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Global Affairs

Breakfast Briefing: Lavrov Hits Back and Tillerson Gets the Sack

Russian Summons Ambassador

Following the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, the Kremlin has summoned the UK ambassador.

Editor’s Remarks: Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has dismissed accusations that his nation ordered a hit on Skripal, and has requested the UK ambassador to present the Kremlin with the nerve agent used by the culprit. UK prime minister Theresa May has so far said it is “highly likely” that Moscow was behind the attack since the agent used originates from Russian-made chemical weapons. While she gave Russia until yesterday to give her an explanation before the UK took action, Lavrov swept aside the deadline and insisted she upholds the Chemical Weapons Convention, which gives accused nations 10 days to respond to allegations.

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Tillerson Gets the Sack

Following months of uncertainty, President Donald Trump has sacked Rex Tillerson.

Editor’s Remarks: Tillerson’s removal was confirmed by President Trump on Twitter in a message that also announced he would be replaced by Mike Pompeo, the CIA director. One of Tillerson’s last actions as secretary of state was strongly condemning the suspected Russian poisoning of Sergei Skripal in the UK. Pompeo, known for his very right-wing views, is believed to have a lot in common with the president, who himself praised their own “very good chemistry”. Pompeo will be replaced at the CIA by his deputy, Gina Haspel, who will be the first woman to direct the agency.

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Trumps Kills Qualcomm Deal

A president who fashions himself as an ultimate dealmaker has blocked Broadcom’s $142bn offer.

Editor’s Remarks: Trump’s decision to bar Broadcom’s hostile $142bn takeover bid for US rival Qualcomm tests not only the limits of his constitutional powers but the patience of corporate America. Indeed, businesses across the country are bracing for expected rises in steel costs that will come as a result of the president’s decision to impose hefty tariffs on imported metals. The takeover has been blocked on national security grounds but many are questioning whether Trump has overreached since Broadcom was in the process of relocating to the USA.

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GM’s AirBnB-Style Service

The carmaker is launching a programme this summer that enables owners to rent our their cars.

Editor’s Remarks: GM’s car-sharing team, Maven, will test the programme this summer, which will enable vehicle-owners to put cars on a platform through which they can rent them out. GM will take a fee in the same way AirBnB collects a commission from its users. Should the pilot programme prove successful, GM intends to grow it into a business of its own. Despite GM shares being flat for the last few years, an announcement in October that it was turning its attention and considerable resources to autonomous vehicles, the stock market has been kinder to the auto industry stalwart.

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Samsung’s Congo Cobalt Deal

The world’s biggest chip and smartphone maker is in a deal to secure Congolese cobalt.

Editor’s Remarks: The Korean titan’s move mirrors that of Apple, which is also in talks to buy cobalt directly from miners in Congo, adding fuel to the global race to secure ample supplies of the scarce metal. Cobalt demand is spiking as companies prepare for an expected takeoff in electric-cars. Samsung has now entered talks with Somika SPRL, a Congolese miner, with the aim of securing a multi-year off take agreement. So far, details are scant on just how much of the metal Samsung will look to buy, particularly since the company still needs to work out its associated shipping and delivery costs.

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