Benzinga Before The Bell: Alibaba's Delisting Concerns, Amgen's Potential $10.7B Tax Bill, Kenya Will Not Shut Facebook Services And Other Top Financial Stories Monday, August 1


Google Shares Plans To Boost Productivity Amid Uncertainty; Does Not Rule Out Layoffs

  • Alphabet Inc GOOG GOOGL Google launched a new effort called “Simplicity Sprint” to drive efficiency and improve employee focus amid macro uncertainties.
  • CEO Sundar Pichai sought inputs from employees during its regular all-hands last Wednesday. He aimed to crowdsource ideas for quicker product development through August 15 through an internal survey.
  • Pichai acknowledged that Google’s productivity was nowhere close despite its headcount reflecting a challenging macro environment with more uncertainty ahead.


Lufthansa Pilots Opt For Industrial Action Over Pay

  • By a vote of 97.6% in favor of industrial action, pilots at the flag carrier of Germany, Deutsche Lufthansa AG DLAKY, threatened additional disruption during the busy summer travel season.
  • According to pilot’s union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) board member Marcel Groels, the vote does not necessarily mean a strike would be held. Still, it signaled to the employer that constructive steps needed to be taken.
  • “We are showing we are ready to talk,” he added.

HSBC Aims To Restore Quarterly Dividend To Pre-COVID-19 Levels As Soon As Possible

  • HSBC Holdings plc’s HSBC Q2 revenue increased by 2% to $12.8 billion, primarily reflecting interest rate rises, partly offset by an adverse movement in market impacts in insurance manufacturing in WPB, foreign currency translation impacts, and losses on planned business disposals.
  • Customer lending was $27 billion lower in 2Q22 due to foreign currency translation impacts. Net interest margin of 1.35% rose by nine basis points from 1Q22.
  • HSBC has pushed back on a proposal by top shareholder Ping An Insurance Group Co of China to split the firm, Reuters reported citing huge one-off execution costs, higher taxes, and ongoing running costs.

Facebook Has One Week To Comply With Kenya’s Hate Speech Norms; Country Rules Out Terminating Services

  • Kenya did not look to blackout Meta Platforms Inc META owned Facebook after allotting it a week to comply with rules on hate speech.
  • Kenya’s regulatory watchdog blamed Facebook for violating Kenya’s constitution and laws for failing to tackle hate speech and incitement on the platform ahead of the August 9 national elections.
  • “We do not have a plan to shut down any of these platforms,” Joe Mucheru, the minister for information, communication, and technology, told Reuters. “Press freedom is one we cherish, whether it is (traditional) media or social media.”

Toyota-Panasonic EV Battery JV To Procure Lithium From ioneer: Reuters

  • Toyota Motor Corp’s TM joint battery venture with Panasonic Corp PCRFY is set to buy lithium from ioneer Ltd’s Rhyolite Ridge mining project, Reuters reported.
  • The joint venture will utilize the metal procured for electric vehicle battery manufacturing in the U.S.
  • The joint venture, Prime Planet Energy & Solutions Inc, announced by Toyota and Panasonic in early 2020, will develop cost-effective batteries that are safe and efficient.

Wall Street Journal

Amgen To Fight IRS Agency Over Tax Bill Of Whooping $10.7B: Report

  • Amgen Inc AMGN will fight Internal Revenue Service over the company’s international tax strategy and $10.7 billion in back taxes and penalties, Wall Street Journal reported.
  • The IRS agency says that Amgen underreported its taxable income by nearly $24 billion from 2010 to 2015 by inappropriately attributing its U.S. profits to a Puerto Rico subsidiary.
  • According to FactSet data, Amgen has long had one of the lowest tax rates in the pharmaceutical industry, reporting a median 12.5% effective tax rate over the past decade, compared with an 18% median rate across the ten largest U.S. drug companies.

TuSimple Tech Attracts Regulatory Attention Following Autonomous Truck Accident: Report

  • The accident of an autonomously driven truck fitted with technology by TuSimple Holdings Inc TSP on April 6 has triggered concerns over risking safety on public roads, the Wall Street Journal reports. The company disclosed the accident to the regulators in June.
  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration within the Transportation Department launched a “safety compliance investigation” into TuSimple. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration joined the DOT agency investigation into TuSimple.
  • The incident involved a rig with a TuSimple driver and engineer aboard, and the company has repeatedly blamed the accident on human error.


Baidu Backed Autonomous EV Startup Explores Raising Funds; Could Seek $3.5B Valuation

  • Baidu, Inc BIDU backed autonomous electric vehicle startup, Jidu Auto, is weighing raising $300 million - $400 million in fresh funds, Bloomberg reports.
  • The Baidu and Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd GELYY joint venture could seek a valuation of $3.5 billion.
  • The latest funding round could see more investors other than Baidu and Geely, which jointly invested $400 million in the startup’s fundraising in January. Jidu sought a valuation of as much as $2 billion in that round.

