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Chinese Food Keeps Thriving on Christmas

Savings are dwindling while credit card balances are growing, China is stealing AI secrets, Maersk is preparing to resume Red Sea operations, Chinese food on Christmas is still going strong, Harvard’s board is feeling pressure from donors, and today’s kids prefer YouTube to Netflix.

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Good Morning,

OpenAI is in discussions to raise new funding at a $100B valuation, savings are dwindling while credit card balances are growing, China is stealing AI secrets, Maersk is preparing to resume Red Sea operations, Chinese food on Christmas is still going strong, Harvard’s board is feeling pressure from donors, and today’s kids prefer YouTube to Netflix.

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Let’s dive in.

Before The Bell

As of 12/22/2023 market close.


  • US stocks mostly rose on Friday thanks to cooling inflation data, with most major indices registering an eighth straight winning week

    • The Nadaq rose 0.19%, while the Dow fell 0.05%


Headline Roundup

  • Credit card spending piles up as savings dwindle (WSJ)

  • China is stealing AI secrets to turbocharge spying, US says (WSJ)

  • Russia continues high levels of crude processing in mid-December (BBG)

  • Shipping giant Maersk prepares to resume operations in Red Sea (RT)

  • The tradition of Chinese food on Christmas is going strong (AX)

  • Samsung delays production at new US factory to 2025 (BBG)

  • China looks cheap, but it has burned investors before (WSJ)

  • As pressure on Harvard president increases, university board feels the squeeze (WSJ)

  • Iran-backed forces widen their attacks on commercial shipping (WSJ)

  • China earthquake inflicts $75M loss on hardest-hit region (BBG)

  • Fog at Chicago’s airport scuttles Southwest holiday flights (WSJ)

  • China is softening stance on gaming after $80B rout (BBG)

  • Your kids prefer YouTube to Netflix; that’s a problem for streamers (WSJ)

  • Israeli War Cabinet meets to consider Egyptian proposal to end war in Gaza (WSJ)

  • To beat Trump, Nikki Haley tries to expand coalition, and fast (RT)

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Deal Flow

M&A / Investments

  • Synopsys, a maker of software used in chip design, submitted an offer to acquire $30B engineering software vendor Ansys, which is weighing a sale (RT & BBG

  • Bristol Myers Squibb agreed to acquire experimental schizophrenia drug maker Karuna Therapeutics for $14B (RT

  • Canada approved Royal Bank of Canada's $10.2B acquisition of HSBC’s Canadian unit (WSJ

  • Buyout firm Leonard Green & Partners agreed to buy a stake in Iris Software from Hg and become a co-controlling shareholder in the software provider in a deal that values the company at $4B (BBG

  • A consortium led by Dazheng Group made an improved offer worth ~$1.8B to acquire Hollysys Automation Technologies, seeking to thwart its sale to PE firm Ascendent Capital Partners (BBG

  • British tycoon Sir Jim Ratcliffe agreed to buy a 25% stake in Manchester United from the Glazer family for ~$1.3B, valuing the English football club at ~$6.3B, including debt (FT

  • Nano Dimension offered to acquire Stratasys in a cash deal that values the 3D printing company at ~$1.1B (BBG

  • Canadian logistics company TFI International will acquire flatbed and specialized trailers operator Daseke in a $1.1B deal, including debt (RT

  • Businessman Jose Seripieri Filho will acquire Brazilian health insurance operator Amil from UnitedHealth Group for an estimated $515M (RT

  • Real estate-focused Trinity Investments is in talks to acquire five-star Park Hyatt Zurich, which could fetch $467M (BBG

  • Suzano, the world’s largest producer of hardwood pulp, acquired forestry assets from two special-purpose firms managed by BTG Pactual Timberland Investment Group for $376M (RT

  • Blackstone will acquire an 80% stake in Sony Group’s payment unit Sony Payment Services for ~$280M (BBG

  • British boutique investment bank Panmure Gordon is in talks to merge with rival Liberum (BBG

  • Kenyan-based e-commerce firm Wasoko, which is backed by Tiger Global, will merge with Egyptian counterpart MaxAB, a Cairo-based one-stop supplier for a network of mom-and-pop stores in North Africa (BBG)


  • OpenAI is in early talks to raise a fresh round of funding at a valuation at or above $100B (BBG)

  • Data center infrastructure company Arkon Energy raised a $110M round led by Bluesky Capital Management (TC)

  • Kitchens@, a Bangalore-based dynamic cloud kitchen company, raised a $65M Series C led by Finnest (FN)

  • Proto, a holographic communications platform, raised $25M in funding from Cartan Capital (VC)

  • Customized merchandise startup Bizay raised a $19.8M Series C-2 led by Indico Capital Partners (TC)

  • DTE, an Icelandic elemental analysis technology company, raised a $6M Series A-2 led by Eyrir Vöxtur and EIC Fund (FN)

  • Labrys Technologies, a UK-based defense tech startup, raised a $5.5M seed round led by Project A Ventures (TC)

  • Biochar producer Standard Biocarbon received a $5M investment from Nexus Development Capital (FN)

  • Convenience-focused compact makeup brand Subtl Beauty received a $5M investment from CULT Capital (PRN)

  • Helin, a startup providing an industrial edge intelligence platform, raised a $3.3M seed round led by FORWARD.one (FN)

  • Play Caller, a social micro-fantasy sports tech platform, raised a pre-Series A round from Liquid 2 Ventures and SCCG Venture Fund (VC)

IPO / Direct Listings / Issuances / Block Trades

  • E-scooter maker Ola Electric Mobility is seeking to raise $661M through an IPO in India (BBG


  • Lions Gate Entertainment will merge its studio business with Screaming Eagle Acquisition Corp in a $4.6B deal, including debt, to create Lionsgate Studios (BBG)

  • Commercial transportation and industrial equipment maker Powermers Smart will merge with OCA Acquisition Corp in a $2B deal (RT

  • Digital healthcare firm Custom Health will merge with Berenson Acquisition Corp I in a $185M deal (BBG)


  • Billionaire Gautam Adani’s renewable energy unit Adani Green Energy plans to raise at least $2B in mostly new debt next year (BBG

Bankruptcy / Restructuring

  • Oil-and-gas company Hess and bankrupt subsidiary Honx agreed to pay $187M to settle asbestos claims, allowing Honx to exit Chapter 11 (WSJ

  • Party City’s bankrupt balloon-manufacturing affiliate, Anagram Holdings, is nearing an agreement with the retail chain and won court permission to sell the unit to lenders (BBG)


  • VC Spark Capital is seeking to raise $2.1B for a pair of new funds (AX

Crypto Corner

  • Nigeria will allow lenders to deal with crypto companies, reversing a ban from 2021 (BBG)

  • Bitcoin options show that traders are hedging bets ahead of a January 10th deadline for the SEC to decide whether to allow Bitcoin ETFs (BBG)

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