NEW YORK (AP) — The parent company of the social network Snapchat is valuing itself at up to $22 billion as it prepares for the tech industry’s biggest initial public offering in years.
Snap Inc. said in a regulatory filing Thursday that the IPO is likely to be priced between $14 and $16 per share. Had the IPO price matched the $30.72 per-share price obtained in its last round of financing, Snap would have a market value of about $30 billion, based on the quantity of outstanding stock listed in its IPO documents.
Snap’s highly anticipated IPO would be the largest since China’s Alibaba Group went public in 2014. But Snap, based in Los Angeles, draws comparisons to social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Facebook raised $16 billion when it went public in 2012.
Snap said that it’s offering 145 million Class A shares, while existing stockholders are offering an additional 55 million Class A shares. Snap won’t receive any proceeds from shares sold by those stockholders. Underwriters of the IPO have an option to buy up to an additional 30 million shares.
Co-founders Evan Spiegel and Robert Murphy will have controlling power over all matters at Snap through a special class of stock that gives them 10 votes for every share they own. The Class A stock being sold in the IPO has no voting power, while another class has one vote per share.
Snap anticipates its net proceeds will be $2.1 billion, or about $2.3 billion, if underwriters buy all the shares they are entitled to. These amounts are based on the IPO being priced at $15 per share.
Snapchat, whose hallmark is messages that vanish after they are sent, has millions of daily users. The app has adapted nimbly over to users’ whims and demands, just as Facebook has. This, as both companies have discovered, is key to outlasting social media fads. Snapchat is no longer just about disappearing messages.
For example, it’s added a “Discover” section where a diverse group of publishers — including People, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, Vice and Food Network — post video-heavy stories aimed mostly at millennials.
Another feature, “Stories,” lets people create a narrative from messages, videos and photos from the past 24 hours. It’s so popular that Facebook’s Instagram now has a version of it, too.
Snapchat’s “Lenses,” lets people add animated overlays to photos and videos. It was one of the company’s few missteps when some of those lenses were perceived as racist. It quickly ditched those lenses.
Snap is expected to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the “SNAP” ticker.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Keith Urban’s boundary-pushing album “Ripcord” has spawned several top country singles and led him to pick up seven nominations including entertainer of the year and album of the year at this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards.
Lady Antebellum announced the nominations Thursday on “CBS This Morning” for the awards show, which will be held April in Las Vegas and aired live on CBS. Urban is also nominated for male vocalist of the year, single record of the year and song of the year.
Six-time nominee Miranda Lambert could make history again as she is nominated for female vocalist of the year, which she has won a record seven years in a row. She is also nominated for album of the year for her double album, “The Weight of These Wings,” single record of the year, song of the year and video of the year.
Coming off her Grammy win for best country solo performance, Maren Morris tied Lambert with six nominations, including album of the year for “HERO.” She also is nominated as female vocalist of the year, new female vocalist of the year and single record of the year for her song, “My Church.”
With strong pop, dance and R&B influences, Urban’s album has dominated country radio over the past year, with four singles reaching the top six on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
Urban, who performed his newest single “The Fighter” at the Grammys last Sunday with Carrie Underwood, said the entertainer of the year nomination is an acknowledgement of great live performances.
“I have been a musician since I was six and playing on stage since I was like 7,” Urban told The Associated Press on Thursday. “I have always loved performing on stage, being an entertainer. So that category has always been the highest honor imaginable.”
He added that great performances are all about being “in the flow,” and mentioned Adele’s performance at the Grammys when she restarted her tribute to George Michael.
“She had this incredible courage to stop it in the middle of a live show and say, ‘Let me get this thing right,'” Urban said. “It was the most extraordinary thing I have ever seen on a live TV show.”
Competing with Urban for entertainer of the year will be last year’s winner, Jason Aldean, along with Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line and Underwood.
