FirstFT: Today’s top stories

0
15

Good morning. This article is an on-site version of our FirstFT Asia newsletter. Sign up here to get the newsletter sent straight to your inbox every weekday morning.

AT&T is nearing a deal to combine its content unit WarnerMedia with rival Discovery to create a media giant with an enterprise value of $150bn, just a few years after acquiring the owner of CNN, HBO and Warner Bros, said people briefed about the matter.

The board of directors of AT&T were meeting on Sunday to approve the deal, said two people with direct knowledge of the matter. The agreed deal is expected to be announced in the coming days, those people said.

The combination would merge one of Hollywood’s most valuable catalogues — spanning the Warner Bros film and television studios, the HBO network and a portfolio of cable channels including CNN — with Discovery, which has had success with a new streaming service aimed at unscripted cooking and home renovation shows.

After years of watching Netflix dominate the streaming landscape, the world’s largest media and tech companies have sought to fight back with their own services. In the past year and a half, Disney, Apple, WarnerMedia, Comcast, Discovery and others have launched streaming platforms as they battle for a piece of the future of entertainment. 

Coronavirus digest

Follow the latest on our live blog, and sign up for our Coronavirus Business Update newsletter.

In the news

Netanyahu says Hamas offensive ‘will take time’ Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Sunday that Israel’s biggest military offensive against Hamas in seven years would “take time” despite UN calls for a ceasefire. So far, 192 people have been killed in Gaza, according to Palestinian health officials, while 10 people in Israel have been killed, as Israeli air strikes continued on Sunday. (FT, Reuters)

Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from the Gaza Strip, on Sunday
Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from the Gaza Strip, on Sunday © AFP via Getty Images

Axa’s Asian operations hit in ransomware attack Insurance group Axa said one of its Asian business units has been the victim of a “targeted ransomware attack”, after a group of cyber criminals claimed to have seized troves of sensitive data from the company. The attack affected operations in Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and the Philippines.

The GFG Alliance fallout Australia’s government is under mounting pressure to spell out contingency plans if industrialist Sanjeev Gupta is unable to secure emergency financing to save metals operations that employ thousands. The UK’s Serious Fraud Office announced on Friday that it is investigating Gupta’s conglomerate over suspected fraud and money laundering.

China lands rover on Mars for the first time China’s state-owned tabloid Global Times reported that the lander and the rover from the Tianwen-1 probe reached Mars on Saturday. The mission was intended to match US successes in landing on the red planet.

A depiction of a Chinese lander in a Mars-like environment in Beijing. China reported its spacecraft and accompanying rover landed on the red planet early on Saturday morning © AP
A depiction of a Chinese lander in a Mars-like environment in Beijing. China reported its spacecraft and accompanying rover landed on the red planet early on Saturday morning © AP

Spacs lose their deal ‘pop’ as fever fades Shares in special purpose acquisition companies are sliding following takeover announcements, a marked reversal of the enthusiasm for these vehicles earlier this year which could threaten their ability to do deals. 

Group tied to US pipeline cyber attack said to have shut down The suspected Russian-based cyber cartel blamed for the ransomware attack on a US pipeline said it is ceasing operations, according to cyber security researchers. The news comes after the Colonial Pipeline Company made a ransom payment to the hackers worth almost $5m, said people familiar with the matter.

Credit Suisse faces pressure to compensate clients over Greensill The decision whether to compensate prized clients for losses following the collapse of supply-chain finance funds linked to Greensill Capital is one of the first big dilemmas confronting new chair António Horta-Osório in his clean up of the bank. Credit Suisse faces the threat of several class action lawsuits from angry investors.

The day ahead

Jimmy Lai appears in Hong Kong court The pro-democracy activist is set to appear in court over charges related to his participation in a 2019 protest. Separately, the Taiwan arm of the media tycoon’s Apple Daily newspaper said on Friday it would to stop publishing its print version. (FT, HKFP, Reuters)

Covid restrictions ease Indoor gatherings will be allowed in the UK from Monday, despite concerns about the coronavirus variant that was first found in India. A number of restrictions will also roll back in Sydney, including compulsory masking in supermarkets, at indoor events and on public transport. (Euro News, Yahoo News)

What else we’re reading

The property developers still betting on London offices Post-pandemic, offices will be much less busy than they were before, and simultaneously, the growing importance of reducing carbon emissions is likely to make a vast chunk of London corporate real estate obsolete. But developers see a future in modern, flexible spaces.

  • If people can choose which days they work at home and which in the office, a large number will stay home on Mondays and Fridays. That spells trouble, writes Pilita Clark.

How satellite monitoring became an ESG opportunity If investors are asking about the environmental impact of a pipeline, a mine, a power-plant or a factory, how better to quell those concerns than with images of healthy vegetation captured and processed by a private microsatellite, asks Leo Lewis.

Can a building be sexist? An exhibition at the Barbican explores the architectural practice called Matrix Feminist Design Co-operative, one of the first to explicitly call itself feminist. The idea of feminist architecture is about creatively rethinking the assumptions behind conventional building provision and design.

How the super-rich soaked up Covid cash As the virus spread, central banks injected $9tn into economies worldwide to keep the global economy afloat. Much of that stimulus went into financial markets, and from there into the net worth of the ultra-rich. Ruchir Sharma charts the rise of “good” and “bad” billionaires around the world.

Pandemic stimulus has made the world’s wealthiest wealthier
Pandemic stimulus has made the world’s wealthiest wealthier © Bill Butcher

Elon Musk wakes up to bitcoin’s fossil fuel issues Bitcoin’s carbon footprint is embarrassing, not just for Tesla but for millennial crypto investors who care about green issues. A scramble is under way to tackle the cryptocurrency’s carbon issues, writes Gillian Tett.

  • Elon Musk’s dabbling with bitcoin has raised the prospect that the Tesla chief executive could become a kingmaker for a future cryptocurrency to rival or even supersede bitcoin, says Richard Waters.

Podcast of the day

A crisis in the Middle East Gideon Rachman talks to Diana Butto, a Palestinian lawyer, and Noga Tarnopolsky, a journalist based in Jerusalem, about the political conditions that have kindled the region’s worst fighting in years.

Thank you for reading. Please send your recommendations and feedback to [email protected]