1 JEFF BEZOS IS NOW WORTH MORE THAN BILL GATES AND LARRY PAGE COMBINED WWW.CNN.COM PUBLISHED:2018/07/17      2 APARTMENT COMPLEX FOR YOUNG FAMILIES UNDER CONSTRUCTION IN ERDENET WWW.MONTSAME.MN PUBLISHED:2018/07/17      3 NUM GRADUATES INVITED TO WORK FOR TOSHIBA CORPORATION WWW.MONTSAME.MN PUBLISHED:2018/07/17      4 RUSSIA & UNITED STATES CAN COMPETE & WORK TOGETHER IN ENERGY MARKET - PUTIN WWW.RT.COM PUBLISHED:2018/07/17      5 TESLA IS GETTING A CHINA FACTORY. THIS $4 BILLION STARTUP WILL BE WAITING WWW.BLOOMBERGTV.MN PUBLISHED:2018/07/17      6 HOW MINING TYCOONS ARE TRYING TO FOIL A BIG UK BRIBERY PROBE WWW.MINING.COM PUBLISHED:2018/07/17      7 MONGOLIA'S TOURISM REVENUE INCREASES BY 20 PERCENT WWW.NEWS.MN PUBLISHED:2018/07/16      8 WATER LEVELS OF MAJOR MONGOLIAN RIVERS EXCEED ALARM LINE WWW.XINHUANET.COM PUBLISHED:2018/07/16      9 CHINA SETS RECORD DAILY STEEL OUTPUT FOR THIRD MONTH IN A ROW WWW.REUTERS.COM PUBLISHED:2018/07/16      10 RUSSIAN RETAILERS, HOTELS EMERGE AS WORLD CUP WINNERS WWW.THEMOSCOWTIMES.COM PUBLISHED:2018/07/16      ОЛОН УЛСЫН ИННОВАЦИЙН ИНДЕКСЭЭР МОНГОЛ УЛС 53-Т ЖАГСЧЭЭ WWW.MONTSAME.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/07/17     ШАДАР САЙД НҮБ-ЫН ӨНДӨР ТҮВШНИЙ УУЛЗАЛТАД ОРОЛЦОЖ БАЙНА WWW.EAGLE.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/07/17     "ТАВАНТОЛГОЙ"-Н ТӨМӨР ЗАМЫН ТӨСӨЛ УРАГШЛАХ ЭСЭХ НЬ SHENHUA-ГААС ШАЛТГААЛАХААР БАЙНА WWW.ZGM.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/07/17     ХӨШИГИЙН ХӨНДИЙН НИСЭХ БУУДАЛД 5.3 ТЭРБУМ ТӨГРӨГИЙН ҮНЭ БҮХИЙ ЦАЦРАГИЙН ХЯНАЛТЫН ТӨХӨӨРӨМЖ СУУРИЛУУЛНА WWW.DNN.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/07/17     2017 ОНЫ САНХҮҮГИЙН НЭГДСЭН ТАЙЛАН ЗӨРЧИЛГҮЙ ДҮГНЭГДЛЭЭ WWW.NEWS.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/07/17     2018 ОНЫ ЭХНИЙ ХАГАСТ ХЯТАДЫН ДНБ 6,8 ХУВИАР ӨСЧЭЭ WWW.GOGO.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/07/17     МОНГОЛ УЛС ЯПОН УЛСАД 100 МЯНГАН АМ.ДОЛЛАРЫН ХҮМҮҮНЛЭГИЙН ТУСЛАМЖ ҮЗҮҮЛЭХЭЭР БОЛЛОО WWW.GOGO.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/07/17     ОУВС-ГААС МАНАЙ УЛС 184.5 САЯ ДОЛЛАРЫН САНХҮҮЖИЛТ АВААД БАЙНА WWW.EAGLE.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/07/17     МАНАЙ УЛСЫН ЗЭЭЛЖИХ ЗЭРЭГЛЭЛ ДЭЭШИЛЖЭЭ WWW.EAGLE.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/07/16     “ЭРДЭНЭС-ТАВАНТОЛГОЙ” 40 САЯ ДАХЬ ТОНН НҮҮРСЭЭ ОЛБОРЛОЖЭЭ WWW.NEWS.MN  НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/07/16    

Events

Name organizer Where
"Open to Export" ICC WTO International business award ICC WTO London

NEWS

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New panel on Japan, Russian economic cooperation www3.nhk.or.jp

NHK has learned the Japanese government has decided to set up a high-level task force on economic cooperation with Russia.
 