Florida Georgia Line and Tim McGraw both have five nominations each, including a shared nomination for vocal event of the year for their collaboration on the song “May We All.”
Bryan and Dierks Bentley, who has three nominations, return to host the awards for a second time together. Thomas Rhett and Chris Stapleton also each have three nominations.
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad & Tobago (AP) — A Caribbean island nation has become an unlikely source of fighters and funding for the Islamic State militant group, prompting an internationally backed effort to stem the flow of money and recruits to Syria and Iraq.
Security officials and terrorism experts believe that as many as 125 fighters and their relatives have traveled from Trinidad and Tobago to Turkey and on to IS-controlled areas over the last four years, making the country of 1.3 million people the largest per-capita source of IS recruits in the Western Hemisphere.
The Islamic State has put out propaganda videos and magazines featuring bearded fighters with lilting Trinidadian accents training in the desert with sniper rifles and encouraging their countrymen to join them.
Alarmed, Trinidadian state security officials have launched intensive surveillance and monitoring of the country’s homegrown Islamist movements, which have a history of militancy and crossover with the country’s violent criminal gangs. Saying their efforts are bearing fruit, Trinidad and Tobago officials have recently proposed legislation to crack down on the flow of money to Islamic State fighters overseas by establishing criminal penalties for those sending money to the group.
“There’s always a concern in terms of money leaving Trinidad and Tobago that could be involved with terrorist activities,” National Security Minister Edmund Dillon said. “There is a minority in the Muslim community and there is a minority in the criminal community that is hellbent on committing these types of offenses.”
U.S. officials have described themselves as deeply concerned about the combatants and funds heading out of Trinidad and Tobago. They say they are working with the islands’ government on intelligence-sharing and new legislation, as well as sponsoring trips for Muslim leaders to the U.S. to meet Islamic leaders working on anti-extremism programs.
“They are certainly not the only ones worried about this phenomenon of self-radicalization and how easy it has become,” said U.S. Navy Adm. Kurt Tidd, who is responsible for Department of Defense operations in Central and South America and the Caribbean. “They need to be able to understand what are the conditions that might predispose individuals to become radicalized and then to be able to take steps to try to stop that from occurring before people go down that path with the tragic results we have seen in everyplace from Paris to Brussels to Berlin to Orlando to San Bernardino.”
Tidd praised Trinidad and Tobago for adopting anti-terrorism legislation and cooperating with the U.S. and other international partners.
“Trinidad is a serious country and recognizes that there is work to be done,” Tidd said.
Some hard-line Muslim leaders have opposed the new efforts, instead blaming the government for failing to improve the lives of poor, largely Afro-Trinidad youth who can find themselves drawn in by IS recruiters.
An oil-rich nation just off the coast of Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago has long been celebrated for its rich mix of cultural influences, primarily rooted in India and Africa. Its Muslim minority of Indian-descended families and Afro-Trinidadian converts includes dozens of mainstream mosques and more militant strains such as the Jamaat al Muslimeen, an organization responsible for a 1990 coup attempt classified as the Western Hemisphere’s only Islamist uprising.
“I think that the indictment is on the government, past and present,” said Yasin Abu Bakr, leader of the Jamaat Al Muslimeen, which has seen as least two members travel to Syria. “Why would the young people in a place like Trinidad and Tobago, the land of steel band and calypso, carnival and gaiety, chutney and all the rest of it. Why would a young person take up his family and go to a place where death is almost certain. Why would somebody do that? That is the big question that the state has to answer.”
Umar Abdullah, head of the hard-line Islamic Front group in southern Trinidad, said he has actively discouraged members from traveling to Syria to fight. He said he knew several young men who had become IS fighters, although he declined to provide specifics.
“I do feel responsible in some way with some of these brothers that have left and gone to Syria and fight and so on,” Abdullah said. “I felt I could have done a lot more, I felt I could have dissuaded them.”
