Thursday was the last trading day in Q1, which saw S&P 500 up 10.2%, its best Q1 since 2019. Dow Jones gained 5.7%, its strongest Q1 since 2021. Nasdaq was up 9.2%. For the week, S&P 500 was up 0.4%, setting an intraday all-time high Thursday. Dow Jones Industrial rose 0.8%, and set a record close Thursday. Nasdaq composite lost 0.3%, just below its peak. WSJ notes when S&P 500 gains over 8% in Q1, it has finished higher for the rest of the year 94% of the time, with an average gain of 9.7% for the final three quarters. Amazon on Wednesday said it would commit US$4 billion to Anthropic, capping the second-biggest fundraising by an AI startup in recent memory. Reddit stock’s stellar market debut has drawn significant bearish bets, data from analytics company Ortex on Wednesday showed. The most popular DWAC options eye a 95% plunge over next month. DraftKings shares slumped on news NCAA wants to ban college prop bets. Robinhood stock surged as much as 7% on Wednesday after the company launched a solid gold credit card that offers its users 3% cashback rewards. Elon Musk said Tesla Optimus robot should cost ‘less than half of a car’. Sophic Capital Client, ADM Endeavors, received final building permits for its new Texas facility. Once completed, the facility could increase production capacity by up to five times, significantly increasing current maximum in-house revenue capacity of US$7 million. Quisitive announced an agreement to sell BankCard USA, which could unlock shareholder value. Canadian pension fund PSP will co-lead a funding round in Toronto based Cohere at a US$5 billion valuation. Four school boards in Canada Wednesday filed lawsuits against Meta Platforms, Snap and TikTok parent ByteDance, claiming the social media platforms have harmed children’s mental health and disrupted the education systems.

Canadian Technology Capital Markets & Company News

Sophic Capital Client ADM Endeavors (ADMQ-OTCQB) receives final building permits for new Texas facility.

Just Right Products Inc., the wholly owned subsidiary of ADM Endeavors, announces that it has been granted the final building permits for its new production facility. The facility will be built in Fort Worth on a 17.5-acre site, five miles away from the current ADM operation, and is projected to be operational before the end of 2024. This development marks a significant milestone in ADM’s expansion strategy. Detailed plans covering approximately 80,000 square feet of retail and production space have been finalized, with construction set to commence immediately, weather permitting. The required custom fabricated metal for construction has been procured and is ready on site. “Permits, materials and financing are all in place so that construction of our new facility can officially begin,” said ADM Endeavors CEO Marc Johnson. “Once completed, we estimate that the facility could increase our production capacity by up to five times, significantly increasing our current maximum in-house revenue capacity of US$7 million. Consolidating operations under one roof will also streamline processes and catalyze additional synergies, which could lead to gross margin and EBITDA margin expansion. I look forward to providing additional construction updates as we progress.” The completion of the new facility holds strategic significance for ADM’s shift toward more consistent school and government uniform markets, by offering a centralized manufacturing hub and expanding the Company’s school uniform retail storefront. This multi-purpose utilization could significantly augment ADM’s market presence while offering a convenient avenue for retail sales. The new improved and larger facility also provides opportunities for diversifying its product portfolio and securing additional contracts. https://bit.ly/4cxSQN8

Quisitive (QUIS-TSXV) announces agreement to sell BankCard USA.

