Week in Review: goodbye Monte

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Christmas is upon us but the end is nigh for Monte dei Paschi. Or at least it is as a privately owned bank. The various attempts to recapitalise the world’s oldest surviving bank through the private sector have failed.

The state is likely to step in with a bailout plan before the New Year. But what is most striking is how orderly this failure has been so far, with financial markets largely taking Monte’s demise in their stride. The Italian authorities have repeatedly stressed the importance of compensating retail investors, which will have helped alleviate concerns, while the government’s new €20 billion fund to bolster the rest of Italy’s banks should also help prevent Monte’s contagion spreading.

Icahn advise you

Carl Icahn, the American billionaire investor, has been appointed as a special advisor to Donald Trump. The President-elect described Mr Icahn as “not only a brilliant negotiator, but also someone who is innately able to predict the future, especially having to do with finances and economies”.

80-year old Icahn will be advising on regulatory reform. While not agreeing with all of Trump’s policies, slashing strict government regulation – a key component of Trump’s economic plans since early in his campaign – is something that Icahn is keen to help out on.

Tesla follows suit

We were warned of higher prices post-Brexit. Now Tesla, the US electric car manufacturer, is raising prices in the UK by 5% from 1 January. A number of similar measures have been taken by other UK car importers, with the weak pound and currency fluctuations to blame.

With sterling still down 17 per cent against the US dollar since the Brexit vote, it was arguably a matter of time before these measures were announced. Nonetheless, Tesla’s 5% hike is sharper than its competitors, which are raising prices between 0.9-2.5%.

It’s a red and white Christmas

Since the 1930s, Coca-Cola has played a large role in shaping the jolly Santa character we all know and love. While this campaign has come to an end, the multinational company has been in the news this week, snapping up a 54.5% equity stake in Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA) bottling business. The deal was worth a cool $3.15bn.

In other company news, Nokia, the Finnish-based technology company that defined the mobile industry for over decade, said on Wednesday that it is suing Apple for violating 32 technology patents. The news came a day after the iPhone maker sued two patent licensors and accused the Finnish communications giant of colluding with them.

And Finally…

It’s a Wonderful Life remains a firm Christmas classic as it celebrated 70 years on screen this week. Directed and played by the military bona fides of director Frank Capra and star Jimmy Stewart, respectively, the film is one of the most cherished, quoted and oft-seen Christmas films.

2016 has been an eventful year, something of an Annus Horribilis for many. But, just as It’s a Wonderful Life highlights, there’s always reason for renewed hope and the future is what you make it.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all.

 

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