Sony reports quarterly loss of $1.2bn

Japanese consumer electronics giant Sony has reported a net loss for the three months to September of 136bn yen ($1.2bn; £762m).

The loss, which was attributed to its struggling mobile phone business, was not as great as analysts had expected, BBC reports.

In September the firm warned its annual loss might be more than four times bigger than initially forecast.

The firm said it now expects a full-year loss of 230bn yen, compared with a previous estimate of 50bn yen.

On Friday, Sony also reported an operating loss of 85.6bn yen for the September quarter, despite an increase in sales of 7.2% to 1.9tn yen for the period, compared with a year ago.

Sony said the rise in overall sales numbers was mostly due to a “significant increase” in its games and network services sales, “reflecting the contribution of the PlayStation 4.”

Tough competition

The electronics giant has been losing money due to competition in the smartphone sector from global rivals such as Apple and Samsung.

It said it would start to reduce its smartphone presence in China particularly, where it has been losing ground to domestic firms including Xiaomi.

Sony has also been struggling this year to turn around its television unit, which has been losing money due to competition from Asian rivals including Samsung Electronics.

Two years ago, chief executive Kazuo Hirai promised to return Sony’s underperforming electronics business to profit.

But earlier this year he forecast the firm would remain unprofitable until 2015.

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Wal-Mart ups ante on holiday shopping

Wal-Mart is doing whatever it takes to rope in holiday shoppers however they want to buy.

For the first time, Wal-Mart Stores Incorporated is offering free shipping on what it considers the season’s top 100 hottest gifts, from board games to items related to Disney’s hit film “Frozen” items, starting Saturday. The move comes as rival Target Corp. began offering free shipping on all items, a programme that started late October and will last through December 20.

According to Associated Press, Wal-Mart is also planning to offer discounts, or what it refers to as “rollbacks,” on more than 20,000 items on a broad range of products, from groceries to TVs, starting Saturday. The timing is similar to last year, but the discounter said the assortment is broader.

It is also pulling forward by nearly a month 15 24-hour online deals originally reserved for the Thanksgiving weekend and so-called Cyber Monday, about double from last year. For the first time, Wal-Mart will allow shoppers to pick up those 24-hour online specials at the store. They include 40-inch Element TVs for $199, down from $298, and Crayola Paint Makers for $12, down from $18.88. Customers will be able to purchase the deals online starting shortly after midnight on Monday.

The online deals are in addition to several hundred online holiday specials that start Saturday.

“We’re trying to offer the best deals when they want them,” said Steve Bratspies, Wal-Mart’s executive vice president and general merchandise manager for Wal-Mart’s US division.

Wal-Mart unveiled some of the details of its holiday strategy as it considers matching online prices from competitors such as Amazon.com, a move that could help grab more customers but could also hurt profit margins.

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based discounter has matched prices of local store competitors but has not followed other retailers including Best Buy and Target in matching prices of online rivals. But last month, Wal-Mart started to test the strategy in five markets: Atlanta; Charlotte, North Carolina; Dallas; Phoenix; and northwest Arkansas.

Wal-Mart is trying to rev up sluggish sales in the US as it battles competition from online retailers, dollar stores and drugstores. At the same time, it’s also dealing with a slowly recovering economy that hasn’t benefited its low-income shoppers. As a result, Wal-Mart’s US namesake stores, which account for 60 per cent of its total business, haven’t reported growth in a key sales measure in six straight quarters.

Wal-Mart’s move underscores how stores are being forced to step up their game for the holiday shopping season, which accounts for about 20 per cent of retail industry’s annual sales. The National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group, forecasts a 4.1 per cent sales increase to $616.9bn for November and December from last year. But online sales, which are included in the forecast, are expected to increase anywhere from eight per cent to 11 per cent.

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PIB passage, kerosene subsidy report suffer setback

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The defection of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal, from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party to All Progressive Congress, and the subsequent adjournment of sitting of the lower house to December 3, may be a major setback to the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill and the presentation of the kerosene subsidy report.

The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Mr. Dakuku Peterside, told our correspondent that the kerosene subsidy report had been prepared, and would have been presented this week but for the adjournment.

In an interview on Tuesday this week, he also disclosed that the PIB had been harmonised, and would likely scale through before the end of the year.

However, talking to our correspondent, Peterside, who did not expect the house adjournment, expressed surprise.

Prior to the adjournment, Peterside had in Lagos said, “We are working on the bill and we are conscious of the fact that it is very critical to the economy of Nigeria, and so we are not taking it lightly. I want to reassure you again that we are taking the PIB very seriously and I am very optimistic that the bill would be passed before 2015.”

According to him, the PIB is critical to the survival and growth of the oil and gas sector and by extension the economy.

On the kerosene subsidy report, the legislator had told our correspondent last week that members of the House of Representatives would this week know the extent of malpractices in the kerosene subsidy scheme.

The probe of the kerosene subsidy scam by the legislators, our correspondent learnt, became necessary due to the irregularities that had been discovered in the scheme, where the government had continued to pay subsidy on the product without Nigerians benefiting from the arrangement.

Under the subsidy arrangement, Nigerians are meant to pay N50 per litre for the product; but that has not been the case as people are buying the product for N120 and above in filling stations nationwide.

Another legislator from the South-East geo-political zone told our correspondent in confidence that placing a December date for the passage of the PIB was becoming more unrealisable given the level of distraction in the polity and the abrupt adjournment of sittings.

