UniCredit plans bid for Commerzbank: FT

UniCredit plans bid for Commerzbank: FT

BENGALURU/FRANKFURT (Reuters) – UniCredit SpA is preparing a rival multi-billion-euro bid to take control of Commerzbank AG, as Deutsche Bank AG is facing troubles with its move to buy its rival German lender, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: A sign for an ATM of Commerzbank is seen next to the headquarters of Deutsche Bank (R) in Frankfurt, Germany, March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo

The Italian lender plans to buy a sizeable stake in Commerzbank and merge it with HypoVereinsbank, the German lender it already owns, the paper said, citing people familiar with the matter.

Shares in Commerzbank were up 3.6 percent in pre-market trade by 0559 GMT, while Deutsche Bank stock was seen opening 0.4 percent higher.

UniCredit, Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank all declined to comment on the report.

The combined entity would be based in Germany while UniCredit would maintain its headquarters and listing in Milan, the report said.

Reuters reported in 2017 that UniCredit had told Berlin it was interested in eventually merging with Commerzbank, with the bank later denying having an interest in the German lender.

Germany’s two top banks, Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, said on March 17 they were in talks to merge.

The FT’s report on UniCredit’s interest in Commerzbank comes a day after it was reported that the two German lenders were divided over the pace of their merger talks.

Commerzbank would like to see a speedy decision on whether to deepen the discussions or not, while Deutsche Bank needs more time.

The FT reported that one of the parties might decide to walk away from the talks, adding a significant announcement could be made as early as this weekend, citing people briefed on the discussions.

The Commerzbank board is due to decide on April 9 whether to intensify merger talks with Deutsche Bank or back away from a deal, German business weekly WirtschaftsWoche said on Wednesday.

Reporting by Gaurika Juneja in Bengaluru and Tom Sims in Frankfurt; Additional reporting by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier and David Holmes

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China refuses to concede on U.S. demands to ease curbs on tech firms: FT

China refuses to concede on U.S. demands to ease curbs on tech firms: FT

FILE PHOTO: Chinese staffers adjust U.S. and Chinese flags before the opening session of trade negotiations between U.S. and Chinese trade representatives at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. Mark Schiefelbein/Pool via REUTERS

(Reuters) – Ahead of fresh high-level trade talks this week, China is not conceding to U.S. demands to ease curbs on technology companies, the Financial Times reported on Sunday, citing three people briefed on the discussions.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are scheduled to travel to Beijing for talks starting on March 28, the White House said on Saturday.

The FT report said Beijing had yet to offer “meaningful concessions” to U.S. requests for China to stop discriminating against foreign cloud computing providers, to reduce limits on overseas data transfers and to relax a requirement for companies to store data locally.

China made an initial offer on digital trade that the United States judged as insufficient, the report said, citing a source.

China then retracted the offer after the United States demanded stronger pledges, the report said, without giving further details.

The White House and China’s Commerce Ministry did not respond to requests from Reuters for comment on Sunday.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday that the talks aimed at resolving the trade dispute were progressing and a final agreement seemed probable.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Neil Fullick

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Investor group calls on Lyft to scrap dual-class share structure plan: FT

Investor group calls on Lyft to scrap dual-class share structure plan: FT

An electric scooter from the ride sharing company Lyft is shown on a downtown sidewalk in San Diego, California, U.S., March 15, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake

(Reuters) – A group of investors has called on Lyft Inc’s board to scrap a proposed dual-class share structure, as the ride hailing company pitches its initial public offering to investors next week, the Financial Times reported on Saturday.

San Francisco-based Lyft’s planned IPO includes a dual-class stock structure, with one class of shareholders getting 20 votes per share and another getting one vote per share.

The investor group, in a letter addressed to the company’s directors, said it should stick with its single class of shares with one vote each, the report said.

If the company’s board fails to resolve the issue, it should adopt a “sunset” provision to phase out the extra voting rights within seven years, the letter said, according to the newspaper.

The letter was signed by investors from Britain’s Local Authority Pension Fund Forum, BNP Paribas Asset Management, pension funds representing public employees in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Ohio, the Teamsters union and United Auto Workers union retirees, the newspaper said.

Lyft did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

“With a dual-class structure, Lyft is basically shielding itself and company insiders against shareholders who deserve a voice. Outsized control among an unaccountable few is an unnecessary risk — and Lyft should go back to the drawing board,” New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer said, according to the Financial Times. Stringer oversees the city’s pension funds.

Reporting by Akshay Balan in Bengaluru; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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