Benzinga Before The Bell: Tesla's Autopilot Layoff, TikTok Removal From App Stores, US Sanction On Russian Gold And Other Top Financial Stories Wednesday, June 29


US FCC Commissioner Wants Apple and Google To Remove TikTok From Their App Stores

  • Meta Platforms, Inc. META-owned Facebook’s rival TikTok has received a lot of criticism in recent times for misusing the personal data of its U.S. users.
  • On Tuesday, Federal Communications Commission’s Brendan Carr came out hard on the Chinese short-video app and asked Apple, Inc. AAPL and Alphabet, Inc. GOOGL GOOG to take down TikTok from their respective app stores.
  • TikTok poses an “unacceptable national security risk” due to the extensive data it has access to and Beijing’s unchecked access to the sensitive data, Carr, a Republican by political affiliation, said in a letter addressed to Apple’s Tim Cook and Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai.
  • “This puts it out of compliance with the policies that both of your companies require every app to adhere to, as a condition of remaining available on your app stores,” the FCC Commissioner said.


Volkswagen CFO Reasons Why It Seeks To Pursue Porsche IPO Amid Market Volatility

  • Volkswagen AG VWAGY continues to strive for an initial public offering (IPO) for Porsche in the fourth quarter amid market volatility.
  • “We are optimistic we can pursue this project in the fourth quarter,” CFO Arno Antlitz said at the Reuters Automotive Europe conference in Munich. “Porsche would gain entrepreneurial freedom, we can expect a lot from them.”
  • Antlitz assured plenty of investor appetite and capital available for an IPO.

Nissan Recalls SUVs Over Hood Opening Issue: Reuters

  • Nissan Motor Co Ltd NSANY is recalling more than 300,000 of its Sports Utility Vehicles in the U.S. on concerns about abrupt hood openings.
  • The sudden hood openings would lead to obstruction of the driver’s view and increase the risk of a crash.
  • The vehicles under the recall process are 322,671 Pathfinder vehicles, with models between 2013 to 2016.

Wall Street Journal

US Expands Russian Sanctions With Ban On Gold Imports

  • The United States has banned Russian gold imports, increasing sanctions against the country following the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine in February, the U.S. Treasury Department said.
  • The official ban on new Russian gold imports comes as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine enters its fourth month.
  • Gold is Russia’s second most valuable export after energy, and it “rakes in tens of billions of dollars,” tweeted President Biden.

Troubled Grubhub’s Parent Company Seeks Investment Partner

  • Dutch multinational online food ordering and delivery company Just Eat NV TKAYF is hit by doubts about whether it can sell its U.S. operation, Grubhub Inc.
  • As per Wall Street Journal, Grubhub CEO Adam DeWitt said the company’s parent hopes to find a strategic partner, though a divestiture cannot be ruled out.
  • In some of his first public remarks about the company since Just Eat said in April it would consider selling Grubhub, as its U.S. division encounters challenges.


Byju’s Eyes EdTech 2U At ~61% Premium

  • Indian online education provider Byju’s has offered to buy 2U Inc TWOU for $15 a share in cash, valuing the edtech company at more than $1 billion, reported Bloomberg, citing a person familiar with the matter.
  • The report noted the offer was made last week to 2U’s board. The offer represents a 61% premium to 2U’s closing price of $9.30 on the Nasdaq on Tuesday.
  • Byju’s, one of the world’s most valuable startups with backing from Tiger Global Management and Mark Zuckerberg’s Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, is accelerating its expansion globally through acquisitions.

Samsung Snaps This OLED Company Reputed For Foldable Devices For $300M

  • Samsung Electronics Co, Ltd SSNLF scooped display company Cynora GmbH for $300 million, gaining technology for so-called OLED screens, Bloomberg reports.
  • Samsung acquired Cynora’s intellectual property and technology under the deal.
  • Cynora specialized in making rigid versions of the displays for foldable devices, a market sought by Apple Inc AAPL, Alphabet Inc GOOG GOOGL, and others after Samsung.

Tesla Lays Off 200 Workers From California Autopilot Team: Report

  • Tesla Inc TSLA has laid off 200 salaried and contract workers from its Autopilot team in California, Bloomberg News reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
  • The California Autopilot team had about 350 employees, some of whom were transferred to a nearby facility.
  • The job cuts are the latest and one of the larger ones in a broad workforce reduction at the Elon Musk-led electric vehicle company.

Financial Times

Developers Chide Meta For Exploiting Its Dominance To Charge For Metaverse Activities

  • Meta Platforms, Inc META faced the heat over its metaverse activity fees.
  • The developers complained against the fees set around apps created for its virtual reality headsets despite chief Mark Zuckerberg’s criticism against charging policies on existing mobile app stores like Apple Inc AAPL.
  • Apple retaliated when the Oculus headset maker charged a 17.5% “platform fee” for Horizon Worlds, its “social VR experience,” and its 30% tax on digital purchases, similar to that of Apple and Android.


Why This Tesla Battery Supplier Is Rethinking $1.3B Arizona Plant

  • Tesla, Inc. TSLA battery supplier LG Energy Solutions is reportedly having a rethink on its strategy to construct an electric vehicle battery manufacturing plant in the U.S. state of Arizona.
  • LGES, the world’s second-largest EV battery maker, is reviewing plans for the $1.3 billion plant it planned to construct in Arizona due to inflation in material prices that has the potential to push up project costs, Bloomberg reported, citing the company’s statement to South Korean daily Chosun IIbo.
  • The “unprecedented economic conditions and investment circumstances” in the U.S., along with waning battery demand, were cited by the company as reasons for the reported development.

