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Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is investing $3.5bn in Uber, marking the largest single investment ever made in a private company.
The deal solidifies Uber’s place as the most-funded start-up in the world and brings its war chest to more than $11bn, at a time when the company is aggressively expanding in nearly 70 countries.
The biggest risk facing Uber in its global expansion is that the investments may not be fruitful going up against the established and well-funded competitors it faces in China and India, writes Time’s Kevin Kelleher. “The same playbook makes you the market leader in one country can leave you a reckless spendthrift in another.”
Lex writes that the investment is part of Saudi Arabia’s concerted push to diversify from oil. On the other hand, it allows Uber to delay the date when it would have to go public. “Its war chest is now sizeable enough to sit out the inevitable reckoning of the lesser unicorns.” (FT)
In the news
North Korea a ‘prime money launderer’ The US Treasury named North Korea a “prime money laundering concern”, a move designed to make it even harder for Pyongyang to access the international banking system. The new measure, which follows a series of North Korean missile and nuclear tests, would mean any bank with links to the US financial system could face sanctions if they do business with North Korea. (FT)
Trump course loses PGA. Donald Trump sustained a painful defeat on Wednesday when the World Golf Championships event held at a course he owns outside Miami was moved to Mexico City. The PGA Tour announced that it was ending a 54-year relationship with Doral, which Trump bought in 2012 and spent $250m renovating, because it could not find a sponsor to replace Cadillac, whose contract ran out this year. (NYT)
Obama moves to curb payday loans The Obama administration is set to announce moves to regulate the $38.5bn payday loans market. The crackdown on the payday industry — largely storefront lenders extending credit to 12m lower-income households — follows a series of actions by Barack Obama to change the balance of power between consumers and financial institutions during his last year in office. (Fox)
US to trial British drone-freezing ray A UK-developed system capable of jamming signals to small drones is to be trialled by the US aviation authority. The Federal Aviation Administration is expanding efforts to source technology that can detect small, unmanned aerial vehicles near airports. Three British companies developed the Anti-UAV Defense System, due to be included in new trials, which works by jamming signals to drones, making them unresponsive. (BBC)
Germany braced for backlash over ‘genocide’ vote The German parliament is set to approve a symbolic resolution declaring the 1915 Armenian massacre a “genocide”. This raises tensions with Turkey at a time when Angela Merkel has staked her political future on a deal with Ankara to help stem the flow of refugees to Europe in exchange for cash, visa-free travel rights and accelerated talks on EU membership. “We can only hope this doesn’t lead to an overreaction from the Turkish side,” said Franz Josef Jung, a senior lawmaker in Ms Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union. (Reuters)
Finding Londinium Britain’s largest and oldest collection of Roman waxed writing tablets was discovered under an office block in the City, containing the oldest-dated handwritten document in Britain and the earliest known reference to London itself. (FT)
It’s a big day for
The ECB Europe’s central bankers are gathering in Vienna to deliver their latest monetary policy decisions and unveil the ECB’s new set of quarterly economic forecasts. Here’s what to expect (FastFT)
Opec The cartel meets in Vienna as its wealthier Gulf members cheer the return of $50 oil. But for their more economically fragile peers — Venezuela, Nigeria, Libya, Iraq and Algeria — the current price is almost unbearable. Saudi Arabia’s new energy minister said ahead of the meeting it was time for Opec to “steward the market” to help supply and demand back into balance, suggesting the cartel’s largest producer is shifting approach after two years of letting oil prices fall. (FT)
Food for thought
Boardroom blues Depression is not an elite disorder — it is widespread and many aspects of the lives of the less privileged and lower paid can precipitate mental illness. But exceptional achievement carries its own peculiar risks, writes John Gapper. “‘How is your mood?’ psychiatrists tend to ask patients affected by depression. Bad then but good now, is my answer. This is why the Zurich Insurance suicides are so sad. What feels hopeless at one moment later fades into history. Life can recover and fulfilment return, if you stick around.” (FT)
Abenomics sputters Anaemic domestic consumption and economic concerns over China and other emerging markets have been cited as major factors behind Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s decision to postpone a consumption tax rate rise. But Japan can ill-afford to let excuses further delay crucial reforms if it wants to ensure a bright future. (NAR)
Mideast turmoil good news for Israel? Israel, basking in a newfound convergence of interests with Arab states, is now ruled by one of its most rightwing governments and one of the least interested in a settlement with the Palestinians, writes the FT’s Roula Khalaf. Surely it would be more beneficial to use the opportunity of reduced tensions with its Arab neighbours to strike a deal on a Palestinian state and turn a short-term advantage into a durable peace. (FT)
King Tut’s extraterrestrial armament A dagger entombed with King Tutankhamun was made with iron from a meteorite, scientists have discovered. (Guardian)
The first thing sold on the internet . . . was, of course, drugs. Long before eBay, Amazon and the now shuttered Silk Road, Stanford University students engaged in a seminal act of e-commerce with their counterparts at MIT. The product: an undetermined amount of marijuana. (Motherboard)
Video of the day
Beware the Brexit brew In May, financial markets had virtually given up on the idea of a Leave vote, but, as FT’s capital markets correspondent Elaine Moore explains, the narrowing polls have left even the most sober trader feeling lightheaded. (FT)