- Samsung Woes Deepen Over Galaxy Note 7
Samsung Electronics took another hit Monday over its recalled Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, acknowledging it was “adjusting production” of the device after major distributors stopped offering replacements because of continued safety concerns.
The South Korean electronics giant has struggled in the wake of its September 2 decision to issue a global recall for 2.5 million Note 7s because of complaints that the lithium-ion battery exploded while charging.
Over the past week reports emerged of replacement units also catching fire, prompting US telecommunications firm AT&T and German rival T-Mobile to announce Sunday a halt to recall exchanges pending further investigations.
Their announcement prompted a steep dive in Samsung’s share price, which fell more than four percent at one point in morning trade. It recovered later to close the day at 1.68 million won ($1,515)– down 1.52 percent.
“We are in the process of adjusting production volumes,” Samsung said in a written response to the report.
The company said the move was “to enhance quality control and to enable thorough investigations following the recent cases of Galaxy Note 7 explosions”.
– Image problem –
With images of charred phones flooding social media, the unprecedented recall has proved a humiliation for a firm that prides itself as an icon of innovation and quality.
The recall process initially stumbled with some mixed messages, but seemed to be on track until last week when the reports of replacement phones catching fire began to emerge.
AT&T said it would still offer customers the option to exchange Galaxy Note 7s for another Samsung smartphone or other device of their choice, while T-Mobile said it was halting sales of the Note 7 as well as the exchanges.
“It’s all got very serious again,” said S.R. Kwon, an analyst at Dongbu Securities.
“They could just pull the Note 7 off the market, but the real concern is that it might not even end there,” Kwon said.
“It will damage Samsung’s brand image and also affect the sales of other Galaxy smartphones,” he added.
AT&T is the South Korean company’s third-biggest customer while T-Mobile’s parent is number four, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
Bryan Ma, vice president of devices research for IDC, called the latest development “an ongoing nightmare”.
“The question is, if they switched the (battery) supplier, why is this problem still happening?” Ma told Bloomberg. “In other words, was it really a supplier issue or is there something else going on?”
– Management spotlight –
The trouble with the Note 7 and the handling of the recall, which analysts say could cost up to $2.0 billion, has shone a spotlight on Samsung’s management at a time when it is navigating a tricky generational power transfer within its founding Lee family.
Industry experts have criticised the Lee dynasty for controlling the vast group through a complex web of cross-shareholdings, even though they directly own only about five percent of total stocks.
And Samsung is also under pressure from one of its shareholders, the activist US hedge fund Elliott Management run by billionaire Paul Singer.
In a detailed proposal unveiled last week, Elliott laid out a strategy for streamlining Samsung, splitting the company in two, dual-listing the resulting operating company on a US exchange and paying shareholders a special dividend of 30 trillion won ($27 billion).
Elliott argued that Samsung, currently a maze of listed and unlisted companies with a notoriously opaque ownership and management structure, had suffered from a long-term undervaluation in the equity market.
Despite all its problems, Samsung on Friday issued a stronger-than-expected operating profit forecast for the third quarter, thanks largely to strong sales of memory chips and OLED display panels.
5G Nationwide Deployment is 97 Percent Ready – NCC
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said that the commission is 97 percent ready for the deployment and implementation of 5G in the country.
NCC Executive Vice Chairman, Professor Umar Danbatta confirmed the commission’s readiness on Thursday, October 14, at the annual African Tech Alliance Forum (AFRITECH) 2021, held in Lagos with the theme: “Embracing Changes and Digital Transformation in the New Normal.”
Revealing that the NCC is working with operators to implement a number of initiatives to ensure network expansion, he also noted that this paradigm shift in communication has led to a significant increase in network connectivity requirements as a result of an unprecedented upsurge in internet traffic, occasioned by the use of a plethora of web applications.
Danbatta further announced that there is also a plan to auction spectrum in 3.5 gigahertz (Ghz) band to operators for the deployment of 5G network in Nigeria.
