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Puma’s Shares Suffer After Being Dropped by Parent Company Kering

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Puma shares have plummeted 16%, the most in 16 years, after parent company Kering announced plans to relinquish its control of the German sportswear brand.

The move comes as the French designer, who owns brands such as Gucci, Alexander McQueen and Yves Saint Laurent, aims to focus solely on luxury and catwalk brands.

Investors will receive a 70% distribution of Puma shares, leaving Kering founder and billionaire businessman Francois Pinault’s holding company Artemis with about 29% of Puma.

After Kering’s shares initially rose 1.6% to a record high, they fell as much as 2% in Paris, indicating that shareholders remain sceptical. Investors had hoped Kering would find a buyer willing to pay premium for the shares. Sophie Park, an analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, also cut Puma shares from buy to underperform.

The French manufacturer is not the only European company to start cleaning up its portfolio after Parisian rival company LVMH sold Donna Karan, whilst Hermes stripped camera company Leica.

Puma’s Chief Executive Officer Bjoern Gulden, however, welcomed Kering’s decision, stating that it allows Puma to continue with its current business strategy. He added that there will be no changes to the strategy despite the change to ownership.

Kering will retain about 16% of Puma’s outstanding shares, remaining as a long-term shareholder despite earlier speculation that it would exit entirely. Kering bought Puma in 2007 in order to break into the sport and lifestyle market, also acquiring skateboarding brand Volco and Cobra Golf.

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Whatsapp Launches New Venture Aimed at Businesses

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whatsapp business

Whatsapp has launched a new app targeted at businesses, called the Whatsapp Business App, which they claim will enable companies to “communicate more efficiently” with present and potential customers.

This forms part of Whatsapp’s wider strategy to branch out into the corporate world. It plans to use the app to generate new revenue by charging businesses for using the extra communication tools that will enable them to better connect with their customers.

Although the app is set for worldwide release, at present it will only be available in Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, the UK and US. It includes a feature which indicates a business is authentic with a green tick badge next to their name.

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Amex: Troubled Credit Card Company Reports $1.2bn Net Loss

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Amex annual report

On Thursday, American Express, or Amex, reported a net loss of $1,197m in the fourth quarter, the first net loss the company has experienced for 26 years.

Although the company stated that revenue from interest expenses was up 10% to $8.8bn, Amex said recent reforms to the US tax code meant the company incurred extra costs, including a repatriation cost on its foreign assets as well as a devaluation of its deferred tax assets. It estimates total costs amounted to $2.6m.

For the full year, net income was $2.7bn compared with $5.4bn the company earned in 2017. However, even with the estimated $2.6m the company claims it incurred from the recent tax charge, net earnings were still $5.3bn, $100m lower compared to last year.

In New York, American Express shares (AXP) took a near 1% tumble at the beginning of trade with shares finishing the day on $99.90.  JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs anticipate greater earnings for 2018.

“Overall, we believe the Tax Act will be a positive development for both the U.S. economy and American Express” said CEO and chairman Kenneth Chenault. Chenault also said he will be leaving Amex in “very strong hands” when his successor, Steve Squeri takes over next month.

American Express has suffered from an ever-reducing share in the credit card market and ended its 14-year relationship with American warehouse chain Costco who in 2016 made an agreement with the market leader, Visa.

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Tencent Extends Facebook Lead

Tencent Facebook

Tencent has shot past Facebook to become the world’s most valuable social network.

Editor’s Remarks: Although Tencent briefly overtook Facebook in terms of market cap in November, the recent selloff of Facebook shares prompted the Chinese tech titan to regain the lead. Facebook investors responded negatively to news that Mark Zuckerberg’s plans to highlight family and friend-based content on the newsfeed would reduce the amount of time people spent on the site. Shares in Facebook have fallen 5% since that announcement, enabling Tencent to gain a $19bn lead over the US company. Tencent’s growth has been spurred on by its diversification away from its flagship messaging app, WeChat, and into video games.

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