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COMMΞЯCIΛL ΛWΛЯΞNΞSS | 25.03.24

COMMΞЯCIΛL ΛWΛЯΞNΞSS | 25.03.24

A rundown of things that you should know about from last week 25 | 03 | 24

  • EU launches Digital Markets Act probes into Apple, Google and Meta

The EU is really cracking down on big tech companies lately, like Apple, Alphabet (Google), and Meta (Facebook).

They’ve launched new investigations into these companies for possibly breaking the rules laid out in the Digital Markets Act (DMA).

This act puts a lot of pressure on the biggest tech players and can slap them with hefty fines if they’re found guilty of wrongdoing.

Interestingly, out of all the big names in tech, only Amazon, Alphabet, Apple, Meta, Microsoft, and even TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, have to follow these strict rules. And now, the EU is turning its investigative spotlight on three of them. It’s like a high-stakes game of tech regulation. 

  • Amazon invests further $2.75bn in AI company

Amazon is really doubling down on the future of AI by pouring a whopping $2.75 billion into a startup called Anthropic.

This is actually Amazon’s biggest investment ever outside of its own projects. It’s like Amazon saying, ‘Hey, we’re putting our money where our mouth is when it comes to AI.’ They’ve already tossed $1.25 billion into Anthropic’s pot, and just last week, they decided to go all-in with another $2.75 billion.

Why all the fuss? Well, Amazon’s hoping this hefty investment will solidify its spot as a major player in the AI game. Anthropic, the startup they’re backing, has cooked up its very own AI chatbot called Claude.

Think of it as Amazon’s answer to OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard. It’s like they’re all competing in this high-stakes race to create the most impressive AI, and Amazon’s not sitting on the sidelines. They’re diving headfirst into the action.

  • Thames Water left in the lurch by shareholders

Thames Water is trying to keep its head above water in a stormy sea of financial troubles. Last year, they managed to secure a lifeline of £750 million from shareholders to stay afloat. But it’s been tough sailing with a massive £18 billion debt weighing them down.

To turn things around, they announced a £4 billion plan to get back on track, which included raising prices for customers. However, things hit a snag when shareholders decided not to cough up the first chunk of that £750 million lifeline – a £500 million investment. Why? Well, it turns out Thames Water hadn’t quite met all the conditions set by the shareholders.

Now, there’s talk of the government stepping in if Thames Water can’t find new funding. It’s like they’re dangling the possibility of public ownership over Thames Water’s head if they can’t sort things out.

  • Government sells off Natwest stock

Imagine the UK government as someone who’s been holding onto a big chunk of shares in Natwest, kind of like a valuable investment they made back in the day. But now, they’ve decided to cash in a bit more of their stock, bringing their ownership in the bank down to less than 30%. It’s like they’re saying, ‘Time to cash in a bit and diversify our portfolio.’

You see, Natwest, which used to be known as the Royal Bank of Scotland, got into some serious trouble during the 2008 financial crisis and had to be rescued by the government. Back then, the government ended up owning a whopping 84% of the bank. But things have been looking up for Natwest lately – they’ve managed to turn things around and start making a profit again.

So now, the government still holds onto about 29.82% of Natwest, which is worth a pretty penny – around £7 billion to be exact. The plan is to sell off the rest of their shares by 2026, as long as Natwest’s share price stays strong. It’s like they’re slowly but surely letting go of their stake in the bank, hoping to cash in while the going’s good

  • FTX founder sentenced to 25 years

The co-founder of FTX, Sam Bankman-Fried has been sentenced to 25 years in prison on multiple charges of defrauding customers by mishandling a staggering $8 billion of their money.

Instead of looking out for his customers, Sam used their hard-earned money for his own personal gain. He splurged on property, dabbled in political donations, and lived a lavish lifestyle. But now, the consequences are catching up with him.

Surprisingly, despite the severity of his crimes, the judge decided to give Sam a bit of leniency.

As well as serving this sentence, Sam’s also facing a hefty  jaw-dropping $11 billion in personal assets to compensate his victims. It’s like a small measure of justice for those who were wronged by his actions. 

  • FCA clamps down on ‘finfluencers’ hiding financial risks in their content

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) are our guardian angels looking out for everyday folks navigating the complex world of finance.

They’ve noticed a trend – lots of social media influencers who dish out financial advice often forget to mention the risks involved in the products they’re promoting. It’s like they’re painting a picture of easy gains without mentioning the bumps along the way.

So, the FCA has stepped in with some new rules for these so-called ‘finfluencers.’ Now, when they’re promoting financial products, they’ve got to be upfront about the risks involved.

But it’s not just about sticking a warning label in the fine print. Oh no, these risk warnings need to be front and center throughout the video, not just tucked away in the caption. Plus, these influencers are now on notice – they can’t go around bragging about huge financial gains without the receipts to back it up.

A whopping 80% of millennials and Gen Z are turning to social media for financial advice. That’s a big chunk of the population getting their money tips from Instagram and TikTok. So, the FCA’s keeping a close eye on this space.

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