Markets

Business • Markets
Star investor Buffett bought back Berkshire stock for almost 25 billion dollars in 2020
Star investor Buffett bought back Berkshire stock for almost 25 billion dollars in 2020
Credit: USA International Trade Administration / via Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

Berkshire Hathaway bought back its own shares in 2020 for more money than ever before. In total, the conglomerate spent 24.7 billion dollars (20.5 billion euros) on this kind of share price maintenance, according to its annual report published on Saturday.

In the fourth quarter, Warren Buffett's investment company invested nine billion dollars in its own shares, which was almost exactly the same as the record volume in the previous quarter. Berkshire Hathaway was able to strongly increase its net profit at the end of the year.

Business • Markets
DigitalOcean files for a $100 million IPO
Digital Ocean logo
Digital Ocean logo Credit: Digital Ocean

DigitalOcean, which offers cloud computing services and web development tools to SMBs, filed on Thursday with the SEC to raise $100 million in an initial public offering. The company has filed to go public on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “DOCN.”

Business • Markets
Reddit raised an additional $118 million to its Series E funding round
Reddit logo
Reddit logo Credit: Reddit

Reddit, which announced a $250 million Series E earlier this February, has added over $118 million to the financing event. The current round total is now $367 million, according to a new SEC filing. The filing shows that Reddit is aiming to raise $500 million in this round.

The Series E, which came from investors such as Tencent, Andreessen Horowitz and Sequoia, valued the firm at $6 billion, double its last valuation from two years ago.

Originally founded in 2005, Reddit has long existed on the nerdy side of the internet, where its text- and image-focused forums have devoted themselves to a wide variety of topics, everything from video games and GIFs to cute pets and cigarettes to Donald Trump and sports.

Business • Markets
YouTuber "Roaring Kitty" faces lawsuit after GameStop hype
YouTuber "Roaring Kitty" faces lawsuit after GameStop hype
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

YouTuber "Roaring Kitty", whose real name is Keith Gill, is being sued in the US for his involvement in the GameStop stock hype. A class action lawsuit accuses Gill of violating stock laws and causing "huge losses" to investors, according to the statement of claim filed in Massachusetts and dated Tuesday.

The lawsuit accuses Gill of actually being an expert in securities trading who manipulated the market to profit himself. The YouTuber concealed his expertise and misled private investors on social media to buy shares.

Following the fabulous ups and downs of GameStop's share price, the YouTuber is due to testify alongside hedge fund managers and company CEOs before a US House of Representatives committee on Thursday. Gill released a written version of his planned testimony on Wednesday. "The notion that I could have used social media to promote GameStop stock to uninformed investors is absurd," he wrote. "I made it sufficiently clear that my channel was for educational purposes only and that my aggressive investment style was probably not appropriate for most people."

Business • Markets
Nestlé sells North American spring water brands for $4.3 billion
Nestlé sells North American spring water brands for $4.3 billion
Credit: unsplash.com / Brian Yurasits

Nestlé is selling its North American water business for 4.3 billion dollars to the US financial investor One Rock Capital Partner, as the Swiss group announced on Wednesday night. Brands such as Poland Spring, Deer Park, Ozarka, Ice Mountain, Arrowhead, and Pure Life are being sold, as well as the US beverage delivery service ReadyFresh.

Business • Markets
Bitcoin surpasses $50k for the first time
Bitcoin surpasses $50k for the first time
Credit: unsplash.com / Bermix Studio

Bitcoin has surpassed the $50,000 mark for the first time on Tuesday, after Tesla, BNY Mellon and Mastercard showed support for the cryptocurrency and "the city of Miami’s recent moves to adopt bitcoin, and rumors of Uber and Apple jumping aboard."

Business • Markets
Amsterdam overtakes London as most important financial center in Europe
Amsterdam overtakes London as most important financial center in Europe
Credit: unsplash.com / Adrien Olichon

In January, 9.2 billion euros were traded daily on the Amsterdam stock exchanges, significantly more than in London with 8.6 billion euros, according to figures from the financial market firm Cboe Europe.

