Wall Street Breakfast: Reshaping The Gig Economy

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California lawmakers have approved a landmark bill that requires companies like Uber (NYSE:UBER), Lyft (NASDAQ:LYFT) and DoorDash (DOORD) to treat contract workers as employees. Some estimates suggest costs for those firms would increase by 30% as a result, while opponents of the bill say it will hurt those people who want to work flexible hours. The bill, known as Assembly Bill 5, may also influence other states. A coalition of labor groups is pushing similar legislation in New York, and bills in Washington State and Oregon could see renewed momentum.

Futures inch up

U.S. stock index futures are slightly in the green after China exempted 16 U.S. products from higher tariffs ahead of trade talks planned for next month. The exemption will include whey and fish meal, which are fed to animals, as well as some lubricants, starting Sept. 17. Hopes for a September stock rebound are also getting a boost on expectations for fresh monetary stimulus from the European Central Bank tomorrow and the Federal Reserve next week.

Apple product showcase

At its big annual fall event, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) revealed a trio of upgraded iPhone 11s, including a lower-priced model, and set the monthly price for its video streaming service at $4.99, largely undercutting rivals Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and Disney (NYSE:DIS). Apple can afford to discount TV+ because of the profits it earns on hardware and its distribution edge, with more than 1.4B devices in use worldwide. Besides the new iPhones, the company unveiled a new entry-level iPad, the Apple Watch Series 5, and game subscription service Apple Arcade.
Go deeper: 5G-less iPhone sees tepid response in Asia.

East-West exchange

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (OTCPK:HKXCY) has made a £32B unsolicited bid to buy the London Stock Exchange (OTCPK:LDNXF), looking to break up the U.K. group’s agreed deal for Refinitiv (BX, TRI). If completed, the deal would be by far the largest in HKEx’s history (it previously bought the London Metal Exchange for £1.4B in 2012). CEO Charles Li is trying to make the Hong Kong Exchange a “department store” for investors looking to increase their exposure to China, betting Beijing will increasingly open its capital markets to the rest of the world.

Europe plays catch-up

The continent’s fortunes changed overnight in the form of a $100B consumer internet giant that listed publicly in Amsterdam. The company is called Prosus, and it’s a spinoff of South African consumer internet conglomerate Naspers (OTCPK:NAPRF). While Prosus is not a consumer internet business itself, like Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Google (GOOG, GOOGL), it invests in a portfolio of global internet firms and is best known for its 31% stake in Tencent (OTCPK:TCEHY). The addition will shake up the continent’s tech landscape, which has been struggling to compete with U.S. and Chinese giants.
Go deeper: Historical performance of Naspers.

Libra seeks license from FINMA

The U.S. is urging Switzerland to ensure its regulations governing cryptocurrencies are strong enough to prevent abuse like money laundering and terrorism, as the European banking hub prepares to host Libra, a crypto proposed by Facebook (FB). The project – likely to be backed by the U.S. dollar, euro, yen, British pound and Singapore dollar – is seeking a payment system license under Swiss financial watchdog FINMA. Switzerland has increasingly embraced global norms of financial transparency, promoting itself as a hub for financial technology and innovation.
Go deeper: Institute for Innovation Development talks blockchain and crypto.

WeWork pushes on with IPO

WeWork (WE) is considering major changes to governance to assuage investor concerns ahead of an initial public offering this month, sources told Bloomberg. Any decision ultimately rests with co-founder and CEO Adam Neumann, who maintains voting control through a three-class share structure. Reports also suggest a WeWork roadshow is back in the works despite a valuation that could dip below $20B, far below the $47B valuation given to the company when SoftBank invested $2B in the business this year.
Go deeper: Aswath Damodaran discusses the WeWork IPO.

WTO complaint against Japan

South Korea will file a complaint with the WTO today against Japan’s export curbs, accusing Tokyo of being “politically motivated” and “discriminatory” in an escalating row rooted in wartime history. Affected key materials include fluorinated polyimides, photoresists and hydrogen fluoride, which are used by chip and display makers like Samsung Electronics (OTC:SSNLF). “Serious damage” can result from the curbs, according to South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-Hee, who also cast uncertainty into the global supply chain and economy.

Latest in Brexit

Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament was unlawful, according to a Scottish court in Edinburgh, which didn’t order the ruling to be overturned as Britain’s Supreme Court will make the final decision. Breaking the Brexit impasse? Documents seen by Channel 4 News reveal that both the U.K. Treasury and Department for Transport have been asked for advice on the costs and risks of building a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland. The project, mooted by Johnson when he was Foreign Secretary, is not under consideration at present, but has been prepared in case leadership wants to move forward with it.

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