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Monday, 18 February 2019

What we’re tracking on 18 February 2019

The news is so slow this morning, it practically hurts. But what news there is … is big, including

  • Apparent reconciliation between the state and high-profile foreign investors Union Fenosa Gas (in which Eni is a major shareholder) and Uber
  • A threat from a third foreign investor to file for international arbitration
  • And reported US interest in an acquisition in the nation’s banking sector.

New Zealand Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor is in town this week to talk trade with Trade Minister Amr Nassar and Agriculture Minister Ezzedin Abu Steit, the government said in a statement.

Speaking of agricultural exports:

^^ Investors love this cow. Or, more to the point, the prospect of making a return investing in the farmland on which it grazes. Here’s why it matters:

There is at least USD 2 tn in ‘dry powder’ committed to private capital funds at the moment as long-term international institutional investors (think: pension funds, endowments, sovereign wealth funds) seek higher returns, Robin Wigglesworth writes for the Financial Times, citing data from Preqin. The newfound popularity of the asset class (it’s just a wee bit broader than an asset class, spanning farmland and infrastructure to venture capital, direct lending and private equity) “raises a host of issues with murky implications for investors, private markets and the broader financial system,” the former Mideast correspondent writes.

But private markets are the new public markets… Regular readers know how much we enjoy Bloomberg’s Matt Levine, who has long argued that “the private markets are now where the money is. If you are a company that is raising money, the odds are that you are doing it privately. If you are a company that is doing a share buyback, on the other hand, the odds are that you are a public company. That sorting is not absolute, but it is a useful guide: You stay private to raise money and build your business and grow; you go public to allow your investors to cash out.”

In miscellany worth knowing this morning:

Big banks are quietly currying favor with Qatar as the Saudi-led blockade rumbles on and options promised by Riyadh fail to materialize, Bloomberg writes. The news comes at the same time as the Qatar Financial Center is looking to attract media, fintech and general tech businesses as well as sports services providers.

Russia has arrested the American founder of a private-equity firm, alleging he siphoned off more than USD 37 mn from a bank in which his firm, Baring Vostok Capital Partners, has a controlling stake. The PE guy counters that he has been “embroiled in a dispute with other shareholders [in the bank] over plans to recapitalize it,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Both the UK and Canada have thrown Huawei a lifeline. British intelligence has decided it is “possible to mitigate the risk from using Huawei equipment in 5G networks,” the Financial Times reports, while Canada could face a lawsuit from the Chinese giant if it closes the door to sales of 5G technology, CBC says.

To entertain yourself on your morning commute:

Is the way you speak a tell about where you’re from? Two tools from the New York Times help you create personal dialect maps — tell ‘em how youse say “y’all” and they’ll tell you where you’re likely from. They’re fun (and, in at least two cases, eerily accurate) with which to play even if you’re not from the United States / Ireland / Britain:

Because it is never too early to pine for a tech toy or make your Christmas wish list:

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