The decision comes ahead of a bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin, scheduled for December.
 
The plan is for government officials and private-sector experts to flesh out the details of an 8-point plan proposed by Japan.
 
The package covers energy development and industrial cooperation between the 2 countries, and is aimed at improving the lives of Russian people.
 
The task force is to be co-chaired by Japan's Trade and Industry Minister, Hiroshige Seko, and Russia's Economic Development Minister, Alexei Ulyukayev.
 
Russian officials are requesting 68 items, including the building of infrastructure including harbors and airports in the country's Far East. They are also calling for the construction of hospitals and laying of undersea cables to send electricity to Japan.
 
Japanese officials say the task force plans to hold its first meeting when Seko visits Russia in early November. The agenda will include loans to Russian banks from lenders backed by the Japanese government.
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Australia's fresh milk taking direct flights to China www.chinadaily.com.cn

China's quest for higher-quality food is taking a big swing to the south. In fact, 5,300 miles (8,500 kilometers) down to Tasmania, the dairy-hungry nation's newest source of fresh milk.
 
Businessman Lu Xianfeng plans to begin early next year flying fresh milk to his home city of Ningbo, in eastern China, from the island state where he owns Australia's largest dairy operation.
 
Lu's Moon Lake Investments Pty bought the 191-year-old Van Diemen's Land Co for A$280 million ($214 million) in March, giving him access to 25 dairy farms and enough milk to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool every nine days.
 
A share of that will be flown to Ningbo every week, Sean Shwe, Moon Lake's managing director, said in Hobart, where the China-bound bulk deliveries will depart.
 
While countries as far away as the Czech Republic and Chile sell milk to China, Moon Lake is counting on gaining an edge with milk from Tasmania's far northwest coast which boasts "the cleanest air in the world".
 
The volume of milk shipments to the world's most-populous nation has jumped an average of 126 percent a year since 2010, creating a $333 million market dominated by the European Union, according to Chinese customs data.
 
Chinese consumers, ruffled by past food scandals, see imported milk as a safer alternative to domestic supplies, the US Department of Agriculture said in May.
 
Moon Lake has already forward-sold more than 15 million yuan ($2.2 million) of milk from its Van Diemen's Land dairies, which it calls VDL Farms.
 
"This is an exciting venture for our company, VDL Farms and potentially for all Tasmanian producers of fresh, perishable produce such as seafood, fruit and vegetables," Shwe said in a statement.
 
About 10 million liters of milk a year from VDL dairies will be trucked to Hobart for processing by Lion Dairy and packaged under the "VAN Milk" brand, a nod to the dairy operation's ties to Van Diemen's Land Co, according to the statement.
 
Moon Lake is in advanced talks with airlines and airports to begin weekly round trips from Hobart to Ningbo starting in the first quarter of 2017, with a view to increasing the frequency to two-to-three times a week in a year, and adding Beijing as a destination, the company said.
 
The new air freight route will mark the return of international departures from Hobart International Airport after a regular passenger service to Christchurch, New Zealand, was canceled in the 1980s.
 
Initially, fresh milk will be sold in 1-liter and 600-millimeter cartons, with plans to add yogurt and other dairy products, Moon Lake said in the statement.
 
"It is great for VDL and the Northwest Coast community as it moves the farms from ones that previously just produced milk and watched it leave through the farm gate, to ones that now produce a high-quality, value-added export product, giving them more security and certainty about prices," Shwe said.
 
The milk exports will be a boost for Tasmania, Australia's smallest and least-populated state, where an unemployment rate of 6.5 percent lags the national rate of 5.6 percent, and its citizens are more dependent on welfare than in any other state.
 
"VAN Milk" will represent the first sale to China of Tasmanian milk by a wholly owned Chinese company. Having direct stakes in food-producing companies gives Chinese firms an advantage over Australian competitors when it comes to selling into China, according to Michael Harvey, a senior dairy analyst with Rabobank International in Melbourne.
 
"The advantage is being able to navigate some of the complexities in the market," he said. Milk from Down Under "is held in high regard, so there is a strategic priority in China to source the product from Australia", he said.
 
