Benzinga Before The Bell: Texas Giga Tesla's Output Ramp Up, California's Lithium Tax, Spot Bitcoin ETF Proposal Rejection And Other Top Financial Stories Thursday, June 30


Hyundai, Affiliates Plan To Set Up New Company In US:

  • Hyundai Motor Co HYMTF is planning to launch a company along with its two affiliates in the U.S., Reuters reported.
  • Through the move, the company plans to strengthen its presence in the U.S. by exploring business opportunities.
  • In May, Hyundai said it would invest more than $10 billion in the U.S. by 2025, to strengthen partnerships with firms in the U.S.

California's Lithium Tax Could Upset GM, Stellantis' EV Ambitions

  • A proposed flat-rate tax on lithium produced in California's Salton Sea region will shelve the electric vehicle battery metal deliveries to General Motors Company GM and Stellantis N.V. STLA.
  • The tax may push some mining companies to exit the state entirely. The move comes as lithium supplies failed to match surging demand amid the push to phase out gasoline-powered vehicles.
  • California officials expected the tax to help restore the Salton Sea region from damage in the 20th century by years of heavy pesticide use from farming. They also saw it as making it more manageable for the state to forecast revenue.

Wall Street Journal

Nexstar Nears Deal To Snap Majority Control In CW Network

  • Nexstar Media Group, Inc NXST is on the verge of acquiring majority control of the CW Network from Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc WBD and Paramount Global PARA.
  • The leading owner of local television stations would acquire 75% of the CW, a broadcast network aimed primarily at teens and young adults, with Paramount and Warner Bros. Discovery each retaining 12.5% stakes.
  • Nexstar looks to assume a significant portion of the network’s current losses, which could exceed $100 million.


Japan Airlines Considers Replacing Short-Haul Fleet

  • Japan Airlines Co Ltd JAPSY is considering replacing its older Boeing Co. BA 737 short-haul fleet with more modern and fuel-efficient models, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
  • The airline operates 45 of the 737 jets with an average age of about 12.5 years and is currently deciding between the 737 Max range and Airbus SE's EADSY A320neo family, stated the report.
  • An order could be for between 30 and 50 of the narrow-body jets.

Amid 'Existential Priority,' Coinbase Seeks To Accelerate Europe Expansion

  • San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Global Inc COIN is reportedly doubling down on its overseas expansion, registering in markets including Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and France.
  • The company, already registered in the UK, Ireland and Germany, recently hired its first employee in Switzerland, as per a Bloomberg report.
  • “In all these markets our intention is to have retail and institutional products,” Nana Murugesan, Coinbase’s vice president of business development and international, was quoted as saying.

Financial Times

Ben & Jerry's Disagrees With Unilever Divesting Brand To Israel Local Licensee

  • Yesterday Unilever plc UL sold its Ben & Jerry’s business in Israel to Avi Zinger, the current Israel-based licensee.
  • Under the terms of Unilever’s acquisition agreement of Ben & Jerry’s in 2000, Ben & Jerry’s was granted rights to make decisions about its social mission. Still, Unilever reserved primary responsibility for financial and operational decisions.
  • The new business arrangement follows a Unilever review of Ben & Jerry’s in Israel after announcing last year its decision to discontinue sales of its ice cream in the West Bank.


US Government Calls For Additional Doses Of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine

  • Pfizer Inc PFE and BioNTech SE BNTX have announced a new vaccine supply agreement with the U.S. government.
  • Under the agreement, the U.S. government will receive 105 million doses (30 µg, 10 µg and 3 µg). This may include adult omicron-adapted COVID-19 vaccines, subject to the FDA authorization.
  • The doses are planned to be delivered as soon as late summer 2022 and continue into Q4 of 2022.

iPhone Turns 15: How Much Return $100 Investment In Apple Stock At Launch Would Have Fetched For You

  • The first iPhone was put on sale by Apple Inc AAPL 15 years ago. At the time, the phone was introduced by the tech giant’s co-founder Steve Jobs, it was touted as a combination of a widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary phone, and a breakthrough internet communicator.
  • Today the iPhone is Apple’s mega revenue driver. The now Tim Cook-led company shipped over 56 million units in just the first quarter of 2022.
  • Statista data reveals that since the iPhone was released, its market share has fluctuated between 10 to 20% cent in recent years.

