The week’s news included; FTC moves to block Microsoft – Activision Blizzard takeover, UK government to introduce financial services reforms, Getir to buy Gorillas for $1.2bn.
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:
- CNBC – How the four-day workweek gained momentum — and could change the future of work
- City A.M. – Big Bang 2.0? Smart post-Brexit reforms can put power in the country’s engine
- BBC News – Why the government line on strikes is hardening
- City A.M. – Whether it’s otters or guns, social media cannot exist without algorithms
1. FTC FILES TO BLOCK MICROSOFT’S ACTIVISION BLIZZARD TAKEOVER
The US Federal Trade Commission has filed an antitrust lawsuit to block Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard. There is concern that the deal could significantly harm competition, consumers and breach US competition law. The deal would see huge titles like Call of Duty and Candy Crush fall under Microsoft’s library. Microsoft also produces Xbox consoles. Competitor Sony has expressed its concern that Microsoft could block or limit its access to new Activision Blizzard titles. The FTC antitrust lawsuit will now proceed to their internal administrative law judge.
Microsoft hopes to close the deal by June 2023 but has huge hurdles to overcome if its to achieve this. The tech giant has already begun its charm offensive, giving assurances to regulators in the EU that it won’t restrict access but whether this will be enough remains to be seen. CNBC looks at the case in more detail.
2. UK FINANCIAL SERVICES REFORMS
The UK government has announced the “Edinburgh Reforms” that will see the largest reforms in the financial services sector since 2008. Over 30 changes will be brought in to deregulate the UK’s financial services sector and boost economic growth. The government claims this will reduce red tape and encourage investment. Some of the changes to be introduced include; scrapping of bankers’ bonus caps, relaxing ring fencing rules (discussed in previous top 10) and introducing new rules on securitisation.
Critics however, have said the regulations were necessary to prevent another financial crisis and bailout. During the financial crisis the UK government bailed out banks to the tune of £137 billion. There is some criticism that the government has forgotten the lessons of 2008 and is engaging in a post-Brexit race to the bottom regarding regulation. Whether the proposals will unleash a wave of economic growth as the government purports remains to be seen.
3. GETIR BUYS GORILLAS
Grocery delivery app Getir has bought its rival Gorillas for an undisclosed sum. Both Getir and Gorillas compete in the rapid delivery market, offering delivery of groceries in around 10 minutes. These services flourished during the pandemic as shoppers turned to online grocery delivery. The boom of the pandemic is now over and firms are looking to consolidate to remain profitable. Retailers and delivery firms alike are being hit by the cost of living crisis. Earlier this year, Gorillas pulled out of core European markets and cut 320 jobs. Getir also cut 14% of its workforce, indicating the struggles within the market. The deal is estimated to be worth $1.2 billion. Getir was valued at $11.8 billion last year and operates in 9 countries.
4. WTO RULES US TARIFFS BREACH TRADE RULES
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has ruled that the US’s tariffs on steel and aluminium imports are in breach of global trade rules. Donald Trump introduced a 25% tariff on steel and 10% tariff on aluminium in 2018 to protect US national security. The tariffs primarily affected China as Trump complained that they flooded US markets with cheap metal. These tariffs have been maintained by the Biden administration. China, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey all filed complaints about the tariffs with the WTO.
The US now has a few options. It may now remove its tariffs to comply with the ruling, otherwise the complainants may impose their own tariffs on the US. Alternatively, the US can appeal the ruling. The WTO’s appellate body however, is not operational because the US has blocked new appointments to this body. If the US appeals, the case would remain in indefinite limbo. BBC News looks closer at the case. Check out our previous article on US tariffs.
5. GLENCORE SETTLES CONGO CORRUPTION CHARGES
Just weeks after agreeing a £275 million settlement over bribery allegations, Glencore is back at it again. Glencore will pay $180 million to the Democratic Republic of Congo over corruption allegations. The mining giant admitted bribing officials after investigations found a widespread culture of bribery. The alleged corruption spanned 11 years from 2007 to 2018. The settlement covers all current and future claims of alleged corruption during the timeframe above. Glencore has paid out $1.6 billion in fines this year alone. Despite this, the company is expected to rake in $3.2 billion in profits this year. Glencore employs roughly 135,000 people across 35 countries.
6. TSMC ANNOUNCES $40BN US INVESTMENT
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturer Co. (TSMC) has announced increased investment in the US up from $12 billion to $40 billion. The company is opening a new chip plant in Arizona and will produce more advanced microchip technology than initially planned. The globe is gripped by a shortage of semiconductor chips as demand skyrocketed. This has led to shortages of vehicles, household and personal electronics. This new investment should help alleviate some of that shortage in US and Western markets. It also markets the largest foreign investments in US history. Check out our previous article exploring the semiconductor shortage.
7. INDIANA SUES TIKTOK
The US state of Indiana has sued TikTok for allegedly breaching consumer protection law. TikTok has allegedly failed to protect young people and privacy. There are two lawsuits filed against the tech giant. One alleges that young people are exposed to inappropriate content on the app and TikTok does not prevent this. The app is rated as 12 and above on Apple and Google but TikTok’s algorithm often promotes content with alcohol, nudity and profanity to minors. The second is the failure of TikTok to disclose what data is shared with the Chinese government. There is concern that the sensitive data of Indiana residents is at risk. TikTok has said it is confident its policies will satisfy concerns. Other US states are also exploring legal action and in some instances outright bans.
8. WIRECARD TRIAL BEGINS
The trial of the former executives of collapsed payment processor Wirecard has begun. This is the largest fraud trial in German history. Former CEO Markus Braun will stand trial along with senior managers Oliver Bellenhaus and Stephan von Erffa. They stand charged with fraud and market manipulation and could face up to 15 years in prison.
Wirecard collapsed in 2020 after a €1.9 billion black hole was found in its books. The payment processor hit a $28 billion valuation at one point and was listed on the Frankfurt stock exchange. Once the scandal broke its fall was dramatic and left creditors $4 billion out of pocket. See our previous top 10 exploring the collapse. Braun admitted that the money was missing but denied embezzlement. In 2020, he was arrested on suspicion of involvement in an organised criminal enterprise.
The trial has begun and is not expected to be complete until 2024. It is being held in a new underground bomb-proof court room to prevent foul play and terror attacks.
9. ROYAL MAIL STRIKE
Strikes at Royal Mail have begun with over 115,000 staff walking out over disputes regarding pay and conditions. Further strikes are due to take place on 14, 15, 23 and 24 December. The organisation has advised customers to post Christmas mail earlier to avoid disruption. Workers are complaining that the government is pushing for thousands of compulsory redundancies. Furthermore, workers are requesting a pay rise in line with inflation, which currently sits at 11.1%.
The summer of discontent has continued into the winter. Thousands of workers across a range of services are now taking strike action. Along with Royal Mail workers, railway staff, teachers, nurses, paramedics, 999 call handlers, road workers, bus drivers and airport staff have all planned strike action. Soaring inflation has made current pay packets unviable for many workers. This is why we are seeing so many public service workers taking strike action.
10. SANTANDER FINED £108M OVER AML FAILURES
Santander has been fined £107.8 million by the UK financial regulator for “repeated money-laundering failures”. The Financial Conduct Authority found that the bank had inadequate systems and controls to prevent money laundering between 2012 and 2017. Information provided by customers on their business was not properly verified, and information regarding transactions was not adequately monitored. This left Santander at a “prolonged and severe risk of money laundering and financial crime”. Santander agreed to settle the matter and received a 30% discount on the £154 million initial fine. The bank says that it has since improved its systems and controls.