Round the World – 4/4/17

‘Pink Star’ diamond sells for record $71.2 million in bidding war

A 59.60-carat pink diamond sold for a record $71.2 million in Hong Kong on Tuesday to local jewelers Chow Tai Fook after a five-minute bidding war between three phone bidders.

The “Pink Star”, the largest Internally Flawless Fancy Vivid Pink diamond ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America according to Sotheby’s, set “a new record for any diamond or jewel at auction”, the auction house tweeted.

The diamond failed to sell in November 2013. The gem fetched a record $83 million but the buyer could not pay.

However, Patti Wong, chairman of Sotheby’s Asia, said the Tuesday’s three bidders had been vetted for this sale.

“All three bidders…have a long standing relationship with the company and we were very, very confident that all three bidders had the financial capability and of course the buyer definitely had the financial capability,” she said.

“We’re not worried at all.”

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-auction-sothebys-diamond-idUSKBN1761NG

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Chinese man ‘marries’ robot he built himself

Zheng Jiajia had grown tired of pressure to get married so he turned to Yingying, a robot spouse he constructed last year.  A Chinese artificial intelligence engineer has given up on the search for love and “married” a robot he built himself.  After two months of “dating”, he donned a black suit to “marry” her at a ceremony attended by his mother and friends at the weekend in the eastern city of Hangzhou.

Stories of robots replacing humans is commonplace in China, most notably in a smattering of restaurants where the waiters are automated. However, the machines rarely live up to expectations.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/04/chinese-man-marries-robot-built-himself

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Seed giant Monsanto meets its match as Hindu nationalists assert power in Modi’s India

A little-known cotton seed company has taken on Monsanto, with the aid of a right-wing Hindu group that helped propel the Indian prime minister to power. The dispute threatens to upend the world’s largest cotton-producing market.

NEW DELHI – Tens of millions of dollars were within reach for M. Prabhakara Rao as he prepared in April 2015 to take his Indian cotton seed company public.

The Indian businessman already had $54 million in initial funding from an American private equity investor. Rao had also locked in a long-term licensing agreement with Monsanto Co, the world’s largest seed company, for the technology used in genetically modified cotton seeds that made up the majority of his annual sales.

Two months after publishing his initial public offering plan, Rao gambled. He sent one of his executives to negotiate a 10 percent cut in royalties with Monsanto. The multinational said no.

The outcome of that meeting ignited a corporate battle that has left Rao’s IPO plans in tatters and drawn in the Indian and U.S. governments. More ominously, the fight has disrupted India’s $1.8 billion-a-year seed industry, with Monsanto saying it may abandon the market.

http://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/monsanto-india/

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China plans to build new city nearly three times the size of New York

Plans for the Xiongan New Area, a special economic zone that authorities say will eventually cover an area nearly three times that of New York.  Official news agency Xinhua said Xiongan’s creation would reduce pressure on China’s car-clogged, 22 million-resident capital, and “usher in a new chapter in the country’s historic transitioning to coordinated, inclusive and sustainable growth”.

“Xiongan will be an answer to China’s growth conundrum: breakneck urban sprawl must give way to a balanced and inclusive development strategy,” Xinhua added in a breathless commentary trumpeting the mega-project.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/04/china-plans-build-new-city-nearly-three-times-the-size-of-new-york

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