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TikTok faces US breakup from Chinese parent ByteDance as Microsoft circles

The White House is preparing to force Chinese internet giant ByteDance to shed the US operations of TikTok, as potential buyers, including Microsoft Corp, are already in talks to buy the popular short video app, people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The move would be the culmination of US national security concerns over the safety of the personal data that TikTok handles. It would represent a major blow for the Beijing-based company, which became one of only a handful of truly global Chinese conglomerates thanks to TikTok’s commercial success.

It is was not immediately clear how the separation would happen and what ByteDance would do with the rest of TikTok’s global operations. 

An announcement on ByteDance’s plans for TikTok could come as early as Friday, the sources said, requesting anonymity because the matter is confidential.


US to pay $2.9 billion to Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline in Covid-19 vaccine deal

The US government will pay US$2.1 billion (S$2.89 billion) to Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline for Covid-19 vaccines to cover 50 million people and to underwrite the drug makers’ testing and manufacturing, the companies said on Friday.

The award is the biggest yet from ‘Operation Warp Speed’, the White House initiative aimed at accelerating access to vaccines and treatments to fight Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The deal, announced by the US Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Defense, works out at a cost of around US$42 per person inoculated.


British government declares war on obesity

The British government is determined to force its people to lose weight and wants this to happen fast.

“Obesity is one of the greatest long-term health challenges that we face as a country. It not only puts a strain on our National Health Service and care system, but it also piles pressure on our bodies, making us more vulnerable to many diseases, including, of course, coronavirus,” says British Health Secretary Matthew Hancock, who unveiled this week a slew of measures intended to “help people make healthier choices” in the food they consume.

But the measures are already under attack from opposition politicians who dismiss the initiative as merely intended to deflect attention from the government’s own record in managing health crises, and from leaders in the food industry who complain that the new regulations are too costly.


Arrest warrants issued for six Hong Kong democracy activists: Chinese state media

Chinese state television said on Friday that Hong Kong authorities had issued arrest warrants for six pro-democracy activists who fled the territory and are suspected of violating sweeping national security legislation that came into effect a month ago.

CCTV said the six were wanted on suspicion of secession or colluding with foreign forces, crimes that the new law punishes with up to life in prison.

It named the six as Nathan Law, Wayne Chan Ka Kui, Honcques Laus, Samuel Chu, Simon Cheng and Ray Wong Toi Yeung.


Apple tops Saudi Aramco as world’s most valuable company

Apple became the world’s most valuable company with its market value overtaking Saudi Aramco in the wake of better-than-expected earnings.

Apple jumped 10% on Friday, ending the day with a record market capitalisation of US$1.817 trillion.

It’s the first time the company’s valuation has surpassed that of Saudi Arabia’s national oil company, which made its market debut in Riyadh in December, and is valued at US$1.76 trillion.


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