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MEF BUSINESS NEWS 17 JUNE 2024 Global defense companies are hiring at an unprecedented rate since the Cold War to meet soaring order volumes, a Financial Times survey reveals. Twenty major US and European defense and aerospace firms are recruiting tens of thousands this year, with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics alone needing to fill nearly 6,000 positions. Overall, ten companies aim to boost their workforce by nearly 37,000, a 10% increase. This hiring surge follows increased military spending worldwide due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and heightened geopolitical tensions. The sudden spike in orders, combined with competition for digital skills and lingering Covid-era staff shortages, is driving the industry’s recruitment efforts. ——————————- The Biden administration plans to release more oil from its strategic stockpile to prevent a spike in petrol prices this summer, as it tackles inflation ahead of the November election. “We will do everything we can to ensure the market is supplied sufficiently to keep prices low for American consumers,” the President’s top energy adviser, Amos Hochstein, told the Financial Times. The comments come as Biden faces voter concerns about his economic management with less than five months until the election. ——————————— Bill Gates is ready to invest billions into a new nuclear power plant project in Wyoming to address the rising US electricity demand, the world’s sixth richest man said. TerraPower, founded by Gates, began constructing its first commercial reactor last week . The startup, which has been developing simpler and cheaper reactors since 2008, aims to complete this project by 2030. TerraPower’s plant, supported by the US Department of Energy, was initially set to be operational by 2028, but the plan required Russian fuel, now deemed “unacceptable,” Gates told CNN. The new reactor uses liquid sodium coolant and molten salt for heat storage to enhance output. TerraPower will now source reactor fuel from the US and allied countries. —————————- Markets are unusually calm, making Wall Street uneasy, the Wall Street Journal outlines. The S&P 500 has risen 14% in 2024, with minimal volatility: the volatility index VIX dropped to a nearly five-year low. Investors are optimistic due to a strong economy, rising corporate profits, cooled inflation, potential Fed rate cuts, and an AI-driven tech boom. However, history shows that such calm periods are often followed by turbulence. This week, key economic data and Fed speeches will be closely watched for signals on the central bank’s next steps. The market’s recent gains have been driven by a few megacap tech stocks, which is causing some investor concern. —— —— MEF MOBILE NEWS 17 JUNE 2024 Banks involved in Zegona Communication’s buyout of Vodafone Spain are seeking interest for about €4 billion in debt before the official syndication process, Bloomberg reports. Deutsche Bank, ING and UniCredit plan to sell the debt to investors, possibly this month. The offering will include a term loan B and high-yield bonds in euros and US dollars. This buyout funding will be one of the largest new-money debt offerings in Europe this year and is expected to be well-received despite a crowded leveraged finance market. ———————————— United Group’s private equity backer is seeking non-binding bids in July for the eastern European carrier. Apax and Warburg Pincus are considering potential bids for part or all of United Group, controlled by BC Partners. Emirates Telecommunications, Saudi Telecom, Orange, Telekom Austria, and Iliad are also potential buyers. BC Partners may seek a valuation of about €8 billion, including debt. Some bidders may target specific assets. Deliberations are ongoing. ———————————- Vodafone Group is looking to sell part or all of its 21.5% stake in Indian telecoms tower operator Indus Towers to raise cash for debt repayment, Reuters reported citing two sources with knowledge of the matter. The potential sale, valued at around $2.3 billion based on Friday’s share price, will be conducted via stock market block deals. The exact amount to be sold depends on demand, and a partial selloff is possible if there isn’t enough interest for the entire stake. Vodafone has been trying to exit Indus since 2022 when it held a 28% stake. ——————————— Auditors refused to sign off on Lycamobile UK’s 2022 accounts due to insufficient evidence on nearly £150 million in balances. This adds pressure amid a VAT dispute with HMRC and fraud convictions of its French entities. PKF Littlejohn raised concerns about significant balances from related parties and directors, liquidity, and deferred income accuracy. Despite this, Lycamobile’s directors believe the company can meet its obligations. Lycamobile UK reported a pre-tax loss of £24.3 million in 2022. The company set aside £99 million for a VAT dispute, with a tribunal decision expected by September. The Conservative Party, which