Morning Brief: Top Financial Stories Dominating on Monday, May 16

CNBC

Volkswagen CEO Shares Ambitious EV Ambitions For US Market

  • Volkswagen AG VWAGY looks to re-launch the Scout as a fully-electric pick-up and “rugged” SUV with prototypes due to be revealed in 2023 and production planned to begin in 2026.
  • VW looks to set up a separate independent company to design, engineer, and manufacture the Scout pick-ups and SUVs for the U.S. market.
  • “If we really want to become relevant in America, we have to look at the other segments,” Diess said. “And pick-ups, big SUVs, are very, very big in America.”
  • Diess aimed to grow its U.S. market share from 4% presently to 10% by the end of the decade.

United States Faces Severe Pilot Shortage, Searches For Solution

  • The United States is experiencing its biggest pilot shortage in recent memory, forcing airlines to cancel flights just as travelers are heading back after more than two years of dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. The sector is scrambling for solutions as a result of the issue.
  • As training and licensing stalled due to the Covid epidemic, pilot recruiting came to a halt. Airlines offered early retirement bonuses to thousands of pilots and other personnel to reduce labor costs as travel demand plummeted during the depths of the crisis.
  • To counter the crisis, a lawmaker has proposed legislation to raise the legally-mandated retirement age for airline pilots from 65 to 67 or higher to increase aviators’ time in the skies.

Reuters

French Retailer Casino Plans To Sell Its Energy Unit

  • French retailer Casino Group or Casino Guichard Perrachon SA CGUSY has launched a process to sell its energy subsidiary GreenYellow.
  • Energy giant TotalEnergies SE TTE and power company ENGIE SA ENGIY were in the fray to acquire GreenYellow, valued at about $1.56 billion.
  • GreenYellow had raised about €200 million in February to support future growth.

Biden Says Baby Formula Shortage To Ease In Weeks With Increased Imports

  • The U.S. is working with manufacturers to increase imports of baby formula, Biden told reporters. “We’re going to be getting significantly more formula on shelves in a matter of weeks or less,” he said.
  • FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said that the FDA would announce plans next week detailing how manufacturers and suppliers abroad will be able to import their products into the United States and new options for U.S. companies.
  • The FDA is aiming for a streamlined process that will get more products on U.S. shelves while meeting safety, quality, and labeling standards, Califf said.

Wall Street Journal

Walmart Struggles With Store Manager Crisis Despite Attractive Pay; Wants To Attract Job Seekers

  • Walmart Inc WMT struggled to find a new generation to replace multiple key managers leading its 4,700 U.S. stores for at least a decade.
  • The tight labor market and competition further added to its headwind, even for a job that often pays over $200,000 annually.
  • The concerns led Walmart to create a program to assist college graduates in becoming store managers, promising a starting wage of at least $65,000 a year and an accelerated two-year track into the top store job.

Plains All American To Pay $230M To Settle 2015 California Oil Pipeline Spill Lawsuit

  • According to attorneys and court documents, Plains All American Pipeline L.P. PAA has agreed to pay $230 million to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by fishermen and property owners. PAA owns an oil pipeline that caused a 4-mile-long spill along a California beach in 2015.
  • In 2016, federal regulators faulted Plains All American for its failure to prevent the disaster, which was blamed on a corroded pipeline.

Moderna Justifies It Did Not Know About Investigation On Its New CFO

  • Moderna Inc MRNA released new details about the abrupt departure of Chief Financial Officer Jorge Gomez, saying that it didn’t know of an internal investigation by his former employer until it was disclosed.
  • Within an hour of learning of the investigation, top Moderna executives, including CEO Executive Stéphane Bancel, met with external lawyers to discuss the matter further, Wall Street Journal reported.

Bloomberg

Goldman, Barclays Participate In This Crypto Trading Platform’s Financing Round

  • Goldman Sachs Group, Inc GS and Barclays PLC BCS were a part of a $70 million funding round of Elwood Technologies LLP, Bloomberg reports.
  • Elwood is a cryptocurrency trading platform founded by billionaire Alan Howard in collaboration between crypto-native funds and traditional financial institutions.
  • Elwood looked to meet the needs of institutions seeking exposure to digital assets. The platform enterED a new phase “to provide broader mass market involvement.

Private Equity Firm Carlyle In Advanced Talks to Buy Defense Contractor ManTech For $4B

  • U.S. defense contractor ManTech International Corp MANT is in advanced talks to be bought by private equity firm Carlyle Group Inc. CG, a Bloomberg report said on Sunday.
  • The deal could value ManTech at about $4 billion and be announced as early as this week, the report said. Bloomberg, however, said talks are ongoing and an agreement hasn’t yet been finalized.

Emirates State-Backed Telecom Firm Scoops Stake In Vodafone For $4.4B; Continues To Fuel Takeover Concerns

  • Emirates state-backed telecom firm e& acquired a 9.8% stake in Vodafone Group Plc VOD.
  • Emirates Telecommunications Group Company PJSC , now known as e& bought a $4.4 billion stake offering 130 pence ($1.59) a share Vodafone CEO Nick Read is trying to consolidate in key markets amid pressure from shareholders.
  • A wealthy, supportive shareholder could give Read cover to reset expectations around investment and profits by supporting the share price, Jefferies analyst Jerry Dellis said.

