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Opera refutes Hindenburg Research’s allegation that it violated Google’s policy 

Opera Ltd has denied claims by investment firm, Hindenburg Research, suggesting that its apps violate Google’s policy. 

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Opera refutes Hindenburg Research’s allegation that it violated Google’s policy 

Opera Ltd, the Oslo-based developer of Opera web browser and other affiliated services like OPay and OKash, has denied claims by an investment firm, Hindenburg Research, suggesting that its apps violate Google’s policy.

A brief statement that was issued on the company’s website acknowledged the Hindenburg report, and then called it misleading and unsubstantiated before proceeding to reiterate that the Opera brand is built on “high standards of corporate governance”.

“The Company is aware of and has carefully reviewed the report published by the short seller on January 16, 2020. The Company believes that the report contains numerous errors, unsubstantiated statements, and misleading conclusions and interpretations regarding the business and events relating to the Company.”

Focus on the allegation: The Hindenburg report, which was published on the 16th of January, made some really damaging allegations against Opera. According to the report, Opera’s lending platforms, which operate in Nigeria (OKash), Kenya, and India, have been violating a Google policy aimed at stamping out short-term payday loan apps from Google Play Store.

In other words, OKash, for instance, reportedly lures potential Nigerian customers with promises of longer-term loans, even though these offers are, as a matter of fact, short-term loans with outrageous charge rates that often exceed 300%.

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[READ MORE: MTN, Globacom, Etisalat Violated Porting Process Time – NCC)

In view of this, therefore, the report asserted that Opera’s entire business model could be very much affected, should Google decide to look into the violations. Below are excerpts from the report.

  • Most of Opera’s lending business is operated through apps offered on Google’s Play Store. In August, Google tightened rules to curtail predatory lending and, as a result, Opera’s apps are now in black and white violation of numerous Google rules.
  • Given that the vast majority of Opera’s loans are disbursed through Android apps, we think this entire line of business is at risk of disappearing or being severely curtailed when Google notices.
  • Instead of disclosing to investors that its “high-growth” microfinance segment could be imperilled by these new rules, Opera instead immediately raised $82 million in a secondary offering without disclosing Google’s changes to investors.
  • Opera’s short-term loan business now accounts for over 42% of the company’s revenue and is responsible for eye-popping top-line “growth”. Meanwhile, the segment experienced massive defaults (~50% of lending revenue) and company-wide cash flow has worsened.

In the meantime, Google has not reacted to this report no taken action towards punishing Opera for the alleged “violation”. It should also be noted that Opera’s OKash feature was temporarily removed following the report by Hindenburg Research.

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Emmanuel is a professional writer and business journalist, with interests covering Banking & Finance, Mergers and Acquisitions, Corporate Profiles, Brand Communication, Fintech, and MSMEs. He initially joined Nairametrics as an all-round Business Analyst, but later began focusing on and covering the financial services sector. He has also held various leadership roles, including Senior Editor, QAQC Lead, and Deputy Managing Editor. Emmanuel holds an M.Sc in International Relations from the University of Ibadan, graduating with Distinction. He also graduated with a Second Class Honours (Upper Division) from the Department of Philosophy & Logic, University of Ibadan. If you have a scoop for him, you may contact him via his email- [email protected] You may also contact him through various social media platforms, preferably LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Hospitality & Travel

Aviation Unions threaten to shut airspace on Monday, as NLC insists on strike

All aviation workers are directed to withdraw their services at all aerodromes nationwide on 28th September 2020.

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Major aviation unions in Nigeria have threatened to shut the nation’s airspace in support of the Organised Labour nationwide industrial action expected to commence on Monday, September 28, 2020.

The unions are the National Union of Air Transport Employees, National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria and the Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals.

This was disclosed by the General Secretary of the National Union of Aviation Employees, Aba Ocheme, in a statement, according to Vanguard.

The unions reportedly asked their members to withdraw services from all aerodromes nationwide indefinitely.

He said, “As such all workers in the aviation sector are hereby directed to withdraw their services at all aerodromes nationwide as from 00hrs of 28th September 2020 until otherwise communicated by the NLC/TUC or our unions. All workers shall comply.”

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Meanwhile, the Nigeria Labour Congress on Friday also insisted that it will go on with its planned mass action scheduled for Monday, September 28.

In a communique by its General Secretary, Comrade Emmanuel Ugboaja, the NLC asked its members across the nation to come out in large numbers to protest the increase in fuel and electricity prices.

The order was given despite a fresh court order obtained by the Federal Government, barring the NLC and the Trade Union Congress from embarking on their planned strike scheduled to commence on Monday.

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Ugboaja explained that the NLC has asked all National Leadership of affiliates in Abuja to mobilise at least 2,000 of their members to Unity Fountain, Abuja for the mass rally which takes off at 7am.

Also, affiliates are expected to mobilise the same number of members to the NLC Sub-Secretariat, 29, Olajuwon Street, Yaba, Lagos, which is the take-off point for the Lagos action at 7am also.

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Business

It would be difficult to find loans to finance rail to Niger Republic – Cheta Nwanze

Finding loans to finance rail to the Niger Republic would be difficult, says Cheta Nwanze.

