In Brief: CLO Edition
2018 Dec 14
Today's Top Story
Hackers Hit Global Firms With Cyberspying Campaign
Recent research released by cybersecurity firm McAfee showed that hackers infiltrated dozens of companies around the world with advanced malicious software that stole information from their systems. The campaign, called "Operation Sharpshooter," targeted defense and government organizations, reports CNBC (12 December, Browne). The report said the cybercriminals targeted individuals at 87 companies across 24 countries between October and November using social media, sending them messages disguised as recruitment campaigns to get them to open a malicious document. Once the document was opened, another program called "Rising Sun" was installed, opening a "backdoor" portal that gave hackers the ability to extract intelligence and send it on to a control server. Raj Samani, chief scientist and fellow at McAfee, said the firm is aware that the campaign was intended to conduct espionage, but the ultimate purpose remains to be seen. Samani said he hopes that by sharing the details of the campaign, it will "prevent the true nature of the campaign from being carried out."
Samsung BioLogics' Office Raided in Accounting Probe
South Korean prosecutors have raided Samsung BioLogics’s head office as part of a criminal probe into alleged accounting fraud. Prosecutors also raided Samsung Biologics’ auditing firms Samjong KPMG and Deloitte Anjin, reports Reuters (13 December, Yang). Last month, the Financial Services Commission filed a complaint against the biotech arm of the group, saying it purposely breached accounting rules ahead of its 2016 listing. Samsung BioLogics denied wrongdoing and filed an administrative lawsuit against the regulator.
Comfort Systems Announces GC Transition
Comfort Systems USA has announced that Trent T. McKenna will transition from his current role as senior vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary to a regional operations role, effective 1 January. The company has appointed Laura F. Howell to serve as McKenna's replacement. Brian Lane, President and CEO of the company, which provides mechanical services like heating and air conditioning, said the transition was planned and McKenna wanted to serve in an operating role, according to a release published by Business Wire (12 December).
EU Agrees on Cybersecurity Act
Politico Europe (11 December, Cerulus) reports that EU officials on Monday agreed to the details of a new EU Cybersecurity Act, which aims to make internet-connected devices more secure and bolster the EU's cyber agency's powers. Final details of the EU Cybersecurity Act include a permanent mandate for the EU's cybersecurity agency ENISA, a requirement that manufacturers of Internet of Things devices add product information brochures for consumers to understand how secure the devices are, a decree the Commission should draft a list of products that need a mandatory certification, and a requirement that companies set up ways to report and share vulnerabilities.
Australia's LNG Exports Fuel Domestic Supply Concerns
Last month, Australia became the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG). However, the export boom has come at a cost since the country is now facing a looming domestic gas shortage, causing increasing prices and concerns over the security of the supply. The problem caused the government last year to legislate for export control restrictions on east coast LNG exporters when domestic supplies of gas run short, reports the Financial Times (12 December, Smyth). Now, the boom has spawned a race to build LNG import terminals capable of receiving and distributing gas sourced from as far away as the U.S. and Middle East to Australian customers. A wave of LNG import terminals are being deployed all over the world to meet the increasing demand for gas, with more than 40 floating storage and regasification units (FSRU) either in service or under construction.
SoftBank to Remove Existing Huawei Equipment
Over the next few years, Japanese mobile carrier SoftBank will replace the Huawei Technologies equipment in its 4G telecommunications network infrastructure with hardware made by Ericsson and Nokia. The move comes as concerns rise about the use of Chinese telecommunications equipment. SoftBank's parent company, SoftBankGroup, is involved in China's business landscape, owning 29 percent of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding and a majority stake in the country's ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing. However, SoftBank appears to view security concerns and the loss of major clients as a greater risk than the potential repercussions for its China operations, reports Nikkei Asian Review (13 December).
Food and Beverage
McDonald's to Reduce Antibiotic Use in Its Beef
McDonald's has announced plans to reduce the use of antibiotics in its global beef supply, reports CNBC News (12 December), fueling projections that other restaurant chains will follow the fast-food giant's lead. McDonald's has become the biggest beef buyer to tackle the issue, potentially creating a new standard for livestock producers and threatening sales by drug companies. McDonald's plan is to measure the use of antibiotics in its 10 largest markets and set targets to curb their use by the decade's end.
Convictions Over Alleged Train Tender Cartel Recommended by Brazil Antitrust Authority
Cade, Brazil's antitrust authority, has recommended that a court convict 16 companies and 52 people over allegations that they were involved in forming a cartel to fix bids for public train contracts across central and southern Brazil. Cade said the companies, which include units of Mitsui & Co. Ltd. and Bombardier Inc., could pay up to 20 percent of gross revenue if convicted. Individuals could pay fines of 50,000 to 2 billion reais (US$13,000 to US$514 million). Cade said the cartel's members had divided up tenders between themselves and "pretended there was competition, but had agreed previously on the prices of their bids," reports Reuters (12 December).
China to Increase Access for Foreign Companies
China is planning a new economic program that will give greater access to foreign companies, reports the Wall Street Journal (12 December, Lei, Davis). China's top planning agency and senior policy advisers are reportedly drafting a replacement for Made in China 2025, President Xi Jinping's blueprint to make the Asian nation a leader in various high-tech industries. The revised plan would play down China's bid to be a dominant player in manufacturing and be more open to participation by foreign companies, according to sources. The new policy is expected to be rolled out in the first quarter of 2019.
Spain to Raise Minimum Wage by 22 Percent
In 2019, Spain's minimum wage will increase by 22 percent. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced the increase, the largest in more than 40 years, declaring "a rich country cannot have poor workers." Spain sets the minimum wage annually, but recent increases have been smaller—set at just 4 percent a year ago, reports BBC News (12 December). The announcement comes days after France's president Emmanuel Macron announced a €100 increase for minimum wage earners beginning in 2019.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Plastic Water Bottles Under the Microscope
The world’s biggest bottled-water makers are trying to find alternative packaging since consumers are now avoiding disposable plastic. However, the industry has tried and failed to make a better water bottle for years, reports the Wall Street Journal (12 December, Chaudhuri). Existing recycling technology needs clean, clear plastic to make new water bottles, and bottled-water companies say low recycling rates and a lack of infrastructure have hindered supply. Evian has pledged to make all its plastic bottles entirely from recycled plastic by 2025. Evian’s parent company Danone is putting its hope in a new technology that claims to turn old plastic from things like dirty carpets and ketchup bottles into plastic suitable for new water bottles. Meanwhile, Poland Spring-owner Nestlé is rolling out glass and aluminum packaging for some brands and trying to find ways to make all its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025.