Trump's a Sneakerhead

Trump launched a sneaker line, inflation data is hurting chances of a March rate cut, M7 stocks are more valuable than country-wide stock exchanges globally, China’s EV market is slowing, and Zyn nicotine pouches are becoming face of the latest culture war.

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Good Morning,

Trump launched a sneaker line, inflation data is hurting chances of a March rate cut, M7 stocks are more valuable than country-wide stock exchanges globally, China’s EV market is slowing, and Zyn nicotine pouches are becoming face of the latest culture war.

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Let’s dive in.

Before The Bell

As of 2/16/2024 market close.


  • US stock and bond markets were closed Monday in observance of Presidents' Day

  • US stocks pulled back from weekly gains on Friday as hotter-than-expected inflation data suggested a delay in Fed rate cuts

    • All three major indexes finished the week in red


  • What we're watching this week:  

    • Today: Walmart, Home Depot, Palo Alto Networks

    • Wednesday: Nvidia, Rivian, Etsy, Analog Devices, Wingstop

    • Thursday: Block, Moderna, Carvana, Intuit

    • Friday: Warner Bros. Discovery 

  • Full calendar here

Headline Roundup

  • Producer inflation data came in hotter-than-expected (WSJ)

  • Magnificent 7 stock valuations now exceed almost every country stock index globally (CNBC)

  • AI draws tech back to San Francisco (WSJ)

  • Companies scramble to reduce expectations as stocks ignore risks (BBG)

  • Apple set to face near $630M fine in Spotify row (BBG)

  • Trump launches sneaker line (CNBC)

  • The war over burying nuclear waste in America’s busiest oil field (WSJ)

  • Twitter’s fired Africa staff reach deal after year-long talks (BBG)

  • China’s Wang Yi tells Blinken US should lift sanctions on Chinese firms (CNBC)

  • Even the world’s biggest EV market is slowing (WSJ)

  • Australia’s barley sales to China boom as wine decision pending (BBG)

  • Biden administration to reportedly relax EV rule on tailpipe emissions (CNBC)

  • Lufthansa travelers face upheaval as ground crews strike again (BBG)

  • Zyn nicotine pouches take off - and land in the culture wars (WSJ)

  • Indian farmers gear up for talks after a week of protests (BBG)

  • How the big airlines beat the budget guys at their own game (WSJ)

  • Dubai’s golden visas are helping city defy global office slump (BBG)

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Deal Flow

M&A / Investments

  • Capital One is planning to merge with Discover Financial in an all-stock $35B deal (WSJ)

  • PE firm TPG emerged as the highest bidder for Alter Domus, the fund administration company backed by Permira; a deal could value the company at $4.9B (BBG

  • Siberian gold miner Mangazeya Mining will acquire precious metals producer Polymetal International’s Russian assets for ~$3.7B (FT

  • PE firms Stone Point Capital and General Atlantic will acquire HireRight Holdings in a deal valuing the employee-screening company at a $1.7B EV (WSJ

  • Macquarie Asset Management and US-based Federated Hermes are exploring the potential sale of a combined $1.6B stake in UK gas network operator Cadent (RT

  • Investment group RedBird IMI agreed to acquire film production company All3Media from Warners Bros. Discovery and Liberty Global for $1.4B (BBG

  • Gabon’s state-owned Gabon Oil Company agreed to acquire Carlyle's Assala Energy for $1.3B, preempting a $1.3B sale to France's Maurel & Prom (RT) 

  • Uniti Group, which has a $1.2B market cap, is in talks to merge with telecom provider Windstream (BBG

  • Australian diversified investor Seven Group Holdings offered ~$1.2B for full control of building products group maker Boral in an Australian infrastructure bet (RT

  • UK’s Currys rejected an unsolicited bid from US investment group Elliott Management valuing the electronics retailer at ~$882M (FT)

  • Chinese e-commerce giant is also in the early stages of a possible cash bid for Currys (BBG)

  • Deutsche Lufthansa’s $350M investment into Italian carrier ITA Airways is being threatened by EU's antitrust regulators (BBG)


  • Tech-enabled vacation rental platform Overmoon raised $80M in equity / debt funding from NFX, Khosla Ventures, and more (FN)

  • Utility protection startup Neara raised $29.3M from investors including Square Peg Capital, Skip Capital, and Press Ventures (TC)

  • Flower Labs, a provider of an open-source framework for training AI, raised a $20M Series A led by Felicis (FN)

  • To-do list app Superlist raised a $14.5M round led by Cherry Ventures and EQT (TC)

  • Data analytics and infrastructure provider Helika raised an $8M Series A led by Pantera Capital (FN)

  • Rogo, a generative AI startup for financial institutions, raised a $7M seed round led by AlleyCorp (FN)

  • Armilla AI, a Toronto-based provider of an AI-powered assurance platform, raised a $4.5M seed round led by Mistral Venture Partners (FN)

  • Pacifico Biolabs, a startup using fermentation to create alternative seafood, raised a $3.3M pre-seed round led by Simon Capital and FoodLabs (TC)

  • Atlas, a startup helping companies offer contractor benefits, raised a $2.8M seed extension round led by Hi Ventures (TC)

  • Dapple Security, a Denver-based developer of a digital security technology platform, raised a $2.3M pre-seed round led by First In (FN)

  • Koalaa, a startup developing soft prosthetics, raised a $1.2M round led by British Design Fund (EU)

IPO / Direct Listings / Issuances / Block Trades

  • Online comics operator Naver hired Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to advise on a potential US summer IPO that could raise as much as $500M at a $3B-$4B valuation (BBG

  • Appliance maker Whirlpool is selling a 24% stake in its Indian unit for up to $451M (RT

  • Shanghai-based car rental company eHi Car Services is considering a US IPO that could raise ~$300M (BBG

  • Saudi Global Ports, which is owned by Saudi Arabia’s PIF and Singapore’s PSA International, is considering a Riyadh IPO (BBG


  • Ares Management is leading a $3.3B private credit loan for UK insurance broker Ardonagh Group (BBG)

  • JPMorgan will provide ~$2.5B in debt financing to support Cohesity’s proposed acquisition of a unit of Veritas Technologies (BBG

  • State-owned oil company Saudi Aramco may sell 15 to 50-year bonds this year thanks to improvement in financial markets (BBG)

Bankruptcy / Restructuring

  • The UK is drawing up a $6.3B plan to rescue water utility Thames Water from its debt crisis with taxpayer money (BBG

  • Petersen Health Care, an operator of ~100 nursing homes and assisted living facilities, is preparing to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy within the coming weeks (BBG

  • SpiceJet’s MD Ajay Singh and Busy Bee Airways submitted a joint bid for bankrupt Indian budget airline Go First airlines (RT


  • PE firm Rockland Capital collected ~$700M for a new fund focused on buying natural gas-fired power plants (WSJ)

  • Investment firm Partech closed its second Africa fund Partech Africa II at ~$300M to invest in seed to Series C startups (TC

Crypto Corner

  • FTX investors sued Sullivan & Cromwell, accusing the law firm of aiding FTX with multi-billion dollar fraud (BBG)

  • Japan moves closer to allowing investment funds to hold crypto (BBG

  • Honduras’ financial watchdog banned trading in crypto (RT

Exec’s Picks

  • WSJ published an insightful piece on how Deutsche Bank’s CEO Christian Sewing is saving the troubled bank.

  • Check out CNBC’s analysis of why Monster Beverage, and not any tech titan, is the best-performing stock of the last 30 years.

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