COMPANY NEWS IN BRIEF

14 October 2020 | Business

SoftBank seeks funding for blank-cheque firm

SoftBank Group Corp's Vision Fund is targeting external funding for a blank-cheque acquisition company it plans to launch, a person familiar with the matter said, in a return to marketing its investing chops after a period of retrenchment.

SoftBank may put also its own capital into the company, whose size is undetermined, the person said, declining to be identified as the information is not public.

Details of the vehicle will be revealed in the next two weeks, the person said, in line with comments reported by media from fund head Rajeev Misra at a Milken Institute conference.

The launch would see SoftBank joining the fashion for special purpose acquisition companies (SPAC) - shell vehicles that raise money in an initial public offering (IPO) before merging with a private company.

Such vehicles are being used to take a record number of company’s public, bypassing the traditional IPO, with SoftBank-backed home-selling platform Open-door last month announcing plans to list through such a merger. – Nampa/Reuters

Revolut plans to apply for US banking license

Digital banking app Revolut is planning to apply for a bank charter with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and California’s Division of Financial Institutions within weeks, CNBC reported.

Even though Revolut’s bank charter will be with California, it will allow the lender to operate widely throughout the United States through interstate agreements.

Revolut, which raised US$500 million in a fresh funding round at a valuation of US$5.5 billion earlier this year, will become the latest fintech company seeking to become a regulated bank.

In March, the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corp approved payment company Square Inc's application to become a bank under a special charter.

Earlier this year, San Francisco-based online lender Lending Club Corp bought Radius Bank for US$185 million in part to gain a national bank charter. Revolut declined to comment. - Nampa/Reuters

Foxconn short of 2019 jobs pledge

A Wisconsin factory hailed by President Donald Trump as proof he was reviving US manufacturing did not create enough jobs in 2019 to earn its owner Foxconn Technology Group tax credits, the state said on Monday, the second year it has missed its targets.

In a letter to the Taiwan-based company’s Vice Chairman Jay Lee, Wisconsin’s economic development agency said Foxconn was a long way away from building the large TV screens it had proposed in 2017, when it promised to eventually create 13 000 jobs in the state.

The Apple Inc supplier’s plans for the Mount Pleasant factory are now unclear, the letter from The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) said.

The planned US$10 billion, 20-million-square-foot campus was hailed by the White House as the largest investment for a brand-new location by a foreign-based company in US history.

Wisconsin’s Democratic Governor Tony Evers, who inherited a deal from his Republican predecessor to give Foxconn US$4 billion in tax breaks and other incentives when he took office in 2019, has sought to renegotiate the state’s contract with the firm. - Nampa/Reuters

Equitrans Corp to evaluate Mountain Valley

Equitrans Midstream Corp said it will evaluate the cost and timing of the completion of the Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline based on ongoing litigation and upcoming federal approvals.

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave Mountain Valley permission late Friday to resume some construction on its US$5.4 billion to US$5.7 billion pipeline, which runs from Virginia to West Virginia.

“As the litigation process progresses and as we receive additional information from FERC regarding potentially releasing the remainder of the route for construction, Mountain Valley will continue to evaluate its current construction plans, budget, and schedule,” Equitrans said.

Mountain Valley is one of several US oil and gas pipelines delayed by regulatory and legal fights with environmental and local groups that found problems with federal permits issued by the Trump administration.

ERC suspended work on Mountain Valley a year ago due to litigation over the project’s Biological Opinion from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which allows construction in areas inhabited by endangered and threatened species. - Nampa/Reuters

Adobe puts intelligence tools into software

Adobe Inc said that it has put a new set of artificial intelligence tools into its digital marketing software with the aim of helping companies sharpen their marketing campaigns.

Once known for applications like Photoshop, Adobe has become one of the biggest providers of software for running such campaigns, which businesses use to decide which of thousands of images and pieces of written to content to show to potential customers.

Growth in its marketing software division has helped send shares up nearly 50% this year.

The artificial intelligence features released on Monday aid that effort by, for example, scanning and labelling thousands of product images by colour and shape, or using natural-language processing technology to read an article to determine its subject.

That makes it easier for marketing campaigns to make a recommendation, whether that means showing a person browsing an e-commerce site a pair of shoes similar to ones they have previously viewed or a news website suggesting a story on a similar subject to the one just read. - Nampa/Reuters

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