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Microsoft to buy Minecraft maker Mojang for $2.5 billion

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Microsoft to buy Minecraft maker Mojang for $2.5 billion

By Mia Shanley and Bill Rigby

STOCKHOLM/SEATTLE (Reuters) – Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O: Quote) has agreed to acquire the Stockholm-based developer of the wildly popular Minecraft video game for $2.5 billion, as it tries to lure a new and mostly young audience into its mobile world.

Minecraft – a construction game in which players can build nearly anything imaginable, block by block, in a digital, Lego-like world – has spread like wildfire since its full release by developer Mojang in 2011.

Minecraft is the top paid-for app both on Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O: Quote) iOS and Google Inc’s (GOOGL.O: Quote) Android systems and helped Mojang, which employs just 40 people, bring in 2.05 billion crowns ($287 million) in revenue in 2013, giving it an 896 million crown ($126 million) operating profit for the year.

Director of website Gamesbrief Nicholas Lovell described Minecraft as a hugely successful product which has “captured the imagination of pretty much everybody under the age of 15”, saying the game could help Microsoft broaden its appeal.

While the Mojang team will join Microsoft studios behind global franchises such as “Halo” and “Fable”, its three co-founders, who have been chased by the likes of Napster co-founder and early Facebook Inc (FB.O: Quote) investor Sean Parker, will be leaving to start new projects.

As if to erase any doubts about the importance of gaming, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said it was a “top activity” spanning devices from PCs and consoles to tablets and mobiles, with billions of hours devoted to it each year.

“Minecraft is more than a great game franchise – it is an open world platform, driven by a vibrant community we care deeply about, and rich with new opportunities for that community and for Microsoft,” Nadella said on Monday.

Microsoft has spent lavishly in the Nordic region in recent years, buying the handset business of Nokia for $7.2 billion in a deal which closed this year. In 2011, it spent $8.5 billion on Skype, which has its roots in Scandinavia and the Baltics.

Some analysts were positive about the acquisition.

“The news robustly dismisses the idea that games are no longer at the core of Microsoft’s strategic direction and also underlines the growing importance of independent titles alongside big-budget games,” Piers Harding-Rolls, head of games at IHS Technology, wrote in a note.

FBR Capital Markets said the deal gave Nadella “the right product at the right time,” as Microsoft invests in its Xbox strategy and moves into the intensely competitive mobile phone sector with Nokia under its hood.

Just five years old, Mojang was co-founded by Markus Persson, who developed the hit Minecraft game after previously working at Sweden’s King Digital Entertainment Plc (KING.N: Quote), maker of the Candy Crush Saga game.

NOT ABOUT THE MONEY

News of the Microsoft deal surprised some Minecraft players who know Persson, or “Notch” as he is commonly known, more for his anti-big business stance. But he explained the reasons behind the deal in a blog shortly after the deal was announced.

“As soon as this deal is finalized, I will leave Mojang and go back to doing Ludum Dares and small web experiments. If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I’ll probably abandon it immediately,” Persson said in the blog posted on his Twitter feed.

“I love you. All of you. Thank you for turning Minecraft into what it has become, but there are too many of you, and I can’t be responsible for something this big,” he said. “It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity.”

Notch, 35, owns 71 percent of Mojang through his company Notch Development AB and stands to become a billionaire if the deal goes through. JP Morgan was the sole advisor to Mojang on the sale.

Analysts have said Microsoft’s purchase of Mojang is more aimed at pulling users onto its obscure mobile platform than its better known PC system or Xbox game console. [ID:nL1N0RD02Q]

Minecraft was launched as a PC game, but about 40 percent of copies are downloaded onto phones and tablets.

In accounting terms, Microsoft expects the acquisition, which should close late in 2014, will break even in its current 2015 fiscal year.

A $2.5 billion deal for Mojang, or about 8 times sales last year, is small change for Microsoft, which has $86 billion in cash and short-term investments. But it is relatively large and expensive for game company acquisitions.

Japan’s SoftBank Corp (9984.T: Quote) paid $1.53 billion for a 50 percent stake in Finland’s Supercell last year at about 3.5 times projected annual sales. Electronic Arts Inc’s (EA) (EA.O: Quote) $750 million acquisition of PopCap in 2011 was valued at around 10 to 11 times sales.