Quisitive, announced that it has entered into a definitive stock purchase agreement dated March 27, 2024 (the “Agreement”) pursuant to which Quisitive has agreed to sell its BankCard USA Merchant Services, Inc. (“BankCard”) business unit (the “Transaction”) to BUSA Acquisition Co. (the “Acquiror”), a Nevada incorporated entity owned by a consortium of current employees of BankCard, including Shawn Skelton, Scott Hardy and Jason Hardy, as well as other arm’s length third parties. Transaction Simplifies Company into a Pure-Play Microsoft Cloud and AI Solutions Provider: The divestiture of the Payments arm simplifies the Company into a single segment, as a leading global partner of Microsoft, focusing on offering transformative solution services and upholding high standards of customer service. Improved Financial Profile with US$34.6 million Debt Reduction and Pro Forma trailing twelve month (“TTM”) Adjusted EBITDA of US$16.4 million as of December 31, 2023: Following the close of the Transaction, the Company will have US$34.0 million in debt, implying a pro forma leverage ratio of approximately 2.1x net debt to TTM Adjusted EBITDA. Assuming the Transaction closes on the basis currently contemplated, the Company is providing guidance for fiscal 2023 as if the Transaction and the divestiture of PayiQ (which was completed in January 2024) closed on January 1, 2023 with pro forma Adjusted EBITDA expected to be US$16.4 million. The pro forma Adjusted EBITDA run rate includes full year adjustments for headcount capacity savings made during fiscal 2023 as well as corporate cost savings that will be realized after the completion of both the Transaction and divestiture of PayiQ. Less than all of the savings were realized in fiscal 2023 (with the balance expected to be realized in fiscal 2024) which will result in the Company reporting fiscal 2023 results that will be lower than the pro forma Adjusted EBITDA of US$16.4 million. Meaningful Growth Initiatives in Microsoft Artificial Intelligence Services and Recurring Revenue: The Company expects to capitalize on customer interest in artificial intelligence by rolling out Microsoft solutions in Azure OpenAI and CoPilot. To enhance shareholder value, the Company expects to expand recurring managed services, develop custom copilot solutions, and Industry Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings, such as MazikCare and MazikCare CoPilot, a proprietary offering purpose-built for healthcare. https://tinyurl.com/5dcnc3v2

Bragg Gaming reports fourth quarter and full year 2023 financial results, confirms formation of special committee.

The Board of Directors confirms that it has formed an ad hoc special committee, chaired by independent Board member Don Robertson, to undertake a review of the Company’s strategic alternatives. The special committee has been appointed to consider and explore strategic alternatives, which may include the sale of the Company or of its assets, a merger, financing, further acquisitions, or other strategic alternatives. No timetable to complete the strategic review process has been established, nor have any decisions been made relating to strategic alternatives at this time. There can be no assurances that any transaction will be completed. https://tinyurl.com/4ztzrtfp

Canadian pension fund PSP to co-lead funding in Cohere at US$5 billion valuation.

Canadian pension investment manager PSP Investments is set to co-lead a funding round of at least US$500 million in Toronto-based Cohere, an artificial intelligence developer that competes with OpenAI, according to a person briefed on the matter. The round values Cohere at around US$5 billion, but the deal isn’t finalized and that number could change. It isn’t clear if the valuation includes the value of the new cash. Cohere was generating US$22 million in annualized revenue this month, the person said, up from US$13 million at the end of last year, the Information previously reported. Annualized revenue typically reflects last month’s revenue multiplied by 12, implying it is generating about US$1.8 million per month. The company’s growth accelerated this month after it launched its latest large language model, said the person briefed on the company’s growth. Still, PSP is valuing the company at more than 200 times its forward revenue, which is higher than the revenue multiple of OpenAI and some other AI developers. Cohere has focused on techniques that lower LLMs’ tendency to give incorrect answers, and the company has decided to avoid competing head-on with OpenAI in terms of developing the biggest, costliest models. With the new capital, Cohere will have raised about US$1 billion in total, more than all other LLM startups except for OpenAI, Anthropic and Inflection, whose team just decamped to Microsoft. PSP Investments did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The investment fund manages pension plans for four Canadian federal entities. Reuters previously reported on the likely valuation of the new round. https://tinyurl.com/atnhrwaj

Canadian schools sue Meta, Snap, ByteDance.

