Reprinted from the FT – 10/07/2021
Hello from London, where we are all part of a new and rather alarming Covid experiment. There’s a fair amount of fretting over the government’s decision to remove all restrictions soon, despite a high level of infections with the Delta variant. Forget Covid for a moment, though. The big news is that the England football team made it to a major final for the first time since 1966.
Beyond football, one of the most puzzling stories we’ve covered for a while is the doomed Didi Chuxing IPO. China’s alternative to Uber became the biggest Chinese company since Alibaba to list on US exchanges last week after raising $4.4bn. But the share price plummeted just days later after China’s cybersecurity regulator opened an investigation into the company’s data and banned it from domestic app stores.
Beijing then announced plans to tighten restrictions on overseas listings of Chinese companies, sending shockwaves through Wall Street, which could lose more than $2tn worth of shares from a lucrative pipeline of Chinese companies keen to raise capital in New York.
So what happened? And is this the end of the honeymoon between Wall Street and China? Some speculated that Didi had been made an unwitting example by Beijing, which was irritated by Big Tech’s exodus to the US. Our editorial board agrees, writing that if China wants to discourage US listings, it should make its own exchanges more attractive.
Further twists came when it transpired China’s internet regulator had requested multiple changes to the app before it listed. Then, in a statement to the FT, two senior US senators called on the securities regulator to examine whether the company misled investors. The plot thickens.
1. Our big investigation this week is about Mohamed Amersi, a major Tory party donor who is set to take up a position helping to manage the Conservatives’ relations with the Middle East. Read on for a deep dive into the Conservative money machine.
2. A growing rivalry between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi has opened a rift at the heart of Opec, with the UAE considering leaving the group altogether in order to boost its production.
3. Last week 130 countries agreed to reform the international tax system. But the deal is far from done. US president Joe Biden will struggle to get the changes past the Senate, while in Europe, Hungary, Estonia and Ireland are refusing to sign up.
4. It might seem too good to be true but two rival billionaires are about to venture into space. West Coast editor Richard Waters has written an indispensable comparison of Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson’s rocket ships, with the help of some detailed graphics.
5. Private equity firms are bidding for British companies at the fastest rate in more than two decades, taking advantage of depressed valuations following Brexit and the pandemic. Schroders chief Peter Harrison told the FT that sweeping reform was needed to stop the raid.
6. The world’s biggest oil and gas companies are putting billions of dollars’ worth of as Energy correspondent Anjli Raval asks which of the big players are downsizing, and which are ramping up production?
7. “It is ironic that we are only learning just how big a deal European migration was for the UK at the moment we are confronted by life without it.”
8. Cement is a $300bn industry and among the most polluting in the world, accounting for about 6 per cent of global emissions. But start-ups trying to decarbonise concrete are gathering momentum thanks to interest from prominent tech investors.
9. Has Boris Johnson remade Britain for the better or for the worse? Martin Wolf caused havoc in the comments section with this dismal forecast for post-Brexit Britain, calling Brexit a Pyrrhic victory for the prime minister.
10. The story that surprised me this week:
“To me, the very idea of a criminal plant seems wrong.” Author Michael Pollan writes about growing psychoactive plants in his garden: opium poppies, cannabis, tobacco, tea and mescaline-producing cacti. I wondered about the legality too…
Can AI take healthcare where doctors don’t want to go? In this episode of the Tech Tonic podcast, technology correspondent Madhumita Murgia takes us to a small village in rural India where AI is being used to help doctors better diagnose tuberculosis.