By comparison, in 2020, an average of 17.5 billion euros per day had still been traded in London, according to Cboe, while Frankfurt was second with 5.9 billion euros per day and Amsterdam only sixth with 2.6 billion per day.

Business • Markets
Snapchat reports 16 million new daily users during last quarter
Snapchat reports 16 million new daily users during last quarter
Credit: unsplash.com / Thought Catalog

The photo app Snapchat added 16 million daily users last quarter. Revenue jumped 62 percent year-over-year to $911.3 million, while the bottom line was in the red by just over $113 million. In the same quarter last year, the loss was more than twice as high at 240.7 million dollars.

Business • Markets
Family of suicide victim sues trading platform Robinhood
Family of suicide victim sues trading platform Robinhood
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

Following the suicide of a young user of the app Robinhood, the victim's family has sued the US financial services provider. Robinhood used "aggressive tactics and strategies" to attract young inexperienced investors to "take large risks for the allure of tempting profits," according to the lawsuit filed Monday in Santa Clara, California. Twenty-year-old Alex K. took his own life last June.

While still in high school, K. had opened an account on the retail investor app Robinhood and later traded and speculated in financial products and options. He had no experience with this, his parents later said. One day, he found his account with the app in the red - it was more than $730,000 negative. According to the lawsuit filed by his parents and sister, he didn't owe the company that money but was too inexperienced to understand the notice.

Business • Markets
Reddit raised a $250 million Series E funding
Reddit logo
Reddit logo Credit: Reddit

Reddit announced on Monday that it had raised $250 million in new funding, valuing the social news start-up at $6 billion. This is the company's Series E round of financing, and it comes hot on the heels of renewed public attention on the site that has dubbed itself 'the front page of the Internet,' owing to the role the subreddit r/WallStreetBets played in the recent meteoric rise (and subsequent steep fall) of the value of GameStop stock.

The company celebrates in 2021 its 16th year of operation, and, so far, has raised around $800 million. The latest round included financing from “existing and new investors,” Reddit noted in a blog post in which it announced the funding.

Business • Markets
DNA-testing firm 23andMe to go public as a $3.5 billion through Richard Branson-backed SPAC deal
23andme test kit
23andme test kit Credit: Nicki Dugan Pogue (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

A blank-check firm, backed by Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson, is taking consumer DNA-testing firm 23andMe public in a deal that values the merged entity at $3.5 billion, both companies said on Thursday. The company will trade under the symbol “ME” on the New York Stock Exchange.

A SPAC, or a blank-check firm, is a shell company that raises funds in an initial public offering (IPO) to acquire a private company, becoming public due to the merger.

Over the years, 23andMe has become popular with consumers, and in 2018 caught the eye of GlaxoSmithKline, which invested $300 million in the Silicon Valley company, best known for its saliva-based test kits that offer users a glimpse into their genetic ancestry.

Business • Markets
Hedge fund Melvin Capital lost 53% in January after betting against GameStop stock
Hedge fund Melvin Capital lost 53% in January after betting against GameStop stock
Credit: Courtesy of LinkedIn

The hedge fund Melvin Capital apparently lost more than half of its assets in January. The reason is the heavy increase GameStop stock which Melvin Capital has short positions on. The news agency Reuters quotes an insider familiar with the company's figures. According to the report, the assets invested by Melvin Capital, which amounted to 12.5 billion dollars at the beginning of the year, had fallen by 53 percent by the end of the month.

Nevertheless, the company ended January with more than eight billion dollars in assets - after hedge funds Point72 and Citadel prevented the collapse of their partner with a financial injection of 2.75 billion dollars.

Business • Markets
Brazilian fintech Nubank raises $400M Series G
NuBank logo
NuBank logo Credit: NuBank

NuBank, a fintech based in São Paulo, Brazil, is valued at $25 billion as the fourth most valuable financial institution in Latin America and the largest digital bank in the world by the number of customers and app downloads.

The round was led by private and public investors including Singapore’s GIC, Whale Rock, and Invesco. Current investors Tencent, Dragoneer, Ribbit Capital, and Sequoia also participated in the round.