He said; “Already, we are set for the auction of some spectrum slots in 3.5GHz band. The other day I was at the National assembly, I informed the senate that we were 95 percent ready for 5G. Today as we speak, I am delighted to tell you that we are already at 97 percent completion.
“Consistent with our mandate as enshrined in the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 (NCA-2003) and other guiding legislations, we have been working to ensure the penetration of broadband services in line with Federal Government’s targets, as contained in Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020 to 2025.
“The Committee set up to auction the Spectrum has already developed an Information Memorandum (IM) which is already published for inputs and comments from all industry stakeholders. Prior to this, a 5G deployment plan was developed and we have since secured Federal Government’s approval.”
He stated that the trend has made remote work, virtual meetings, virtual studios, and virtual healthcare delivery, among others, the new normal.
The NCC boss was represented at the event by the Director, Spectrum Administration at the commission, Engineer Oluwatoyin Asaju and the commission’s Director of Public Affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde.
Flutterwave Eyes $3 Billion Valuation Ahead of Another Fundraising
Flutterwave, one of Nigeria’s tech unicorns, is presently in talks to raise an additional fund at a valuation of $3 billion or even more, according to a Bloomberg post.
The figure would triple Flutterwave’s last valuation of $1 billion.
Operating from both Lagos, Nigeria and San Francisco, US, Flutterwave held discussions with potential investors recently, the people familiar with the ongoing discussions stated. They explained that terms of funding are yet to be finalised and that it is likely to change.
The talks were led by the company Chief Executive Officer Olugbenga Agboola. In March, the company announced it has hits unicorn status after raising $170 million in a round led by Avenir Growth Capital and Tiger Global Management LLC. Other investors were DST Global, Greycroft, Insight Partners and Salesforce Ventures.
In the same March, the company announced a partnership with Paypal Inc. to enable its global customers to pay African merchants using Flutterwave’s platform.
Founded in 2016, Flutterwave facilitates cross-border transactions across Africa for companies including Facebook Inc., Uber Technologies Inc. and Booking.com. As of March, the startup said it had processed more than 140 million transactions worth over $9 billion in aggregate and that its revenue had risen at a compound annual growth rate of 225 percent between 2018 and 2020.
Nigeria’s Neobank Sparkle Raises $3.1 Million
One of Nigeria’s leading digital banks, Sparkle has raised $3.1 million in a seed round led by Leadway Assurance, Trium Network and other high net worth individuals to scale operations, according to the startup’s CEO, Uzoma Dozie.
The new fundraising was after the CEO raised $2 million in a pre-seed round from friends and family within the past year. Sparkle has now raised a combined $5 million.
Speaking on the startup, the CEO said Sparkle is different in the sense that it combines financial services with lifestyle to evolve with Nigeria’s need digital lifestyle.
He said “We’re quite different in a way because instead of separating financial services from lifestyle, we’ve tried to bring them together, especially as we’ve seen that more people are beginning to lead more digitally-led lives,” CEO Uzoma Dozie stated in an interview with Techcrunch.
“It means that we don’t see our customers from accounts, payments, deposits or credit perspectives, but from how can we help them do what they want to do at any particular time.”
Unlike other digital banks operating in Nigeria, Sparkle is serving both individuals and businesses on its platform. While digital banks like Kuda, VBank, Carbon, etc are offering tailored services to only individuals, Brass and Prospa are the other two serving businesses and individuals like Sparkle.
“As a small business, I’m not carrying my bank account on my mobile. I’m carrying my business. So we are bringing everything about your business into one place so that you can do business wherever you are,” Dozie said.
“For individuals, we’re bringing everything into one place so that you can do what you want to do quite easily wherever you are. But the bottom line is that we’re providing you with the information that you need to take spontaneous decisions.”
With its microfinance bank license, the digital bank has partnered with Visa to ensure customers can make in-person and online payments. Other partnerships are with companies like Network International and PwC Nigeria.
Since launching in 2020, Sparkle has opened accounts for over 40,000 individual users and 2,000 businesses. The digital bank is however charging individual customers small fees to keep their accounts operational and plan to charge businesses for most features except taxation services.
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