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    Mergers & Acquisitions, Population Woes, Facebook’s Cryptocurrency

    Nobody ‘Likes’ Facebook’s Libra

    As we all know, Facebook’s reputation has taken something of a turn in the past couple years. What was once hottest website to post digital camera selfies of your new side bangs, is now attempting to develop Libra, a new crypto-currency. And people aren’t buying it.
     
    Libra, the digital-only currency (which has not yet launched) will be traded, held, sent, and received by users on Facebook’s apps Messenger and Whatsapp, as well as some social media competitors. Basically, you could send, in Libra’s cryptocurrency, your share of the brunch bill to a friend via Facebook Messenger. Or even save money for a down payment on your Whatsapp account.
     
    Unlike bitcoin, Libra will supposedly be quick and inexpensive to trade, and its value will be less volatile. Libra will be backed by a basket of global currencies, which will help prevent the extreme fluctuations bitcoin has become known for.
     
    Who will govern Libra? The Libra Association is composed of a range of organizations, including financial firms and NGOs, and local regulators will have access to Libra transactions.

    Facebook claims it will take a step back, and allow the Libra Association to govern the currency. However, in the past few weeks several prominent Association members, including Stripe, EBay, Visa, PayPal, and Mastercard have withdrawn from the group, citing regulatory uncertainty, leaving many to question whether the project has a fighting chance.
     
    In response, the Zuck has increasingly promoted the social benefits of a digitally accessible currency. There are more than a billion people in the world without bank accounts, which poses a huge impediment to solving global poverty – Zuckerberg claims cryptocurrency could change that. But some doubt whether Facebook, the company responsible for large-scale mismanagement of personal data and misinformation peddling, is the best firm for the job.
     
    Zuckerberg isn’t giving up just yet though – it’s likely Libra will continue to be at the top of regulators’ minds in the coming months as Facebook seeks approval to launch Libra’s operations. Stay tuned.

     


     

    Forget Robots – We Need People

    Canada – it’s a BIG country with a SMALL population. In fact, it has one of the smallest population densities per square mile. The plus side? So much PERSONAL SPACE. The downside? The nation as a whole is less competitive on a global economic scale when compared to the likes of the US, China, etc.

    Pros and cons right?

    A smaller population can be problematic for the financial and economic health of a country, especially when potential labour shortages, an aging population and technological changes are on the cards. 

    In comes The Century Initiative.

    Founded in 2016 by six powerful Canadian execs, The Century Group is an organization “dedicated to responsibly growing the population of Canada” to 100 million by the year 2100 to combat the issues that come along with having a small population.

    In a report published on Thursday, they outline their recommendations on how, and why, Canada should achieve this goal.

    For starters, The Century Initiative estimates that if the country reached 100 million people in 80 years, the country could achieve a potential annual economic growth of 2.6% – nearly a full percentage point higher than the current level. Plus, a bigger population means a larger domestic consumer market, which would help Canadian businesses scale up and compete internationally.

    Achieving this goal means a significant increase in immigration intake – it goes without saying that not everyone is totally on board with the idea of this. 

    Here are the 10 key points the organization has outlined in order for Canada to achieve their ambitious population target:

    1. Set targets to begin increasing immigration immediately

      2. Increase early childhood support for Canadians who want bigger families

      3. Leverage under-represented talent in the labour force

      4. Build infrastructure to accommodate a bigger Canada

      5. Develop greater density in mega-regions

      6. Look to expand in the near and far north

      7. Invest in a globally ranked education system that can be a magnet for top talent

      8. Attract and develop talent with the skills for the digital age

      9. Scale innovation and entrepreneurship

      10. Educate Canadians about the economic case for immigration

     


     

    M&A Wrap-Up

    Lots of moving and shaking this week… so we’ve summarized the important stuff in a quicky format with links if you want to learn more.
     
    SoftBank buys 80% of WeWork
    SoftBank, a Japanese investment firm, agreed to purchase an 80% stake in WeWork for $10 billion. Following the purchase, WeWork is valued at $8 billion – a far cry from its peak valuation of $47 billion only 10 months ago.  The purchase puts CEO Adam Neumann out of a job, but don’t feel sorry for him – his reported payout was $1.7 billion USD. Yes, you read that right, billion with a ‘B’. Capitalism, people.
     
    LVMH offers to buy Tiffany
    Tiffany & Co, currently valued at $11.8 billion, was propositioned by LVMH late last week.  LVMH, which owns a variety of luxury brands including Fendi, Christian Dior, and Louis Vuitton, has been focusing on expanding their US market presence for years. Conversely, US-based Tiffany & Co has been struggling internationally, particularly in China due to higher tariffs. No word on whether Tiffany will accept the offer, but they have hired external council to evaluate.
     
    Hudson’s Bay went private
    After months of negotiation, a group of HBC shareholders took the company private at a price of $10.30 per share.  Prior to the buyback, this group of shareholders owned 57% of HBC.  The new full private owners have ties to Richard Baker (Chairman of HBC), Rhone Capital, WeWork Property Advisors, Hanover Investments, and Abram Capital Management.
     
    Bidding War for Just Eat
    Naspers, a South African tech conglomerate, began a hostile takeover of British company, Just Eat.  Naspers put forward an all cash offer of $8 billion CAD to prevent Just Eat from merging with Takeaway.com, which would create the largest online food delivery business outside of China.  News of the potential takeover sent Just Eats stock price up 26%.  The move by Naspers will probably trigger at bidding war over Just Eat.

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