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Breakfast Briefing: Unilever Headquarters, Circle Expands & Lyft

Unilever Chooses Rotterdam

The Anglo-Dutch giant has chosen Rotterdam over London as its new global HQ.

Editor’s Remarks: The consumer goods giant, Unilever, announced last year that it was simplifying its corporate structure and choosing to operate from just one base. Now, the decision has been made and it is not the one that Theresa May’s government wanted to hear. The company chose Rotterdam in a decision that is widely being interpreted by May’s critics as a sign that business is shunning her Brexit vision despite CEO Paul Polman rejecting this as an influencing factor. Unilever confirmed it will remain listed in London and that no UK jobs will be lost as a result of the decision.

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Lyft Partners with Magna

Lyft and Magna, an auto supplier, are working together on autonomous vehicles.

Editor’s Remarks: The move will, according to Lyft CEO Logan Green, help the company get its proprietary self-driving technology into the vehicles of various automakers across the world. Lyft and Magna will work directly on an autonomous driving system in a deal that will also see Magna take a $200m position in Lyft. Lyft’s role in the deal will focus on its efforts to build an autonomous driving platform in Palo Alto, while Magna is going to work on manufacturing the requisite components in co-ordination with the ride-hailing app’s engineers. Ride-sharing still only makes up just 0.5% of all miles travelled, showing just how large the industry could grow.

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Circle Expands to Cryptos

Circle Internet Financial, which is backed by Goldman Sachs, is expanding into cryptos.

Editor’s Remarks: The fintech startup is looking to hire over 100 people in a drive to take on the cryptocurrency markets. Circle, which is registered in Ireland, recently bought Poloniex, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges and is looking to improve its operations. The company is dedicating around 25-35 of its new staff to focus on Asian growth and capitalise on the demand for digital currencies in hotspots such as China, Japan and South Korea. Circle has received $140m in funding from a slew of investors including Goldman Sachs and Baidu.

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Facebook Bans Britain First

The British far-right group has been banned for hate speech by the social media giant.

Editor’s Remarks: In the latest clash between internet policing and free speech, Facebook has banned Britain First from its platform. The group’s page as well as the personal pages of its leaders, Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen, were taken down in the purge. The company said it did not take the decision “lightly” but confirmed that it could not tolerate hate speech. The move is likely a response to increased pressure from the EU, which is demanding that Facebook imposes stricter rules on illegal content. However, critics of the move argue that Facebook now has a monopoly over free speech.

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Alan Howard Bets on Cryptos

The co-founder of Brevan Howard Asset Management is personally investing in cryptos.

Editor’s Remarks: Howard announced late last year that he had made several big bets on cryptocurrencies, and has now said that he intends to put more of his cash into the emergent sector. Several other partners at Brevan Howard have made similar investments with their personal wealth but have confirmed that the $9.1bn that they manage for clients does not have any cryptocurrency exposure. Howard intends to make several private equity investments into blockchain technology companies and also intends to participate in upcoming ICOs, said people close to him.

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