Americas: more of the same
It was back to business as usual in the US, as the
country’s divisions seemed to widen yet further.
Following the retirement of Justice Kennedy last month,
President Trump announced his pick for the vacant Supreme Court
position; Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the DC Court of Appeals. Far
from a unanimously popular choice, Kavanaugh has been instantly
lambasted by many on both sides of the ideological divide.
In what is becoming a daily occurrence, the US trade war
with China continued hastily, first with the announcement of
$35 billion more in tariffs against the country, and then with
the threat of $200 billion more later in the week. The news has
caused a bond rally as uncertainty between the two behemoth
nations continues to fester.
The US Government Accountability Office issued a report this
week suggesting that the US Treasury and
the Department of Defense should increase certain aspects of
the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States,
including assessing staffing issues to ensure the agency can
operate at full capacity and adequately mitigate national
Other news saw the Commodity Futures Trading Commission
issue its largest ever whistleblower award, at $30 million, as
JPMorgan was reprimanded for conflict of interests. The saga of
the AT&T acquisition of Time Warner continued as the
Department of Justice appealed the previous decision in what is
the biggest antitrust case of all time.
Asia: strength to strength
The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore has
provisionally found that the Grab and Uber merger has reduced
competition. It has proposed penalties and potential remedies:
if the companies fail to address competition concerns, the
merger may have to be unwound. Uber took a 27.5% stake in Grab
in exchange for the company’s operations in eight
Asian countries. Both companies have less than two weeks to
respond to the decision.
Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission
(SFC) has launched a consultation on proposals to amend the
Guidelines on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist
Financing. It aims to streamline the identification and
verification processes for on-boarding customers to allow for
more flexibility, including the use of technology for
non-face-to-face account opening with adequate safeguards. The
consultation ends on August 9.
Xiaomi shares officially began trading on the Hong Kong
stock exchange on Monday. It is the first company to list with
a weighted voting rights structure after
changes to Hong Kong’s listing regime came
into effect. The company priced its shares at the lower end of
the HK$17 ($2.17 approximately) to HK$22 range. Net initial
public offering proceeds were HK$23.98 billion.
EMEA: boom and bust
The number of M&A mega deals for the first half of this
year has more than trebled compared to the same period last
year and there is little sign of this growth slowing down. "Our
pipeline is bulging with work and I don’t see
signs of it slowing up," said Richard Browne, global co-head of
corporate at Allen & Overy.
Figures show the number of deals exceeding $10 billion rose
by 301% in H1 2018 from the same period last year, and deals
exceeding $5 billion rose by 226% within the same period.
Overall deal value also increased by 64%, despite deal volumes
falling by 11%.
The Department of Justice has launched an investigation into
price manipulation of cryptocurrencies or
'spoofing’. Concern has been raised that some
investors are filing orders to deliberately encourage other
traders to buy or sell, and this could be influencing the
highly volatile pricing. Regulators have been rooting out
'spoofing’ or 'wash trading’ out of
futures markets, but given that the cryptocurrency market
remains unregulated, it can be easy for investors with
malicious intent to get involved.
It is nearly two months after the General Data Protection
Regime (GDPR) came into force, yet many companies are not
effectively communicating their retention policies and data is
still being held longer than necessary. According to Neil
Aremband, GDPR consultant, organisations need to continuously
update a corporate list register to mitigate risks and someone
within the company needs to take lead of this, but many SMEs
don’t tend to have one currently.
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