Chevron agreed to take over Anadarko in a $49bn deal. The acquisition expands Chevron’s shale-oil assets in America’s Permian basin, where Anadarko is a leading independent operator. It also gains a huge liquefied-natural-gas project in Mozambique. Big oil companies have been increasing their shale production targets, adding to the pressure on smaller, independent outfits to consolidate. See article.
Following years of costly litigation, Apple and Qualcomm settled their dispute over royalties and reached a six-year licensing agreement. Their quarrel had revolved around patent fees for the use of Qualcomm’s chips in Apple’s iPhone. While the dispute dragged on, Apple had switched to Intel to supply it with chips, but Intel had encountered problems designing chips for next-generation 5G phones and now plans to exit that business. See article.
Investors pored over Uber’s prospectus, which it released ahead of its forthcoming IPO. Overall revenues hit $11.3bn last year, though growth is slowing at Uber’s core ride-hailing service. Uber Eats, its food-delivery service, accounted for 13% of sales, a big jump from the previous year. Uber is aiming for a $100bn stockmarket valuation, which would make it the biggest flotation in five years.
German prosecutors charged Martin Winterkorn with “particularly serious” fraud relating to the emissions-cheating scandal at Volkswagen that happened during his time as chief executive. Mr Winterkorn resigned soon after the scandal broke in 2015. He has been indicted in America on similar charges but is unlikely to face trial there. The German authorities want him to return some of his pay, and he could face up to ten years in prison, making this one of the gravest legal cases brought against a German executive.
Volkswagen unveiled an electric SUV that it will build in China from 2021, stepping up its production of zero-emission vehicles to take on Tesla in the world’s biggest car market. vw described its new car as “a lounge on wheels”. See article.
America’s big banks reported earnings for the first three months of the year. JPMorgan Chase made a net profit of $9.2bn, a record for the bank. A strong showing in consumer lending drove Bank of America’s net income of $7.3bn. Citigroup’s $4.7bn profit was boosted by investment banking. And Wells Fargo, which is trying to put a series of scandals behind it, saw its income rise by 16% compared with the same three months last year, to $5.9bn, thanks to one-off gains. Profit at Goldman Sachs dropped by a fifth, to $2.2bn, as trading revenues tumbled. See article.
UniCredit’s parent company and the Italian bank’s German and Austrian subsidiaries reached a settlement with American regulators for violating sanctions against Iran, Libya and other countries between 2002 and 2011. The banks will pay a $1.3bn fine. The German subsidiary also pleaded guilty to steering at least $393m through the American financial system on behalf of sanctioned entities. It is the second big penalty for sanctions-busting recently, following a $1.1bn fine slapped on Standard Chartered.
The Chinese economy grew by 6.4% in the first quarter, year on year. That was a bit better than markets had expected, possibly reflecting the easing of trade tensions between America and China. The negotiations on a deal to resolve that conflict are in their final stages. See article.
Publicis undertook the biggest acquisition in its 93-year history when it agreed to buy Epsilon, a digital-marketing agency, for $4.4bn. The deal goes some way in helping the French advertising group, which counts Saatchi & Saatchi among its assets, to meet the challenge posed by Google, Facebook and other online-advertising platforms.
Jet Airways’ share price plunged amid reports that it would have to cease all operations. The Indian airline is beset by a funding crisis that has left some staff unpaid since December and led to its aircraft being seized by creditors. It recently cancelled all its international flights.
The ripples from the grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft following two fatal crashes continued to be felt across the airline industry. American Airlines cancelled all flights on MAX jets until mid-August (it had hoped to find substitute planes). That came after Southwest, which has the largest fleet of MAX aircraft, extended its flight cancellations.
The wonderful world
Disney took the wraps off its new video-streaming service, entering a market dominated by Netflix and Amazon. Disney+ will launch in November in America and in later months worldwide. It will feature Disney’s own rich catalogue of films, as well as the Marvel, Pixar and Star Wars franchises, and cost half as much as Netflix. Disney is clearly no dumbo when it comes to price wars.