Four school boards in Canada Wednesday filed lawsuits against Meta Platforms, Snap and TikTok parent ByteDance, claiming the social media platforms have harmed children’s mental health and disrupted the education systems. In its suit, the Toronto District School Board charged that the social media companies are “deliberately seeking to attract students to their platforms” and forcing schools to “address, through financial and human resources, the devastating impact that compulsive social media use has on the student population and on their mental health.” The complaint was filed in Ontario’s Superior Court. The Peel District School Board, the Toronto Catholic District School Board and the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board also sued the social media companies. The school boards are seeking a total of about $4.5 billion Canadian (US$3.3 billion) in damages. “While we will always have more work to do, we feel good about the role Snapchat plays in helping close friends feel connected, happy and prepared as they face the many challenges of adolescence,“ a Snap spokesperson said in a statement. Spokespeople for Meta and ByteDance did not immediately respond to requests for comment. https://tinyurl.com/4nxt4nwd

Canada to toughen foreign investment rules for AI, space technology.

Government can stall even small deals for national security It’s taking steps to curb China’s influence on key industries. Non-Canadian companies will have to give advance warning to the government before they invest in or acquire Canadian entities in those key technology sectors, Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said in an interview with Bloomberg. The tougher rules will also apply to investments in critical minerals and potentially other sectors, he said. https://tinyurl.com/mr4bdscr

Idealist Capital receives $50 million from Canada Growth Fund.

Montréal-based climate impact fund Idealist Capital has secured $50 million from the federal government’s cleantech-focused Canada Growth Fund (CGF). Idealist marks CGF’s first investment into a cleantech fund, and its third investment overall. Idealist is currently raising a targeted $500-million climate impact fund, for which it closed $250 million in September 2022. When Idealist announced its fund, it was set to make up to 10 investments with cheques between $25 million to $75 million. It made four last year, most recently leading Dcbel’s $50 million Series B round in August 2023. Dcbel’s product enables bidirectional electric vehicle (EV) charging, allowing customers to charge EVs using solar panels and stationary batteries and leverage EV-stored energy to power their homes. https://tinyurl.com/uu88euue

RealSage closes $5.5 million to fuel growth of AI-powered real estate software.

Toronto-based RealSage, which sells artificial intelligence (AI)-powered data intelligence software to help multi-family rental housing asset managers operate more efficiently, has secured $5.5 million (US$4 million) in seed funding. The proptech startup intends to use this funding to fuel its continued United States (US) expansion and product development efforts. https://tinyurl.com/bdduuusm

Global Markets: IPOs, Venture Capital, M&A

Amazon confirms US$4 billion investment in Anthropic.

Amazon on Wednesday said it would commit US$4 billion to artificial intelligence developer Anthropic, capping the second-biggest fundraising by an AI startup in recent memory. The move was expected and came after Amazon last fall said it would give Anthropic up to US$4 billion. The announcement on Wednesday confirmed the cloud provider would pony up the full amount. Amazon, Google and Microsoft have increasingly backed big AI developers that also rely on those cloud providers’ servers, including Microsoft’s US$10 billion commitment to OpenAI last year. The cloud providers say they comply with accounting rules in handling cloud spending by firms they’ve backed. One question is how much money Anthropic will spend renting cloud services from Amazon Web Services. The AI startup also is getting up to US$2 billion from Google and spends money on that company’s cloud servers. Both Google and AWS also sell Anthropic’s AI to their cloud customers, though Google may be incentivized to sell its own AI, Gemini, rather than Anthropic’s. AWS doesn’t have such AI for sale yet. https://tinyurl.com/3n3e3evm

Canva buys U.K.-based Affinity, bolstering rivalry with Adobe.