Business • Markets
Class-action lawsuit filed after multiple broker limit trade with GameStop stock
Class-action lawsuit filed after multiple broker limit trade with GameStop stock
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

A Robinhood customer filed a class-action lawsuit against the stock-trading app Thursday after the company barred traders from buying shares of GameStop promoted by WallStreetBets, a popular Reddit group for investors. The lawsuit claims Robinhood's decision deprived retail investors of potential gains they could have made by buying when the stock was low and selling when its price rose.

In addition to Robinhood other brokers worldwide had limited the trade with GameStop and other stocks.

Business • Markets
The White House is monitoring the GameStop stock situation
The White House is monitoring the GameStop stock situation

White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that the White House is monitoring the wild and ever-changing situation with video game retailer GameStop's stock price during her daily briefing on Wednesday, telling reporters that US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen and her team are watching what's going on, though there is no word on if any action will be taken.

Psaki said that their economic team "are monitoring the situation. It's a good reminder, though, that the stock market isn't the only measure of the health of our economy,"

Business • Markets
Shares in GameStop have risen more than 1,900% this year, as Reddit traders retaliate against Wall Street funds
Shares in GameStop have risen more than 1,900% this year, as Reddit traders retaliate against Wall Street funds
Credit: Ser_Amantio_di_Nicolao / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

Since January 1, despite no real change in the underlying business, GameStop's share price has surged 1,915 per cent.

Shares of video game retailer GameStop and movie theater giant AMC Entertainment soared to astronomical levels Wednesday as an apparent swarm of ordinary investors, spurred on by a Reddit message board, took on big Wall Street funds that had bet the stock prices would fall.

The GameStop and AMC price surges were so dramatic that trading for both companies was temporarily halted by the stock exchanges to temper volatility.

Business • Markets
Office Depot rejected a takeover attempt by office supply rival, Staples
Office Depot store
Office Depot store Credit: The ODP Corporation

However, the parent company of Office Depot said it is open to a different kind of a deal, such as selling its retail and e-commerce businesses to Staples or agreeing to a joint venture, according to the report.

In a letter, ODP Chairman Joseph Vassalluzzo wrote that a deal that's not a full takeover "could be executed more efficiently and with far greater certainty and less regulatory risk than your proposal." He wrote the letter to Stefan Kaluzny, the managing director of Sycamore Partners and a board member of USR Parent, the subsidiary over Staples.

This was the third attempt by Staples to acquire Office Depot.

Business • Markets
Staples proposes buying rival Office Depot for $2.1 billion
Staples Inc. logo
Staples Inc. logo

Five years after the US government blocked a prior attempt, Staples is again looking to buy rival Office Depot in a $2.1 billion cash deal.

Staples went private in 2017, selling itself to Sycamore Partners, a firm focused on keeping distressed retailers afloat. To avoid antitrust scrutiny, Staples proposed selling its IT management company CompuCom or its business-to-business unit.

Business • Markets
Bitcoin reaches $33,000 value, all-time high
Bitcoin reaches $33,000 value, all-time high
Credit: unsplash.com/André François McKenzie's profile André François McKenzie

Bitcoin has surpassed the $30,000 mark, reaching a value of $33,000 on Saturday, an all-time high. The cryptocurrency has tripled in value in 2020 after plummeting to below $4,000 in march.

Business • Markets
China pushes Alibaba founder Jack Ma to break up his fintech empire
Jack Ma
Jack Ma Credit: JD Lasica (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

Chinese regulators want Jack Ma's Ant Group to go back to its digital payment roots, stating Ant's corporate governance was "not sound". The Ant Group started as Alipay, which became China’s largest digital payment platform, though it eventually expanded to offer investment and savings accounts and lending, insurance and wealth management services.

The latest salvo in Beijing's battle against Ma - who had been feted as China's greatest modern-day entrepreneur until he started speaking out against strict regulations - wiped 8% off the value of Alibaba's share price in Hong Kong trading on Monday.

