This is an amalgamation of the “best bits” of the daily weekday newsletter/blog woven together to form a concise and coherent view on the things that matter in the commercial and economic news of the week.
THE DAY IN BRACKETS REFERS TO THE EDITION WHERE THE STORY APPEARED IN WATSON’S DAILY. Clicking on the day will take you to the appropriate edition of Watson’s Daily.
THERE WAS A LOT GOING ON IN ASIA THIS WEEK...
- Hong Kong voters got right behind the pro-democracy candidates in the local elections (Tuesday) and Trump expressed his support by signing a bill that endorsed their movement (Thursday) – which annoyed the Chinese, but not enough to derail sensitive trade talks (Friday). The protests, which are now in their seventh month, have dented Hong Kong’s economy (Thursday) as tourism has dropped off, the territory fell into recession for the first time in ten years in the third quarter and retail sales have fallen sharply
- Elsewhere in the region, Seoul made mildly conciliatory noises in the current South Korea-Japan trade spat (Thursday), but I don’t see this being solved any time soon. Having said that, I believe the countries need each other so something needs to be done to resolve the impasse
IT WAS ALSO A BIG WEEK FOR M&A AND IPOs...
- There was so much M&A activity this week (Tuesday) what with Charles Schwab’s acquisition of TD Ameritrade for $26bn, LVMH’s purchase of Tiffany for $16.6bn, Novartis buying biotech company The Medicinces Company for $9.7bn, a Mitsubishi-led consortium takeover of Dutch Utility company Eneco for €4.1bn and eBay selling its online ticketing business StubHub for $4.1bn to Viagogo. Having said that, it sounds like sale of StubHub to Viagogo will be facing some resistance as music industry group FanFair Alliance has written to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority warning of a potential monopoly in UK ticket resale appealing for them to intervene
- State owned oil giant Saudi Aramco faced difficulties with drumming up interest for its IPO (Monday) but then things got better when a regional fund agreed to be a cornerstone investor (Wednesday) and it now looks like the deal is covered (Friday), which will be a relief for all involved
...AND ALL EYES WERE ON RETAIL IN THE BUILD UP TO BLACK FRIDAY...
- Although Black Friday generates a lot of activity there are downsides (Monday) as the volume of returns increases, which pushes up costs, and then there are the fake five star reviews (Friday) that the FTC is now trying to crack down on. It’ll be hard to police but at least they are looking into it
- On the high street, the suffering of British retailers continues to filter through to their landlords (Wednesday) as West End landlord Shaftsbury had a huge profit hit due to a revaluation of their property portfolio in Covent Garden, China Town and Carnaby Street. On the plus side, Fortnum & Mason had another good year (Friday), which I think is due to them understanding their client and providing the right environment in which to spend!
...THERE WERE SOME MAJOR DEVELOPMENTS FOR UBER AND RBS AS WELL...
- Uber lost its London licence (Tuesday) but it is trying to appeal against TfL’s decision, controversial founder Travis Kalanick sold a ton of his stock (Thursday) in the company and rival ride-hailers Ola (from India) and Bolt (from Estonia) are scrambling around to take advantage of Uber’s current weakness and make inroads in the London market (Wednesday)
- RBS took a big step this week with the official launch of its new digital bank, Bo (Thursday). It has clearly seen what the likes of Monzo, Revolut and Starling have done and wants a piece of the actions!
My favourite “alternative” stories this week were about the mini karaoke booths in HacoKara Karaoke Box: The best way to de-stress at the cinema in Japan (SoraNews24, Oona McGee https://tinyurl.com/wlj7k9a) and Gaza man masters rare skill of balancing art (AP, Hatem Mossa https://tinyurl.com/wh67wow) which brings you the guy who can do some ridiculous things!
I hope you have an enjoyable weekend!