DoJ appoints financial remedies advisor

M & A specialist firm gets upside down gig


MS on Trial The Department of Justice has appointed Greenhill & Co, a New York firm specialising in mergers and acquisitions, to advise it on the Microsoft case. A DoJ spokeswoman blocked questions as to whether this reflected well or badly on the mediation effort, saying that "the firm's advice will be useful in ongoing processes". No information was forthcoming as to the length or cost of the consultancy. Jim Cullinan for Microsoft said "it's far too premature to discuss remedies in this process - there's a long way to go". Greenhill has been retained as "a financial advisor to assist in analysing financial aspects of the full range of potential remedies". The firm was established by Robert Greenhill, former president of Morgan Stanley, two years ago. The firm ranked 24th in the US merger and acquisition advisers during the first eight months of 1999, according to Thomson. Greenhill has good but limited experience in technology deals, and it would be wrong to characterise the firm as a high-tech specialist. Its main IT client has been Compaq, which it advised on the sale of the AltaVista stake, the offer for shopping.com, and the purchase of Digital and Tandem, plus some smaller deals. Its other experience consists of smaller deals with Misys, Wang (not the Getronics acquisition), and Warburg Pincus. On the telecoms front, it has advised Cable & Wireless and Hughes Electronics. One problem for the DoJ was of course to find a firm that had not worked with Microsoft in the past, although it does not escape our notice that Greenhill's web site displays an Internet Explorer download icon and no other. It'll be interesting to see if it stays there. The partner expected to be most involved is Jeff Williams, who was previously head of Morgan Stanley's telecoms & media group before moving to McGraw-Hill. He's an architect by training. We have no comment on Greenhill's appointment and the fact that its London office is just around the corner from The Register. In a sense, Greenhill's job is to advise how to do the very opposite of what it is normally called on to do: it is being asked to put a governor on illegal business practices and to restore competition to the industry, rather than to help Microsoft. It is good that the DoJ is seeking advice, but it has made it clear that it will not be bound by any suggestions. It is not clear whether the appointment was made to help with the mediation talks, or in preparation for the next rounds in Judge Jackson's court. Of course, it is just possible that the suggestion came from the mediator, Judge Posner. We suspect however that the appointment is being used by the DoJ as a lever so far as the mediation talks go, and that the major purpose is preparation for the next round when remedies will be discussed, after the findings of law. ® Complete Register Trial coverage


Other stories you might like

  • Apple's latest security feature could literally save lives
    Cupertino is so sure of Lockdown Mode it's offering $2m to bug hunters to break it

    Apple's latest security feature won't be used by most of its customers, but those who need Lockdown Mode could find it to be a literal life saver.

    The functionality, coming with iOS/iPadOS 16 and macOS Ventura, dramatically shrinks an iDevice's attack surface by disabling many of its features. It's designed to protect the small number of Apple users who, "because of who they are or what they do, may be personally targeted by some of the most sophisticated digital threats, such as those from NSO Group and other private companies developing state-sponsored mercenary spyware," Apple said in a statement. 

    Lockdown, thus, effectively reduces the number of potential vulnerabilities spyware could exploit to compromise a device, cutting the possible routes into surveillance targets' kit.

    Continue reading
  • Has Intel gone too far with its Ohio fab 'delay' stunt?
    With construction unceremoniously underway, x86 giant may have overplayed its hand

    COMMENT The way Intel has been talking about the status of its $20 billion Ohio fab project, you would be forgiven if you assumed that construction on the Midwest mega-site has been delayed in light of Congress struggling to pass a large subsidies package that would support new American chip factories.

    When Intel delayed a groundbreaking ceremony for the Ohio manufacturing site two weeks ago out of frustration over the subsidies inaction, some headlines may have given you the impression the semiconductor giant was putting off construction entirely.

    However, an Intel spokesperson made it clear to The Register and others at the time that the start date for construction had not changed.

    Continue reading
  • Hive ransomware gang rapidly evolves with complex encryption, Rust code
    RaaS malware devs have been busy bees

    The Hive group, which has become one of the most prolific ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) operators, has significantly overhauled its malware, including migrating the code to the Rust programming language and using a more complex file encryption process.

    Researchers at the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) uncovered the Hive variant while analyzing a change in the group's methods.

    "With its latest variant carrying several major upgrades, Hive also proves it's one of the fastest evolving ransomware families, exemplifying the continuously changing ransomware ecosystem," the researchers said in a write-up this week.

    Continue reading
  • What do you mean your exaflop is better than mine?
    Gaming the system was fine for a while, now it's time to get precise about precision

    Comment A multi-exaflop supercomputer the size of your mini-fridge? Sure, but read the fine print and you may discover those performance figures have been a bit … stretched.

    As more chipmakers bake support for 8-bit floating point (FP8) math into next-gen silicon, we can expect an era of increasingly wild AI performance claims that differ dramatically from the standard way of measuring large system performance, using double-precision 64-bit floating point or FP64.

    When vendors shout about exascale performance, be aware that some will use FP8 and some FP64, and it's important to know which is being used as a metric. A computer system that can achieve (say) 200 peta-FLOPS of FP64 is a much more powerful beast than a system capable of 200 peta-FLOPS at just FP8.

    Continue reading
  • Meta's AI translation breaks 200 language barrier
    Open source model improves translation of rarer spoken languages by 70%

    Meta's quest to translate underserved languages is marking its first victory with the open source release of a language model able to decipher 202 languages.

    Named after Meta's No Language Left Behind initiative and dubbed NLLB-200, the model is the first able to translate so many languages, according to its makers, all with the goal to improve translation for languages overlooked by similar projects. 

    "The vast majority of improvements made in machine translation in the last decades have been for high-resource languages," Meta researchers wrote in a paper [PDF]. "While machine translation continues to grow, the fruits it bears are unevenly distributed," they said. 

    Continue reading
  • Tracking cookies found in more than half of G20 government websites
    Sorry, conspiracy theorists, it's more likely sloppy webdev work rather than spying

    We expect a certain amount of cookie-based tracking on retail websites and social networks, but in some countries up to 90 percent of government sites have implemented trackers – and serve them seemingly without user consent. 

    A study evaluated more than 118,000 URLs of 5,500 government websites – think .gov, .gov.uk. .gov.au, .gc.ca, etc – hosted in the twenty largest global economies – the G20 – and discovered a surprising tracking cookie problem, even among countries party to Europe's GDPR and those who have their own data privacy regulations.

    On average, the study found, more than half of cookies created on G20 government websites were third-party cookies, meaning they were created by outside entities typically to collect information on the user. At least 10 percent, going up to 90 percent, come from known third party cookies or trackers, we're told.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022