Canva, the design startup valued at US$26 billion, acquired British creative software maker Affinity as it increases its competition with Adobe. The cash and stock deal values Affinity at “several hundred million pounds,” Canva’s co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Cliff Obrecht told Bloomberg. The acquisition of the 90-person startup will help Canva push deeper into the professional creative product segment where Affinity’s software suite—Affinity Designer, Photo, and Publisher—is popular among Macbook and Windows OS users. Sydney-based Canva, whose design apps first caught on with amateur users, has been increasing its efforts to snare corporate customers from Adobe, whose Photoshop and Illustrator products have dominated the creative tool market for decades. Over the last five years, Canva has scooped up at least seven companies in Europe, including free stock video and image websites Pexels and Pixabay, according to Bloomberg. By the end of last year, it had passed US$2.1 billion in annual recurring revenue of US$2.1 billion, up from US$1.4 billion the prior year. https://tinyurl.com/yxpaunc9

Adam Neumann makes a US$500 million bid for WeWork that could hit $900 million if financing and diligence firm up.

Adam Neumann has submitted an unsolicited bid in excess of US$500 million to acquire WeWork out of bankruptcy, a person familiar with the matter told CNBC. That bid could go up to US$900 million pending due diligence, the person said. Neumann’s financing was not immediately clear, although people familiar with the matter told CNBC that Dan Loeb’s Third Point was not involved in the offer. Neumann’s counsel had previously said that Loeb’s investment firm was backing the WeWork founder’s offer, but Third Point disputed that assertion in a prior statement. The uncertainty over Neumann’s financing, coupled with his track record at the company, could dampen WeWork’s receptiveness to his offer. The offer comes weeks after it emerged Neumann had renewed interest in taking back the company he was ousted from five years ago. WeWork filed for bankruptcy in 2023 after years of struggles, and has been working with bankruptcy advisors to restructure and streamline the business. “As we’ve said previously, WeWork is an extraordinary company and it’s no surprise we receive expressions of interest from third parties on a regular basis. Our Board and our advisors review those approaches in the ordinary course, to ensure we always act in the best long-term interests of the company,” a WeWork spokesperson said Monday in a statement. Neumann’s bid, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, may complexify WeWork’s bankruptcy proceedings. The company is seeking to reject numerous leases, meaning it would be able to walk away from longer-term commitments in less lucrative markets. Some of WeWork’s lessors have fought those efforts. https://tinyurl.com/bdexx67w

Short sellers target Reddit shares as stock slip.

Reddit stock’s stellar market debut has drawn significant bearish bets against the social media forum in its first few days of trading, data from analytics company Ortex on Wednesday showed. Based on 2.15 million Reddit shares out on loan, at least 7.1% of the company’s free share float has been sold short, according to a preliminary Ortex estimate. “This is very high for a stock that just started trading, and is an indication that some market participants have a negative view of the future price of Reddit,” Ortex co-founder Peter Hillerberg said. On Wednesday, Reddit shares fell 12% to US$56.91, snapping a two-day streak of gains. In its market debut on March 21 Reddit shares closed at US$50.44, 48% above its initial public offering price. The stock is off more than 20% from its record high of US$74.74 hit on Tuesday. In the options market, the frantic trading since the IPO cooled somewhat as the retreating shares prompted traders to moderate bullish bets. Some 53,000 Reddit options contracts had changed hands by 1:30 p.m. ET (1730 GMT), with sentiment leaning toward bearish bets, Trade Alert data showed. The day’s volume was projected to hit 82,000 contracts, down from 131,000 contracts traded on Tuesday. https://tinyurl.com/2swp8c5n

Most popular DWAC option eyes a 95% plunge over next month.

As share prices of the firm taking Donald Trump’s media company public soared on Monday, the most-popular option contract protects against the stock losing almost all of its value in just a few weeks. While Digital World Acquisition Corp. soared 35% to US$49.95, traders snapped up more than 15,000 of the US$2.50 puts expiring April 19 — equivalent to 1.5 million shares, if the stock were to plunge 95% by then. While that kind of a bet is one possible rationale for doing that trade, there are other more likely reasons. Traders who bought the option likely don’t expect they will be able to exercise the put. But given the stock’s wide swings since mid-January, another dive lower could enable traders to sell the contracts they bought for 2-3 cents each for a few pennies more. Steve Sosnick, chief strategist at Interactive Brokers, put forward another, more prosaic theory — that some traders may have bought the put just to satisfy broker requirements around volatile stocks like DWAC. In such instances, brokers might bar traders from selling uncovered options. So traders can buy the cheap, far out-of-the-money put as a workaround — turning their naked volatility sale into a play with theoretically capped risk. “It’s not a great hedge, but you might be able to fool someone’s risk management,” Sosnick said. “What’s going on now is clearly not happening because of plain old, vanilla, rational trading.” Some 396,000 options contracts changed hands on Monday — nearly 10 times the average over the past month. Puts outnumbered calls, and implied volatility for one-month puts implying a 10% move rose more than calls, signaling some interest in covering against the shares falling back. https://archive.is/OH8gv

