Top 10 Stories of Last Week! 18/11/2019

The week’s news included; Aramco gets $1.7tn valuation, German carmakers fined 100 million euros for steel cartel, cryptocurrency now tradeable property under UK law, Kylie Jenner sells stake in cosmetics business for $600m

Below are our top 10 stories that you need to know about. Be sure to check our twitter page and Facebook page for regular posts of important headlines. Get all the important stories and insights straight into your inbox by subscribing to our mailing list here.

Opinion articles of the week: 

  • CNBC – Self-driving trucks likely to hit the roads before passenger cars.
  • City A.M – How to immunise yourself against a toxic work culture
  • E Financial Careers – Why lawyers are the new M&A bankers
  • Engadget – Snapchat fact-checks political ads where Facebook won’t

1. ARAMCO IPO

State owned oil giant Saudi Aramco has been given a valuation of between $1.6tn and $1.7tn ahead of its blockbuster IPO. The Saudi Crown was initially seeking a $2 trillion valuation so this falls notably short. Regardless, Aramco’s IPO could still be the largest in history. The company is seeking to raise over $25 billion and if shares reach a price near the top of end of their target then it will take the crown. This would surpass Alibaba who raised $25 billion in its 2014 IPO.

The shares will be offered solely on the Saudi Stock Exchange, the Tadawul bourse. Only 1.5% of the company’s shares will be floated. Saudi Aramco was crowned the world’s most profitable company, posting $111 billion in net profit in 2018. The money raised from the IPO is reportedly to help diversify the Saudi economy away from oil and invest in alternative energy.

2. GERMAN CARMAKERS FINED FOR STEEL CARTEL

German carmakers Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz owner Damier and BMW have been collectively slapped with a €100 million fine for forming a steel cartel. The three companies were found to regularly meet steelmakers between 2004 and 2013 to arrange uniform surcharges on steel purchases. This was to ensure favourable prices for their car components. The setting of these uniform prices was deemed to constitute an illegal cartel. BMW and Damier will pay penalties of €28m and €23.5m respectively. The remainder of the €100m will be paid by Volkswagen. This brings an end to one of many headaches for German car makers. An investigation into the emissions control technology scandal is still ongoing.

3. DISNEY PLUS USERS HACKED

Thousands of subscribers to Disney’s new streaming service, Disney Plus, have reportedly been hacked and had their details stolen. Over 4000 user account details were found up for sale on the dark web. Alarm bells rang when users noted their usernames and passwords had changed without their input. Disney claims there has been no evidence of a breach of its systems. The company suggests details were compromised through other avenues. Some suggest where users have used the same password across different sites hackers have been able to access Disney + accounts using previously compromised details. Many users have experienced other issues with Disney Plus such as being locked out of their accounts.

Disney Plus launched two weeks ago and bagged 10 million subscribers in the first week. The streaming service is only available in the US, Canada and the Netherlands but is expected to launch in the UK in a few months.

4. PAYPAL TO ACQUIRE HONEY

PayPal will acquire online shopping rewards company Honey for $4 billion. Honey offers customers discount codes and promotions to 30,000 different retailers through its mobile app and website. The platforms collectively have 17 million monthly users.

PayPal is feeling the pressure as big tech is encroaching into its field. Namely, Apple, Facebook and Google all offer payment processes and are developing new systems every day. PayPal is undoubtedly a giant in the field with 275 million active consumer accounts. To stay ahead of the field however, it must invest heavily and seek new sources of income. The deal still faces regulatory hurdles to clear but is expected to close early next year.

5. LEGAL PANEL RULES CRYPTOCURRENCY IS PROPERTY

A panel of senior UK judges have recognised crypto assets as “tradeable property” under English and Welsh law. The recognition came in a legal statement issued last week by the Lawtech Delivery Panel (LTDP). The LTDP is governed funded panel designed to develop the UK legal sector through the use of technology. The panel also recognised smart contracts as “enforceable agreements”. This decision is seen as a huge first step in introducing widespread of use of blockchain technologies into the legal and traditional financial sphere. It provides legal certainty for those looking to explore the technology and also boost crypto and blockchain developers.

Check out our insight article explaining what blockchain is and some common uses.