After Germany, Australia is China's biggest supplier of liquid milk, including UHT products, shipping 61,184 metric tons of the product, worth A$62 million, last year, Chinese customs data showed.
 
China's dairy farms are located mostly in the country's central and northern areas, where the climate is more suitable for raising cattle. Weak cold chain logistics have made it difficult to ensure the milk's freshness when it reaches major markets in northeastern and southern China.
 
On top of that, the discovery of contaminants from melamine to mercury have made Chinese consumers wary of the local product.
 
That's slowed the increase in milk consumption in China, which averages about 33 kilograms per person a year-less than a third of the global mean, according to the USDA, which said in May that "milk consumption has plenty of growth potential".
 
Moon Lake said it plans to increase milk production at its VDL Farms by 80 percent within five years. VDL currently produces 7.66 million kilograms of milk solids a year from about 30,000 cows, which graze on 7,000 hectares.
 
Once "VAN Milk" is established in Ningbo and Beijing, Moon Lake wants to take it to Shanghai, Hangzhou and other Chinese cities. Moon Lake's owner Lu, 46, is also executive chairman and the largest shareholder of Ningbo Xianfeng New Material Co, a builder of sunscreen fabrics and shades.
 
"We've chosen Beijing and Ningbo for the initial marketing push because Ningbo is Lu's hometown and he has established networks to sell the product," Shwe said.
 
"Also, the city has among China's highest average incomes and is less saturated with Western products than, say, Shanghai," Shwe added.
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Anbang offers $11b funding for Chinese business in Europe www.chinadaily.com.cn

Chinese insurer Anbang Insurance Group Co Ltd on Monday unveiled a three-year loan program that will offer a total of 10 billion euros ($10.97 billion) to help Chinese startups and smaller companies to do business in Europe.
 
The plan was announced by Anbang chairman Wu Xiaohui at the China-Belgium Economic Forum in Beijing. The loan will be extended through Anbang's banking subsidiary Bank Nagelmackers in Belgium.
 
The loan program is part of Anbang's response to a Chinese government call for greater support for local small business, which have faced growing difficulties in gaining access to capital amid the economic slowdown.
 
The program will also allow Anbang to gain a higher yield from its investments as insurers cope with more pressure on their investment returns, amid the low interest rate environment in Europe.
 
Under the program, each individual entrepreneur will get a maximum 1 million euro loan. So far 10 Chinese business owners have been approved for the financing, Wu said.
 
The loan project also highlighted Anbang's commitment in the European market after its acquisition of Belgian insurer Fidea NV and Delta Lloyd Bank Belgium, later rebranded as Bank Nagelmackers, in 2014.
 
Best known for its high-profile purchase of New York's famed Waldorf Astoria hotel, Anbang has been the biggest Chinese investor in Belgium. Anbang said its presence in that country also reflects the potential for bilateral trade and investment between China and Belgium.
 
"Low interest rates in Europe and China's labor cost advantage will create huge market potential that will be win-win for both Chinese and Belgian companies," Wu told the forum.
 
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, who has just wrapped up a two-day visit to China, attended the economic forum on Monday and vowed to attract more Chinese investment.
 
Michel said that Belgium would serve as a springboard for pan-European development for Chinese investors.
 
The country's international talent pool and competitive real estate market would also make it an attractive investment destination, he added.
 
"We have seen many good examples of Chinese investment in Belgium. Anbang is an investment success story for the Chinese in Belgium. We can do more and do better," Michel said.
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Alibaba boosts entertainment business with 10 billion yuan fund www.reuters.com

In a major reorganization of the company's entertainment assets, Alibaba Holdings Group Ltd. (BABA.N) has announced the formation of a new digital media group along with plans for a 10 billion yuan ($1.48 billion) fund for new projects.
 
The move marks a total consolidation of Alibaba's media businesses, including Youku Tudou Inc., UCWeb Inc. and Alibaba Pictures Group Ltd.(1060.HK) as well as the company's sports, games, literature, music and digital entertainment divisions.
 
Yu Yongfu, former CEO of UCWeb, will become the chairman and CEO of the newly formed Alibaba Digital Media and Entertainment Group, reporting directly to Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang.
 