DraftKings shares slump on news NCAA wants to ban college prop bets.

DraftKings Inc. shares tumbled on Wednesday after NCAA President Charlie Baker announced he is pushing to ban college proposition betting, a popular type of side wager that allows gamblers to bet on an event or statistical outcome that’s not directly tied to the final result of a game. The company’s stock closed down 6.8% after slumping as much as 8.8%, leading mobile sports betting peers including FanDuel parent Flutter Entertainment PLC and MGM Resorts International lower. Baker announced that the National Collegiate Athletic Association is working with state legislators to remove college prop bets across the country, saying the organization is “drawing the line on sports betting to protect student-athletes and to protect the integrity of the game.” The announcement came as the Wall Street Journal reported that federal lawmakers are seeking more oversight on gambling companies, urging them to stop using player data and other marketing tactics to target customers with gambling problems. A ban on propositional betting in collegiate sports isn’t expected to have a material impact on DraftKings’ financial performance, according to Needham & Co analyst Bernie McTernan, who says that such wagers represented about 1.4% of the total amount of money put up in 2023. “We expect to see these types of headlines from time to time, but largely expect them to be forgotten,” McTernan wrote Wednesday in a note to clients. DraftKings shares are still up about 29% year-to-date and closed Tuesday at a 52-week high. https://archive.is/oomrc

Alibaba scraps logistics unit IPO, offers to buy outstanding shares.

Alibaba said it has canceled a plan to spin off subsidiary Cainiao Logistics via an initial public offering and instead has offered to buy the outstanding shares held by minority shareholders for up to US$3.75 billion. The offer values Cainiao at US$10.3 billion. The Chinese e-commerce giant said the buyout would lead to better “strategic synergies” between Cainiao and Alibaba’s domestic and international e-commerce operations. The move is another blow to Alibaba’s landmark restructuring plan that would have seen the company split into six different units, each of them with the ability to raise funds from outside shareholders and pursue IPOs. Alibaba chairman Joe Tsai blamed weak market conditions for withdrawing Cainiao’s IPO plan. Cainiao filed an application to publicly list in Hong Kong in September. But since then, Alibaba has canceled a plan to list its cloud computing unit and has also shelved the IPO of its grocery chain Freshippo. https://tinyurl.com/y9j2249c

Robinhood stock surges after the company launches a solid gold credit card with 3% cashback rewards.

Robinhood stock surged as much as 7% on Wednesday after the company launched a solid gold credit card that offers its users 3% cashback rewards. This marks Robinhood’s first foray into the lucrative credit card market, expanding its offerings from investing and saving to also spending. Robinhood had previously launched a cash debit card. The new credit card offers a rather generous 3% cashback reward on all purchases, as well as 5% cashback rewards on travel purchases made through Robinhood’s online travel portal. Additionally, the Robinhood credit card has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee. Robinhood stock has been on a tear so far this year, rising 59%, though the stock is still 76% below its record high of US$85 per share. https://tinyurl.com/47jtm6zx

Emerging Technologies

Tim Cook confirms Apple Vision Pro will launch in China this year.

