Exclusive: The EU and the UK are set to open in-depth competition investigations into Nvidia’s $40bn acquisition of the UK chip designer Arm, after rivals called for the deal to be blocked.
Officials and advisers said that serious scrutiny of the deal was warranted, given the growing importance of Arm’s designs, which are used in almost all smartphone processors and other devices that require low-power chips.
“This deal will be thoroughly investigated [ . . . ] and scrutiny may lead all the way to a prohibition,” said one person with direct knowledge of the situation. Others noted that the deal could still pass unconditionally or with concessions.
The acquisition, announced last September, is also facing scrutiny in the US and China. Nvidia and SoftBank, Arm’s current owner, set an 18-month timeframe for the deal to be completed in anticipation that regulators would have questions. (FT)
The number of Covid-19 vaccinations globally has surpassed the total number of confirmed cases, according to the Financial Times vaccine tracker.
Boris Johnson cautioned against an early lifting of England’s lockdown as the UK reached more than 10m vaccinations. Labour leader Keir Starmer’s popularity has stalled despite the government’s error-strewn pandemic handling.
Denmark is to launch coronavirus passports by the end of the month to help business travel.
Switzerland’s medical regulator has rejected the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
Germany’s grand coalition is riven with discord over its vaccine rollout.
Tokyo Olympics organisers have laid out a “playbook” to enable the games to go ahead. One of the rules: no cheering.
World Health Organization investigators have visited a Wuhan laboratory at the centre of theories suggesting a leak was responsible for the pandemic.
The UK’s GlaxoSmithKline and Germany’s CureVac will work together on a new generation of vaccines to tackle emerging virus variants. (FT)
The UK prime minister has a chance at redemption, writes Robert Shrimsley. Will he take it? Keep up with the latest on our live blog.
In the news
Draghi takes over in Italy Mario Draghi, former president of the European Central Bank, has accepted a request from Italy’s president to form a national unity government as the country battles to contain the pandemic, the most severe economic crisis in its postwar history and political divisions. The FT View is that Mr Draghi must clean up a mess left by squabbling politicians. (FT)
Johnson threatens emergency powers Britain’s prime minister has warned he could invoke emergency measures to ensure there was no “barrier of any kind in the Irish Sea” to maintain the free flow of trade following a bitter dispute over post-Brexit rules in Northern Ireland. (FT)
Exclusive: Asda buyers to clinch takeover with less than £800m The private equity-backed billionaires buying Asda will pay less than £800m of their own money to take a controlling stake in the supermarket, a fraction of its £6.8bn valuation, after selling its assets and raising its debts to fund the majority of the purchase price. (FT)
Biden presses ahead with stimulus Joe Biden and congressional Democrats are pushing ahead with plans to pass a $1.9tn economic relief plan without significant support from Republicans — even at the expense of ditching the bipartisanship pledged by the new administration. (FT)
India threatens Twitter over protest bans New Delhi has warned Twitter to re-block access to about 200 accounts that had used a hashtag connected to a farmers’ protest or to face penalties under Indian law. The social media giant originally complied with the request on Monday but unblocked the accounts following uproar from free speech advocates. (FT)
Exclusive: McKinsey fires researchers after policy breaches The consultancy has fired or suspended several members of its investment banking research team as it investigates violations of its policies, in an embarrassing blow for the firm’s fledgling attempt to become a dominant provider of industry insights to Wall Street.
Separately, McKinsey will pay at least $550m to settle US states’ claims that its advice to pharmaceutical companies contributed to the opioid crisis. (FT)
Aung San Suu Kyi charged Aung San Suu Kyi has been charged with breaking Myanmar’s export-import law after police found “illegally imported” walkie-talkie radios at the deposed leader’s home. The country’s military-led government has blocked access to Facebook. Negotiations are needed to avert a bloodbath and to restore the civilian government, writes Gwen Robinson, Nikkei Asia’s editor-at-large. (FT)
Trump’s private banker left Deutsche over real estate deal Rosemary Vrablic left Deutsche Bank as a result of allegations of “undisclosed activities related to a real estate investment”, a regulatory filing shows, in the lender’s first public confirmation of the circumstances of the departure of Donald Trump’s private banker. (FT)
Exclusive: Chinese IPOs underpriced by up to $200bn Initial public offerings in China have undervalued companies by up to $200bn over the past six years, academic research indicates, reflecting a struggle to price listings in the world’s second-biggest equity market. (FT)
The day ahead
BoE quarterly report The Bank of England is expected to hold back on providing further stimulus for the economy on Thursday even as the central bank is poised to downgrade its forecast for growth in 2021. The Czech Republican and Egypt also have rate decisions. (FT)
EU foreign policy chief in Moscow Josep Borrell has vowed to press for Russian activist Alexei Navalny’s release during his visit to Russia.
Read more: For western democracies to offer no reaction beyond verbal criticism to the Kremlin’s assault on the rule of law would look like hypocrisy, even tacit acceptance, writes our editorial board. (FT)
Earnings round-up Companies reporting on Thursday include BT, Ping An Insurance, Royal Dutch Shell, Ralph Lauren, Snap, Unilever, SoftBank, Ford Motor, Peloton, Deutsche Bank, News Corp, Carlyle Group, Yamaha, The New York Times, T-Mobile, Yum Brands, Unilever, Gilead Sciences and Total. (FT)
US House to eject Greene from committees The US House of Representatives will vote to strip Marjorie Taylor Greene of committee assignments as scrutiny intensifies over the Republican lawmaker’s comments spanning QAnon to school shootings. (FT)
What else we’re reading
How the renewable energy race is reshaping politics In a race to curb climate change, countries are rushing to cut fossil fuels, boost clean energy — and transform their economies in the process. As climate concerns gain momentum, even the most unlikely quarters are getting behind the energy transition. What does it mean for the balance of power? (FT)
What’s next for Amazon? Investors have been reassured by the ecommerce giant’s succession plan as Andy Jassy prepares to take the helm. Further, his ascent could even aid Amazon’s defence against calls for a break-up. (FT)
Britain’s battery race with Europe Carmakers let out a sigh of relief when the UK signed its Brexit deal with the EU on Christmas Eve. The prospect of tariffs, which would have crippled the industry and jeopardised Britain’s auto plants, had been avoided. But companies now face a new obstacle: the switch to mass production of electric vehicles. (FT)
Bitcoin boom backstopped by easy-money policies A flood of central bank stimulus and widening interest among retail and institutional investors has sustained the rally in cryptocurrencies even as sceptics warn that the market is in the throes of a bubble. More investors are starting to take notice. This is part of the FT’s Runaway Markets series. (FT)
Tories must choose: Johnson or the Union? The prime minister’s party can try to persuade Scotland to remain within the UK. Or it can stick with leader Boris Johnson, who speaks for a reactionary strand of English Toryism, writes Philip Stephens. Chief adviser Luke Graham has already quit following a dispute over Downing Street’s strategy. (FT)
Podcast of the day
Navalny’s crusade against the Kremlin Gideon Rachman talks to journalists Arkady Ostrovsky and Max Seddon about why Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny decided to return home after he was poisoned, and what his political movement can achieve if its leader is in jail. (FT)