In today’s top stories, EV battery suppliers based outside of China — among them Panasonic — stand to see significant benefits from the IRA, and their share prices are responding accordingly. Elsewhere, Microsoft is to make OpenAI’s LLMs available to US federal agencies via its Azure Government cloud service. TikTok is reportedly hoping to quadruple its global ecommerce business to hit $20bn in merchandise sales in 2023. UK fibre-optic start-up Gigaclear has recently raised investment commitments of up to £420m of equity. Lastly, the board of Toshiba Corp will encourage shareholders to accept a tender offer from a group spearheaded by Japan Industrial Partners.
Microsoft brings LLMs to Washington
Microsoft [MSFT] has announced that it is to make large language models (LLMs) available to US federal agencies. Subscribers to the tech giant’s Azure Government cloud service will gain access to GPT-4, the latest and most powerful of OpenAI’s LLMs. This represents the first time that the technology has formally been made available to government bodies. GPT services are already available through Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI Service, which as of last month had 4,500 commercial customers.
EV battery makers see IRA boost
Electric vehicle (EV) battery suppliers based outside of China stand to see significant benefits from the Inflation Reduction Act, and their share prices are responding accordingly: Panasonic [PCRFY] stock has climbed 36.6% this year, while LG Energy [373220.KS] is up 38.7%; by contrast, China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. [300750.SZ] is down 4% Meanwhile, Lucid [LCID], a US luxury EV maker, is planning to move into the Chinese auto market, the world’s largest, initially to sell imported models, but with a view to in-country production.
TikTok aims to 4x sales
TikTok is reportedly hoping to more than quadruple its global ecommerce business to hit $20bn in merchandise sales in 2023, which would be a considerable jump on last year’s $4.4bn. Elsewhere in social media, Meta [META] yesterday launched WhatsApp Channels, a feature which it hopes will transform the app into a “private broadcast messaging product”. Users in Colombia and Singapore will trial the product. Lastly, Spotify [SPOT] is moving to make some of its most popular podcasts available on other streaming platforms, in a bid to reach more listeners.
UK broadband network sees impressive funding round
UK start-up Gigaclear builds fibre-optic connections to bring high-speed internet to rural homes. It has recently raised investment commitments of up to £420m of equity, led by infrastructure investor Equitix. Gigaclear is owned by Infracapital, the infrastructure unit of M&G PLC [MNG.L], which will remain the majority holder. This will be welcome news for the UK fibre-optics sector, which is going through a challenging period: for example, earlier this week Jurassic Fibre, which operates in the southwest of England, announced job losses.
Toshiba board to call on shareholders to accept buy-out
The board of Japanese multinational Toshiba Corp [6502.T] will invite shareholders to accept a tender offer, set to be launched in July, from a group spearheaded by Japan Industrial Partners. The board accepted the $14bn buyout offer in March, but said that the offer price per share was too low to recommend to shareholders. Yesterday, however, they decided the price was a fair one, not least because the book value of Toshiba’s 40.6% stake in Kioxia Holdings, a memory chipmaker, had seen a steep drop-off in the intervening weeks.
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