Elon Musk's Giga Texas Worries May Ease As Tesla Factory Said To Significantly Ramp Up Output

  • Tesla Inc TSLA has been able to ramp up production at Giga Texas to thousands of units per week, Electrek reported on Wednesday.
  • Austin, Texas-based Tesla is making 5,000 vehicles, and is capable of producing at least 2,000 Model Ys per week at the plant, according to the report, citing two separate sources.
  • The Elon Musk-led company currently makes the Model 3 and Model Y cars and has added production of the Model Y Long Range on top of the Standard Range version.

Investment Giant Brookfield Snaps Up Minority Stake In Australia's AGL Energy

  • AGL Energy Limited AGLNF confirmed that it had become aware that the Canadian investment firm Brookfield Asset Management BAM subsidiary bought 17.2 million shares in the Australian energy major, representing 2.56%.
  • AGL said it became aware of the transaction, which occurred late last week, through routine registry analysis responses and acknowledged that the information might be historical.
  • "It is possible that subsequent trading may have altered the position," AGL said.

Why China's JD Is Giving Rival Tech Giant Tencent An Additional $220M Stake

  • Chinese e-commerce giant JD.Com Inc JD on Wednesday said that it renewed its strategic cooperation agreement with the tech and gaming giant Tencent Holdings TCEHY for a period of three years.
  • The company, in a press statement, said it would issue shares worth $220 million to Tencent over a three-year period to access certain services on the latter's social media platform WeChat.
  • "Tencent will continue to offer the Company prominent Level I and Level II access points on its Weixin platform to provide traffic support, and the two parties also intend to continue to cooperate in a number of areas, including communications, technology services, marketing, and advertising, and membership services, among others," JD said in a statement.

FAA's Oversight Of Boeing 787 And 737 Production To Be Audited By US Watchdog

  • The office of the inspector general of the U.S. Transportation Department will audit the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA's) oversight of Boeing 737 and 787 productions.
  • What happened: Boeing Co BA has not delivered any 787 aircraft in over a year due to the production quality issues, and in December 2021, FAA mandated inspections on certain previously delivered 787 aircraft due to reports of missed requirements during assembly, mentioned OIG.
  • Several complaints to Congress, FAA, and OIG's office have alleged ongoing production deficiencies and undue pressure on Boeing staff in the 737 and 787 production lines.

Coinbase Provides Crypto Geo Tracking Data To Homeland Security's ICE

  • Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Global Inc COIN is reportedly selling the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) data that aids in tracing cryptocurrency transactions.
  • According to a report from The Intercept, Coinbase Tracer, a tool that allows users to trace transactions across the blockchain, is currently in use by ICE.

State-Sponsored North Korean Hackers Likely Behind $100M Crypto Heist: Report

  • The Lazarus Group, a hacking organization allegedly supported by the North Korean government, likely carried out the $100 million cyberattack on cryptocurrency project Harmony’s ONE/USD Horizon Bridge.
  • What Happened: Analysis from blockchain analytics firm Elliptic finds that the hack and subsequent laundering of funds is consistent with the activities of the Lazarus Group.
  • On June 24, hackers stole $100 million worth of cryptocurrencies, including Ethereum ETH/USD , Wrapped Bitcoin WBTC/USD , and Binance Coin BNB/USD from the Horizon Bridge.

Barry Silbert's Grayscale Sues SEC For Rejecting Spot Bitcoin ETF Proposal

  • CEO and founder of Digital Currency Group (DCG) Barry Silbert said Grayscale Investments is suing the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
  • What Happened: Grayscale, which is owned by DCG, is challenging the decision by the SEC to deny the conversion of Grayscale Bitcoin Trust GBTC into a spot Bitcoin BTC/USD exchange-traded fund, according to a statement shared by Silbert.
  • “Through the ETF application review process, we believe American investors overwhelmingly voiced a desire to see GBTC convert to a spot Bitcoin ETF,” said Silbert.

Your Apple Card Can Help Get Discounts On Ray-Bans, Crocs Sandals

  • Users of Apple Card, a credit card from Apple Inc AAPL, can get 4% Daily Cash on online or in-app purchases on spending at StubHub, Crocs, Ray-Ban, and more.
  • The offer is valid for up to a total of $3,000 cumulative spent online or in-app stores across StubHub, J.Crew, Yeti, Crocs Inc CROX, Petco, Ray-Ban, Hotel Tonight, and Fandango, reported AppleInsider.
  • The offer does not apply to purchases of gift cards from these stores.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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