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As a consequence, the prime minister faces what is unquestionably a difficult set of circumstances, and matters will doubtless come to a head on the 11th, only a week or so before members of the Westminster Parliament plan to disperse for the Christmas holidays. At that point, there will be just three months remaining until the current deadline for Britain’s departure from the EU under the terms of Article 50, the section of a European treaty that dictates the legal process underpinning this unprecedented divorce.

After May’s misadvised decision last year to call a General Election, which robbed her Conservative Party of the legislative seats necessary to push through new laws under its own steam, her governing majority in Parliament’s lower chamber had already grown razor thin. But in recent weeks the public opposition to the prime minister’s proposed version of Brexit has further weakened her hold on the Commons, as the small Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party that helped prop up her government since that 2017 election has refused to back some of the government’s latest finance measures.

And when it comes to the parliamentary arithmetic around the December 11 vote, May will not only have to countenance abstentions from those same DUP lawmakers. She will likely also face dozens of oppositional votes from members of her own party. If she is to reach the required majority to pass her plan, she will need to win over at least as many parliamentary members from opposition parties like Labour and the Liberal Democrats. For that to happen, May has clearly tried to frame the options in front of lawmakers in as narrow a manner as possible; it is, she has been at pains to repeat, “my deal or no deal,” with the third option being no Brexit at all — one that she has categorically ruled out as being fundamentally undemocratic.

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Air China reportedly asks Boeing for compensation



An Air China Boeing 747-400 aircraft transporting China’s President Xi Jinping taxis for departure from Hong Kong’s international airport on July 1, 2017.

Tengku Bahar | AFP | Getty Images

Air China has formally asked Boeing for compensation over the grounding of its 737 MAX aircraft and delayed deliveries of its orders, the state TV China Central Television reported on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, China Eastern Airlines said it has requested compensation from Boeing for the grounding of its 14 737 MAX aircraft.

WATCH: Boeing 737 Max crash in Ethiopia reportedly may have been caused by birds

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TransferWise valued at $3.5 billion after $292 million secondary sale



TransferWise co-founders Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Kaarmann.


TransferWise, the money transfer company that’s taking on Western Union, is valued at $3.5 billion after a new investment round, making it Europe’s most valuable financial technology start-up.

In lowering fees and adding a slick online platform to help consumers move money globally and track their transfers, the London-based company is taking a modern approach to a staid business that’s been dominated by giants like Western Union and MoneyGram.

The company says it’s been pushing for more transparency around the fees banks and currency exchange services charge their customers for transferring money abroad.

“Eight years ago we had a dream, and in a way the whole world was against us,” said TransferWise co-founder and Chairman Taavet Hinrikus in an interview. “And we’ve been able to step by step build the business and also change the environment around us to be much more consumer friendly.”

TransferWise isn’t adding fresh cash to its balance sheet with the investment, but instead giving employees and early investors the chance to sell some of their stake in a $292 million secondary deal.

European private equity group Vitruvian Partners and U.S. investment firms Lone Pine Capital and Lead Edge Capital bought shares from existing investors, while early investors Andreessen Horowitz and Baillie Gifford increased their holdings in the company. Funds managed by BlackRock also contributed to the round.

“We have been a profitable company for the past two years, we have a significant amount of cash sitting on our balance sheet,” Hinrikus said. “The company does not need any cash.”

TransferWise booked a net profit of £6.2 million ($7.9 million) for the fiscal year ending March 2018, while annual revenue almost doubled to £117 million. The company says it’s signing up 10,000 new business customers a month, and now has 5 million total customers, processing £4 billion in monthly transactions.

The latest fundraising means TransferWise is now the most valuable fintech start-up in Europe, surpassing British digital lender OakNorth, which was last valued at $2.8 billion.

Hinrikus said the company isn’t in a rush to go public.

“While we believe we’ll be a public company eventually, that doesn’t help us do what we want to do in the next couple of years,” he said.

For now, the company is focused on growth. TransferWise currently has more than 1,600 employees worldwide and will hire 750 more over the next 12 months, Hinrikus said.

