Morning Brief: Top Financial Stories Dominating on Wednesday, May 18

CNBC

Toyota Looks To Develop Hydrogen Mobility In Europe

  • Toyota Motor Corp TM said Its Europe business, Air Liquide, and CaetanoBus have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the aim of developing integrated hydrogen transport solutions.
  • ·The companies will focus on infrastructure connected to distribution and refueling, low-carbon and renewable hydrogen production, and deploying hydrogen in a range of vehicle types.

Reuters

Microsoft Makes Amends Post European Commission’s Antitrust Complaints

  • Microsoft Corp MSFT launched a new initiative to assist better European cloud companies hosting Microsoft products like Windows and Office 365 apps after facing flak.
  • Microsoft faced a formal inquiry from the European Commission into its alleged antitrust practices.
  • The commission inquired from rival cloud services after an antitrust complaint from France’s OVH.

Hyundai To Invest $16B For EV Expansion In South Korea

  • Hyndai Motor Company HYMTF is planning to invest a total of 21 trillion won ($16.54 billion) through 2030 for the expansion of its electric vehicle (EV) business in South Korea.
  • The South Korean auto giant is expecting to produce 1.44 million units of EVs in South Korea by 2030.

JPMorgan No More A Depositary For Russia-Based Rosneft’s GDRs

  • JPMorgan & Chase JPM has resigned as a depositary of global depositary receipts (GDR) of Russia’s largest oil producer Rosneft RNFTF.
  • Last month, JPMorgan & Chase started to allow holders of depositary receipts in Russian companies to cancel them, two sources familiar with the matter said, giving some investors a way to liquidate what has primarily been frozen holdings due to the conflict in Ukraine.

Sony Is Metaverse-Ready, CEO Kenichiro Yoshida Acknowledges

  • Sony Group Corp SONY considered itself well-positioned to play a leading role in the metaverse that could massively disrupt industries and establish new powerhouses, Reuters reports.
  • “The metaverse is at the same time a social space and live network space where games, music, movies, and anime intersect,” CEO Kenichiro Yoshida.
  • He pointed to the use of the free-to-play battle royale title Fortnite from Epic Games as an online social space.

US Lawmakers Reveal FDA Emergency Funds Bill To Tackle Baby Formula Shortage

  • U.S. House Democrats unveiled a bill to provide $28 million in emergency funds to the FDA to help it respond to a shortage of infant formula and strengthen supervision.
  • A House Appropriations Committee said that the funds would provide the FDA with the resources to prevent fraudulent products from being placed on shelves and strengthen the FDA’s workforce focused on formula issues, and increase inspection staff.
  • Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro, who introduced the legislation, told a news conference, “I was told that they have only nine people to do this,” she said.

McDonald’s, Wendy’s Sued Over Burgers Not Being Big And Juicy Enough

  • A Suffolk County resident is reportedly suing McDonald’s Corp MCD and The Wendy’s Co WEN, accusing them of defrauding customers by not selling burgers that are as big and juicy as the ones they advertise.
  • Justin Chimienti sued the two fast-food chains on Tuesday, saying they use undercooked beef patties in their advertisements which appear 15% to 20% larger than what customers are served, reported Reuters.
  • The class-action suit was filed in Brooklyn federal court and is similar to the one filed in March by the same three law firms against Restaurant Brands International Inc QSR owned Burger King in Florida, according to Reuters.

CMA CGM Buys 9% Stake In Air France-KLM As Part Of An Air Cargo Partnership

  • CMA CGM, a French shipping company, invests in Air France-KLM AFLYY as part of an air cargo partnership, counting on growing demands for flying goods worldwide while supply chains remain snarled in the aftermath of the pandemic.
  • CMA CGM will take up to 9% of Air France-KLM, worth ~€240 million ($252 million) based on the closing price on May 17, 2022, as part of a possible capital increase by the airline group for the duration of their partnership, which is initially set to last ten years.

Wall Street Journal

Don’t Expect High Airfares To Go Soon, Frontier Airlines’ CEO Believes

  • According to Barry Biffle, CEO of Frontier Group Holdings Inc. ULCC, airfares could remain high for the foreseeable future because the forces driving up pricing aren’t going away.
  • “Their input costs are going up. Unless that subsides, I can’t see why fares would go down,” Mr. Biffle stated while speaking at The Wall Street Journal’s Future of Everything Festival.
  • The most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index shows that airline fares increased 18.6% in April compared to March, the fastest spike on record, WSJ wrote.

Chevron Allowed To Maintain Venezuela Operations, But Denied Drilling

  • The U.S. extended a limited license held by Chevron Corporation CVX, allowing it to maintain its operations in Venezuela and negotiate future business.
  • Previously the company couldn’t directly negotiate with any officials sanctioned by the U.S., Wall Street Journal writes. The U.S. didn’t expand the license to allow Chevron to drill for and market Venezuelan crude as the company had hoped.
  • Chevron has been lobbying the U.S. to permit it to drill for crude and sell to help bring down energy prices after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Bloomberg

Baidu’s Chip Affiliate Explores Second Funding Round, Wants To Capitalize On Growing Appetite From Venture Capitalists

  • Baidu’s Chip Affiliate Explores Second Funding Round Capitalizing On Growing Appetite From Venture Capitalists
  • Baidu, Inc BIDU chip affiliate Kunlun discussed raising 2 billion yuan ($317 million) in its second funding round.
  • The investment could lift the Beijing-based startup’s valuation to 17 billion yuan ($2.5 billion) from 13 billion yuan at its first funding round a little over a year ago.
  • Kunlun has deployed its AI chips to power Baidu’s core searching services, and the new financing will help it further expand its client base beyond its parent.

