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MEF BUSINESS NEWS 19 JULY 2024 European Central Bank policymakers are reconsidering the prospect of two more interest rate cuts this year, with inflation concerns causing uncertainty, Bloomberg reports citing people with knowledge of the matter. Officials are now cautious about committing to a September rate reduction, following a previous cut in June when they lowered rates despite rising inflation. The ECB’s deposit rate was kept at the current 3.75% by the monetary policymakers in yesterday’s meeting. The decision will be reviewed on September 12. ———————————————- Retail sales in Great Britain fell by 1.2% in June, attributed to poor weather and cost of living pressures, the Office for National statistics (ONS) said. This decline follows a 2.9% increase in May, contrary to economists’ expectations of a 0.2% rise. Sales dropped 2.1% in non-food stores and 1.1% in supermarkets and other food stores. ONS chief economist Grant Fitzner noted that department stores, clothing shops, and furniture stores were the main contributors to the decrease. ———————————————- President Xi Jinping has emphasized “high-quality development” as China’s economic priority, following a key Communist Party conclave. The statement suggests no immediate major measures to address the property slump or boost demand. Instead, the focus remains on advancing manufacturing and tech innovation, which could escalate trade tensions with the US and EU due to increased Chinese exports. ———————————————- Netflix added 8 million subscribers in Q2, driven by hit shows like “Baby Reindeer” and “Bridgerton,” surpassing Wall Street forecasts. Earnings rose 48% to $4.88 per share, with revenue at $9.6 billion. Despite anticipating slower subscriber growth next quarter, Netflix raised its full-year revenue forecast due to solid membership trends. The ad-supported tier now represents 45% of sign-ups but isn’t expected to drive significant revenue growth until 2024 or 2025. Netflix’s strong performance contrasts with legacy studios struggling with limited streaming viewership and declining traditional TV audiences. ———————————————— UK Prime Minister Keir Starmer announced a crackdown on Russia’s shadow fleet of oil tankers evading sanctions, supported by 44 European nations. The plan targets around 600 vessels transporting 1.7 million barrels of oil daily. The UK also sanctioned 11 tankers, including eight owned by Russia’s Sovcomflot. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy will address Starmer’s Cabinet today, the first foreign leader to do so since 1997. Over 60 tankers are now under international sanctions, with most ceasing operations. ————————————— UK developer Harmony Energy has started building France’s largest battery storage facility in Nantes. The 100-megawatt Cheviré project, using Tesla’s Megapack, will store enough power to supply 170,000 homes for two hours. Situated on a former fossil fuel power station site, it will help balance the grid and support the transition to renewable energy. —— —— MEF MOBILE NEWS 19 JULY 2024 Australia is experiencing a major IT outage affecting telecoms, banks, media outlets, and airlines. The National Cyber Security Coordinator confirmed awareness of the widespread disruption impacting various companies and services. The outage is linked to a technical issue with a third-party software platform used by various companies, according to the National Cyber Security Coordinator. There is currently no evidence of a cybersecurity incident. IT security firm Crowdstrike reported issues with Microsoft’s Windows operating system, while Sydney Airport noted flight delays and activated contingency plans with extra staff. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Network Ten also confirmed their systems were impacted. ——————————————- Violent student-led anti-quota protests in Bangladesh have disrupted telecommunications and halted TV news channels. The unrest resulted in over two dozen deaths this week. Authorities cut off internet calls, overseas telephone connections, mobile data, and high-speed internet today. Online news outlets and social media pages were inactive, and news TV channels, including state-owned BTV, went off-air, citing technical difficulties. The government called in the army to restore order. ——————————————- Now, the corporate news: Boost Mobile is challenging the telecom giants with a major rebranding and national ad campaign. The US wireless carrier is unifying its prepaid and postpaid services under the single Boost Mobile name, featuring a new logo and visual identity. The launch of the new 5G Boost Mobile Network is highlighted by a comedic ad campaign, “We Built a Network,” created with WorkInProgress. The campaign, which includes TV, digital, and outdoor ads, underscores Boost Mobile’s focus on value, the carrier said. ———————————— Nokia’s results were weak, but operating profit guidance was maintained, suggesting no major changes to consensus, JPMorgan analysts said. Sales and adjusted EBIT missed expectations due to weakness in the core network infrastructure business. However, an increase in orders points to a potential recovery in the second half, with Nokia forecasting better-than-normal seasonal improvements in the third and fourth quarters. JPMorgan notes that investor interest will likely increase with evidence of a clear recovery, making the third quarter crucial for the company and its stock. The bank rates Nokia as neutral with a EUR4 price target. Shares fell 7% after the results were announced, to EUR3.33. ————————————— Vodafone Group announced that CEO of Vodafone Italy Aldo Bisio, will step down in November but remain on the board to oversee its sale to Swisscom, expected to complete in H1 2025. Sabrina Casalta, current CFO, will serve as interim CEO from November 15 until the transition. Bisio, who has led Vodafone Italy since 2014, will pursue an