WATCH: How TransferWise has integrated its product into bank apps

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Chinese social media users are rallying behind Huawei



A man walks past a Huawei shop in Beijing, China, March 7, 2019.

Thomas Peter | Reuters

Chinese consumers are throwing their support behind Huawei, accusing the U.S. of “bullying the company,” with some on social media saying they’re looking to buy the technology giant’s products over Apple.

The U.S. has stepped up pressure on Huawei recently, putting it on a blacklist that requires American firms to get a license from the government before selling to the Chinese telecom equipment and smartphone maker. The move threatens to cut of the supply of key components to Huawei.

Alphabet’s Google also said it would suspend some business with Huawei earlier this week. But the U.S. scaled back some of those restrictions, granting a 90-day period for American firms to continue working with Huawei, including Google.

Chinese social media users, many of whom are often very patriotic about home-grown brands, have been rallying behind Huawei. A hashtag on Twitter-like social media site Weibo, which translates as “Huawei’s chip doesn’t need to rely on U.S. supply chain,” had nearly 50 million views.

And some users are saying they’re now looking to buy Huawei products over those from Apple.

“I’ve also decided to buy a Huawei Phone, and I will change my plan from buying an Apple Watch into a Huawei product, taking action to support Huawei,” one Weibo user said in a Mandarin post that was translated by CNBC. “It had been bullied by the U.S. so poorly recently.”

“Even though my stock investment account is facing a loss continuously, I’m still preparing to switch my other phone into Huawei, to show support with action,” another user said.

One users said it’s a “fantasy” to stop Huawei. “We will stop Apple,” the netizen said.

It’s unclear how widespread the anti-Apple sentiment is in China, but one expert cautioned that online claims shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

“It is true that nationalistic sentiment is rising in light of recent events, and I won’t be surprised if Apple takes a bit of heat as a result. But many users in China still aspire for Apple’s prestige and products. We need to be careful not to overgeneralize based upon a sample of vocal users online,” said Bryan Ma, vice president of devices research at market research firm International Data Corporation.

Apple declined to comment when contacted by CNBC for this report.

I think it wouldn’t take much for Beijing to flip the switch on national sentiment and really call for an outright ban (of Apple).

David Riedel

president and founder of the Riedel Research Group

Greater China accounts for around 17% of Apple’s net sales. In the company’s fiscal second quarter, Greater China net sales fell over 21% year-on-year.

The company has faced intense competition in China from Huawei and other players like Xiaomi. It has also struggled with its pricing strategy for its latest devices in the country and retailers were forced to slash prices on some of those models earlier this year.

But experts said the political tensions between the U.S. and China could end up hurting Apple further.

“I think it wouldn’t take much for Beijing to flip the switch on national sentiment and really call for an outright ban,” David Riedel, president and founder of the Riedel Research Group, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Wednesday.

“We have seen social media ticking up in terms of an unofficial blacklist of Apple, I think the Chinese believe they have a very good alternative in Huawei and their other homegrown and homemade handsets.”

Huawei is the world’s second-largest smartphone maker in the world by market share behind Samsung. But cutting it off from key U.S. suppliers could hurt its global ambitions, experts said.

While Huawei relies on American firms for its products, Apple also has a large number of Chinese suppliers. If there is disruption to the supply chain for Apple, that could hurt sales.

Nicole Peng, vice president of mobility at Canalys, noted that Apple has been called out before by Chinese consumers. Those times, she said, boycott activities “usually only last for a few weeks.”

This time could be different, however.

“Although Apple is very experienced, this time could be the toughest (the company has) ever seen and they should try everything to communicate with their loyal users on where they stand meanwhile,” Peng told CNBC, adding that the American tech giant may have to “embrace” a negative turn for its China sales in the short term.

Interestingly, Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei has often praised Apple. He called it a “great company” during an interview with CNBC earlier this year.

In another interview on Wednesday with Chinese media, Ren also spoke of the importance of working with American firms.

“In such a critical moment, I’m grateful to U.S. companies, as they’ve contributed a lot to Huawei’s development and showed their conscientiousness on the matter,” Ren said, according to the Global Times, a news outlet run by China’s Communist Party.

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