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It would be difficult to find loans to finance rail to Niger Republic- Cheta Nwanze

Cheta Nwanze, Lead Partner at socioeconomic research firm, SBM Intelligence, says that it would be difficult to find loan financiers for the proposed $1.9 billion rail project from Kano to Maradi in Niger republic.

Cheta, in an interview with Nairametrics on Friday, explained that it appears that Nigeria is more keen on the project than Niger Republic.

Back story: Nairametrics reported this week that the Federal Executive Council has approved the disbursement of $1.96 billion, for the railway line from Kano in Nigeria to Maradi in Niger Republic.

According to the report, the President is also expected to commission the Warri-Itakpe standard gauge rail line, running through Kogi, Edo, and Delta States.

“Nigeria is investing so much in this rail line, given that we are Niger’s 4th largest trading partner,” Cheta said.

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He added that Niger, although being landlocked already, has an existing infrastructure for its imports and export services, which is much better utilized than Nigeria’s export infrastructure.

“The majority of their imports from France, China, and the USA come in via the port of Lome, precisely because the port in Lome works, and the rail link in Togo is much better than ours.

“Nigeria, on the other hand, has let its Apapa port to become a wreck, while transportation between Lagos and Kano/Jibia is a nightmare, if we’re being charitable with words.”

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(READ MORE: Trade and Investments, a way out of Nigeria’s economic troubles – Fola Fagbule)

According to him, with the reality of the Apapa congestion and other factors, finding fund for such project, when debt to service ratio is high and amidst reduced oil revenue, will be difficult.

“With these realities in mind, I find it difficult to imagine who will extend such a loan to Nigeria, especially since, as far as all the information available to me indicates, Niger does not seem as keen on pushing this as Nigeria does,” he added.

However, the media aide to President Buhari, Garba Shehu, disclosed that the Federal Government is not constructing a rail line from Nigeria linking Kano-Dutse-Maradi into the Niger Republic, as it will only stop at the designated border point.

Maradi is 55km from the Katsina border Town of Jibia.

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Coronavirus

COVID-19 Update in Nigeria

On the 25th of September 2020, 213 new confirmed cases and 2 deaths were recorded in Nigeria

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The spread of novel Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) in Nigeria continues to record increases as the latest statistics provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control reveal Nigeria now has 58,062 confirmed cases.

On the 25th of September 2020, 213 new confirmed cases and 2 deaths were recorded in Nigeria, having carried out a total daily test of 10,526 samples across the country.

To date, 58,062 cases have been confirmed, 49,606 cases have been discharged and 1,103 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. A total of 494,577  tests have been carried out as of September 25th, 2020 compared to 484,051 tests a day earlier.

COVID-19 Case Updates- 25th September 2020,

  • Total Number of Cases – 58,062
  • Total Number Discharged – 49,606
  • Total Deaths – 1,103
  • Total Tests Carried out – 494,577

According to the NCDC, the 213 new cases are reported from 17 states- Lagos (51), Plateau (51), FCT (29), Rivers (18), Ondo (12), Oyo (9), Osun (8), Gombe (7), Ogun (7), Kaduna (5), Enugu (4), Edo (3), Jigawa (3), Kano (3), Benue (1), Delta (1), Sokoto (1).

Meanwhile, the latest numbers bring Lagos state total confirmed cases to 19,174, followed by Abuja (5,644), Plateau (3,373), Oyo (3,248), Edo (2,620), Kaduna (2,389), Rivers (2,305), Delta (1,801), Ogun (1,796), Kano (1,737), Ondo (1,620), Enugu (1,289), Ebonyi (1,038), Kwara (1,028), Abia (881), Gombe (864). Katsina (848), Osun (826),  Borno (741), and Bauchi (692).

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Imo State has recorded 566 cases, Benue (481), Nasarawa (449), Bayelsa (397),  Jigawa (325), Ekiti (317), Akwa Ibom (288), Niger (259), Adamawa (237), Anambra (234), Sokoto (162), Taraba (95), Kebbi (93), Cross River (87), Zamfara (78), Yobe (75), while Kogi state has recorded 5 cases only.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Western diplomats warn of disease explosion, poor handling by government

Lock Down and Curfew

In a move to combat the spread of the pandemic disease, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days, which took effect from 11 pm on Monday, 30th March 2020.

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The movement restriction, which was extended by another two-weeks period, has been partially put on hold with some businesses commencing operations from May 4. On April 27th, 2020, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari declared an overnight curfew from 8 pm to 6 am across the country, as part of new measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19. This comes along with the phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures in FCT, Lagos, and Ogun States, which took effect from Saturday, 2nd May 2020, at 9 am.

On Monday, 29th June 2020 the federal government extended the second phase of the eased lockdown by 4 weeks and approved interstate movement outside curfew hours with effect from July 1, 2020. Also, on Monday 27th July 2020, the federal government extended the second phase of eased lockdown by an additional one week.

On Thursday, 6th August 2020 the federal government through the secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 announced the extension of the second phase of eased lockdown by another four (4) weeks.

READ ALSO: Bill Gates says Trump’s WHO funding suspension is dangerous

 

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