received £2.15 million from Lycamobile between 2011 and 2016, said all donations were compliant with Electoral Commission rules. —— —— MEF TECH NEWS 17 JUNE 2024 Apple will gradually introduce its new Intelligence features over several months to avoid issues that have plagued other AI systems. The Apple Intelligence service, announced last week, will be available for developers later this summer and will not be part of the initial beta releases of iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia, according to Bloomberg. When it launches in the fall, it will be a preview, available only on some devices and in American English. Users might need to join a waitlist for some features. Apple’s approach marks a shift from its usual strategy of unveiling features for fall release, often leading to delays. This time, Apple is setting a more flexible timeline, communicating through its website, presentations, and media briefings that the latest technology will roll out through late 2024 and the first half of 2025. ———————————————— Meta Platforms will delay launching its Meta AI chatbot in Europe after regulators requested a pause on using European users’ posts to train its large language models (LLM). Initially, Meta planned to train its LLM, called Llama, with public posts from European users, but the Irish Data Protection Commission opposed this, leading to an indefinite delay. Meta expressed disappointment, stating this setback hinders European innovation and AI development. The company emphasized that without local data, they cannot provide a competitive user experience, thus halting the launch of Meta AI in Europe. Despite the delay, Meta intends to eventually bring these products to Europe, though no timeline has been provided. At the end of 2023, Facebook had 308 million daily active users in Europe, according to its financial statements. ———————————— Japan’s rapid adoption of new artificial intelligence tools could boost its economy and tech sector, according to Microsoft Japan President Miki Tsusaka. The country’s digitalization efforts, accelerated by the pandemic, have helped it catch up after lagging behind. “The Japanese have caught up and will continue to accelerate because AI enables us to do things we couldn’t before,” Tsusaka said in an interview with Bloomberg. She noted Japan’s aging population and workforce shortages, highlighting generative AI’s potential to drive growth. Microsoft plans a $2.9 billion investment over the next two years to expand its AI data centers in Japan.4 —— ——
MEF BUSINESS NEWS 17 JUNE 2024 Global defense companies are hiring at an unprecedented rate since the Cold War to meet soaring order volumes, a Financial Times survey reveals. Twenty major US and European defense and aerospace firms are recruiting tens of thousands this year, with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics alone needing to fill nearly 6,000 positions. Overall, ten companies aim to boost their workforce by nearly 37,000, a 10% increase. This hiring surge follows increased military spending worldwide due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and heightened geopolitical tensions. The sudden spike in orders, combined with competition for digital skills and lingering Covid-era staff shortages, is driving the industry’s recruitment efforts. ——————————- The Biden administration plans to release more oil from its strategic stockpile to prevent a spike in petrol prices this summer, as it tackles inflation ahead of the November election. “We will do everything we can to ensure the market is supplied sufficiently to keep prices low for American consumers,” the President’s top energy adviser, Amos Hochstein, told the Financial Times. The comments come as Biden faces voter concerns about his economic management with less than five months until the election. ——————————— Bill Gates is ready to invest billions into a new nuclear power plant project in Wyoming to address the rising US electricity demand, the world’s sixth richest man said. TerraPower, founded by Gates, began constructing its first commercial reactor last week . The startup, which has been developing simpler and cheaper reactors since 2008, aims to complete this project by 2030. TerraPower’s plant, supported by the US Department of Energy, was initially set to be operational by 2028, but the plan required Russian fuel, now deemed “unacceptable,” Gates told CNN. The new reactor uses liquid sodium coolant and molten salt for heat storage to enhance output. TerraPower will now source reactor fuel from the US and allied countries. —————————- Markets are unusually calm, making Wall Street uneasy, the Wall Street Journal outlines. The S&P 500 has risen 14% in 2024, with minimal volatility: the volatility index VIX dropped to a nearly five-year low. Investors are optimistic due to a strong economy, rising corporate profits, cooled inflation, potential Fed rate cuts, and an AI-driven tech boom. However, history shows that such calm periods are often followed by