monitoring. Pokemon GO is on track to be the first mobile game to break the $4 billion-per-year wall, beating out Candy Crush Saga and Supercell's Clash of Clans, according to Macquarie Research. But the impact to Nintendo's bottom line could be minimal because of shared ownership, as little as 3 percent of net profit in the year to next March.Niantic declined to comment on the future of its relationship with Nintendo, although it credited Pokemon's unique appeal for the game's success. "It's been wonderful to be able to combine our philosophy for these kinds of games with the powerful affinity that people have for Pokemon," Niantic CEO John Hanke told Reuters.But analysts say the craze signals the vast money-making opportunities available for Kyoto-based Nintendo - when it eventually brings out more serious hits. "Over the last decade they never compromised on the software side. That's why they'll blow everybody out of the water once they start take iOS and Android more seriously than they do now," Toto said. "The successes of Pokemon Go will open the eyes of executives in Kyoto. This is unprecedented."There are no signs, however, that will happen soon.Of the four mobile games that Nintendo has promised to launch this financial year through March, two are set to be Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem - no sign of Mario nor Donkey Kong, at least not yet. (Additional reporting by Yoshiyasu Shida; Writing by Ritsuko Ando and Miyoung Kim; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan) Read more

Solar plane leaves Seville on penultimate leg of round-the-world flight

SEVILLE, Spain An airplane powered solely by energy from the sun took off from southern Spain early on Monday on the penultimate leg of the first ever fuel-free round-the-world flight.The single-seat Solar Impulse 2 lifted off from Seville at 0420 GMT (12:20 a.m. EDT) en route for Cairo, a trip expected to take 50 hours and 30 minutes.The plane has more than 17,0000 solar cells built in to its wings and travels at a cruising speed of around 70 km per hour (43 mph). On its journey, which began in Abu Dhabi and is due to end there, it has been piloted in turns by Swiss aviators Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard. Borschberg is taking this run, the 16th leg, over the Mediterranean Sea, crossing through the airspace of Tunisia, Algeria, Malta, Italy and Greece before ending in Egypt. (Reporting by Marcelo Pozo; Writing by Paul Day; editing by John Stonestreet) Read more

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