At the same time, Abdullah defended IS recruits as legitimate defenders of embattled Muslims in Syria and Iraq, comparing them favorably to Western soldiers involved in military actions in the Middle East.
“Whosoever has left and gone Syria, how can they call them terrorist,” Abdullah said. “I would call my guys freedom fighters as well.”
The Trump administration attempts to block travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries has raised sensitivities in Trinidad and Tobago about what some call an alarmist focus on the country’s problem with IS recruiting.
But some of Trinidad’s Islamist leaders say they approve of Trump’s attempted crackdown on visitors from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, and admire what they call his bold and decisive leadership style.
“I am in agreement with Donald Trump 110 percent,” Abu Bakr said. “More than that, I have a lot of admiration for Donald Trump.”
Ben Fox in Miami, Michael Weissenstein in Havana and Tony Fraser in Port of Spain contributed to this report.
Michael Weissenstein on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mweissenstein
The next time Russell Westbrook walks into a locker room to get dressed for a game, Kevin Durant will be there and donning the same uniform.
Get ready for perhaps the best subplot of All-Star Weekend.
Russ and KD, together again.
The former Oklahoma City teammates are going to be Western Conference teammates on Sunday night when the league holds its annual All-Star Game in New Orleans. And after the Thunder went into the break by beating the New York Knicks on Wednesday night, the inevitable question was posed to Westbrook: Are you ready for this?
“I’m excited about All-Star weekend,” said Westbrook, the two-time reigning All-Star MVP. “I think in general, just being able to be there and enjoy the opportunity … humbled by the opportunity to be there.”
So the question was sidestepped.
It’ll get asked to both Westbrook and Durant again — likely many, many times — over the coming days.
They’ve been on the same court together three times this season, Durant and his new Golden State Warriors teammates beating Westbrook and the Thunder all three times — most recently last weekend in Oklahoma City, when Durant and Westbrook went 1-on-1 at times and even jawed at each other a bit during the game.
This will be different.
Probably awkward, too.
“I don’t know,” Westbrook said. “We’re going to find out.”
It was the breakup that shook the NBA last summer: Durant left Oklahoma City as a free agent and chose to sign with Golden State, a team that won the NBA title in 2015, went to The Finals again last season and has the league’s best record this season. The Warriors already were a superteam, and then they landed another superstar.
Durant insists he tries to ignore anyone who criticized his decision.
“I define my career, at the end of the day,” Durant said. “And it’s pretty damn good so far.”
Durant and Westbrook had great seasons with the Thunder, even getting to the 2012 NBA Finals where they lost to Miami in five games, but never were able to hoist a championship banner together.
So Durant moved on, and their relationship — whatever it was — essentially ended.
“He plays for his team. I play for my team,” Westbrook said. “Let him do his thing. I do my thing. And that’s it, plain and simple.”
What might make this even more daunting for Westbrook is that Durant is coming with his newest friends. Golden State has four All-Stars in Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, not to mention West coach Steve Kerr. Durant and Curry will start; Thompson and Green are reserves, like Westbrook.
The Thunder and the Warriors have both completed their pre-All-Star Game schedules, so that means the first interactions between Durant and Westbrook in New Orleans might come as early as Thursday. All-Stars all get rooms at the same hotel, though that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re at risk for an awkward elevator ride together. It’s common for players to make their own arrangements for the weekend.
They’ll see plenty of each other, no matter where they stay.
At minimum, this is what’s expected on the interaction front: Durant and Westbrook will be together for media-day interviews on Friday, the West team practice on Saturday, team photos pregame Sunday, and then the actual game. There’s also some time with NBA Entertainment — photos, videos, social media — awaiting both teams, though players aren’t always together in those moments.
Teams also usually have some sort of meeting, if for no other reason than to go over less-than-elaborate game plans for Sunday night. This much about the West game plan is known: Kerr will use all four Warriors together at least in one stretch.
“That’ll be really cool,” Thompson said last month. “I wonder who the fifth player will be.”
