From a potential Currys buyout to Apple's Vision Pro and our grip on reality – Here are today's Headlines

Currys is a household name in the British electronics retail scene.

From a potential Currys buyout to Apple's Vision Pro and our grip on reality – Here are today's Headlines
A person carries a television outside a Currys store in London, Britain, November 22, 2021. Picture taken November 22, 2021. REUTERS/May James/File Photo

To start off, we're looking into: is eyeing Currys

The backstory: Currys is a household name in the British electronics retail scene. But in the last several years, it hit a rough patch. The company's value plummeted by nearly 60%, mainly due to people tightening their budgets because of a cost of living crisis. So, to weather the storm, Currys, then called Dixons Carphone, took measures like shutting down struggling Carphone Warehouse stores, stopping dividends to shareholders, cutting down on pensions and even selling its stores in Greece and Cyprus to tackle its debts.

On the other side of the world,, a heavyweight in China's online shopping arena, is facing its own set of challenges. The company has been duking it out with bigwigs like Alibaba's Tmall and newer players like PDD Holdings. To stay ahead of the game, is eyeing international expansion, just like many other Chinese tech giants. In a recent letter to its employees, the company hinted at ramping up its logistics in “major countries” over the next few years to maintain its competitive edge.

More recently: Despite Currys' recent struggles, the company reported strong Christmas sales last month, signaling a potential turnaround. So, it’s attracted attention from buyers, like Elliott Investment Management, who are interested in getting in on the company’s comeback at a bargain price. But just this past weekend, Currys gave Elliott's bid of 62 pence per share, totaling £700 million (US$883 million), the cold shoulder, saying that it undervalued the company. 

The development: confirmed on Monday that it's thinking about making a cash offer for Currys. Click the link here for more.

Capital One to buy Discover

Capital One Discover
Signage is seen outside a Capital One Bank in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 12, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

The backstory: In the US, there's been ongoing debate about whether big banks should be allowed to get even bigger. The discussion intensified last year when major banks started buying up failing ones, like when JPMorgan snagged First Republic Bank. Back in 2021, US President Joe Biden signed the Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy, which, among other topics, urged regulators to take a close look at these mergers. In response, the Justice Department said it would be checking mergers more carefully for any antitrust problems, while the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency proposed slowing down merger approvals and making the process more transparent. At the same time, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also wanted stricter regulations on credit card fees.

Now, in the midst of all this, there are two major players: Discover Financial Services and Capital One. Discover has been around since the mid-’80s, offering a range of financial services, although it's not as massive as Visa or Mastercard. On the other hand, you've got Capital One, valued at about US$52 billion and backed by household-name investor Warren Buffett. According to Nilson, Capital One is ranked fourth in the US credit card market, with Discover behind in sixth place. 

The development: Capital One announced plans to buy Discover in a deal worth US$35.3 billion. This deal would create the sixth-largest US bank by assets, putting it in direct competition with giants like JPMorgan and Citigroup. Click the link here for more.

Nintendo Switch 2 reportedly delayed

Nintendo Switch 2
Signage for the Nintendo Switch is seen in Manhattan, New York, U.S., Dec. 7, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

The backstory: World-renowned Japanese video game company, Nintendo, is known for its game consoles like Gameboy, the Nintendo DS, the Wii and the Switch as well as popular video game franchises like Mario, The Legend of Zelda and Pokémon. In 2017, Nintendo released its Switch, which many gamers and those in the industry considered to be the first truly hybrid console, with its ability to switch between a portable and a home console. The Switch is currently the third-highest-selling console of all time, behind the PlayStation 2 and the company’s own Nintendo DS. 

The development: Nintendo has reportedly told its game publishing partners that its next-generation Switch, which was set to release in the last quarter of this year, will be delayed until the early months of next year. As a result, Nintendo’s shares took a dive by as much as 8.8%. Click the link here for more.

To end, we'll look into:

Will tech like Apple’s Vision Pro shake our grip on reality?

Vision Pro
A customer uses Apple's Vision Pro headset at the Apple Fifth Avenue store in Manhattan in New York City, U.S., February 2, 2024. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Apple’s Vision Pro is the newest gadget on the mixed or augmented reality (AR) market, and Apple is touting it as a new era in “spatial computing.” It’s been available for a little over two weeks now, and Apple fans everywhere are marveling at its features – from Zoom calls seemingly popping up right in your living room to state-of-the-art entertainment experiences.