The Nordic region, also home to Angry Birds maker Rovio, has emerged as an important player in the gaming world, thanks to its long, dark winters and highly connected societies.

EA snapped up Swedish video game maker DICE, best known for the Battlefield franchise, in 2006, and the sale of Mojang comes hard on the heels of King’s listing on the New York Stock Exchange earlier this year.

“It’s another acknowledgement of the Swedish games industry and the technology that we produce, that a company like Microsoft wants to invest enormous amounts here,” said Per Stromback, spokesman for the Swedish Games Industry.

(Editing by Alistair Scrutton and David Holmes)

Canadian News

Joint statement from the Greater Toronto Area & Hamilton Mayors and Chairs

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford, left, and Toronto Mayor John Tory
Ontario Premier Doug Ford, left, and Toronto Mayor John Tory take part in a candlelit vigil to honour the victims of a deadly shooting in Toronto on Wednesday July 25, 2018. Ten-year-old Julianna Kozis of Markham, Ont., and 18-year-old Reese Fallon of Toronto were killed in Sunday's shooting attack, and 13 other people were injured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

We are united in fighting COVID-19 – protecting our residents and saving lives.

While the measures we have taken to stop the spread of the virus have made a difference, this virus has still taken far too many lives in our communities and continues to threaten the lives of our residents.

At the same time, there is no denying the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the economy. Jobs have been lost, many businesses have closed or are at risk of closure, and many families are worried about their financial future.

We’ve been hit hard but that’s why it is so important that we keep moving forward and come back as strong as possible.

Today, the GTHA Mayors and Chairs met to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on the region and how our municipalities can work together on the economic restart and recovery.

We know the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area alone is projected to lose 355,000 jobs and 28% of GDP along with $894 million in lost wages and $3.7 billion in revenue losses for businesses. This will be felt right across the GTHA but it also threatens the provincial and national economies.

A strong recovery right here in the GTHA is crucial to healing the economic damage done by COVID-19 and helping the families and businesses all governments have been working to protect throughout this emergency.

Ontario’s economy and Canada’s economy need the GTHA to come back stronger than ever when the restart begins.

We are determined to deliver this recovery and we agreed today that the GTHA municipalities will be working together to successfully and smoothly reopen our vital regional economy when the time comes.

We also discussed how we can in a consistent way achieve significant, necessary financial support from the other governments to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and protect our ability to contribute to the recovery. A strong recovery needs strong cities and regional governments.

We have agreed we will work together to share information about our respective financial positions and explore together measures we can advocate to the other governments which will help to ensure the financial stability of local and regional governments in the GTHA.

Our child care and recreation programs help parents get back to work.

Our emergency services keep people safe.

Our transit systems get people to work and home safely.

Our major infrastructure projects – often built in conjunction with the other governments – will help kick-start the recovery and create countless jobs.

Our economic development activities attract jobs and investment.

We built a strong and vibrant GTHA and we know that we will need to come back even stronger and as quickly as we can in order to keep Canada’s economy going.

With the cooperation and support of the provincial and federal governments, we are ready to rise to this challenge.”

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Canadian News

Four People Charged in Mississauga Pedestrian Fail to Remain Fatality

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Investigators from the Major Collision Bureau have charged four people in Mississauga’s most recent fatal fail to remain collision.

On Thursday, February 15, 2018, at approximately 8:40 p.m., the victim, a 61 year-old female from Mississauga, was struck by a south bound vehicle as she was crossing Mavis Road in the area of Knotty Pine Grove in the City of Mississauga. The vehicle did not remain and the victim, having suffered major injuries, was pronounced dead at the scene.

On Saturday, February 17, 2018 shortly before 7:00 p.m., Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM, a 60 year-old male from Brampton, and the driver believed to be responsible in this incident, surrendered to police at 22 Division. Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM has since been charged with Fail to Remain Cause Death.

Hivissa SATCHITHANANTHAN, a 25 year old female from Brampton, Shajeetha SATCHITHANANTHAN a 28 year-old female from Brampton and Gowtham SATKUNARAJAH a 28 year-old male from Brampton have each been charged with Accessory After the Fact in relation to this incident.

Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM will answer to his charge on March 12, 2018. Hivissa SATCHITHANANTHAN, Shajeetha SATCHITHANANTHAN andGowtham SATKUNARAJAH will answer to their charges on Monday March 26, 2018 at the Ontario Court of Justice in Brampton

Anyone who may have witnessed the collision, have dashboard video footage of the incident or who may have any information regarding this incident is asked to contact investigators with the Major Collision Bureau at (905) 453-2121, ext. 3710. Information may also be left anonymously by calling Peel Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or by visiting www.peelcrimestoppers.ca or by sending a text message to CRIMES (274637) with the word ‘PEEL’ and then your tip.

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Canadian News

Justin Trudeau in India: Hug missing! Mounting pressure?

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The much publicized and anticipated visit of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to India was marred with questions. The questions were centered on the kind of welcome he would be given in the Sikh dominated state of Punjab. Also the famous hug by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was being anticipated. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finally made his much-touted visit to India. He landed on the Indira Gandhi Airport, New Delhi only to be received by Gajendra Singh Shekhawat not even a Cabinet Minister in Narendra Modi’s government.

He is presently the second rank Minister of State for Agriculture.  That comes in complete contrast to the warmth that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his NDA government has generally displayed towards the visiting dignitaries.  Only a couple of weeks ago, when the heads of the 10 ASEAN states arrived in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t receive Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the airport, as he has previously done with many leaders including Barack Obama, Xi Jinping, Shinzo Abe, and Benjamin Netanyahu.

The fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t join him is all surprising even when Prime Minister Trudeau visited Gujarat. This is unusual because the Indian Prime Minister has set a trend that he always accompanies head of the state when they visit his home state.

Even Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath did not show up, let alone accompany Prime Minister Trudeau to the Taj. However, during Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s 15 January visit to the Taj Mahal at Agra, Yogi Adityanath had received Netanyahu and his wife and shown them around as well as hosted a lunch for them. For first three days, none from the executive or the elected representative held any meeting with the delegation.

Media in India is trying to spread a message that the cold treatment given by Prime Minister could be because two of the four Sikh members of Trudeau’s cabinet – Harjit Sajjan and Amarjeet Sohi – support the Khalistan movement. However, had that been the case his visit to Punjab would have got a similar response.  However, the Punjab Government led by Captain Amarinder Singh rolled out a red carpet during his stay at Amritsar and even the two leaders held some fruitful discussions.

Thus putting an end to those criticisms that that Prime Minister Trudeau’s visit was devoid of any warmth.  Chief Minister of Punjab Amarinder Singh, for instance who met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau setting aside his earlier prejudice that he exhibited during the visit of Defence Minister Harjeet Singh Sajjan.

In recent months, Gurudwaras (Sikh temples) in Canada, the United States and Australia have banned Indian officials from visiting gurudwaras and the moment started with Gurudwaras here in Toronto. Could that be the reason for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to not accord one of the warmest welcomes that he is known to provide?  Or the use by Canada’s parliament of the term genocide to describe mass killings of Sikhs in India in 1984 has left the Indian Prime Minister disturbed?  However, more than Prime Minister Modi, this could have left the Congress party in troubled waters, but that was also not the case as Amarinder Singh hails from the same party.

The lukewarm welcome to Prime Minister Trudeau can have its political ramifications too. Will it hamper the significant 2015 deal, in which Canada agreed to supply 3,000 metric tons of Uranium to power India’s atomic reactors?

Somewhere Prime Minister Modi has not taken the issue of non allowing entry of Indian officials to Gurudwaras and the statement on Genocide too lightly. Prime Minister Modi however has failed to understand that Canada cannot curtail the right of freedom of speech and expression of its citizen.

Two nations perhaps failed to resolve the matter before Prime Minister boarded the flight from Canada and not welcoming Prime Minister Trudeau could be a tactical decision to put pressure on him. With Prime Minister Modi preferring to meet him at the far end of the tour has conveyed a lot about the myopic approach of Prime Minister Modi.

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