In November, Chinese regulators blocked Ant’s $37 billion IPO just two days before dealing was due to begin in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Business • Markets
Wall Street begins trading water futures as a commodity
Wall Street begins trading water futures as a commodity
Credit: unsplash.com / Imani

The market new allows farmers, hedge funds, and municipalities to hedge bets on the future price of water and water availability in California.

RBC Capital Markets managing director and analyst Deane Dray has stated that "Climate change, droughts, population growth, and pollution are likely to make water scarcity issues and pricing a hot topic for years to come," and added that "We are definitely going to watch how this new water futures contract develops".

Business • Markets
Aldi acquires almost 550 stores in France
Aldi acquires almost 550 stores in France
Credit: Psicopatria / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Aldi takes over 547 branches and three central warehouses of its competitor Groupe Casino in France. This is the largest acquisition in the history of the Aldi Nord group, the German group announced. The food discounter estimated the deal at 717 million euros.

Already in March one had delivered a binding offer, now the competition authorities had finally agreed, Aldi communicated. The integration of the markets should be completed by the end of 2021. Most of the stores have been operated under the Leader Price brand to date. According to its own statements, Aldi Nord intends to use the acquisition to expand its market position in France and consolidate its store network there.

Business • Markets
Tencent's profit jumps 89% in the third quarter
Tencent's profit jumps 89% in the third quarter
Credit: Tencent Holdings Ltd.

The Chinese gaming giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. reported its net profit for the third quarter surged 89%, thanks to continued strength in its gaming revenue and better cost-efficiency. The Chinese group has a solid pipeline of new games waiting to be released, including a testing launch of a mobile version of League of Legends in Asia last month.

"I think Tencent's fintech focus has been on payment business, and it is quite prudent on lending; the stance is more in compliance with regulations (than rivals)," said Alex Liu, an analyst with China Renaissance.

Business • Markets
Jeff Bezos sells Amazon stock worth over $3 billion
Jeff Bezos sells Amazon stock worth over $3 billion
Credit: Seattle City Council from Seattle / via Wikimedia Commons

Amazon boss Jeff Bezos sold shares in his company worth more than $3.0 billion this week. This was revealed on Wednesday from mandatory notifications to the US stock exchange supervisory authority SEC. According to SEC data, Bezos has already sold Amazon shares worth more than $10.2 billion this year.

Business • Markets
Ant Group's record IPO suspended in Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges
Ant Group logo
Ant Group logo Credit: Ant Group

Ant Group’s record-breaking dual IPO has been halted. The decision comes after Ant executives—including Alibaba founder Jack Ma, who controls the fintech giant—were summoned to a meeting yesterday with Chinese regulators.

While the IPO had initially been given the all-clear, Shanghai has since determined that Ant Group may no longer qualify for a listing due to “information disclosure requirements” that it failed to meet, CNBC reports.

Ant Group, the parent company of Alipay—the world’s largest digital payments platform—said last month it planned to raise more than $34 billion for the IPO, which would have made it the biggest market debut in history.

Business • Markets
Ant Group's IPO will raise $34.4 billion, sees record $3 trillion in retail demand
Ant Group logo
Ant Group logo Credit: Ant Group

The initial public offering for Jack Ma's Ant Group will raise some $34.4 billion and value the company at more than $310 billion after retail investors placed bids for a record $3 trillion.

Xiaomeng Lu, a senior technology analyst at Eurasia Group, said that Ant is also poised to benefit from the Chinese government's latest economic development plans, which are being drawn up this week. Lu noted that Ant faces tough competition inside China from rival Tencent, while potential regulatory pressure from countries like the United States could limit opportunities abroad.

Business • Markets
German startup factory Rocket Internet to delist its shares from the Frankfurt and Luxembourg Stock Exchanges
Rocket Internet Logo
Rocket Internet Logo Credit: Rocket Internet

Almost six years after its IPO, German startup factory Rocket Internet announced Tuesday its plan to delist its shares from the Frankfurt and Luxembourg Stock Exchanges.

The company, now valuated at 2.6 billion, is offering investors 18.57 euros per share.