Apple Vision Pro is currently only available in the United States, but Apple has promised that it will come to other markets before the end of the year. During a visit to China this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook offered confirmation that China is one of the countries in which Vision Pro will launch this year. This marks the first confirmation from Apple on which countries will get Vision Pro this year. As reported by Reuters, Cook made the comment while speaking at the China Development Forum in Beijing this weekend. Cook didn’t elaborate on any specific details about a launch date or pricing. We’ve also seen evidence that Vision Pro will come to countries including Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom this year. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has reported that Apple is likely to expand Vision Pro outside the United States before WWDC in June. https://tinyurl.com/yck3dacz

Elon Musk says Tesla Optimus robot should cost ‘less than half of a car’.

Elon Musk says that Optimus, Tesla’s general-purpose humanoid robot, should cost “less than half the price of a car”. A few months ago, Tesla unveiled “Optimus Gen 2”, a new generation of its humanoid robot that should be able to take over repetitive tasks from humans. The new prototype showed a lot of improvements compared to previously underwhelming versions of the robot, and it gave some credibility to the project, which was laughed off by many when first announced with a dancer disguised as a robot for visual aid a few years ago. Tesla believed it to be possible by leveraging its AI work on its self-driving vehicle program and expertise in batteries and electric motors. It argued that its vehicles are already robots on wheels. Now, it just needs to make them in humanoid forms to be able to replace humans in some tasks – primarily repetitive and dangerous tasks. In a previous update on Optimus, Tesla CEO Elon Musk claimed that the “Optimus stuff is extremely underrated.” The CEO said that the demand could be as high as 10 to 20 billion units. He went as far as “confidently predicting” that Optimus will account for “a majority of Tesla’s long-term value.” The CEO sees everyone having a Tesla Optimus robot at home on top of them taking over a lot of manufacturing and service jobs. For that to work, they will have to be somewhat reasonably priced. Musk had previously said that he thinks it’s possible to bring the price below that of its vehicles, which start at around US$40,000. Now, Musk says that he believes Tesla can bring the price of its Optimus humanoid robot down to “less than half of a car”: Tesla’s average car sale price globally last year was just over US$45,000, and the average new car sale price in the US is about US$47,000. This means that Musk sees the cost of a humanoid robot as being between US$20,000 and US$25,000. There’s no clear timeline for Tesla to bring the robot to production, but Musk said in 2022 that it could go into production as soon as 2023 – though that didn’t happen. Tesla has been listing more jobs for its robot program lately, including jobs related to supply chains and manufacturing. https://tinyurl.com/4nch5c3t

Adtech, Privacy & Regulatory

Visa and Mastercard agree US$30 billion settlement over US transaction fees.

Visa and Mastercard have agreed to cut their US transaction fees in a landmark settlement that merchants say will save them US$30 billion over five years. The deal, announced on Tuesday, will require the payments companies to lower the so-called swipe fees they charge sellers over the next five years. It will also allow merchants to charge different prices to consumers based on which credit card they use. The settlement does not include a requirement for merchants to pass on the savings from lower fees to consumers. Lawyers for the merchants called the settlement one of the largest ever for a class-action antitrust suit, although the agreement does not require Visa and Mastercard to make payments upfront. Instead, the companies agreed to reduce sellers’ swipe fees by at least 0.04 percentage points for a minimum of three years and to hold swipe fees at or below the rates posted at the end of last year for the next five years. Mastercard, Visa and other credit card processors had previously agreed to pay US$5.6 billionto US merchants under a separate settlement, which did not cap future fees. https://archive.is/bXz03

Europe Opens new Antitrust probes into Google, Apple, Meta.

The European Commission said it opened probes into whether Alphabet, Apple and Meta are complying with the Digital Markets Act, a new law that requires tech gatekeepers to ensure equal access to their operating systems. The move comes on top of the U.S. government’s recent lawsuits against Google and Apple, which are also over antitrust concerns. The commission is investigating Alphabet’s and Apple’s steering rules that prevent developers from offering services outside of official app stores. It also will investigate whether Google is unfairly showing higher-ranked search results for its own services and whether Apple is making it easy for users to remove apps, change default settings and select alternative browsers or search engines. The commission opened a probe into Meta and its business model for European users, which requires them to pay to opt out of personalized advertising. It’s also taking “investigatory steps” to determine whether Amazon might be pushing users toward its own brands and whether Apple’s new fees for alternative app stores comply with the new law. The probes will conclude a year from now and could result in penalties as high as 10% of a company’s global turnover. https://tinyurl.com/5deyxbey

FTC reportedly investigating TikTok over data security.