But we’ve also seen some people wearing the headset in public in some inappropriate situations – like while driving a car, for example. This and the very nature of the immersive experience this new gadget offers brings up one important question. Can technology like the Vision Pro make us lose touch with reality? 

It’s no secret that new tech takes time for us humans to adapt to – in fact, before the release of the iPhone in 2007, none of us were used to carrying around a whole computer in our pocket. But now, with the Vision Pro, we’re essentially able to put a computer right on our face and transform the reality we’re sitting in. Click the link here for more.

In other news ...


📉Market snapshot and key quotes:

  • In the US: US stocks fell on Tuesday, partly because of Nvidia's drop before its earnings report. 
  • In Hong Kong: Hong Kong stocks rose on Tuesday as Beijing lowered a key lending rate.

📊Top gainers/losers and company news:

  • In the US: Nvidia dropped over 4% before its Wednesday earnings.
  • Walmart rose over 3% after beating Q4 earnings expectations and announcing plans to buy TV maker Vizio.
  • In Hong Kong: Xpeng saw a drop of over 3%, BYD declined by over 2%, and NIO fell by 1.9%.

👀The numbers everyone is watching:

  • In the US: In the US, the Fed January meeting minutes will be released, and Nvidia will report earnings.
  • In Hong Kong: China's five-year loan rate dropped to 3.95%, aiming to boost the property market, while the one-year rate remains at 3.45%.

📅To check out our economic calendar for this week, click here.

More headlines ...

🚢"Panic" on Taiwanese tourist boat: Last week, a Chinese coast guard condemned the deaths of two fishermen who drowned when their boat capsized after being pursued by Taiwanese patrol vessels. Two other mainland fishermen who survived the pursuit and were being held for questioning returned home on Tuesday. But another incident has unfolded, with Taiwan accusing China of causing "panic" on a tourist boat after six Chinese officials boarded it to inspect documents. 

📢Lufthansa strike: German airline Lufthansa has canceled 80-90% of its flights from German airports, affecting 200,000 passengers, due to a ground staff strike. The Verdi union announced the strike on Sunday, demanding pay raises of 12.5%, or at least €500 (US$538.85) more per month for around 25,000 employees working in check-in, aircraft handling, maintenance and freight.

💻Navalny's widow's X account briefly suspended: Following the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, his widow, Yulia Navalnaya, accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of killing her husband. Navalnaya's account on Elon Musk's social media platform X was briefly suspended after she posted a video challenging Putin on her husband's death. X said her account was mistakenly flagged in its automated system by a "defense mechanism against manipulation and spam." The company said it restored the account as soon as it noticed the error, adding that it would update the automated program. Meanwhile, the US has said it's preparing a package of new sanctions on Russia in response to Navalny's death, which will be revealed on Friday. 

🚂India to EU link: China's massive Belt and Road Initiative is a project that aims to build out infrastructure that would link East Asia and Europe. Now, in a counter to China's plans, France is preparing a meeting to discuss an infrastructure link that would connect India to Europe through the Middle East. The project, known as IMEC, would do this through a massive network of railways, ships, gas pipelines and internet cables. 

✈️China's C919 sells: We reported yesterday that China's homegrown passenger aircraft made its first flight outside of Chinese territory at Asia's biggest airshow in Singapore on Sunday. This has sparked competition among big aircraft manufacturers like Boeing and Airbus, with Tibet Airlines signing a deal for 40 C919 jets and 10 of China's ARJ21 regional jets.

👃Stinky ship raises animal welfare concerns: Many animal rights groups are against importing and exporting live animals because of the long voyages and conditions that can stress and injure the animals. Now, people are worried about the welfare of 19,000 cattle aboard a 190-meter ship sailing from Brazil to Iraq. Two weeks after the ship left Brazil, docking in Cape Town, South Africa, residents complained about a stench coming from the vessel. On Sunday, the animal protection group the National Council of SPCAs said a team, including a veterinary consultant, boarded the ship to check out its conditions. "The stench on board is unimaginable, yet the animals face this every single day," the group said in a statement. The City of Cape Town also condemned the "horrific conditions" on the ship. The vessel was expected to depart on Tuesday. 