Youku Tudou chairman and CEO Victor Koo will chair the Alibaba Digital Media and Entertainment Strategy and Investment Committee, which will oversee the management of the planned fund for the new digital media group, which an Alibaba spokeswoman confirmed will be over 10 billion yuan.
 
The company declined to mention specific investment projects, saying that the funds will be used across their digital media and entertainment businesses.
 
Alibaba Pictures, the only publicly listed company under the new entity, has already undergone a series of consolidations, including the recent addition of online ticketing service Tao Piao Piao.
 
The entertainment company also recently entered an agreement with Steven Spielberg's Amblin Pictures, agreeing to co-produce and finance films.
 
Youku Tudou, which is approaching its tenth anniversary in December, was fully acquired by Alibaba in October last year as part of a $3.5 billion deal that took the company private.
 
Yu will retain his previous titles as president of AutoNavi and president of Alibaba Mobile Business Group, both Alibaba subsidiaries.
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BlackBerry in software deal with Ford, first with an automaker www.reuters.com

BlackBerry Ltd (BB.TO)(BBRY.O) has signed a deal to work directly with Ford Motor Co (F.N) to expand the carmaker's use of its QNX secure operating system, the Canadian technology company said on Monday, as Ford develops increasingly automated vehicles.
 
The deal with Ford is the first BlackBerry has done directly with a major automaker, though it currently sells its technology to auto industry suppliers.
 
The company is betting its future on expanding sales of software products, including to automakers and other manufacturers, after largely ceding the smartphone market to rivals including Apple Inc (AAPL.O), Alphabet's (GOOGL.O) Google and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS).
 
Panasonic Automotive currently uses QNX software in the Sync 3 infotainment console that it supplies to Ford.
 
BlackBerry is hoping the new deal will expand use of BlackBerry's software in Ford vehicles as the two companies identify other systems where it might be used.
 
"We can form the basis of the entire vehicle all the way from autonomous drive through to infotainment," John Wall, the head of BlackBerry's QNX unit, said in a phone interview.
 
Ford is ramping up its driverless vehicle efforts and plans to offer a fully automated vehicle for commercial ride-sharing in 2021, it announced in August.
 
QNX's software is certified for use in autonomous driving and active safety systems, according to Wall.
 
"In the initial engagements you can think of an expansion into the cockpit; telematics, infotainment, cluster," Wall said.
 
BlackBerry and Ford declined to say how QNX might be rolled out into new systems or discuss financial terms of the deal.
 
A dedicated team of QNX engineers based in Ottawa and Waterloo will work with Ford to expand the carmaker's use of the Neutrino industrial operating system, as well as an overarching program that can control other operating systems and related security technology, BlackBerry said.
 
"We're providing the plumbing for the vehicle that is both robust and safe and secure to allow the customers to build their applications on top of that," Wall said.
 
Dan Dodge, who founded QNX in 1982, and stayed on after BlackBerry bought the company in 2010, left QNX at the end of 2015. Bloomberg reported in July that Apple hired him as part of its own self-driving plans.
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Oil prices slide with market less certain about OPEC's production deal www.rt.com

As more members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) want an exemption from the agreement to curb crude output, investors are becoming more skeptical about the prospects of a deal.
 
Oil prices were losing momentum on Monday, with Brent crude trading at $48.81 per barrel, and US West Texas Intermediate down at $47.96. Both benchmarks have lost almost two dollars since last Thursday.
 
Iraq and Nigeria have joined Iran and Libya, seeking to be excluded from OPEC’s informal agreement to reduce output. OPEC wanted to slash the group’s production to a range of 32.5 million to 33 million barrels per day.
 
The deal hasn’t been officially signed, and the reluctance of cartel members to participate will likely anger Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies. While Iran, Nigeria and Libya want to restore the production hit by sanctions or conflicts, Iraq just wants to raise output.
 
"It might be impossible for OPEC to come to an agreement on making cuts. The best that can realistically be expected is a freeze. Iran, Libya and Nigeria will probably be allowed to raise production to pre-disruption levels," Mark Watkins, investment manager for The Private Client Group of US Bank told Bloomberg.
 
"Even the official OPEC meeting might not answer all the questions we have. We’ll need additional time to evaluate compliance with the agreement and see if it has any actual impact on the market," Tim Evans, an energy analyst at Citi Futures Perspective told the media.
 
