Benzinga Before The Bell: Gun Safety Bill. Bill Gates North Dakota Outrage, Sanofi-GSK's Covid-19 Vaccine's Omicron Efficacy And Other Top Financial Stories Friday, June 24


Softbank’s Masayoshi Son Emphasizes Chances Of US Listing For Arm

  • Softbank Group Corp SFTBY founder and CEO Masayoshi Son stressed the possibility of British-based chip designer unit Arm Ltd listing on Nasdaq pending a final decision.
  • “Most of Arm’s clients are based in Silicon Valley and ... stock markets in the U.S. would love to have Arm,” Son told at the annual general meeting.
  • Son acknowledged requests for listing Arm in London without further elaboration.

Phillips 66 Under California Watchdog Scrutiny

  • California regulators allege Phillips 66 PSX improperly began processing renewable diesel in a unit at its Rodeo, California refinery.
  • In early June, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) issued a notice of violation, alleging that the refinery began producing renewable diesel without first amending the existing air permit, which allows the same type of processing with petroleum feedstocks.
  • “Phillips 66 disagrees with the allegation but is working with the district to resolve the notice of violation,” stated the company. PSX added that it had submitted an air permit modification request to the district.

Barclays Deepens Housing Market Share By Acquiring Mortgage Lender Kensington For ~$2.8B

  • Barclays PLC BCS extends its reach in Britain’s housing market with the acquisition of specialist lender Kensington Mortgage Company for 2.3 billion pounds ($2.8 billion), reported Reuters.
  • Kensington is being sold by its private equity owners, Blackstone Inc BX and Sixth Street.
  • The deal would be funded from existing resources and reduce its core capital ratio by around 12 basis points, stated Barclays.

Wall Street Journal

Merck/Seagen Potential Deal Talks Pick Up Speed

  • Merck & Co Inc MRK is pushing forward with a potential deal for Seagen Inc SGEN, Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
  • The Journal mentioned that the deal could be one of the largest takeovers of the year.
  • The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Merck was in talks to buy Seagen, which would bolster the pharma giant’s cancer-drug portfolio, but no agreement was imminent.

Here’s Why Zendesk Shares Are Trading Higher Today

  • Zendesk, Inc ZEN has almost reached a deal with a group of buyout firms, including Hellman & Friedman LLC and Permira, the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • Zendesk, with a market value of ~$7 billion, was likely to strike a settlement agreement with activist investor Jana Partners LLC days after it declined to sell itself in a private-equity auction.
  • Zendesk and Jana had explored a truce involving the exit of CEO Mikkel Svane and changes to the board, including the removal of director Carl Bass.

Toyota Recalls EVs Over Faulty Wheels

  • Toyota Motor Corp TM recalls 2,700 of its first mass-produced electric vehicles (EVs) on tire safety risks, the Wall Street Journal reported.
  • The auto giant would recall its all-electric 2023 bZ4X SUV after finding fault with bolts that connect the wheels with the vehicle.
  • Toyota observed that the bolts loosened after a low-mileage use, leading to detachment of the wheels.


Gun Violence Bill Coming Soon as US Senate Passes Significant Legislation In Decades - What You Need To Know

  • The U.S. Senate has approved a bipartisan gun violence bill in response to the run of brutal mass shootings. The measure would toughen background checks for youngest gun buyers and keep firearms away from more domestic violence offenders.
  • The Senate voted 65-33 to approve bipartisan gun-safety legislation, considered the most significant breakthrough on the issue in three decades.
  • The $13 billion measure would help states put in place red flag laws that make it easier for authorities to take weapons from people adjudged dangerous.

KKR-Owned Marelli Seeks Court-Led Rehabilitation

  • KKR & Co Inc KKR owned auto-parts supplier, Marelli Holdings Co, is set to opt for court-led rehabilitation after failing to execute an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process.
  • The dispute resolution process in Japan lets Marelli operate despite its financial strain after renegotiating its debt with creditors.
  • The court-led dispute resolution process may take a month.


2 Japanese Auto Giants To Jointly Make New Hybrid SUV In India

  • Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp TM said on Friday it will further leverage its global partnership with Suzuki Motor Corp SZKMY to begin production of a new sports utility vehicle in India with hybrid capabilities.
  • The new SUV, developed by Suzuki, will be built at a Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt Ltd plant, the Aichi-headquartered automaker’s India plant it runs jointly with the Kirloskar Group.
  • Toyota and Suzuki started a partnership in 2016 and signed an agreement in 2019 to establish and promote long-term cooperation in new fields, including electric vehicle technology and autonomous driving.

Stellantis Makes €50M Equity Investment In Lithium Company Vulcan Energy Resources

  • Stellantis NV STLA has made a €50 million (A$76 million) equity investment in Vulcan Energy Resources Ltd and has extended its original binding offtake agreement to ten years.
  • Vulcan is a lithium producer and intends to produce a battery-quality lithium hydroxide chemical product from its combined geothermal energy and lithium resource in Germany.
  • The investment will be utilized for Vulcan’s planned production expansion drilling in its producing Upper Rhine Valley Brine Field (URVBF).