Financial Times

Bitcoin Has No Future As Payments Network, Says FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried

  • Sam Bankman-Fried, the billionaire founder and CEO of crypto exchange FTX, believes that Bitcoin BTC/USD has no future as a payments network.
  • In an interview with the Financial Times on Monday, Bankman-Fried said that more energy-efficient proof-of-stake blockchains would be required to evolve crypto as a transactional layer.
  • “The Bitcoin network is not a payments network and it is not a scaling network,” he said.

Benzinga

Spirit Airlines Shares Fly High As Bidding War Heats Up

  • JetBlue Airways Corp JBLU is planning a hostile takeover attempt for Spirit Airlines Inc SAVE after the latter spurned the former’s offer.
  • JetBlue plans to launch a tender offer directly to Spirit shareholders. JetBlue commenced an all-cash, fully financed tender offer for $30 per share.
  • JetBlue noted the offer represents a 60% premium to the value of the Frontier transaction as of May 13, 2022

McDonald’s To Exit Russian Market As Crisis Clouds Operating Prospects

  • McDonald’s Corp MCD plans to exit the Russian market after more than 30 years of operations in the country. The company has initiated a process to sell its Russian business.
  • The move follows its announcement in March that it had temporarily closed restaurants in Russia and paused operations in the market.
  • The crisis in Ukraine after Russia’s invasion and an unpredictable operating climate has led McDonald’s to make the decision.

Google Joins Hands With Samsung In A Rare Move To Serve You Fitness Freaks

  • People now use multiple devices and apps to measure and track various health-related metrics such as the number of steps walked, heart rate, and blood pressure.
  • A new platform announced at Alphabet, Inc.’s GOOGL GOOG Google I/O lets Android users securely store health and wellness data on their phone and also share it with any apps they may want to.
  • Google has partnered with Samsung to create the platform and API called “Health Connect.”

Analyst Says Don’t Expect Apple To Give You A Portless iPhone Any Time Soon

  • Prominent Apple, Inc. AAPL analyst Ming-Chi Kuo offered an update on his expectations concerning ports for Apple products in a tweet on Sunday.
  • The analyst, reputed for accurately predicting Apple’s moves, suggested that the tech giant may not embrace portless technology for the iPhones, given the limitations of the current wireless technology and the immature MagSafe ecosystem.
  • Other Lightning port products such as AirPods, Magic Keyboard/Trackpad/mouse as well as MagSafe battery will switch to USB-C ports in the foreseeable future, Kuo, who works for TFI Securities, said.

Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine’s European Delivery Takes Backseat To Help Booster Campaign

  • Pfizer Inc PFE and its partner BioNTech SE BNTX have agreed to push back deliveries of their COVID-19 vaccines to the European Union by three months as the bloc prepares for a potential booster campaign in the fall.
  • The companies amended their supply agreement with the European Commission to push back delivery of doses scheduled for June through August until September through Q4 FY22.

Tesla Said To Face Delay In Ramp-Up Of Giga Shanghai Output To Pre-Lockdown Levels

  • Tesla, Inc.’s TSLA Giga Shanghai plan to ramp output to levels before the latest COVID-19 lockdown may be delayed by at least a week, Reuters reported on Monday, citing an internal company memo.
  • Tesla plans to go with the “one-shift production schedule” currently in place at Giga Shanghai in the current week, the company reportedly said in the memo.
  • That would mean the company can churn out vehicles at a daily production rate of 1,200 units.

Renault Sells Russia Business to State-Backed Entity

  • French automaker Renault SA RNLSY has agreed to sell 100% of its shares in Renault Russia to Moscow City entity and its 67.69% interest in AVTOVAZ to NAMI.
  • NAMI is a state-backed automotive research and development center.
  • The agreement allows Renault to buy back its interest in AVTOVAZ, exercisable at certain times during the next six years.

Bitcoin Records 7 Red Weekly Candles For The First Time In History

  • Bitcoin BTC/USD recorded seven consecutive red weekly candles for the first time in its history.
  • According to data from Benzinga Pro, BTC fell to a low of $25,400 last Thursday. Over the last seven weeks, BTC has lost over 50% of its value. At the beginning of April, BTC was trading at $46,700.
  • At the time of writing, the leading digital asset was trading at $30,400 with a trading volume of $28 billion.

Where Is Terra’s (LUNA) Bitcoin Reserve Now?

  • On-chain data shows that Terra’s LUNA/USD $3.5 billion Bitcoin BTC/USD reserves have been depleted entirely.
  • A report from blockchain analytics firm Elliptic followed the movement of Terra’s BTC reserve after the collapse of its stablecoin TerraUSD UST/USD.
  • When UST first lost its peg last weekend, Terra said it would deploy $750 million from its Bitcoin reserves as a loan to market makers to help stabilize the pegging mechanism.

Bezos Slams Biden Over Inflation Tweet, Says Disinformation Board Should Fact Check President’s Tweet

  • Amazon.com, Inc AMZN Executive Chairman Jeff Bezos on Friday attacked President Joe Biden for his recent tweet on inflation and corporate taxation.
  • On Friday, Biden tweeted about curtailing inflation by taxing large corporations in the U.S.
  • Biden’s remark came amid protest against the rising inflation under his administration.

Stalking Via Apple’s AirTags Could Soon Become A Criminal Offense In This US State

  • It could soon become a criminal offense in Ohio to stalk someone with Apple Inc’s AAPL AirTag.
  • A bill seeking to criminalize tracking people with electronic tags without consent has been moved to the Ohio House, according to an Apple Insider report.
  • Ohio House Bill 672 was introduced on Friday by Rep. Thomas Patton (R) and Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D).

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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