Maybe Durant and Westbrook really will be teammates again.
AP Sports Writer Cliff Brunt in Oklahoma City contributed to this story.
QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — In a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Ecuador’s capital, the sleek glass-and-steel Docente Calderon public hospital rises above a frenzy of cinder block homes. Inside, patients who used to have to travel an hour to the nearest hospital and wait in line all day for sub-par treatment now get state-of-the-art care.
“It used to be you almost had to beg to get attention. Now they take very good care of me,” said William Rezabala, who was undergoing dialysis in a sparkling-clean specialist ward whose serenity is interrupted only by the beep-beep-beep of medical equipment.
The hospital, inaugurated in 2015, is one of the crown jewels of an infrastructure buildup that has endeared President Rafael Correa to millions of poor people in this Andean nation. Now, as his presidency comes to an end, Ecuadoreans are asking what will come of the economic and political stability they’ve come to cherish, especially in light of a deep recession.
For the first time in a decade, Correa won’t be running when Ecuadoreans go to the polls Sunday to pick a president. Although congress in 2015 approved a constitutional amendment lifting presidential term limits, the leftist leader rejected calls by supporters to run for a fourth time.
Instead, he has been feverishly crisscrossing the country inaugurating public works with the hopes of handing the torch of his “Citizens’ Revolution” to his preferred successor, former Vice President Lenin Moreno. Polls say Moreno is leading the field of eight candidates with support ranging from 28 percent to 32 percent, but likely lacking a big enough edge to avoid a runoff election against his nearest challenger, currently Guillermo Lasso, a conservative former banker. To avoid a runoff a candidate needs to win more than half of the votes or 40 percent with a 10-point lead over his closest rival.
Even if he’s not on the ballot, Correa’s legacy is very much on the line.
Love him or hate him, most Ecuadoreans credit Correa with delivering stability after a tumultuous period that saw a musical chairs of eight presidents in a decade and an economic and banking collapse that forced Ecuador to abandon its own currency and adopt the U.S. dollar. But he did so with an iron hand that has silenced or punished critics among the press, opposition and judiciary.
A European and U.S.-trained economist, Correa was enough of a pragmatist to never seriously challenge dollarization even while identifying himself as a “21st century socialist” and cozying up to the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez. He also leveraged an oil boom and loans from China to build roads, schools and other projects that have transformed Ecuador.
Docente Calderon is one of 15 hospitals built by the government in the last six years at a cost of almost $500 million. It serves a community of 500,000 people.
“Hopefully the next president will keep all these beautiful things running,” said Ali Aysin, a 70-year-old patient who emigrated two decades ago from Turkey.
But as oil prices dropped, Ecuador’s boom fizzled out, prompting calls for change. Mired in recession, Ecuador’s economy will contract 2.7 percent this year after shrinking a similar amount in 2016, the International Monetary Fund forecasts. Last year’s devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake exacerbated the fiscal woes, leading to layoffs and payment delays at state-run companies that have rippled throughout the economy.
Regardless of who wins the election, many analysts predict the next president will have to turn to the Washington-based IMF for a bailout loan to stay current on a foreign debt that has quadrupled during Correa’s tenure.
“Ecuadoreans love to rave about the roads and rant about the economy,” said Risa Grais-Targow, a Eurasia Group analyst.
Increasingly many are also wondering whether the oil bonanza was pocketed by corrupt officials.
Throughout the campaign, Moreno has had to defend his running mate, current Vice President Jorge Glas, against allegations of graft during his time overseeing the state-run oil company. This month, a leaked video appeared on social media of a disgraced former Cabinet minister taking a lie detector test and accusing Glas of taking some of the $12 million in bribes paid to PetroEcuador for construction of a refinery. Glas has denied any wrongdoing.
