Plans for cryptocurrency Hong Kong IPO shelved amid bitcoin slump

Bitcoin experienced astonishing growth in 2017 to peak at a record $19,500 by the end of that year, but has since crashed to stand at about $3,980. (AFP)
Updated 27 March 2019
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Plans for cryptocurrency Hong Kong IPO shelved amid bitcoin slump

  • Bitmain Technologies has allowed its IPO application to lapse, six months after it was initially filed in September
  • ‘The bear market at the end of 2018 brought both challenges and opportunities that Bitmain will work hard at addressing in 2019’

HONG KONG: The world’s largest maker of cryptocurrency mining chips has shelved plans for an ambitious initial public offering in Hong Kong, becoming the latest victim of bitcoin’s price plunge.
Bitmain Technologies said Tuesday it has allowed its IPO application to lapse, six months after it was initially filed in September aiming to raise up to $3 billion, according to Bloomberg News.
Under Hong Kong’s listing rules, applications expire half a year after filing.
“We do recognize that despite the huge potential of the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry, it remains a relatively young industry which is proving its value,” the Beijing-based company said on its blog on Tuesday.
“The bear market at the end of 2018 brought both challenges and opportunities that Bitmain will work hard at addressing in 2019,” it said, adding it would restart its application “at an appropriate time in the future.”
Bitcoin experienced astonishing growth in 2017 to peak at a record $19,500 by the end of that year.
But investors feared a speculative bubble and it has since crashed to stand at about $3,980 per unit following months of volatile trading.
The virtual bubble burst — followed by what has become the worst slump in years — has made mining operations practically unprofitable.
Bitmain’s co-founders Micree Zhan and Jihan Wu became the richest cryptocurrency billionaires to appear on a list by Hurun Report last year of China’s wealthiest people.
The entrepreneurs have stepped down from their roles as CEOs and were replaced by Haichao Wang, the statement said, but it added the pair would continue to guide the company’s strategic development as directors.
In addition to a leadership reshuffle, the announcement also alluded to layoffs made at the end of last year and described them as “a difficult but necessary decision.”
It did not say how many employees were affected.
Other manufacturers have faced similar hurdles recently.
Bitmain’s rival Canaan saw its listing application expire in November.
Mining chip maker Ebang is still pursuing a Hong Kong IPO after refiling its application in December.


Amazon workers strike as ‘Prime’ shopping frenzy hits

Updated 16 July 2019
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Amazon workers strike as ‘Prime’ shopping frenzy hits

  • The protesters waves signs with messages along the lines of “We’re human, not robots”
  • The strike was part of an ongoing effort to pressure the company on issues including job safety, equal opportunity in the workplace, and concrete action on issues including climate change

SAN FRANCISCO: Amazon workers walked out of a main distribution center in Minnesota on Monday, protesting for improved working conditions during the e-commerce titan’s major “Prime” shopping event.
Amazon workers picketed outside the facility, briefly delaying a few trucks and waving signs with messages along the lines of “We’re human, not robots.”
“We know Prime Day is a big day for Amazon, so we hope this strike will help executives understand how serious we are about wanting real change that will uplift the workers in Amazon’s warehouses,” striker Safiyo Mohamed said in a release.
“We create a lot of wealth for Amazon, but they aren’t treating us with the respect and dignity that we deserve.”
Organizers did not disclose the number of strikers, who said employees picketed for about an hour in intense heat before cutting the protest short due to the onset of heavy rain.
The strike was part of an ongoing effort to pressure the company on issues including job safety, equal opportunity in the workplace, and concrete action on issues including climate change, according to community organization Awood Center.
US Democratic presidential contenders Kamila Harris and Bernie Sanders were among those who expressed support for the strikers on Twitter.
“I stand in solidarity with the courageous Amazon workers engaging in a work stoppage against unconscionable working conditions in their warehouses,” Sanders said in a tweet.
“It is not too much to ask that a company owned by the wealthiest person in the world treat its workers with dignity and respect.”
Amazon employees also went on strike at seven locations in Germany, demanding better wages as the US online retail giant launched its two-day global shopping discount extravaganza called Prime Day.
Amazon had said in advance that the strike would not affect deliveries to customers.
Amazon has consistently defended work conditions, contending it is a leader when it comes to paying workers at least $15 hourly and providing benefits.
The company last week announced plans to offer job training to around one-third of its US workforce to help them gain skills to adapt to new technologies.
Amazon has been hustling to offer one-day deliver on a wider array of products as a perk for paying $119 annually to be a member of its “Prime” service, which includes streaming films and television shows.
The work action came on the opening day of a major “Prime” shopping event started in 2015.
Now in 17 countries, the event will span Monday and Tuesday, highlighted by a pre-recorded Taylor Swift video concert and promotions across a range of products and services from the e-commerce leader.
Prime Day sales for Amazon are expected to hit $5 billion this year, up from $3.2 billion in 2018, which at the time represented its biggest ever global shopping event, JP Morgan analyst Doug Anmuth says in a research note.