White House Outlines New Monkeypox Vaccine Strategy: What You Need To Know

  • The White House unveiled the first phase of its national monkeypox vaccine strategy, with plans to send doses to areas with confirmed outbreaks.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services plans to distribute 296,000 doses of the Bavarian Nordic A/S’s BVNR Jynneos vaccine, an already-developed monkeypox vaccine.
  • The U.S. is releasing 56,000 doses of the Jynneos vaccine from the strategic national stockpile, and 240,000 doses will follow in the coming weeks.

FTC Sues Walmart For Allowing Scammers Use Money-Transfer Services

  • The Federal Trade Commission has sued Walmart Inc WMT, alleging that the retail giant allowed its money-transfer services to facilitate fraud.
  • According to the complaint, the company did not properly train its employees, failed to warn customers, and used procedures that allowed fraudsters to cash out at its stores.
  • The financial services offered by Walmart include money transfers, credit cards, reloadable debit cards, check cashing, and bill payments.

Japanese Semiconductor Firm Bonds With India’s Tata Motors For Advanced Chip Solutions

  • Renesas Electronics Corp RNECY, a premier supplier of advanced semiconductor solutions, collaborated with Tata Motors Ltd TTM and Tejas Networks Ltd. (Tejas), both Tata Group companies.
  • The partnership builds on their longstanding relationship as technology and business partners.
  • Renesas and TML will collaborate on developing next-gen automotive electronics.
  • Renesas, with deep expertise in semiconductor technology, will partner with TML to accelerate the development of electric and connected vehicles.

No Playstation 5 For Now — But Sony Is Launching New Gaming Gear For PC Users

  • Sony Group, Inc SONY has decided to foray into other gaming sector niches, even as the Japanese electronics giant grapples with the PlayStation 5 supply crisis, which is expected to last until the end of this year.
  • Sony is launching Inzone, a gaming gear brand for PC gamers that would sharpen gamer senses and enhance gaming ability.
  • The Inzone M9 gaming monitor offers 4K resolution and “full-array local dimming” for a high-contrast experience, with a 144Hz refresh rate, Sony said.

India Gives Twitter Last Chance To Comply With New IT Rules Or Risk Losing Legal Protection

  • The Indian government has issued an ultimatum to Twitter Inc TWTR to comply with the country’s Information Technology Rules after the social media platform’s repeated failures to act on the content take-down notices sent under the IT Act.
  • The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has given Twitter time until July 4 to comply with the rules or face the risk of losing its immunity as an intermediary, local news outlet Economic Times reported, citing people directly aware of the development.
  • The government introduced the IT Act in February 2021, which mandated social media companies such as Meta Platforms Inc’s META Facebook and Instagram, Alphabet Inc’s GOOGL GOOG YouTube, and Twitter to appoint grievance redressal officers to hear complaints and respond to requests within 15 days.

Tesla Gets Called Out Along With Oil Giant Aramco By Big Investors Over Green Footprint Reporting

  • Tesla Inc TSLA is among a list of companies that have been criticized by some big institutional investors for failing to disclose their environmental footprints through global reporting standards, Bloomberg News reported.
  • Some institutional investors, including Amundi SA, Aviva Plc, and Nuveen — with over $31 trillion in assets — have called on Elon Musk-led Tesla, energy giants Saudi Aramco, Exxon Mobil Corp XOM, as well as Glencore Plc, Volvo Group, and others to report climate, water, and forest impacts through CDP.
  • UK-based CDP is a nonprofit that helps companies and cities disclose their environmental impact and whose disclosure system is used by more than 13,000 companies.

Nio Says Short-Seller Report’ Misleading, Speculative’ As Stock Slides 10% In Hong Kong

  • Tesla Inc TSLA rival Chinese EV maker Nio Inc NIO, refuted short-seller bearish claims on its stock that alleged the company of inflating its revenue and profitability.
  • On Tuesday, Grizzly Research published a report that claimed Nio is likely using an unconsolidated related party, Wuhan Weineng, to exaggerate its revenue and profitability.
  • Grizzly Research titled the report: “We Believe NIO Plays Valeant-esque Accounting Games to Inflate Revenue and Boost Net Income Margins to Meet Targets.”

Tesla Bear Michael Burry Predicts Divided Labor Market Amid Inflation, Worker Crunch Woes

  • Tesla Inc TSLA bear Michael Burry said on Tuesday he anticipates a divided labor market developing at a time when companies are struggling with inflation and worker shortages.
  • The “Big Short” fame investor and hedge fund manager shared his views on Twitter in response to a report about Tesla’s latest round of layoffs.
  • “I see a bifurcated labor market developing as unskilled and semi-skilled remain in short supply,” Burry wrote in the post, adding that “redundant” white-collar workers would add to the wage pressure.

Disney Extends Bob Chapek’s Contract As CEO: What Mouse Shareholders Are Watching

  • Leading media company The Walt Disney Company DIS announced the extension of CEO Bob Chapek’s contract Tuesday.
  • As Benzinga previously reported, the Disney board met this week for an annual retreat.
  • Among the topics that were expected to discussed were a contract extension for Chapek, 61, who became the CEO of Disney in 2020.

Photo by Blomst via Pixabay

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