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating TikTok over its data security practices, Politico reported on Tuesday. In particular, the FTC is focused on allegations that TikTok deceived users by allowing employees in China to access their data, contrary to TikTok’s public statements, Politico reported. TikTok has said previously that in those instances, TikTok had a business relationship with the user in question, including creators who had signed business agreements with TikTok. The FTC is considering whether to pursue a lawsuit or a settlement, according to Politico. The investigation further heightens the scrutiny on TikTok, as the Senate considers a bill that would force a divestment or ban of the app in the United States. https://tinyurl.com/43ryr94h


Amazon expands same day prescription delivery to NYC, LA.

Amazon on Tuesday announced that it is rolling out its free same-day prescription delivery service to customers in New York City and greater Los Angeles. The rapid delivery service, which is offered to Amazon Pharmacy customers as a Prime membership benefit, was previously only available in Austin, Indianapolis, Miami, Phoenix and Seattle. The announcement will put competitive pressure on pharmacy delivery upstarts, like Capsule and Alto Pharmacy, and comes at a time when startups across the healthtech space are facing intense scrutiny from investors over the viability of their business models. Meanwhile, Amazon shows no sign of slowing down. The e-commerce giant said in a press release that it plans to expand the delivery service to more than a dozen cities across the country by the end of the year. Amazon’s pharmaceutical ambitions date back to 2018, when it acquired online pharmacy PillPack for US$753 million. It launched the Amazon Pharmacy brand two years later. https://tinyurl.com/53vkecu9

Fintech, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency

Abu Dhabi, other investors buy most of FTX’s Anthropic stake for US$884 million.

Bankrupt crypto exchange FTX is selling two-thirds of its stake, nearly 30 million shares, in artificial intelligence developer Anthropic for US$884 million, according to a court filing on Friday. That share sale implies the AI startup is worth US$17.1 billion on paper, or slightly lower than the company’s valuation in a recent funding round. The two dozen buyers of the stake include ATIC Third International Investment, which is affiliated with Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala and is purchasing a US$500 million stake, as well as Jane Street Global Trading, a high frequency trading firm, and Fidelity Investments funds, the filing said. The sale should help FTX achieve its stated goal of repaying its customers in full. The company originally invested SU$500 million in Anthropic in 2022, when it was a freshly-minted unicorn. Months after FTX became insolvent, Anthropic raised another round at a more than US$4 billion price tag, a valuation that’s continued to rise as the startup has chased OpenAI. https://tinyurl.com/469pjpzh


China phasing out AMD, Intel chips in government computers.

China is phasing out computers running Intel and AMD chips at government agencies, the Financial Times reported. The move comes as Beijing attempts to reduce its reliance on foreign technology in favor of homegrown alternatives for national security reasons. The guidance on procurement also aims to reduce the use of Microsoft’s Windows operating system, the Financial Times said. China’s state-owned enterprises also have been told to stop using foreign tech by 2027, it said. It isn’t clear how much impact the policies will have given that they don’t affect consumer purchases of computers based on Intel and AMD processors. The newspaper said provincial and city-level finance ministries have issued dozens of notices in recent months ensuring that local government agencies comply with the directive not to use Intel or AMD chips. https://tinyurl.com/w5xe2vj8


Lucid Motors raises another US$1 billion from Saudi Arabia as it searches for luxury EV buyers.

