Company news in brief

26 February 2020 | Sakenuus
Clover partners with GSK on corona vaccine

China's Clover Biopharmaceuticals said on Monday it had entered into a research tie-up with Britain's GlaxoSmithKline for its protein-based coronavirus vaccine candidate "COVID-19 S-Trimer".

Clover, a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on developing novel biologic therapies, said GSK will provide it with its pandemic adjuvant system for further evaluation of the vaccine candidate in preclinical studies.

Adjuvants are used to improve vaccine immunogenicity – the ability of a particular substance to provoke an immune response in the body.

Fears of a coronavirus pandemic grew on Monday after sharp rises in new cases reported in Iran, Italy and South Korea but China relaxed restrictions on movements in several places including Beijing as its rates of new infections eased. – Nampa/Reuters

Huawei launches Mate XS foldable smartphone

Huawei unveiled an upgrade to its folding smartphone on Monday, hoping that a higher-quality display and faster hardware will encourage consumers to spend as much as US$2 700 on its premium version.

The new Mate XS comes a year after the Chinese tech giant showed off its first folding phone, which had back-to back screens that opened to create an eight-inch display. That device went on sale in China in November after the company improved the design.

The Mate XS has the same size display as its predecessor but comes with a stronger screen and an improved hinge mechanism to make the device more durable, Huawei's chief salesman Richard Yu told a launch presentation in Barcelona.

Samsung Electronics, the world's top smartphone maker by volume, narrowly beat its rival in the folding race last year, but its launch was delayed after testers encountered problems with its screens.

The Mate XS, like last year's Mate 30 smartphone, will lack access to a licensed version of Google's Android operating system after the United States in effect barred its companies from supplying Huawei last year. – Nampa/Reuters

Gemfields' Mozambique ruby unit attacked

Artisanal miners torched a car belonging to miner Gemfields' Mozambique operation on Saturday and attacked the occupants with pickaxes, injuring three employees and one security contractor, the company said.

Gemfields owns 75% of Montepuez Ruby Mining (MRM), which operates in northern Mozambique. The mine, considered to be the world's largest deposit of rubies, is located in a region rife with crime, illegal mining and that is home to a nascent Islamist insurgency.

The attack follows an incident earlier in February when 800 artisanal miners invaded a pit belonging to MRM, 11 of whom died when parts of the pit collapsed.

MRM says the artisanal miners are exploited by illegal ruby-smuggling syndicates, and receive only a fraction of the true market value of the rubies they obtain.

The latest attack seriously injured three MRM employees, while the security contractor sustained lighter injuries, MRM said.

Gemfields, which owns jewellery-maker Faberge, listed in London on Feb. 14. – Nampa/Reuters

Mastercard says virus to hit Q1 revenue

Mastercard Inc said on Monday its net revenue in the first quarter will take a hit of between 2% and 3% over its previous forecast if the coronavirus outbreak persists through the quarter.

The company now expects revenue growth between 9% and 10% in the current quarter as the virus impacts travel and e-commerce across borders.

The credit card issuer also expects that net revenue growth on a year-over-year basis in 2020 would be at the low end of the low-teens range if the impact of the virus is limited to the first quarter only.

The company had earlier forecast net revenue growth in low teens for 2020 while expecting revenue to grow in low double digits for the first quarter.

The virus has killed 2 442 and infected 76 936 people so far in China, and slammed the brakes on the world's second-largest economy. – Nampa/Reuters

Aramco launches massive shale gas development

Saudi Aramco is launching the biggest shale gas development outside of the United States to boost domestic gas supply and end the burning of oil at its power generation plants, chief executive officer Amin Nasser has said.

The world's top crude oil exporter has for years battled for market share with rapidly expanding shale oil producers in the United States, which in just a decade have developed capacity to pump millions of barrels per day of oil from rock formations that were previously too costly to tap.

Saudi Arabia fought a price war aimed at putting the US shale industry out of business just six years ago, which ultimately failed.

Now, the country has adopted the techniques developed in US fields - which started with gas - for the huge US$110 billion Jafurah shale gas field project. Aramco said it received the go ahead for the project on Saturday.

If Aramco hits its targets for development of the field, Saudi Arabia would become the world's third largest gas producer by 2030. The world's top two gas producers are the United States and Russia. – Nampa/Reuters

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