turbulence. This week, key economic data and Fed speeches will be closely watched for signals on the central bank’s next steps. The market’s recent gains have been driven by a few megacap tech stocks, which is causing some investor concern. —— —— MEF MOBILE NEWS 17 JUNE 2024 Banks involved in Zegona Communication’s buyout of Vodafone Spain are seeking interest for about €4 billion in debt before the official syndication process, Bloomberg reports. Deutsche Bank, ING and UniCredit plan to sell the debt to investors, possibly this month. The offering will include a term loan B and high-yield bonds in euros and US dollars. This buyout funding will be one of the largest new-money debt offerings in Europe this year and is expected to be well-received despite a crowded leveraged finance market. ———————————— United Group’s private equity backer is seeking non-binding bids in July for the eastern European carrier. Apax and Warburg Pincus are considering potential bids for part or all of United Group, controlled by BC Partners. Emirates Telecommunications, Saudi Telecom, Orange, Telekom Austria, and Iliad are also potential buyers. BC Partners may seek a valuation of about €8 billion, including debt. Some bidders may target specific assets. Deliberations are ongoing. ———————————- Vodafone Group is looking to sell part or all of its 21.5% stake in Indian telecoms tower operator Indus Towers to raise cash for debt repayment, Reuters reported citing two sources with knowledge of the matter. The potential sale, valued at around $2.3 billion based on Friday’s share price, will be conducted via stock market block deals. The exact amount to be sold depends on demand, and a partial selloff is possible if there isn’t enough interest for the entire stake. Vodafone has been trying to exit Indus since 2022 when it held a 28% stake. ——————————— Auditors refused to sign off on Lycamobile UK’s 2022 accounts due to insufficient evidence on nearly £150 million in balances. This adds pressure amid a VAT dispute with HMRC and fraud convictions of its French entities. PKF Littlejohn raised concerns about significant balances from related parties and directors, liquidity, and deferred income accuracy. Despite this, Lycamobile’s directors believe the company can meet its obligations. Lycamobile UK reported a pre-tax loss of £24.3 million in 2022. The company set aside £99 million for a VAT dispute, with a tribunal decision expected by September. The Conservative Party, which received £2.15 million from Lycamobile between 2011 and 2016, said all donations were compliant with Electoral Commission rules. —— —— MEF TECH NEWS 17 JUNE 2024 Apple will gradually introduce its new Intelligence features over several months to avoid issues that have plagued other AI systems. The Apple Intelligence service, announced last week, will be available for developers later this summer and will not be part of the initial beta releases of iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia, according to Bloomberg. When it launches in the fall, it will be a preview, available only on some devices and in American English. Users might need to join a waitlist for some features. Apple’s approach marks a shift from its usual strategy of unveiling features for fall release, often leading to delays. This time, Apple is setting a more flexible timeline, communicating through its website, presentations, and media briefings that the latest technology will roll out through late 2024 and the first half of 2025. ———————————————— Meta Platforms will delay launching its Meta AI chatbot in Europe after regulators requested a pause on using European users’ posts to train its large language models (LLM). Initially, Meta planned to train its LLM, called Llama, with public posts from European users, but the Irish Data Protection Commission opposed this, leading to an indefinite delay. Meta expressed disappointment, stating this setback hinders European innovation and AI development. The company emphasized that without local data, they cannot provide a competitive user experience, thus halting the launch of Meta AI in Europe. Despite the delay, Meta intends to eventually bring these products to Europe, though no timeline has been provided. At the end of 2023, Facebook had 308 million daily active users in Europe, according to its financial statements. ———————————— Japan’s rapid adoption of new artificial intelligence tools could boost its economy and tech sector, according to Microsoft Japan President Miki Tsusaka. The country’s digitalization efforts, accelerated by the pandemic, have helped it catch up after lagging behind. “The Japanese have caught up and will continue to accelerate because AI enables us to do things we couldn’t before,” Tsusaka said in an interview with Bloomberg. She noted Japan’s aging population and workforce shortages, highlighting generative AI’s potential to drive growth. Microsoft plans a $2.9 billion investment over the next two years to expand its AI data centers in Japan.4 —— ——
MEF