OPEC’s failure to agree within the cartel also concerns non-members.
 
Representatives from oil producers outside the cartel including Azerbaijan, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Oman and Russia informally met OPEC officials in Vienna on Saturday. The non-members said they were waiting for OPEC unanimity.
 
"We have to agree on the real numbers," said Kazakhstan's Vice Minister of Energy Magsum Mirzagaliev.
 
"It is important that we meet once again with detailed numbers. We agreed that we have to meet in 3-4 weeks with numbers, because every country has its own opinion," he said.
 
However, the meeting participants said they saw a "positive development" to reaching a formal agreement on November 30.
 
"There was a lot of talk and nobody managed to agree on anything. That has been pushing the market down," said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA brokerage in Singapore.
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Volkswagen expects to lose 25,000 jobs rt.com 2016 11 01

Europe’s largest car producer Volkswagen says a shift to electric cars will force the company to slash 25,000 job openings in the coming years, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper reported, citing the carmaker’s head of human resources.
 
As vehicles with electric motors are made of fewer components than vehicles with combustion engines, “we will need fewer employees in the long-term", said VW Group Chief Human Resources Officer Karlheinz Blessing.
 
According to the HR chief, the global scandal over VW cheating emission tests isn’t the main factor behind the planned job cuts, but “now the pressure to act, however, is greater."
 
Volkswagen will pay as much as $15.3 billion after admitting it cheated on US diesel emissions tests for years. The German car maker has agreed to buy back vehicles from consumers and invest in cleaner technologies. VW will pay up to $2.7 billion over three years to enable the US government to replace old buses, bringing the fine closer to the $18 billion VW had prepared to cover costs of the scandal.
 
Blessing added that the board plans no compulsory redundancies, "but we will reduce a number of employees." VW expects up to 25,000 staff to be cut over the next decade as older workers retire.
 
Management and labor leaders will meet to discuss the company’s cost cuts before a November 18 meeting of the supervisory board to approve future spending plans.
 
The talks with unions may fail, as workers insist VW should invest in its own battery production.
 
According to Blessing, VW is considering the possibility but no decision has yet been made.
 
"If 30 percent of the value creation will be in the battery system in the future, it is right to consider whether we will step in and to what extent. We cannot leave that to others. How deeply we will engage is a matter we will discuss as part of the future pact,” he said.
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Mark Carney to serve extra year as Bank of England governor www.theguardian.com

Mark Carney has ended weeks of speculation about his future by agreeing to stay on as governor of the Bank of England until Brexit negotiations with the EU have ended in 2019.
 
Despite being urged by the prime minister, Theresa May, and the chancellor, Philip Hammond, to serve a full eight-year term at Threadneedle Street, until 2021, Carney said he would only agree to remain in place for an extra year. He started in the job in July 2013.
 
The governor said in a letter to Hammond that he had intended to leave the Bank for personal reasons after five years, but the altered landscape for the UK following the vote in June to leave the EU had caused him to change his mind.
 
“Since then, my personal circumstances have not changed, but other circumstances clearly have, most notably the UK’s decision to leave the European Union,” he wrote.
 
“Recognising the importance to the country of continuity during the UK’s article 50 negotiations, and notwithstanding those personal circumstances, I would be honoured to extend my time of service as governor for an additional year to the end of June 2019.
 
“By taking my term in office beyond the expected period of the article 50 process, this should help contribute to securing an orderly transition to the UK’s new relationship with Europe.”
 
His announcement followed a meeting with May in which the prime minister gave the governor her full backing for his handling of interest rates and called on him to stay to help steer the UK economy through the post-Brexit vote period.
 
The public show of support for Carney from the government’s two leading figures reflected concerns that news of his early departure would put further downward pressure on an already weak pound. Sterling fell by 6% in October, during which it was the weakest of 150 global currencies tracked by Bloomberg.
 
While May and Hammond will be disappointed that Carney has declined to stay on until 2021, they will be relieved that he is remaining at the Bank while the two-year article 50 talks are taking place. May has pledged to trigger article 50, beginning the process of the UK leaving the EU, by the end of March 2017. The pound rose by half a cent on foreign exchanges on Monday following the prime minister’s show of support.
 
May’s spokeswoman said Carney’s decision to stay on was good news for the UK and would provide continuity and stability while Britain negotiated its EU exit.
 