6. WEWORK JOB CUTS

Office rental space firm WeWork has confirmed it will slash 2400 jobs. The company was saved from the brink of collapse last month after it’s failed IPO left it strapped for cash. Most of the job cuts will be in the architecture department. Many cuts have been made already with many more expected to take place. In addition, WeWork will now be ditching its leasing model in many cities and will instead manage properties for other landlords in these locations. This prevents racking up hefty long term property leases and the reduces risk of having vacant properties. WeWork hasw $19 billion worth of long term leases. The fine had 12500 employees as of June 2019.

WeWork has had an extraordinary fall from grace. Earlier this year, it was valued at $47 billion and was due to get $10 billion in new cash from IPO investors and associated loans. After analysts and investors raised serious concerns about its structure and profitability it became clear the IPO would flop. It’s largest stakeholder and backer SoftBank put together a $5 billion rescue package, valuing the company at just $8 billion. This included a $1.7 billion severance package to Adam Neumann, over which shareholders have sued SoftBank. Now WeWork must go through an enormous restructuring process to stabilise the business. The whole fiasco saw SoftBank post a $6.5 billion loss in it’s latest results.

7. TATA JOB CUTS

Tata Steel has announced plans to cut 3000 jobs across Europe. The firm needs to cut costs due to the challenging market conditions. There will be no plant closures but the full impact of the cuts is still being determined. Tata employs 20,000 people and 8,300 of these are based in the UK. Tata’s Port Talbot plant in Wales employs over 4000 of these. Most of the jobs cut will be office based. This comes just 2 weeks after British Steel was rescued in a £1.2 billion deal. The steel industry is on its knees and more cuts and collapses are inevitable if things don’t change.

8. KYLIE JENNER SELLS STAKE IN KYLIE COSMETICS

Kylie Jenner is to sell her stake in Kylie Cosmetics to Coty for $600 million. Coty aims to launch a range of new products under the Kylie Jenner brand to help expand Coty’s connection with younger customers.

Kylie Cosmetics initially only sold online but now retails in 1,100 Ulta Beauty Stores. Kylie Jenner rose to prominence through her presence on Instagram which has skyrocketed her brand to become a global phenomenon. She currently has 151 million followers on Instagram and was recently crowned the world’s youngest self-made billionaire.

Kylie Jenner Cosmetics turned over $177 million last year and this acquisition values the company at $1.2 billion. Under the deal, Coty will acquire Kylie Jenner’s 51% stake in the company.

9. VEGAN SUES BURGER KING OVER IMPOSSIBLE WHOPPER

A vegan has launched legal action against Burger King over it’s supposedly “meat free” Impossible Whopper. The man has begun as class action against the fast food chain alleging their “meat free” claim is not true. This is because the “meat free” burgers are allegedly contaminated with meat byproducts as they cooked on the same grill as meat burgers.

The customer is seeking damages for every customer who purchased the alternative meat burger. They also seek an injunction to oblige Burger King to disclose clearly that the Impossible Burger is cooked on the same grill as traditional meat burgers. The burger is described as “100% whopper 0% beef” on burger King’s website.

Burger King have said for vegans there is microwave cooking option available in all stores in order to avoid any contamination. The Impossible Whopper is plant-based meat free burger. It launched in the US earlier this year and has been recently introduced in the UK.

Check out our insight article exploring the alternative meat market and some of the key players.

10. TSB GLITCHES AGAIN

TSB customers have suffered another payments glitch, leaving some customers not receiving their wages. Payments into TSB accounts were delayed overnight so customers payments were not sent nor received, creating mass confusion. The problem was resolved within a few hours and all payments were soon processed. Although resolved, this adds even more pressure to TSB, who are still reeling from the major IT collapse last year.

Last week, new details arose from the inquiry into TSB’s huge IT failure. TSB sought to transfer accounts over to its new IT system but this led to a huge failure. The collapse left 2 million TSB customers without access to online banking. It also saw the departure of CEO Paul Pester and over £370 million paid out to customers in compensation.  The inquiry has highlighted that the head of IT failed to properly assess the company’s readiness to complete the migration and failed to escalate the issues quickly enough. The inquiry led by Slaughter May, the FCA and the PRA is still ongoing.

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