Morning Brief: Top Stories Dominating Financial Media on Monday, April 4


ExxonMobil Ditches Russia Following Western Sanctions

  • Exxon Mobil Corp XOM suspended its liquefied natural gas project in Russia’s Far East following Western sanctions.
  • Exxon would pull out of managing extensive oil and gas production facilities on Sakhalin Island in Russia’s Far East, putting the proposed multi-billion dollar LNG facility there in doubt.

Carrefour, Daphni Partner To Launch Venture Capital Fund Focused On Digital Retail Startups

  • French retail giant Carrefour CRRFY has partnered with European venture capital firm Daphni to launch Dastore, a venture capital fund.
  • The fund aims to invest in early-stage startups addressing the digital retail space.
  • The fund will initially invest €80 million by taking minority stakes in high potential emerging startups in France and globally.


Starbucks Suspends Buyback To Focus On Investing In Operations; Schultz Takes Helm

  • Starbucks Corporation SBUX said it would suspend its stock repurchasing program effectively immediately in order to focus on investing in the workforce and more stores.
  • The company’s founder, Howard Schultz, returned as chief executive officer and board director after Kevin Johnson announced his retirement.

Tribes, Industry Groups Agree To Boost US Hydroelectric Power, But Congress Needs To Act

  • Native American tribes, environmentalists, and the hydroelectric power industry have reached a deal on a proposed legislative package to boost clean energy and river conservation.
  • The compromise deal resulted from four years of talks between groups that involved disagreements on vanishing fish populations and changes to river ecosystems. The deal would require approval from Congress.
  • The deal seeks to grant approvals to add hydroelectric power to some existing dams in two years while speeding the approval of off-river pumped-storage projects, which store surplus energy for later use, in three years.


At $100B, This Chinese Fashion E-Tailer Could Become The Most Valued Startup After TikTok Parent, SpaceX

  • Chinese online fast-fashion retailer SHEIN is mulling a $1 billion funding that could shoot its valuation past the owners of H&M, Uniqlo FRCOY and Zara.
  • The e-tailer is in talks with potential investors, including General Atlantic, and successful funding could value the company at about $100 billion.
  • If it successfully achieves that mark, the e-tailer would be placed as the third most valuable startup globally, after ByteDance Ltd. and Tesla Inc. TSLA CEO Elon Musk’s SpaceX, according to the report.

LME Under Scrutiny By FCA And Bank Of England Over Recent Nickel Turmoil

  • The U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), part of the Bank of England, to investigate the LME’s approach to its suspension and resumption of the nickel market in the wake of a short squeeze that sent prices soaring and resulted in the cancellation of trades.
  • LME plans to start an independent review into the events that led to the suspension of trading in the nickel market. The FCA and PRA said a third party would review the situation once the market settled down.

Financial Times

Electric Vehicle Dreams Remain Vulnerable To Surging Battery Prices

  • Russia’s Ukraine invasion has jeopardized the car industry’s multibillion-dollar bet on cheaper electric vehicle batteries, rendering them unprofitable and uncompetitive.
  • Global demand played a crucial role in driving the prices of critical raw materials for EV battery manufacturing nickel, lithium, and cobalt.
  • But with Russia accounting for 11% of the world’s nickel and supply chains already stretched, the war has sent the cost of such commodities skyrocketing.

SEC Examinations Unit To Strengthen Policing Against Private Fund Failings

  • The Securities and Exchange Commission has tightened its policing of the booming market for unlisted assets with greater oversight of private funds.
  • Gary Gensler, SEC chair, has proposed that stricter rules covering fees, expenses, and performance metrics should be imposed on private funds following the publication by the SEC of a series of highly critical reports, known as risk alerts, which detailed numerous instances of rule-breaking.


BREAKING: Elon Musk Acquires 9.2% Stake In Twitter

  • Tesla Inc. TSLA CEO Elon Musk has acquired a 9.2% stake in social media company Twitter Inc. TWTR, a 13G SEC filing from the latter revealed early Monday.
  • Musk has bought 73,486,938 shares in Twitter, with sole voting power, according to the SEC filing. The stake is worth $2.89 billion, considering Twitter’s last closing price of $39.31.
  • Twitter shares jumped 29% in the pre-market session on Monday to $51.02 at the time of writing, as per data from Benzinga Pro. Tesla shares traded 1% higher at $1,096.

Novartis To Strengthen Pipeline, Boost Productivity With New Organizational Structure

  • Novartis AG NVS will integrate its pharmaceuticals and oncology units into an innovative medicines (IM) business to simplify its structure, targeting savings of at least $1 billion by 2024.
  • Value creation through these operational improvements should ensure at least 4% sales growth in constant currency through 2026.
  • Novartis also expects to deliver at the high end of its IM margin guidance of the high 30s in the medium term and 40% or more in the mid-to-long term.

Elizabeth Warren Thinks Buying Bitcoin Is Like Buying Air, Has This To Say About Dogecoin

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has equated buying Bitcoin BTC/USD with purchasing air in a recent media interview.
  • NBC’s Chuck Todd asked Warren if he was buying Bitcoin, was he “buying a share of stock, or am I buying a pork belly, or am I buying euros? What am I buying?”
  • “Or are you buying air?” Warren replied, calling Bitcoin an “ephemeral token” and saying its value was tied to people’s perceptions.

Tesla Zips Past The Million Mark For Both Output And Deliveries Over Past 12 Months

  • Tesla Inc’s TSLA production and delivery numbers shot past the one million mark each in the past 12 months, a first for the Elon Musk-led electric vehicle maker.
  • What Happened: Austin, Texas-based Tesla made 1.055 million electric vehicles and delivered 1.06 units in the past four quarters, starting from the second quarter of 2021.
  • Tesla on Saturday said it produced over 305,407 units and delivered over 310,048 in the first quarter of 2022 despite ongoing supply chain challenges and factory shutdowns.

Apple Analyst Doesn’t See 3M Coolant Plant Shutdown In Belgium Affecting Chip Supply

  • Ming-Chi Kuo, a noted Apple Inc AAPL analyst, said the impact on semiconductor supply from the shutdown of 3M Company’s MMM coolant plant in Belgium “could be almost ignored.”
  • Kuo’s comments came after media reports indicated that 3 M’s Belgium semiconductor coolant plant — which accounts for 80 percent of the global total semiconductor coolant output — has been closed indefinitely under tightened local environmental regulations to minimize the emission.

Why Fitch Sees Price Hikes In China Hitting Low-End EV Makers More

  • Ratings agency Fitch said on Monday that the recent price hikes are likely to affect China’s low-end electric vehicles more than high-end ones as buyers for more affordable vehicles are price sensitive.
  • Fitch said China’s EV market is “bright, given still-strong demand,” and that it expects wholesale EV deliveries to rise by over 50% and their market share to exceed 20% in 2022.
  • “Cost pressure for EV manufacturers increased in early 2022, as battery suppliers tried to pass on the surging raw-material costs ... by shifting from an annual to quarterly contract duration,” Fitch said.

This Crypto Skyrocketed 210% Last Week, Leaving Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin Nowhere In Sight

  • STEPN (GMT) shot up nearly 210% over the last seven days to emerge as the top gainer in the period.
  • Green Metaverse Token or GMT is the governance token of STEPN, a Solana (SOL)-based project that incentivizes exercises such as running and jogging.
  • GMT gains exceeded those of Bitcoin BTC/USD, Ethereum ETH/USD, and Dogecoin DOGE/USD last week. BTC and DOGE declined 1.45% and 2.55% last week, while ETH rose 5.7% in the same period.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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