Debt Default Crunch Time

Biden and McCarthy are meeting today to try and avoid a debt default, Exxon is betting big on lithium, China has a $23T local debt problem, Blue Origin won a Nasa contract, Goldman thinks the Treasury will drop below its cash minimum in June, and China wants to rival the US with its own Starlink-like network.

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Good Morning,

Biden and McCarthy are meeting today to try and avoid a debt default, Exxon is betting big on lithium, China has a $23T local debt problem, Blue Origin won a NASA contract, Goldman thinks the Treasury will drop below its cash minimum in June, and China wants to rival the US with its own Starlink-like network.

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Let’s dive in.

Before The Bell

As of 5/19/2023 market close.


  • US stocks turned lower Friday after the White House and Congressional Republicans reached an impasse in negotiations on the debt ceiling

    • Despite the red close Friday, the S&P and Nasdaq hit 2023 highs last week

  • Gold prices fell for a third day, hitting lowest level since March


  • Deere beat Q1 expectations, with net income up from $2.1B to $2.86B YoY thanks to strong tractor and agricultural equipment sales; it also raised its FY forecast (YF)

  • Foot Locker missed Q1 expectations, citing tough macroeconomic conditions and implementing aggressive markdowns to drive demand and manage inventory; their stock plunged 27% (WSJ)

  • What we're watching this week:

    • Today: Zoom

    • Tuesday: Lowe’s, BJ’s Wholesales, Autozone, Dick’s

    • Wednesday: Kohl’s, Nvidia, Snowflake, American Eagle

    • Thursday: Royal Bank of Canada, Best Buy, Dollar Tree, Ralph Lauren, Costco

    • Friday: Big Lots

  • Full calendar here

Headline Roundup

  • The US updated its loan forgiveness program for students (YF)

  • Biden and McCarthy to meet today to try and avoid looming debt default (CNBC)

  • Goldman says Treasury will drop below its cash minimum June 8-9 (BBG)

  • Exxon joins hunt for lithium in bet on EV boom (WSJ)

  • China’s $23T local debt mess is about to get worse (BBG)

  • China seeks to rival US with its own Starlink-like network (WSJ)

  • DOJ wins lawsuit to undo JetBlue, American Airlines partnership in the Northeast (CNBC)

  • China bars purchases of Micron chips, escalating US conflict (BBG)

  • Bezos' Blue Origin wins NASA contract to build astronaut lunar lander (RT)

  • San Francisco gets a $1B bet that workers will return (BBG)

  • Meta blames tech issue for widespread Instagram disruption (BBG)

  • SpaceX launches crew of private astronauts to space station (BBG)

  • China's exports to North Korea surge in April (RT)

  • California grid operator signs off on $7.3B of power lines (RT)

  • Morgan Stanley CEO succession underscores Wall Street's diversity gap (RT)

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Deal Flow

M&A / Investments

  • Yandex, a Russian company that owns a popular ride-hailing and ecommerce platform, received bids from billionaires Vladimir Potanin and Vagit Alekperov to buy a 51% stake valuing the company at $7-7.5B (BBG)

  • A partnership between REIT Brookfield India and Singapore’s GIC will buy two Indian commercial properties from Brookfield Asset Management for $1.4B (RT)

  • International Flavors & Fragrances is weighing a $1B sale of a unit, Lucas Meyer Cosmetics, that produces ingredients for cosmetics (BBG)

  • PE firm Silver Lake acquired a minority stake in Italian cloud software maker TeamSystem for $660M (RT)

  • Blackstone is nearing a deal to acquire a majority stake in private billboard operator New Tradition Media for $500-750M (BBG)

  • Chinese PE firm Trustar Capital plans to sell Hong Kong-based soy sauce maker Amoy Food for $300-400M (RT)

  • Anantara The Palm Dubai, a luxury resort, is nearing a sale for $280M (BBG)

  • Spanish firm Bestinver is in talks to purchase 45% of Irish Motorway N6 from fellow Spanish firm Sacyr (RT)

  • UK law firm Allen & Overy and New York's Shearman & Sterling are merging to create one of the world’s largest legal practices with combined global revenue of ~$3.4B (RT)

  • Siemens Energy, a German power equipment and service group, is close to selling its minority stake in Spanish wind turbine joint venture Windar Renovables to British fund Bridgepoint (RT)


  • Crypto investment firm Hashkey is looking to raise $200M at ~$1B valuation (BBG)

  • Restaurant365, a startup developing all-in-one restaurant management software, raised a $135M round led by KKR and L Catterton (TC)

  • Instawork, a platform connecting businesses with skilled hourly workers, raised a $60M Series D led by TCV (FN)

  • BuildOps, a provider of management software for commercial contractors, raised a $50M round led by Fika Ventures and 01 Advisors (FN)

  • Sabi, a Lagos-based B2B e-commerce startup providing digital commerce infrastructure to Africa’s informal economy, raised a $38M Series B at a $300M valuation led by CommerzVentures, Norrsken22, Fluent Ventures, Proof VC, and more (TC)

  • Analytics & AI solutions startup Course5 Intelligence raised a $28M round led by 360 ONE Asset Management (FN)

  • Odyssey, a business-in-a-box platform for distributed energy in emerging markets, raised a $15M Series A led by Union Square Ventures (PRN)

  • Orbital Witness, a startup using AI to streamline the legal processes in property transactions, raised a $9.3M Series A led by Parker89 (FN)

  • Bloom Finance Company, a provider of home equity release solutions, raised a $7M Series A led by SixThirty Ventures (FN)

  • PYOR, a data / insights platform for the digital assets industry, raised a $4M seed round led by Castle Island Ventures (PRN)

  • Deployed, a collaborative “Statement of Work” platform, raised a $4M seed round led by Amrock Ventures and M12 (FN)

  • Groopit, an enterprise SaaS platform using data to solve complex problems, raised a $3.5M seed round led by WestRiver Group (FN)

IPO / Direct Listings / Issuances / Block Trades

  • Portuguese insurer Fidelidade is exploring a potential IPO of its private healthcare subsidiary Luz Saude (RT)


  • Leading provider of renewable energy solutions Suntuity Renewables is merging with Beard Energy Transition Acquisition Corp. in a $249M deal (BBG)

Crypto Corner

  • Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy will accept campaign donations in bitcoin and vows to defend cryptocurrency from invasive surveillance (CT)

  • Bitcoin payment app Strike is expanding from 3 to 65 countries (CD)

  • Michael Lewis is almost done writing SBF book (TB)

Exec’s Picks

  • Lux Capital’s Josh Wolfe shared his company’s Q1 2023 letter to LPs here.

  • Sachin Jain wrote a good piece for Forbes about how healthcare worker burnout is increasing as healthcare companies grow larger and larger.

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