Imagine if every government or regulator reviewing a multinational deal demanded a big cut of the transaction for allowing it, just like President Trump is expecting for Microsoft buying TikTok.
That would surely mean the death of major M&A, but then that shouldn’t matter, as the US is not an M&A country, says Mr Trump. Our Due Diligence newsletter begs to differ on that point.
Our reporters from Beijing to San Francisco have been looking at the challenges Microsoft still faces, including fixing a price and fighting off rival bidders. The FT View is that the forced separation and sale of TikTok shows that the splintering of the web into multiple regional internets is not just inevitable, but already a reality. We report one investor in ByteDance suggesting that Microsoft might consider selling some of its China businesses to TikTok’s owner to placate Chinese nationalists.
There’s no hint of any cut wanted by the European Commission today in its decision to launch an in-depth investigation into Google’s $2.1bn acquisition of fitness tracking company Fitbit. Instead, it wants to look into whether the takeover could harm competition in online advertising markets.
And there is no bill on its way to Amazon or Deliveroo from the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority. The regulator finally approved Amazon’s minority investment in the food delivery company after more than a year of deliberations, but warned that any attempt to take full control of Deliveroo “could trigger a further investigation”.
The Internet of (Five) Things
1. Asian tech caught up in consequences of conflict
Just days after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a brutal clash with Chinese troops on the Himalayan border in June, a group of Kolkata food delivery drivers burnt their red uniforms provided by Zomato, the Chinese-backed start-up they worked for. Today’s Big Read says the protest exemplified nationalist anger directed at Chinese investment in India’s tech sector. Our Trade Secrets newsletter looks at how the dispute between South Korea and Japan over wartime slavery has meant Korean tech companies finding alternative domestic sources for base materials.
2. Twitter in trouble over personal data ads
Twitter has revealed that it is under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission for improperly using its users’ phone numbers and email addresses to improve ad targeting, saying that it could have to pay a fine of as much as $250m.
3. Uber and Lyft drivers idle due to court delays
US drivers for Uber and Lyft are being suspended for weeks because the coronavirus crisis has stalled the court system needed for background checks. Checkr, the third party company used by the ride-hailing apps, said the closure of courthouses had led to “unavoidable delays”. In the UK, the Home Office has scrapped an algorithm used for visa applications after a legal challenge by campaigners who said it brought “entrenched bias and racism” into the immigration system.
4. Alphabet locks in record-low borrowing costs
It hardly needs the money, but Google’s parent company Alphabet locked in some of the lowest borrowing costs ever for a US company on Monday, in a $10bn bond sale that was the largest of a rush of opportunistic fundraising deals to start the new month. The debt issuance marked a rare move for Alphabet, which is flush with cash and has not issued bonds since 2016.
5. Predicting quakes and what alt-data can tell us
Japan has released a detailed simulation of what might happen if Mount Fuji erupted, but Leo Lewis in Tokyo says there is a difficulty in predicting quakes — the bias created by the limited volume of data on such events on which AI can be “trained” to recognise early signals. Meanwhile, the “alternative data” industry offering unusual data such as satellite imagery and measurements of social media sentiment is enjoying a boom in demand as hedge funds and companies hunt for clues on how to tackle the coronavirus crisis.
Tech tools — Apple’s iMac update
Apple announced an update to its 27-inch iMac today, with faster Intel processors, double the memory capacity, next-generation AMD graphics and solid state drives with four times the storage capacity. The display on the all-in-one computer features “a new nano-texture glass option for an even more stunning Retina® 5K display”. There is a Full HD webcam, higher fidelity speakers and studio-quality microphones. It starts at $1,799 (£1,799) and is available now. The Verge says this is not the major redesign that had been rumoured.
Get alerts on Technology sector when a new story is published