Financial Times

FDA Stops UK-Based Company’s Baby Formula Imports Accusing Altered Paperwork: Report

  • Financial Times reports that the FDA has suspended emergency imports of baby formula from Global Kosher’s, accusing the U.K. company of submitting altered paperwork.
  • The FDA halted a waiver allowing Global Kosher to ship infant formula to the U.S. after the company “submitted to the U.K. authorities an official letter issued by the FDA that had been significantly modified.”
  • Global Kosher had applied to export more than 4.8 million cans of formula under a waiver scheme to help deal with the U.S. shortages.


Will Alibaba Be Delisted From NYSE? Here’s What The Firm Says

  • Alibaba Group Holding Inc. BABA has said it will continue to monitor market developments, comply with applicable laws and regulations and strive to maintain its listing status on both the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
  • The firm’s statement comes after it was reportedly placed on a de-listing watch by the U.S.
  • SEC’s Findings: According to the statement put out by Alibaba, the SEC’s identification indicates the regulator has determined that Alibaba used a registered public accounting firm, whose audit work papers cannot be fully inspected or investigated by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board of the United States (PCAOB) for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2022.

Tesla Strikes Battery Material Supply Deals With 2 Chinese Firms At A Crucial Time

  • Tesla, Inc. TSLA has agreed on separate deals to source battery raw materials from two Chinese companies, Bloomberg reported, citing stock exchange filings by these companies.
  • The electric vehicle maker has signed pricing agreements with Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Company and CNGR Advanced Material Company for supplying ternary material for lithium-ion batteries.
  • The supply deal with Zhejiang Huayou will run from July 2022 to December 2025, while CNGR’s contract term will start in January 2023 and run through December 2025.

This Company Is Buying 200 Tesla Vehicles Per Week — Here’s Its Future Plan

  • An electric vehicle subscription service company named Autonomy, which uses Tesla Inc TSLA vehicles, has recently announced that it is taking delivery of close to 200 Tesla vehicles per week.
  • According to a report from Electrek, Autonomy will soon add Tesla Model Y to its fleet. In addition, the firm is also planning to add 23,000 electric vehicles, which will be primarily from Rivian Automotive Inc RIVN, Lucid Group Inc LCID, and Ford Motor Company F.
  • Autonomy offers consumers a flexible and affordable way to access an electric vehicle. The company provides a low-commitment and cheaper alternative to getting into a Tesla Model 3 Standard and Long Range, now a Model Y Long Range.

Binance Says It Lost 90% Of Customers, ‘Billions In Revenue’ Due To KYC Compliance

  • The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange has reportedly lost out on a significant chunk of potential revenue due to KYC compliance.
  • In a recent interview with CoinDesk, Binance compliance team Tigran Gambaryan and Matthew Price, former investigators at the U.S. Internal Revenue Service’s cybercrime unit, said that the exchange’s tighter KYC policies had come at a cost to the business.
  • “We have lost 90% of customers after implementing KYC, losing billions in revenue,” said Gambaryan.

This Crypto Token Nearly Doubled This Week, Outpacing Bitcoin And Ethereum

  • FIL surged at press time even as major coins declined and the global cryptocurrency market cap fell 0.9% to $1.1 trillion.
  • The coin’s relative strength index indicates it is in overbought territory.
  • Filecoin (FIL) shot up nearly 100% this week and was trading 31% higher at $10.93 at press time.

Tiffany Is Turning CryptoPunk NFTs Into Diamond Chains: Here’s How Much ETH You’ll Have To Shell Out

  • Luxury jewelry brand Tiffany & Co. is selling 250 exclusive diamond pendants to CryptoPunk NFT holders.
  • The LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton ADR-owned LVMUY company unveiled the “NFTiff” collection over the weekend.
  • Each NFT pendant will be sold for 30 Ethereum ETH/USD each, worth around $50,000 at current prices. The 250 custom-made pieces would net over $12 million if sold out.

Bill Gates Excited About Senate Deal On Clean Energy But….

  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) agreed last week to vote on the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022,” which also includes provisions for furthering clean energy.
  • Reacting to the development, billionaire Bill Gates said on Twitter last week that he is “really excited” to see the two senators coming together for what could be an “historic step forward for the climate.” He expressed his view by quote-tweeting a tweet by Breakthrough Energy, which was established by Gates and a coalition of private investors in 2015 to act against the impact of accelerating climate change.
  • “Congress just released a historic policy framework that if signed into law will enable critical climate technologies to rapidly scale and help to build the foundation of the clean energy economy,” the Twitter handle of Breakthrough Energy tweeted.
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