Softbank Acquires 40 Percent of Norwegian Autostore
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Softbank Group Corp acquires a 40 percent stake in Norwegian warehouse technology company Autostore for $2.8 billion. The Japanese investment holding company is thus focusing on the use of robots and automation in warehouses. Autostore is controlled by private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners, with Sweden's EQT AB holding a minority stake. In total, the deal values Autostore at $7.7 billion, according to the companies involved. Thomas H. Lee Partners will remain a majority shareholder after Softbank's entry. Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son had predicted in 2017 that intelligent robots would outnumber humans on the planet within 30 years. Autostore enables the fully automated operation of warehouses, where robots retrieve the required parts and products from the shelves and bring them to the required location. The company plans to turn a profit for the first time this year. Japan's Softbank also plans to take a $1.2 billion stake in U.S.-based Invitae Corp, a provider of genetic testing, to expand its portfolio of biotech and life-sciences companies.
The Swiss stock market ended trading on Maundy Thursday with a plus. The trillion infrastructure program presented by US President Joe Biden had a supporting effect. For the shares in the SMI went almost exclusively up. However, the index heavyweight Nestle (+0.2%) lagged significantly behind and was among the laggards. The other two heavyweights - Roche (barely changed) and Novartis (+0.5%) - also trailed the market. The SMI gained 0.6 percent to 11,118 points. Among the 20 SMI stocks, there were 18 price gainers and two losers. 46.33 (previously: 70) million shares were traded. Meanwhile, Credit Suisse (+2.6%) showed a recovery movement after a trading week characterized by heavy losses. The share had been massively affected by the default of the U.S. hedge fund Archegos in recent days. Following Credit Suisse, UBS gained 1.7 percent. The share of asset manager Partners Group was up 1.9 percent. Insurance stocks were also well in the market: Swiss Life (+1.5%), Zurich (+0.8%), Swiss Re (+0.6%).
European equity markets closed higher on Thursday, on the eve of a four-day Easter weekend, helped by encouraging indicators in the Eurozone and an easing of long-term rates. In addition, announcements by U.S. President Joe Biden on his plan to invest in infrastructure in the United States tempered the impact of new restrictive measures imposed in France to curb the spread of Covid-19. The Stoxx Europe 600 index rose 0.6% to 432.2 points. In Paris, the CAC 40 gained 0.6% and 0.7% respectively. In Frankfurt, the DAX 30 rose 0.7% and the FTSE 100 in London gained 0.4%. Atos (-12.4%) said its auditors had issued a work limitation reserve on two U.S. legal entities that contributed 11% of the IT services group's consolidated revenue and 9% of its operating margin in 2020. Solutions 30 (+27.6%) indicated that the independent audit it had entrusted to the firms Didier Kling Expertises & Conseil and Deloitte confirmed the unfounded and erroneous nature of the accusations made against the company. Vinci (+2.9%) has signed an agreement to acquire the energy activities of the Spanish group ACS for 4.9 billion euros, payable entirely in cash.
Surprisingly, strong domestic economic data drove the U.S. stock markets sharply higher on Monday. The Dow Jones index and the S&P 500 marked new record highs on the first trading day after the long Easter weekend. Already the labor market data published on Good Friday significantly exceeded economists' expectations. The Dow rose 1.1 percent to 33,527 points. The S&P-500 and Nasdaq composite gained 1.4 and 1.7 percent, respectively. The upward movement was led by the communications and technology sectors, with average gains of 2.3 percent each. Energy stocks were the weakest sector. They followed oil prices downwards and lost an average of 2.4 percent. Tesla shares were up 4.4 percent. The electric carmaker delivered around 184,000 electric vehicles worldwide in the first quarter, beating analysts' forecasts, which had only expected sales of around 168,000 vehicles. The share price of Google parent Alphabet advanced 4.2 percent. In the legal dispute with Oracle (+3.3%) over the Java programming language, Google won a legal victory. The Supreme Court in Washington ruled that Google had not violated copyright law by using Java. Facebook shares climbed 3.4 percent to a record high. It thus showed itself unimpressed by bad news: The data of more than 500 million Facebook users, which had been captured in 2019, have been published on the Internet in a hacker forum. Amazon (+2.1%) also saw criticism of the group's treatment of its employees roll off its back. Apple shares gained 2.4 percent. South Korea's LG Electronics plans to give up its loss-making cell phone division this year.
On the East Asian stock exchanges, the minus signs predominate in the course of trading on Tuesday. In Shanghai, where business was still quiet the previous day, it goes down by 0.3 percent. In Tokyo, where it had gone up strongly on Easter Monday, the Nikkei index gives after initial gains with 1.1 percent a large part of the gains again, slowed in part by the slightly firmer yen. In Seoul, the trend is narrowly maintained. The Hang Seng takes a holiday break.
The 10-year Treasury bond tightened again, by 4 basis points to 1.72%, after rising on Friday in reaction to the employment report.
Citi increases Henkel target to EUR 96 (88) - Neutral
Warburg raises BASF target to EUR 79 (77) - Buy
JPM upgrades Givaudan target to CHF 3,710 (3,530) - Neutral
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