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Breakfast Briefing: British Warships Face the Axe and Facebook for Kids

 3 min read / 

UK Assault Ships Face the Axe

The Royal Navy may cut key strategic warships in order to plug a £20bn black hole in funding.

Editor’s Remarks: Gavin Williamson, the UK’s new defence secretary, may have to axe HMS Bulwark and HMS Albion, Britain’s two amphibious assault ships. Presently, the UK and France are the only two nations in Western Europe with the capacity to conduct large-scale amphibious assaults on enemy territory. As such, the possibility of the UK scrapping this capability has prompted worry among its NATO allies. The US has said that the removal of the UK’s amphibious ships would strongly impact America’s strategy in Europe while also strengthening the hand of NATO’s opponents.

CVS to Buy Aetna

America’s biggest drugstore chain will purchase healthcare insurer Aetna for $69bn. 

Editor’s Remarks: CVS Health’s takeover of Aetna will create a new behemoth in the prescription drugs industry – a move that some say is a response to Amazon’s rumoured debut in the pharmacy business. Over the past several months, Amazon has received licenses from various US pharmacy boards, which has fuelled speculation that the e-commerce titan is looking to sell prescription drugs online. Aetna shareholders will receive $207 per share in cash and CVS stock, which is a 30% premium on the company’s share price in October. Ahead of Amazon’s next move, commentators expect to see further consolidation in the pharmacy industry as incumbents prepare to defend their territory.

Facebook Launches Kids’ App

A new version of Facebook Messenger will enable parents to control who their children talk to.

Editor’s Remarks: The new app is aimed at children as young as six and parents who want their kids to access the internet safely. The app has not yet been released and will first go live in the US before spreading across the entire user base. Facebook’s introduction of this new feature coincides with YouTube facing allegations that it has allowed publication of videos of children and sexual comments related to them. Facebook has confirmed that children’s accounts will not automatically convert into full user accounts when kids reach 13, the minimum age limit for full user accounts.

Irish Border Deal Falls Through

Following rumours that consensus had been reached, the DUP’s objection caused it to fall through.

Editor’s Remarks: Yesterday, senior officials said that “regulatory alignment” has been achieved on the issue of the post-Brexit Irish border. However, while this appeased the Ireland, Northern Ireland’s DUP rejected draft proposals – despite Theresa May personally phoning DUP leader Arlene Foster. Given that the Conservatives owe their working parliamentary majority to the co-operation of the DUP, the latter wields significant power in the ongoing Brexit negotiations. The collapse of the deal comes just days before the December EU summit and therefore reduces the time available for the member states to outline their proposals for the union’s future relationship with the UK.

Xiaomi Prepares for 2018 IPO

The Chinese smartphone maker is looking to go public at a valuation of $50bn.

Editor’s Remarks: Xiaomi was the world’s most valuable startup before Uber dethroned the company. Now, it is looking to finally go public sometime in early 2018, according to insiders. Xiaomi is based in Beijing and commentators believe it will most likely list in Hong Kong, rather than New York or London. Over recent months, the company has regained ground it lost to competitors such as Huawei and is currently expanding its retail stores in India, where it has become the premier smartphone maker in less than three years after entering the market in 2014.

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