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Europeans Bet Big Against Facebook

Europeans Bet Big Against Facebook

Today in international tech news: A large number of European traders are placing bets that Facebook's stock will continue to tumble in the coming months. Also: Google defends itself against accusations from the EU, a longtime Research In Motion executive steps down, a Latvian firm is ordered to pay a fine after duping people into downloading fake apps, and an Apple designer is knighted.

By David Vranicar TechNewsWorld ECT News Network
05/24/12 8:31 AM PT

European traders are wagering that Facebook's stock slide will continue, according to an article from Bloomberg.

So-called put warrants, whose buyers benefit if share prices drop below a pre-determined level, have been the most actively traded structured products related to Facebook since the company's IPO last week, according to Bloomberg.

A handful of banks are aggressively pursuing the put warrants. For instance, Swizterland's Bank Vontobel's most popular Facebook-related product is a put warrant that will benefit investors if Facebook's shares are below US$22 -- the so-called strike price -- in December.

Julius Bear, another Swiss banking group, has two put warrants with strike prices of $35 and $30 on Zurich's Scoach exchange.

RIM Exec Quits

Patrick Spence, a 14-year veteran of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, is stepping down from his post as the head of global sales, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Spence, 37, was based in London. A RIM spokesperson told the Journal that he would be moving on to a different industry.

This is but the latest in the months-long calamity that has engulfed once-mighty RIM. In January, a pair of tenured coCEOs stepped down, and there were yet more resignations in March.

With growing competition from Apple and Google, the company has lost about 75 percent of its market capitalization over the past year, according to the Journal.

The Pirate Bay Evolving

In what could be one of the world's biggest ever games of cat and mouse, The Pirate Bay has added a new website that allows users to bypass attempted Internet service provider blocks, according to TorrentFreak.

The move by The Pirate Bay comes on the heels of rulings in the UK and the Netherlands which ordered ISPs to restrict access to the site. Similar legislation has been passed in Belgium as well.

The Pirate Bay is now operating from a new IP address, thus making it available even in countries with bans on the address "thepiratebay.org." In addition, the new site is compatible with proxies, which will make it accessible via proxy servers should it, too, be blocked.

The Torrent Freak article goes on to say that this is yet more evidence that blocking The Pirate Bay is "virtually impossible."

Firm Fined for Fake Apps

A Latvian firm has been fined pounds 50,000, or about US$63,000, for tricking people into downloading a smartphone app that resulted in premium-rate text messages, according to the BBC.

The phony apps resulted in inflated phone bills from unsuspecting users. As such, the firm has been ordered to pay an additional pounds 28,000, or about $35,000, to mobile users.

The apps were designed to look like popular games such as "Angry Birds" and "Cut the Rope," according to the BBC.

But when people tried to open the apps, they instead were automatically sent three text messages costing pounds 5 ($7.86) a pop. The charges were hidden, leaving a little surprise on that month's phone bill.

Apple Designer Knighted

London-born Apple designer Jonathan Ive was knighted Wednesday in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace, according to Mashable.

Ive -- or Sir Jonathan -- is responsible for "most of Apple's ultra-sleek gadgets over the past two decades," according to the article. His catalogue of achievements includes designs for the iMac G3, iPod, iPhone and iPad.

Sir Jonathan was originally knighted in December, according to the BBC, but the official ceremony was this week.

The Guardian landed an interview with Sir Jonathan, who now lives in California.

Google Responds to EC Allegations

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt on Wednesday responded to the EC's antitrust ultimatum, according to ZD Net.

Schmidt said that his company does not think it violated EU competition laws. He reportedly sent a letter requesting a detailed list of the supposed infractions.

"Give us the data, give us the precise example of the precise problem, and we will understand that," Schmidt said at Google's Big Tent Event outside London. "We don't know what that is."

ZDNet UK understands that the Commission feels it has been clear about its objections in its letter to Google and believes it is now for the search company to come up with solutions.


Tech Trek is a blog that looks at tech news from around the world. David Vranicar is a freelance journalist currently living in the Netherlands. His ECT News Network archive, with links to articles and podcasts, is available here. You can email him at david.vranicar@newsroom.ectnews.com



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