external opportunity but will stay on to navigate the regulatory approval process. Vodafone CEO Margherita Della Valle praised Bisio for his successful leadership and innovation in a challenging market. Vodafone’s €8 billion sale to Swisscom is part of its strategy to reshape its European operations, including the sale of its Spanish unit and a merger with 3 in the UK. ————————————— The merger of Singtel’s Thai associate Intouch with Gulf Energy is beneficial for Singtel, analyst Paul Chew of Phillip Securities Research said, according to Reuters. Singtel swaps its 24.99% stake in Intouch for a 9% stake in the new company and S$135 million in special dividends. Although future dividends from Intouch will be lower, Singtel now has a stake in a larger and more liquid company. Chew adjusts Singtel’s rating from buy to accumulate due to a recent stock rally but raises the target price to S$3.44 from S$3.00, as Singtel nears its S$6 billion divestment target. —— —— MEF TECH NEWS 20 JULY 2024 Meta Platform is in talks to acquire a 3-5% stake in Ray-Ban maker EssilorLuxottica, valued at about €4.5 billion, to enhance its smart glasses push, the Financial Times reported The investment, pending finalization, would deepen Meta’s collaboration with the eyewear giant and support its augmented reality efforts, competing with Snap and Apple’s Vision Pro. Meta has received US antitrust clearance for the deal. ————————————- OpenAI is in discussions with semiconductor designers, including Broadcom, to develop a new chip, aiming to reduce its reliance on Nvidia and strengthen its supply chain. These efforts are focused on enhancing the capacity needed to run powerful AI models. CEO Sam Altman has engaged with chipmakers, partners like Microsoft, government bodies, and financial backers to boost capacity and maintain OpenAI’s leading position in the AI boom initiated by the release of ChatGPT. The talks with Broadcom were first reported by The Information. ————————————- Meanwhile, OpenAI is launching GPT-4o mini, a cheaper, smaller version of its GPT-4o AI model, to attract more developers and businesses. Available now for free users and ChatGPT Plus and Team subscribers, and for enterprise customers next week, GPT-4o mini will replace GPT-3.5 Turbo. While retaining some advanced features, more will be added over time. This follows industry trends of offering lower-cost models for basic tasks alongside advanced models for complex applications. —————————————— Two Russian nationals, Ruslan Astamirov and Mikhail Vasiliev, have pleaded guilty by a US Federal Court to their roles in deploying the LockBit ransomware, which has targeted over 2,500 victims globally and generated at least $500 million in ransom payments. The plea is part of a broader investigation into the LockBit hacking group, which includes six people charged, notably Dimitry Yuryevich Khoroshev, the group’s alleged creator. The US is offering up to $10 million for information leading to Khoroshev’s arrest. —— ——
MEF BUSINESS NEWS 19 JULY 2024 European Central Bank policymakers are reconsidering the prospect of two more interest rate cuts this year, with inflation concerns causing uncertainty, Bloomberg reports citing people with knowledge of the matter. Officials are now cautious about committing to a September rate reduction, following a previous cut in June when they lowered rates despite rising inflation. The ECB’s deposit rate was kept at the current 3.75% by the monetary policymakers in yesterday’s meeting. The decision will be reviewed on September 12. ———————————————- Retail sales in Great Britain fell by 1.2% in June, attributed to poor weather and cost of living pressures, the Office for National statistics (ONS) said. This decline follows a 2.9% increase in May, contrary to economists’ expectations of a 0.2% rise. Sales dropped 2.1% in non-food stores and 1.1% in supermarkets and other food stores. ONS chief economist Grant Fitzner noted that department stores, clothing shops, and furniture stores were the main contributors to the decrease. ———————————————- President Xi Jinping has emphasized “high-quality development” as China’s economic priority, following a key Communist Party conclave. The statement suggests no immediate major measures to address the property slump or boost demand. Instead, the focus remains on advancing manufacturing and tech innovation, which could escalate trade tensions with the US and EU due to increased Chinese exports. ———————————————- Netflix added 8 million subscribers in Q2, driven by hit shows like “Baby Reindeer” and “Bridgerton,” surpassing Wall Street forecasts. Earnings rose 48% to $4.88 per share, with revenue at $9.6 billion. Despite anticipating slower subscriber growth next quarter, Netflix raised its full-year revenue forecast due to solid membership trends. The ad-supported tier now represents 45% of sign-ups but isn’t expected to drive significant revenue growth until 2024 or 2025. Netflix’s strong performance contrasts with legacy studios struggling with limited streaming viewership and declining traditional TV audiences. ———————————————— UK Prime Minister Keir Starmer announced a crackdown on Russia’s shadow fleet of oil tankers evading sanctions, supported by 44 European nations. The plan targets around 600 vessels transporting 1.7 million barrels of oil daily. The UK also sanctioned 11 tankers, including eight owned by Russia’s Sovcomflot. