NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - Merger talks between Altria and Philip Morris International are off, but a deal could still rise from the ashes. The idea of a $187 billion combination has sputtered amid turmoil at Juul Labs, of which Altria owns 35%. The market is already suggesting that the vaping upstart is worth less than what Altria paid in December 2018. If it continues to fall, the logic of a combination could bring Philip Morris back for another pull.
NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - If there’s a company WeWork wishes it were, it could be Airbnb. The office-sharing firm’s initial public offering has been postponed because investors took a look at the underlying business, as well as the company’s governance, and decided they wanted none of it at anything like the company’s $47 billion private-market valuation – or indeed at half that, or less. Although Airbnb is another overgrown upstart in the space-sharing business, its initial public offering, targeted for 2020 according to the company on Thursday, may succeed in many of the ways WeWork’s is failing.
NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - Juul Labs has discovered the fountain of premature aging. The e-cigarettes it sells were intended as a safer alternative to smoking, but now lawmakers are treating them like a menace. Growth markets, such as China and India, are receding from view and Juul’s $38 billion valuation from last year has probably gone up in smoke. However, all of this doesn’t mean that vaping is dead, or that e-cigarettes won’t be profitable.
NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - A new app kerfuffle shows that fun still trumps privacy concerns. Consumers love FaceApp’s filter for making selfies look older or sexier, but its Russian ownership has suddenly sparked worries about potential data misuse. Yet the app isn’t new, and people have been posting their images on social media for years. It’s past time for regulators to set some boundaries.
NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - Amazon.com’s data deal is inviting D.C. scrutiny. As its executives appeared at an antitrust hearing in Congress alongside those of other tech firms, the e-commerce giant offered customers $10 to track their web browsing. It’s a smart way to grab business from rivals, and the price low-balls the value of user data. That’s a demonstration of how dominance works.
NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters Breakingviews) - At some point, antitrust investigations of Google and Amazon.com become a no-brainer. As a step in that direction, the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department, which police U.S. competition issues, have divvied up responsibility for the tech giants, according to news reports. That could create ammo for future fights. Facebook ought to worry too.
NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - Qualcomm, T-Mobile US and Sprint have been thrown for a loop this week. And they and their investors have the random nature of oversight in President Donald Trump’s administration to thank for it.
NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - WeWork is getting more complex as it readies for an initial public offering, but its central problem remains simple. The shared-office firm has set up a unit to buy buildings it can then let out to its customers. It’s a way to hedge against rising lease costs and cash in on WeWork’s supposed halo effect. If tenants prove fickle or demand subsidies, though, the benefit of owning property only goes so far.
NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - Novartis's gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy could set a record at up to $5 million per patient. Zolgensma appears astonishingly effective against a rare, inherited disease, sufferers of which rarely live beyond four. Even so, the high price is likely to fuel the debate about whether any drug should cost that much. Sometimes, the answer is yes.
NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - Uber Technologies’ lackluster stock-market debut is a warning for other tech unicorns. The ride-sharing service’s shares opened below the initial public offering price – valuing the company at around $70 billion, based on outstanding shares, soon after they started trading on Friday. The lack of positive excitement for the biggest listing of a U.S. technology company since Facebook in 2012 suggests investors are becoming more choosy.