He said it was very likely that campaigning among candidates could steal the show when the house finally would reconvene in December.

He also described the situation as unfortunate, saying it would take extra commitment on the side of the legislators to address pressing issues like the PIB and kerosene report holistically before the end of the current National Assembly.

The PIB has been in the works for the past six years. It first found its way into the legislature in 2008 when the administration forwarded the PIB 2008 to the sixth National Assembly. After making some progress, the bill suffered setbacks in 2011.

In 2012, the technical committee and a special task force on the PIB were set up by the new administration. The committee was to harmonise the various versions of the draft bill, while the task force was saddled with the responsibility of incorporating all changes made by the committee, among other things.

The process which culminated in the PIB 2012 was sent to the current National Assembly.

In February this year, Tambuwal said that available records indicated that the Federal Government spent over N1tn on kerosene subsidy between 2010 and 2013.

Tambuwal said in spite of the expenditure not having the approval of the National Assembly, the product was not available for Nigerians to buy.

“Curiously, since there were no budgetary provisions for subsidy on kerosene, the people of Nigeria would obviously be interested in knowing the source of funding of kerosene subsidy and on whose authority such money was appropriated,” the Speaker had said.

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Pirate Bay co-founder jailed in Denmark

The Swedish co-founder of file-sharing website The Pirate Bay was sentenced to three years and six months in jail Friday in the largest hacking case in Denmark’s history, AFP reports.

Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, 30, was sentenced at a Copenhagen district court a day after he was found guilty of “hacking and aggravated vandalism”.

The prosecutor had requested a six-year jail term for Warg, and two years for his co-defendant, a 21-year-old Dane, who received a six-month sentence instead.

The court in Frederiksberg, in central Denmark, said Warg’s “piracy was systematic, intensive and long-term.”

“In addition, significant amounts of highly sensitive personal information were downloaded,” the court said.

The court said they hacked into the Danish systems of IT giant CSC and illegally downloaded police files and social security information between February and August 2012.

Warg had denied all charges saying that his computer had been used remotely to carry out the attacks, but the court dismissed his claim.

Warg was handed over to Denmark in November 2013 from Sweden, where he was serving a one-year sentence for hacking into the computer systems of contractors working for the national tax authority.

The Pirate Bay, which Warg created with another computer nerd in 2003, has evolved into one of the most visited sites for sharing copyrighted works.

In 2009, Warg was sentenced to one year in jail and ordered to pay criminal damages to the music and film industry for his part in founding the website.

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Inlaks installs Hyosung Windows7 ATMs in banks

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An ICT and infrastructure solutions provider, Inlaks Computers, has confirmed the deployment of Hyosung Windows 7 Automated Teller Machines in banks.

This, according to the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Inlaks Computers, Mr. Femi Adeoti, is coming ahead of Microsoft’s announcement of support stoppage for Windows XP in April 2014.

He said the move was also in line with the company’s core vision of delivering greater values and benefits to banks in the country.

Adeoti, in a statement by the firm, was quoted as saying, “The deployment began early this year and some banks have already taken advantage of Hyosung Windows seven ATMs. The company still has large stocks of the products available to meet customers’ demands.”

The Executive Director of the company, Mr. Rajiv Bhatnagar, also said that Hyosung Windows 7 ATMs delivered expanded security solutions with tighter control of process to transmit communication using a technique known as Session Zero Isolation, which made it difficult for malware to exploit process and session boundaries.

Microsoft had announced that support for Windows XP would cease in April 2014.

The latest move, therefore, had put Inlaks ahead of the companies delivering ATMs in Nigeria, the firm said.

According to Bhatnagar, Microsoft Windows 7 technology, among others, improves consumer experience as it comes with new features such as object selection, rotation, zoom out, scrolling and gesture functions on the ATMs.

The Director, Sales and Strategy (Infrastructure Business), Mr. Tope Dare, said Microsoft Windows 7 enhanced operational and maintenance efficiencies by enabling its installation technology known as ImageX useful.

“This is in addition to simplifying connectivity using the new direct access utility which gives the choice to connect via low cost bandwidth for off premise installation without the need for an extra VPN utility,” he explained.

The statement noted that Hyosung was a fast growing ATM in the self-service market in Nigeria, owning its success to Inlaks Computers’ customer-centric approach to building a long term and mutually beneficial partnership with Hyosung ATM customers.

It listed some of the banks on the platform as First Bank, StanbicIBTC, Union Bank, Heritage Bank, Unity Bank, Jaiz Bank, Fidelity Bank, Keystone Bank, Access Bank, Skye Bank, Sterling Bank and Zenith Bank, with a few microfinance banks.

Microsoft Corporation announced to its clients last year that the switch to Windows 7 had security and privacy implications that could have significant impact on their businesses, hence the need to take urgent action.

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Power Sector: Kano Distribution Coy To Partner With Turkish Firm

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Residents of Kano State and its environs have got a reason to smile, as the state’s electricity distribution company is set to partner with its Turkish counterpart towards improving the quality of power supply in the state.

At a meeting in Kano, the Managing Director of Sahelian Power Limited, Mr. Jamil Gwamna said that the Turkish technical team would help train Kano electricity technical staff in order to increase power generation in the state.

According to the Turkish Distribution Company, a number of technical projects have been slated for execution to improve the quality and quantity of electricity in the north western states of Kano, Katsina and Jigawa.