Lucid Motors is raising another US$1 billion from its biggest financial backer, Saudi Arabia, as it looks to blunt the high costs associated with building and selling its luxury electric sedan. The company announced in a Monday morning regulatory filing that Ayar Third Investment, an affiliate of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, has agreed to purchase US$1 billion worth of Lucid’s stock, which will add to the Kingdom’s current stake of around 60% ownership. The fresh funding comes just a few weeks after Lucid told investors that it only plans to build around 9,000 of its Air electric vehicles this year, a slight bump over last year’s output. It lost $2.8 billion in 2023 and finished the year with just shy of US$1.4 billion in cash and equivalents. The company has struggled to find willing buyers for its expensive Air sedan, and has cut prices multiple times in recent months in an effort to boost sales. Lucid also plans to start building its electric Gravity SUV at the end of this year. Lucid announced the investment less than three weeks after CEO Peter Rawlinson told Financial Times that he was wary of relying too heavily on Saudi Arabia to keep shoveling money into its proverbial furnace. “If I adopt a mindset that there is bottomless wealth from PIF, that is very dangerous, that is something I will never do, I respect them far too much for that,” Rawlinson said at the time. https://tinyurl.com/3w2c5tyf

Schlumberger to invest nearly US$400 million in carbon-capture venture.

Oil-field-services company Schlumberger said late Wednesday that it would pay 4.12 billion Norwegian krone (US$381.5 million) for the stake in the company and would contribute its own carbon-capture business to the combined venture. Schlumberger may also make 1.36 billion Norwegian krone in performance-based added payments in the next three years. ACC would own 20% of the combined venture after the deal closes, which is expected in the second quarter of 2024. https://archive.is/akeuQ


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The Company’s Material or the information provided in the Material shall not in any form constitute as an offer or solicitation to anyone in the United States of America or any jurisdiction where such offer or solicitation is not authorized or to any person to whom it is unlawful to make such a solicitation. If you choose to access Sophic’s website and/or have signed up to receive the Company’s monthly newsletter or any other Material, you acknowledge that the information in the Material is intended for use by persons resident in Canada only. Sophic is not an investment advisor nor does it maintain any registrations as such, and Material provided by Sophic shall not be used to make investment decisions. Information provided in the Company’s Material is often opinionated and should be considered for information purposes only. No stock exchange or securities regulatory authority anywhere has approved or disapproved of the information contained herein. There is no express or implied solicitation to buy or sell securities. Sophic and/or its principals and employees may have positions in the stocks mentioned in the Company’s Material and may trade in the stocks mentioned in the Material. Do not consider buying or selling any stock without conducting your own due diligence and/or without obtaining independent investment advice from a qualified and registered investment advisor. The Company has not independently verified any of the data from third party sources referred to in the Material, including information provided by Sophic clients that are the subject of the report, or ascertained the underlying assumptions relied upon by such sources. The Company does not assume any responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of this information or for any failure by any such other persons to disclose events which may have occurred or may affect the significance or accuracy of any such information. The Material may contain forward looking information. Forward-looking statements are frequently, but not always, identified by words such as “expects,” “anticipates,” “believes,” “intends,” “estimates,” “potential,” “possible,” “projects,” “plans,” and similar expressions, or statements that events, conditions or results “will,” “may,” “could,” or “should” occur or be achieved or their negatives or other comparable words and include, without limitation, statements regarding, projected revenue, income or earnings or other results of operations, strategy, plans, objectives, goals and targets, plans to increase market share or with respect to anticipated performance compared to competitors, product development and adoption by potential customers. These statements relate to future events and future performance. Forward-looking statements are based on opinions and assumptions as of the date made, and are subject to a variety of risks and other factors that could cause actual events/results to differ materially from these forward looking statements. There can be no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct; these statements are no guarantee of future performance and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors. Sophic provides no assurance as to future results, performance, or achievements and no representations are made that actual results achieved will be as indicated in the forward looking information. Nothing herein can be assumed or predicted, and you are strongly encouraged to learn more and seek independent advice before relying on any information presented.