However, Andrew Tyrie, the chair of the Treasury select committee, said it needed “a good deal of examination and explanation” and that he would be questioning the governor at a meeting of the committee in a fortnight’s time.
 
Before the referendum, Carney said he would make a decision on whether to stay on at the Bank before the end of 2016, but he has been forced to make his intentions clear by a flurry of speculation about his future.
 
This began when May used her speech at the Conservative party conference to question the “bad side-effects” of ultra-low interest rates and the Bank’s money creation programme.
 
Downing Street apologised to the Bank, insisting that May had not intended to attack the governor, but her comments prompted open criticism of Threadneedle Street and Carney from senior Conservative politicians including the former chancellor Lord Nigel Lawson, the former foreign secretary William Hague and the leading Brexit campaigner Michael Gove.
 
His critics were unhappy at what they saw as the overpoliticisation of his role in the run-up to the EU referendum. They have also attacked the Bank’s forecasting record and the ramifications of its seven-year stimulus programme.
 
With rumours about Carney’s future helping put pressure on sterling, Hammond publicly backed the governor and said he would be delighted if he stayed on until 2021.
 
May’s spokeswoman had made it apparent ahead of the announcement that the prime minister was also concerned Carney might stick to his original plan to leave after five years.
 
“The PM has been clear in her support for the governor; the work he is doing for the country. It is clearly a decision for him, but the PM would certainly be supportive of him going on beyond his five years,” the spokeswoman said.
 
Asked whether May considered Carney to be the best person for the job, the spokeswoman said: “Absolutely.”
 
Responding to the news, Hammond wrote in his letter to Carney: “I am very pleased to hear that you intend to continue as governor of the Bank of England until the end of June 2019.
 
“This will enable you to continue your highly effective leadership of the Bank through a critical period for the British economy, as we negotiate our exit from the European Union.”
 
But Sir Martin Sorrell, the chief executive of advertising company WPP, expressed disappointed that Carney would not be staying on until 2021. “One year is better than nothing ... But it’s disappointing that he won’t serve his full term,” he told Sky News.
 
“Maybe he was a little bit bruised by the criticism, I think unjustified criticism, that he’s been subjected to.”
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Tesco hit with £100m damages claim www.bbc.com

Supermarket chain Tesco is facing a damages claim for more than £100m from investors who say they lost money because of accounting irregularities by the company.
The claim involves about 125 institutional funds, says Bentham Europe, the firm funding it.
It stems from a statement by Tesco in September 2014 that its profits had been overstated by £263m.
That was later revised upwards to £326m when Tesco included previous accounts.
Auditors found that the inflated profit figure was the result of Tesco booking payments from suppliers before the money was due.
Bentham Europe said the legal action would seek to prove that Tesco had misled investors and breached the Financial Services and Markets Act.
"The mis-statement of profits leading to a dramatic collapse in the Tesco share price caused substantial damage to many shareholders who manage money for thousands of investors," said Jeremy Marshall, chief investment officer of Bentham Europe.
"Investors have a right to rely on statements made by companies to ensure that they correctly allocate capital."
The affair damaged the company's share price, which has fallen about 20% since 2014.
Tesco declined to comment on the case.
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has charged three former Tesco executives with fraud and false accounting as a result of the irregularities.
The three, who have denied the charges, are due to stand trial next year.
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Japan,China,S.Korea to accelerate free trade talks www3.nhk.or.jp

Trade ministers from Japan, China and South Korea have pledged to make greater efforts to accelerate talks on a proposed 3-nation free trade agreement.

Japan's Hiroshige Seko, China's Gao Hucheng and Joo Hyung-hwan from South Korea held talks in Tokyo on Saturday.

No major progress has been made on a 3-way free trade agreement or a comprehensive economic partnership deal involving 16 Asia-Pacific countries including the 3 nations.

In a joint statement, the ministers said their countries recognize how they can contribute to East Asia's economic integration, and that they will work to accelerate free trade negotiations.

The statement also said the 3 ministers reconfirmed their intentions to take joint action against protectionism, which they say has been increasing globally.

After the meeting, Seko said he is convinced that the result of Saturday's talks will contribute greatly not only to the 3 countries but to the whole of Asia and rest of the world.

He said Japan will continue to work closely with its 2 neighbors.

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