In today’s top stories, as Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard hangs in the balance, the tech colossus launched its Xbox Game Pass in dozens of new countries. US/China tensions are precipitating relocations on the part of Apple’s major China-based suppliers. US-based Palantir is facing both criticism and competition in its attempt to secure a major NHS contract. Spanish bank Santander is upping it pay-out to 50%. Lastly, Brookfield Asset Management is considering raising $20bn for a second energy transition fund.
Xbox Game Pass launches in new territories
With Microsoft’s [MSFT] acquisition of Activision Blizzard [ATVI] in limbo, the big tech giant launched Xbox Game Pass in dozens of new countries on Tuesday. Revenue from Xbox content and services decreased 12% in the three months to the end of December, but gaming subscription is being targeted for growth. “When I look at the industry today, that’s not where it is, but it is where it wants to be,” Sarah Bond, Xbox's vice president for game creator experience and ecosystem, told Bloomberg.
Chinese AirPods maker considers relocation
Rising tensions between Washington and Beijing could take a bite out of Apple’s [AAPL] suppliers’ operations unless they relocate production to other countries. According to a Bloomberg report, nine out of the company’s 10 most important suppliers are considering relocating to India and elsewhere. Kazuyoshi Yoshinaga, deputy chairman of AirPods maker GoerTek [002241.SZ], told the channel that the company has been fielding questions from clients about when it can move out of China.
Concerns over Palantir NHS contract bid
A consortium of British companies is vying to win a £480m NHS data contract over Palantir [PLTR], according to the Financial Times. There are concerns that awarding the controversial US firm the contract could jeopardise patient safety, and that sensitive data could be sold on. Back in January, Peter Thiel told the Oxford Union that the UK’s love for the NHS is reminiscent of “Stockholm syndrome”. Palantir has since said it doesn't share its founder’s views.
Santander lifts pay-out policy
Spanish banking giant Santander [BNC.L] has announced plans to pay out half of its profits over the next three years, up from its previous pay-out policy of 40%. “Today we set out our plans to enter a new phase of profitable growth, building a digital bank with branches, powered by the Santander network,” said executive chair Ana Botín in a regulatory filing. Shares were up over 3% Tuesday morning and 32.1% year-to-date.
Brookfield considers second clean energy fund
After raising $15bn for its maiden clean energy fund last June, Brookfield Asset Management [BAM] is considering raising $20bn for a second energy transition fund. The first fund is overseen by former Bank of England governor Mark Carney, who told Bloomberg that investing in clean energy is “an absolute wall of opportunity”. A survey by BloombergNEF has found that many banks are providing more financing for fossil fuel projects despite having pledged to divest.