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy will address Starmer’s Cabinet today, the first foreign leader to do so since 1997. Over 60 tankers are now under international sanctions, with most ceasing operations. ————————————— UK developer Harmony Energy has started building France’s largest battery storage facility in Nantes. The 100-megawatt Cheviré project, using Tesla’s Megapack, will store enough power to supply 170,000 homes for two hours. Situated on a former fossil fuel power station site, it will help balance the grid and support the transition to renewable energy. —— —— MEF MOBILE NEWS 19 JULY 2024 Australia is experiencing a major IT outage affecting telecoms, banks, media outlets, and airlines. The National Cyber Security Coordinator confirmed awareness of the widespread disruption impacting various companies and services. The outage is linked to a technical issue with a third-party software platform used by various companies, according to the National Cyber Security Coordinator. There is currently no evidence of a cybersecurity incident. IT security firm Crowdstrike reported issues with Microsoft’s Windows operating system, while Sydney Airport noted flight delays and activated contingency plans with extra staff. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Network Ten also confirmed their systems were impacted. ——————————————- Violent student-led anti-quota protests in Bangladesh have disrupted telecommunications and halted TV news channels. The unrest resulted in over two dozen deaths this week. Authorities cut off internet calls, overseas telephone connections, mobile data, and high-speed internet today. Online news outlets and social media pages were inactive, and news TV channels, including state-owned BTV, went off-air, citing technical difficulties. The government called in the army to restore order. ——————————————- Now, the corporate news: Boost Mobile is challenging the telecom giants with a major rebranding and national ad campaign. The US wireless carrier is unifying its prepaid and postpaid services under the single Boost Mobile name, featuring a new logo and visual identity. The launch of the new 5G Boost Mobile Network is highlighted by a comedic ad campaign, “We Built a Network,” created with WorkInProgress. The campaign, which includes TV, digital, and outdoor ads, underscores Boost Mobile’s focus on value, the carrier said. ———————————— Nokia’s results were weak, but operating profit guidance was maintained, suggesting no major changes to consensus, JPMorgan analysts said. Sales and adjusted EBIT missed expectations due to weakness in the core network infrastructure business. However, an increase in orders points to a potential recovery in the second half, with Nokia forecasting better-than-normal seasonal improvements in the third and fourth quarters. JPMorgan notes that investor interest will likely increase with evidence of a clear recovery, making the third quarter crucial for the company and its stock. The bank rates Nokia as neutral with a EUR4 price target. Shares fell 7% after the results were announced, to EUR3.33. ————————————— Vodafone Group announced that CEO of Vodafone Italy Aldo Bisio, will step down in November but remain on the board to oversee its sale to Swisscom, expected to complete in H1 2025. Sabrina Casalta, current CFO, will serve as interim CEO from November 15 until the transition. Bisio, who has led Vodafone Italy since 2014, will pursue an external opportunity but will stay on to navigate the regulatory approval process. Vodafone CEO Margherita Della Valle praised Bisio for his successful leadership and innovation in a challenging market. Vodafone’s €8 billion sale to Swisscom is part of its strategy to reshape its European operations, including the sale of its Spanish unit and a merger with 3 in the UK. ————————————— The merger of Singtel’s Thai associate Intouch with Gulf Energy is beneficial for Singtel, analyst Paul Chew of Phillip Securities Research said, according to Reuters. Singtel swaps its 24.99% stake in Intouch for a 9% stake in the new company and S$135 million in special dividends. Although future dividends from Intouch will be lower, Singtel now has a stake in a larger and more liquid company. Chew adjusts Singtel’s rating from buy to accumulate due to a recent stock rally but raises the target price to S$3.44 from S$3.00, as Singtel nears its S$6 billion divestment target. —— —— MEF TECH NEWS 20 JULY 2024 Meta Platform is in talks to acquire a 3-5% stake in Ray-Ban maker EssilorLuxottica, valued at about €4.5 billion, to enhance its smart glasses push, the Financial Times reported The investment, pending finalization, would deepen Meta’s collaboration with the eyewear giant and support its augmented reality efforts, competing with Snap and Apple’s Vision Pro. Meta has received US antitrust clearance for the deal. ————————————- OpenAI is in discussions with semiconductor designers, including Broadcom, to develop a new chip, aiming to reduce its reliance on Nvidia and strengthen its supply chain. These efforts are focused on enhancing the capacity needed to run powerful AI models. CEO Sam Altman has engaged with chipmakers, partners like Microsoft, government bodies, and financial backers to boost capacity and maintain OpenAI’s leading position in the AI boom initiated by the release of ChatGPT. The talks with Broadcom were first reported by The Information. ————————————- Meanwhile, OpenAI is launching GPT-4o mini, a cheaper, smaller version of its GPT-4o AI model, to attract more developers and businesses. Available now for free users and ChatGPT Plus and Team subscribers, and for enterprise customers next week, GPT-4o mini will replace GPT-3.5 Turbo. While retaining some advanced features, more will be added over time. This follows industry trends of offering lower-cost models for basic tasks alongside advanced models for complex applications. —————————————— Two Russian nationals, Ruslan Astamirov and Mikhail Vasiliev, have pleaded guilty by a US Federal Court to their roles in deploying the LockBit ransomware, which has targeted over 2,500 victims globally and generated at least $500 million in ransom payments. The plea is part of a broader investigation into the LockBit hacking group, which includes six people charged, notably Dimitry Yuryevich Khoroshev, the group’s alleged creator. The US is offering up to $10 million for information leading to Khoroshev’s arrest. —— ——
MEF