Top 10 Stories of Last Week! 03/01/2022

The week’s news included; Apple hits $3tn market cap, New UK national security laws to make foreign takeovers tougher, Meta to appeal Giphy acquisition block, End of an era: Blackberry shuts down operating systems.

Below are our top 10 stories that you need to know about. Be sure to check our twitter page, Facebook page and Instagram 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: 

  • City A.M. – Could 2022 really be a happy new year after all?
  • Retail Gazette – The cost of living: everyday items that will be more expensive in 2022.
  • Lawcareers.net – Are NFTs exempt from IP restrictions placed on tangible goods?
  • Evening Standard – From web3 to climate and health tech: The tech trends and companies to watch in 2022

1. APPLE HITS $3 TRILLION

Last week, Apple became the first company to reach a $3 trillion market capitalisation. Apple’s share price reached $182.88 before dropping slightly by the end of the day. The news comes barely 3 years after it became the first company to pass $1 trillion. Investors are confident of Apple’s continuous growth, especially as it explores new innovative markets such as virtual reality and autonomous vehicles. Apple’s valuation also received a boost during the pandemic as demand for electronic gadgets soared. This strong performance came despite a production cut of 10 million iPhones last year due to the microchip shortage.

Only 5 public US companies have passed a $1 trillion valuation; Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, Amazon and most recently, Tesla.

2. UK NATIONAL SECURITY RULES

The UK has introduced new security laws designed to make foreign takeovers of British firms more difficult. Under the National Security and Investment Act, ministers are given greater powers to scrutinise takeover deals, impose conditions or even block deals. Foreign investors will now be required to notify the government if they plan to buy all or part of any UK businesses in one of 17 sensitive areas. These include fields such as nuclear energy and artificial intelligence. 

This new law follows a string of high profile foreign takeovers of British tech firms. In 2021, foreign takeovers of UK firms hit their highest levels for 3 years. US satellite communications firm Viasat agreed a $7.3bn takeover of UK based rival Inmarsat. Additionally, US based Nvidia agreed to buy UK based chipmaker ARM for $75 billion. This deal however, is facing huge backlash from regulators in both the US and the UK as well as from the UK government. It currently looks unlikely that it will pass. 

3. GOOGLE HIT WITH €150M FINE

Google has been hit with a €150 million fine for making it difficult for users to refuse cookies. Cookies are trackers that provide companies data that is used for targeted ads. France’s data protection regulator has said accepting cookies is easy, so rejecting them should be equally as straightforward. Google’s systems did not allow for this and so they have been fined. Google now has 3 months to comply with the order or they will face a further penalty of €100,000 per day of delay.  Meta was also fined €60 million over the same issue and faces the same order.  

4. META APPEALS GIPHY ACQUISITION BLOCK

Meta will appeal against the Competition and Markets Authority(CMA)’s decision to block its $400 million acquisition of GIF platform Giphy. The CMA initially blocked the deal in November due to concerns it would harm other social media competitors and give Facebook too much market power. Competitors could face limited access to Giphy services and content, undermining competition in the social media sphere. In order to allay these concerns, Meta said it would agree not to restrict access to competitors. This proposal was rejected by the CMA as it would need ongoing monitoring. Now, Meta has lodged an appeal with the Competition Appeal Tribunal.  

5. EVERGRANDE SUSPENDS SHARE TRADING

Distressed property giant Evergrande suspended trading of its shares in Hong Kong last week. The company defaulted on a $1.2 billion loan repayment last month and is sitting on a huge $300 billion debt pile. The company also scaled back plans to repay investors in its wealth management products due to cash flow problems. Evergrande is scrambling for cash to meet their obligations by selling shares and assets. Its financial woes largely derive from its decision to heavily leverage itself to fund rapid expansion. Finer details on its difficulties are, however, sparse. Evergrande is also facing legal troubles with regards to a number of its properties in China. 

Evergrande shares are already down 90% since last year. Things seems to be going from bad to worse for the giant as the Chinese government has indicated that there are no plans to bailout the company.  

6. BLACKBERRY SHUTS DOWN 

Blackberry has formally decommissioned its software, meaning any Blackberry phones using the firm’s operating system will not work.  Newer Blackberry phones using Android software and will continue to work. This forms part of the company’s transition away from hardware towards software. Blackberry has not released an operating system since 2013 and phased out devices in the four years up to 2020. By 2017 however, Blackberry’s market share of the mobile device sector had plunged to less than 0.1%, down from 20% in 2009. Despite its huge initial success, the QWERTY keyboard fell out of favour after Apple’s touchscreen iPhone grew in popularity. Blackberry failed to keep up and this proved costly. The company now generates most income from its cybersecurity business and turned over $893 million in 2021. This however, is a far cry from its peak in 2011 where the company made nearly $20 billion in revenue. 

7. NYT BUYS THE ATHLETIC FOR $550M

The New York Times has agreed to buy sports news website The Athletic for a reported $550 million. The Athletic has over 1.2 million subscribers but is still unprofitable, posting a $41 million loss in 2020. Despite this, the deal is expected to provide synergies and other benefits for both parties. The New York Times sees strong potential in the Athletic and hopes this merger will help cement their market positions in these uncertain times for media businesses.

8. TINDER OWNER SUES MUSLIM MARRIAGE APP

Match Group has launched legal action against Muslim matchmaking app Muzmatch for allegedly copying their product and services. UK based MuzMatch is a platform designed to help single Muslims find spouses and features similar functions to Tinder. Like Tinder, if both sides swipe right, they are matched and can begin communicating. The platform also includes a chaperone function. Match Group claims the platform infringes upon their trademark as they use the word “match” in their metadata to help it appear higher in internet search results. It also uses “match-muslim” and “uk-muslim-match”. 

Match first wrote to Muzmatch about their alleged infringement in 2016, requesting them to desist. When this failed, Match Group sought to purchase Muzmatch making four offers up to $35 million but these were rejected. US based Match Group is behind popular dating sites including Tinder, Match.com, Hinge and OkCupid. 

9. SONY STEPS INTO ELECTRIC CAR PRODUCTION

Sony has announced that it is exploring launching an electric vehicle production company.  A prototype vehicle was presented at a recent event and it has begun testing on public roads. Many companies are segwaying into electric car production as a way to diversify their offerings. Apple is also preparing to enter the space with its own autonomous vehicle. Sony is no stranger to innovation as it was the first company to use lithium ion batteries commercially in electric products. Sony shares rose by 3.7% in response to the news.

10. TRAVEL BOOKINGS REACHING PRE-PANDEMIC LEVELS

Holiday bookings are slowly coming back to pre-pandemic levels as the UK relaxed international travel rules last week. Fully vaccinated travellers entering the UK are no longer required to take pre-departure tests. This saw demand for holidays soar. EasyJet saw bookings rise by 200% and added 1.1 million seats for sale for summer 2022. Jet2 has also seen bookings soar 150% last week following the announcement. People are desperate to get away on holiday after nearly 2 years of restrictions. The travel industry has been one of the most acutely affected sectors by restrictions but in spite of concerns about the Omicron variant, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

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