Blockchain Gaming Startup N3twork Studios Raises $46M In Funding

  • N3twork Studios Inc., a blockchain gaming business, has raised $46 million in funding. The funding infusion comes as the startup prepares to launch two new games and as controversy lingers over the use of cryptocurrencies in gaming, reported Bloomberg.
  • Venture capital firm Griffin Gaming Partners led the Series A funding round, with participation from Kleiner Perkins, Galaxy Interactive, and other investors.

Financial Times

Moderna’s Chairman Defends Executive Hiring Process After Firing New CFO In Just One Day

  • Moderna Inc’s MRNA chairman comes forward with a determined defense of the board’s executive hiring process after being forced to fire its new chief financial officer just a day after taking charge.
  • Afeyan said the executive search company contracted by Moderna was also blameless because it was unaware of the probe by Dentsply Sirona Inc XRAY.
  • “I’m quite convinced that those facts were not obtainable to us had a legal context,” Afeyan said in an interview with the Financial Times, adding that there was no doubt “whether we asked enough questions or the right questions.”

German Insurer Allianz Agrees To $6B Fraud Settlement With US Authorities

  • German insurer Allianz SE ALIZY has agreed to a $6 billion settlement with U.S. authorities after a scandal in its funds business left investors nursing billions of dollars worth of losses.
  • The guilty plea will disqualify the U.S. funds unit for a decade from advising U.S.-registered mutual funds and certain types of pension funds after a temporary relief period.
  • Allianz dismissed the three officials guilty of fraud.

Benzinga

‘Twitter Exec Trashing Free Speech, Mocking Asperger’s:’ Elon Musk Reacts To Sting Op As 3 Senior Staffers Quit

  • Twitter Inc TWTR continues to bleed talent, with three senior employees — including two vice presidents — reportedly leaving the company, as it faces more hurdles in the form of a sting operation.
  • Those making a beeline for the exit include Ilya Brown, a vice president of product management, Katrina Lane, vice president of Twitter Service, and Max Schmeiser, head of data science, according to a Bloomberg report that cited a Twitter spokesperson.
  • Recently, Twitter fired its consumer head, Kayvon Beykpour, and revenue product lead, Bruce Falck.

Coinbase Plans To Slow Hiring Amid Crypto Market Downturn

  • Major crypto exchange Coinbase Global Inc COIN plans to slow hiring in the wake of rapidly declining cryptocurrency prices.
  • What Happened: In an announcement on Tuesday, Coinbase said it would be reprioritizing its hiring needs after the current market downturn.
  • “We’ve made an important decision to ensure we’re being rigorous in our resource prioritization so we can emerge from this down cycle even stronger than we are today,” said COO Emilie Choi.

Fancy A PlayStation 5 In Pink Or Purple? Sony About To Make It Happen

  • Sony Corporation SONY said it would release color accessories in June that will allow users to turn their PlayStation 5 consoles pink, blue and purple.
  • The Japanese electronics giant said in a statement that its latest console covers in Nova Pink, Starlight Blue, and Galactic Purple are inspired by the galaxy.

‘Fork NO:’ 92% Of Terra (LUNA) Crypto Community Against New Chain

  • A vast majority of the Terra LUNA/USD community is opposed to forking the existing blockchain.
  • According to a snapshot of the Revival Plan V2 preliminary vote, 92% of the 5,410 voters were against forming a new blockchain – a suggested fix put forward by Terra founder Do Kwon earlier this week.
  • As per the new revival plan, Terra will fork its blockchain into two – an old chain called Terra Classic and a new chain called Terra without the algorithmic stablecoin TerraUSD UST/USD.

Netflix Lays Off 150 Employees Due To ‘Slowing Growth:’ What You Should Know

  • Netflix Inc NFLX is reportedly laying off nearly 150 employees due to “business needs.”
  • A representative of the subscription video-on-demand firm said its “slowing growth” meant that it had to slow the “cost growth as a company,” reported CNBC, which cited a company spokesperson.
  • “We are letting around 150 employees go today, mostly U.S.-based. These changes are primarily driven by business needs rather than individual performance,” CNBC quoted a Netflix spokesperson as saying.

Elon Musk Teases Next Tesla AI Day: ‘Cool Updates’ Coming In August

  • Tesla Inc. TSLA is gearing up to hold its next AI Day in August, exactly a year after the first one, CEO Elon Musk tweeted on Tuesday.
  • Tesla has scheduled its second AI Day for Aug. 19, Musk said on Twitter, promising “many cool updates” at the event. The agenda will also include canvassing for great artificial intelligence, software, and chip jobs at Tesla, Musk said in response to a tweet.

Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin Gains Trail Stocks — Fed Chair Warns Of Pain Yet To Come In Fight Against Inflation

  • Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin rise following rally in stocks on Tuesday
  • Dollar index falls to lowest since May 6, downwards momentum could bring relief for risk assets - Michaël van de Poppe
  • Chartist Ali Martinez suggests $22,380 and $15,110 range for Bitcoin bottom.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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