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TECHNOLOGY

Toshiba confirms deal to buy Swiss firm

Japanese engineering giant Toshiba said on Thursday it would buy Swiss utility metering firm Landis+Gyr for $2.3 billion in response to expected growth in worldwide demand for more efficient power grids.

Confirming widely reported rumours, Toshiba said it had agreed to take the entire equity of the firm, a global leader in energy management solutions for utilities.

“The acquisition, valued at $2.3 billion including net debt, will substantially enhance the scope of Toshiba’s smart grid and smart community businesses,” the Japanese company said in a statement.

Smart grids are intelligent power distribution systems seen as key for both advanced and emerging nations to use energy more efficiently.

Toshiba aims to offer one-stop solutions for power monitoring and management by combining its expertise in energy management with Landis+Gyr’s advanced smart metering technologies, services and customer base.

Toshiba said it hoped to strengthen its smart grid operations, with the global market for the environmental technology expected to rise six-fold to 5.8 trillion yen ($71 billion) in the next 10 years.

It said it would aim to achieve net sales of 700 billion yen in the smart grid and smart community operations in the year to March 2016, more than doubling current annual sales of 300 billion yen.

Toshiba, which bought the US nuclear plant builder Westinghouse Electric in 2006, is a major global player in nuclear power.

Landis+Gyr, as a Toshiba subsidiary, will continue its existing operations and maintain its employees, the Japanese firm said.

The Swiss company will continue to try to increase its share in the expanding Chinese, Indian and Brazilian markets while also aiming to earn more business in Europe and the United States.

Toshiba said the deal’s impact on its earnings for this year to March was yet to be decided.

But considering Toshiba’s group revenue of 6.399 trillion, or $79.22 billion, Landis+Gyr will not have a significant impact on Toshiba’s earnings in the short term, Dow Jones Newswires said, citing analysts.

Landis+Gyr generated sales of around $1.5 billion last year and employs about 5,000 people.

At the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Toshiba fell 3.36 percent to 431 after spending most of the day in negative territory.

TECHNOLOGY

More than 1.6 million Swiss have downloaded Covid tracing app

Since its launch on June 25th some 20 percent of Switzerland’s population have downloaded the country's Covid-19 track and trace app. But is it enough to curtail the transmission of the virus?

More than 1.6 million Swiss have downloaded Covid tracing app
Authorities hope SwissCovid app will help curb the number of Covid-19 infections. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

Two weeks after its launch, the SwissCovid app has been downloaded by 1.6 million Swiss – or approximately 20 percent of the population.

On the first day of its implementation the Federal Office of Statistics had registered more than half a million users.

On Saturday June 27th, the application was activated almost 810,000 times, according to figures released by the Federal Statistical Office.

Experts say that, to be truly effective, SwissCovid app must be used by at least 60 percent of the population. They expect that more people will download the application in the coming days and weeks.

The government is hopeful that around one in five Swiss will download the app. This is much lower than the 60 percent rate which Oxford University said was necessary to ensure the app functioned effectively in society. 

Sang-Il Kim, the Head of Dept. Digital Transformation at the BAG, said that 20 percent was an optimistic goal. 

“I would be happy if 20 percent of the smartphones would use the app,” Kim said. 

Only newer phones

Approximately 20 percent – or one in five – of smartphone users cannot use the app because their phones are too old. 

Kim said that this was a rate much higher than in other countries, with Switzerland’s efforts benefitting from the country’s love of new devices. 

“We are fortunate that only 20 percent of users are technically excluded from the app. In other countries, up to 50 percent of them have smartphones that are too old.”

Users of iPhone 6 and older models cannot use the app. 

The app registers when an individual comes into contact with other people through a person’s smartphone location systems and bluetooth.

Contact is traced when one person with the app is less than two metres from another person with the app for more than 15 minutes in a 24-hour period. 

Such contacts are recorded anonymously on both devices. 

If one of those users tests positive for the coronavirus, the person will receive a 'covid code' from the cantonal authorities.

READ MORE: Q&A: How will Switzerland's coronavirus tracing app work? 

If you have an iPhone 6 or a more recent model, or an Android 6, you can download the app for free from:

Google Play Store for Android

Apple Store for iOS

The tracing of transmission chains is crucial in curtailing the spread of coronavirus, especially as the number of cases increased in Switzerland in recent days.

The Federal Office of Public Health said that within the last week, the number of infections climbed from 18 on June 25th to 62 on Sunday. 

According to Matthias Egger, the head of the government’s Covid-19 Task Force, the spike in cases can be attributed to the recent lifting of lockdown restrictions, including the opening of borders with the EU on June 15th.  

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