Tesla Powerwall Owners In California Can Help Avoid Brownouts — And Get Paid For it

  • Tesla Inc TSLA has partnered with utility firm PG&E Corporation PCG to launch a new virtual power plant that will pay Powerwall owners to help boost the electric grid during brownouts in California, Electrek reported on Thursday.
  • The virtual power plant (VPP) consists of distributed energy storage systems, like Tesla Powerwalls, that can double up as power grid services during shortages.
  • Austin, Texas-based Tesla had in July last year launched the VPP in California. The initiative drew Powerwall owners to join in voluntarily without compensation to let the VPP pull power from their battery packs when the grid needed it.

Apple’s AR Headset Will Be An Industry Game-Changer, Says Analyst

  • Apple, Inc. AAPL may not have disclosed much information on its augmented reality/mixed reality headsets, but analysts are excited about the offering from the tech giant.
  • Will Boost Industry’s Prospects: Apple will be a game-changer for headsets, prominent Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in a note shared on LinkedIn. Although Apple has reiterated that its focus is on AR, its AR/MR supporting video see-thru could offer an “excellent immersive experience,” the analyst said.
  • This in turn will further boost the demand for immersive gaming/multimedia entertainment, he added.

Sanofi-GSK’s Beta-Containing COVID-19 Vaccine Shows Efficacy Against Omicron

  • Sanofi SA SNY and GSK plc GSK have announced positive data from their vaccine trial of adjuvanted bivalent D614 and Beta (B.1.351) vaccine candidate.
  • “Sanofi-GSK’s vaccine is the first candidate to demonstrate efficacy in a placebo-controlled trial in an environment of high Omicron variant circulation,” Sanofi said in a statement.
  • The bivalent vaccine targets the beta variant and the original strain of the virus.

Can Big Banks Can Survive A Recession? Here’s What Fed’s Stress Test Reveals

  • Big U.S. banks’ strong capital levels equip them to continue lending to households and businesses during a severe recession, the Federal Reserve has revealed.
  • All banks held capital above the minimum capital requirement even as they are expected to report an aggregate loss of $612 billion, the results of a Fed stress test showed on Thursday.
  • Losses of the large banks rose over $50 billion compared to the 2021 test. That included more than $450 billion in loan losses and $100 billion in trading and counterparty losses.

Solend’s Ticking DeFi Bomb Highlights Lack Of Decentralization

  • Solend SLND/US, a decentralized finance (DeFi) lending and borrowing platform, recently highlighted the scarce decentralization most such projects face, as it tried to defuse a ticking bomb that might wreck Solana’s SOL/USD DeFi ecosystem and its liquidity.
  • According to Solend governance proposal SLND1, approved three days before press time, a single whale had deposited 5.7M SOL (worth $170M at the time), equivalent to 25% of the protocol’s total value locked (TVL), which was used as collateral to borrow $108 million worth of USD Coin USDC/USD and Tether USDT/USD.
  • The user was also responsible for 95% of Solend’s SOL deposits, and 88% of its outstanding USDC borrows.

Bill Gates Triggers North Dakota Outrage With 2,100-Acre Farmland Buy

  • Microsoft Corporation MSFT co-founder Bill Gates’ purchase of 2,100 acres of farmland in North Dakota is reportedly raising hackles among local residents and has led to the state’s top prosecutor intervening in the matter.
  • North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley shot off a letter to the Gates-linked Red River Trust this week, reported KFYR, Bismarck, North Dakota-based T.V. station.
  • Wrigley asked the company how they intend to use the land and if they meet exceptions to the state’s corporate farming laws.

Joe Biden Accidentally Reveals ‘Written Script’ For POTUS To Follow At Meetings: ‘YOU Take YOUR Seat’

  • President Joe Biden has unwittingly revealed a memo prepared by his staff that provided rather detailed instructions — including when to take his seat — on how to conduct a meeting involving wind-industry executives.
  • The memo, titled “Offshore Wind Drop-By Sequence of Events,” instructed the president to enter the Roosevelt Room and say “hello” to the participants. It further stated, “YOU take YOUR seat,” reported The New York Post.
  • The memo even specified the length of the president’s remarks. “YOU ask Liz Shuler, President, AFL-CIO, a question,” said the memo.

‘Hey Alexa, Can Grandma Finish My Bedtime Story?’: Amazon Unveils Wildly Strange Feature

  •, Inc. AMZN is nearly finished with its four-day Re: MARS conference in Las Vegas, which aims to deliver thoughts from recognized leaders and technical experts in Machine learning, Automation, Robotics and Space (MARS) fields.
  • What happened: Rohit Prasad, senior vice president and head scientist at Amazon’s Alexa AI division, took to the stage to unveil a new capability for Alexa that we’re not sure will be available to the public.
  • Before demonstrating the feature, he warned the crowd: “While AI cannot eliminate the pain of loss, it can definitely make their memories last.”

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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