🧑‍⚖️Assange extradition hearing: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is wanted by the US to face espionage charges over WikiLeaks' publication of secret military and diplomatic files on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. On Tuesday, Assange was feeling under the weather and was absent from a London court in what is seen as his last effort to avoid extradition to the US.

👮‍♀️Cybercrime group Lockbit is busted: Four members from one of the world's most notorious cybercrime gangs, ransomware group Lockbit, have been arrested and indicted. Two Russian nationals were arrested in New Jersey after an international operation involving 10 countries, including the US, the UK, Poland and Ukraine. Another two members were arrested in Poland and Ukraine. "As of today, Lockbit is effectively redundant," said the Director General of the National Crime Agency. Some of Lockbit's victims include Boeing, the US arm of China's ICBC and Britain's Royal Mail.

🍟McDonald's China investment: China is McDonald's second-biggest market. A Citic consortium, largely Trustar Capital, currently holds a 52% stake in McDonald's China business and is reportedly looking to transfer its investment to a new vehicle. According to insiders speaking to Bloomberg, Middle East and Chinese sovereign wealth funds are considering a joint investment as minority shareholders. Talks are ongoing and a potential agreement could be one to two months away if negotiations on valuation are successful.  

🏈Fubo lawsuit: We recently reported that ESPN, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery were teaming up to launch a sports streaming service. Well, now, FuboTV has filed a lawsuit to block the venture, saying the three companies are using their power to hinder Fubo’s business. The US Justice Department already has plans to look into the deal over some antitrust concerns, according to insiders speaking with Bloomberg.

🤖Tinder verification: The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and deepfakes are making things more complicated when it comes to telling what's real and what's not. This extends even to dating apps, where there's been a rise in scams originating from fake profiles. Now, Tinder is rolling out a new verification process in certain markets that requires a valid driver’s license or passport and a self-recorded video to weed out these fake accounts.

👩‍⚖️Germany to legalize cannabis: By Friday, Germany's Parliament is set to vote on legislation that'll decriminalize the personal use of cannabis, which would be effective from April 1 if passed. This would allow adults to possess up to 25 grams of cannabis, grow a maximum of three plants for private consumption and grow it in nonprofit cannabis clubs with memberships limited to 500 people. 

🚘Putin's gift to Kim: Russian President Vladimir Putin has gifted North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un an Aurus, a Russian-made luxury car, for his personal use, as Kim is a limo and luxury car enthusiast. While Kim's sister thanked him for the gift, South Korea called on Russia to adhere to the UN Security Council's sanctions that prohibit the export of luxury goods to North Korea as punishment for its nuclear weapons program.

🫰Swift's grant from Singapore: Taylor Swift will perform at six sold-out shows in Singapore in early March – her only stop in Southeast Asia – and was given a grant by the government to attract her to the city-state. Then, Thai PM Srettha Thavisin told a business forum on Friday that the Singapore government had paid Swift 100 million baht (US$2.77 million) per show, allegedly on the condition that Singapore would be the only country she books concerts at in Southeast Asia. When reports of this alleged deal surfaced, Hong Kong's John Lee said the city must be "relentless" in attracting global stars like Swift as well as other mega sporting and cultural events in an effort to boost Hong Kong's international status. 

📈Hong Kong's population rises: Hong Kong's birth rate has risen for the first time in six years, bringing the total population to 7.5 million. According to the Census and Statistics Department, more residents are also returning since the city went back to normality post-COVID. 

🪵Wooden Eiffel replica: The Summer 2024 Olympics in Paris are coming up later this year. Ahead of the event, two friends have built a 16-meter (52-foot) high replica of the Eiffel Tower from recycled wood, which they are hoping to display along the torch relay and around other Olympic sites if they receive authorization. "The project was to build a wooden Eiffel Tower replica using as much recycled material as possible ... to show that with material due to be thrown away, we can build great things," one of the men said.

Paris Olympics
French carpenter Frederic Malmezac and Sylvain Bouchard, a sports enthusiast with disability, pose in front of a 16-meter replica of the Eiffel Tower built from recycled wood which they hope to display along the path of the Olympic torch relay and on Olympic sites for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, in La Chevroliere, near Nantes, France, February 19, 2024. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

Quiz Time!

What Chinese e-commerce company is looking to buy UK retail chain Currys?

  1. PDD Holdings
  2. Alibaba
  4. Meituan

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Written and put together by Joey Fung, Alisha Khan and Christine Dulion

**The answer to the quiz is [3]