Today's business and finance round up 27th January 2022
🍟The chips are down – $75bn takeover of British chip designer to be abandoned
27th January 2022
Bite-sized business news from the UK and beyond
Good morning After almost four years Amazon has reportedly ended its ambassador program where it paid warehouse employees to tweet positive things about the company. The program faced controversy after ambassadors commented on a viral Twitter thread criticising Amazon’s working conditions, sparking a spectacular backlash with users who found them creepy.
- The chips are down – $75bn takeover of British chip designer to be abandoned
- Welcome to the 90s – Oil hits $90 a barrel for first time since 2014
$75bn takeover of British chip designer to be abandoned
What’s going on?
US tech giant Nvidia is reportedly ditching its $75bn purchase of British chip designer Arm after facing mounting regulator pressure.
Why is this important?
Arm designs rather than manufactures chips - the essential components in the “brain” of every electronic device in the world. Its designs are core to most of the world’s smartphones and it's growing its presence in computing competing with the likes of Intel.
The takeover – that would be the largest ever in the sector - was announced back in September 2020 but has been heavily scrutinised by the competition authorities in the US, UK, EU, Australia and China.
There were widespread concerns that a merger would allow Nvidia to limit chip supplies and increase prices to Arm customers like Google, Samsung and Microsoft.
Despite all the opposition Arm’s current owner, tech conglomerate Softbank, remained confident that the deal would go through. But last month the US regulator sued to block the transaction on grounds it would give Nvidia too much power and this could prove to be the final straw.
According to close sources, Nvidia has begun telling partners it plans to abandon the deal. Softbank is also reportedly looking into listing Arm on the stock market as an alternative to a sale.
Buying Arm was always going to be a tall order for Nvidia given what’s at stake. Who controls chip design and manufacture is of high focus for governments and tech firms alike as we are in the midst of a global chip shortage which is having huge impacts on the production of cars, phones and electronics.
Oil hits $90 for first time since 2014
The eyes of the world remain focused on geopolitical tensions on the Russia-Ukraine border.
Increasing unrest and supply side concerns (with Russia being the second largest oil producer globally, behind only the US) led to the benchmark oil measure, Brent crude, jumping 2% to $90 a barrel yesterday. The first time in over seven years.
Both the UK and US are now considering imposing personal sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin should Russia invade Ukraine. Despite Russia having assembled more than 100,000 troops around Ukraine, Russia has accused the US and others of “escalating tensions” over the situation and denies planning to enter Ukraine at all.
Oil prices have been on a rollercoaster throughout the pandemic, the plummet in global demand in 2020 saw prices drop as low as $20 a barrel. The resurgence in economic activity in the past year and tensions in Eastern Europe have led many analysts to predict $100 a barrel oil by the end of the year.
The increase is good news for oil companies who’ll profit from higher prices, Shell shares rose 6% and BP was up 4% on the day.
But consumers are likely to feel it at the pumps with changes in oil prices usually filtering through to petrol and diesel prices. It’s another strain on household incomes in addition to 30-year inflation, tax rises and slow wage growth feeding into the current cost of living crisis.
Stat of the day
In 2021 Adele was the only music artist to sell over 1m copies of an album
Other stories to keep you in the loop
- Inflation calculation to change following food campaigner demands
- US Federal Reserve says rate rise 'appropriate' soon
- Microsoft beats expectations with $18.8bn profit
- Book sales soar as Bloomsbury uplifts profit forecasts
- Record sales and profits for Pets at Home in pandemic boom
- Citi to spend £100m turning its Canary Wharf HQ green and flexible
- Chinese fast fashion juggernaut Shein eyes New York listing
- McDonald's to bring chicken Big Mac to the UK
- SumUp eyes $20bn valuation with $500m funding round
- Gates Foundation expands board following Bill, Melinda split
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