But even Correa’s critics recognize he has improved Ecuadoreans’ self-esteem. All of the candidates competing to succeed him pay some degree of homage to his legacy, with talk of creating jobs and spending resources more wisely, not dismantling dollarization or rolling back the social programs Correa is credited with expanding.
Correa says he plans to move to Belgium, where his wife is from, and spend time strolling the streets and dining out with his family without being hounded by journalists. “They are delights that you lose in this job,” he recently told the local media.
But if things don’t work out in Ecuador, nobody expects the 53-year-old to go away completely.
He has warned Ecuador’s opposition that his political retirement could be short-lived.
“If they misbehave, I’ll run and defeat them again, so the best thing is for them to behave.”
Associated Press writer Joshua Goodman in Bogota, Colombia, contributed to this report.
BEIJING (AP) — Lawyers who defend human rights activists and dissidents targeted by China’s communist government have increasingly themselves become subject to political prosecutions, violence and other means of suppression, according to a report released Thursday.
The Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders, a coalition of groups working within and outside China, identified six occasions last year that lawyers were beaten by plaintiffs, police officers or assailants likely hired by authorities. In more than a dozen cases, the report found, detainees were pressured to fire their own lawyers and accept government-supplied attorneys.
“The government is trying to give this impression that it’s abiding by the rule of law,” said Frances Eve, a researcher for the network. “In fact, it’s just legalizing repressive measures.”
Under President Xi Jinping, China has widely suppressed independent organizations and dissenters, as well as lawyers defending people caught in its crackdown. The report says 22 people have been convicted since 2014 of subversion or other crimes against state security, including 16 last year alone.
Dozens of lawyers have been questioned or detained in an ongoing campaign against dissident lawyers known as the 709 crackdown launched in July 2015.
Wang Quanzhang, who defended members of the Falun Gong meditation sect banned by China, was charged with subversion of state power in January 2016 after previously being beaten and detained. His wife, Li Wenzu, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Wang is now under indictment and being held without access to family or lawyers.
“We have to wait until the sentencing to see him in jail,” she said.
Four people associated with Wang’s law firm, Fengrui, were convicted in August of charges that they incited protests and took funding from foreign groups.
China last year also passed a law tightening controls over foreign non-governmental organizations by subjecting them to close police supervision, a move critics called a new attempt by authorities to clamp down on perceived threats to the ruling Communist Party’s control.
NGOs can be blacklisted if they commit violations ranging from illegally obtaining unspecified state secrets to “spreading rumors, slandering or otherwise expressing or disseminating harmful information that endangers state security.”
Ordinary Chinese who share audio or video of a protest or other news event may be detained, and authorities can shut down phone and Web networks in response to perceived threats to national security and social order.
Chinese Internet censors already exercise tight control with the so-called “Great Firewall” that blocks many foreign news sites and social media platforms.
Prominent activists have frequently been taken into custody without notice to their family or legal teams. One was Liu Feiyue, the founder of a website that detailed local corruption cases, veterans’ issues, and allegations that perceived troublemakers were being detained in mental hospitals. After his disappearance in November, Liu’s family was told he was charged with subversion.
Despite its well-publicized record, China was re-elected last year to the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. But even as China reported its membership on the council through state media, it refused to let banned activists attend United Nations events, the report said.
When Philip Alston, the UN’s special rapporteur for human rights, visited China in August, authorities forbade him from meeting several activists and tightly controlled his schedule. One activist who did meet with him, lawyer Jiang Tianyong, was arrested three months later and charged with inciting subversion of state power.
Eve, the researcher for Chinese Human Rights Defenders, said some activists believed after Xi became president in 2013 that they might find common cause over his stated goals of rooting out government corruption. But those limited hopes have not come to fruition, she said.
“It’s gone completely the opposite direction,” she said. “And it’s a tragedy, because those are the kinds of alliances that can make real impact.”
The Chinese foreign ministry did not respond to faxed questions.
Associated Press reporter Gerry Shih in Beijing contributed to this report.