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Will cannabis legalisation boost Germany’s economy by $4.7bn?

In today’s top stories, Germany looks set to legalise marijuana, in a move which could generate considerable tax revenue. Elsewhere, Virgin Orbit’s financial future hinges on a successful launch. The collapse of Silvergate Capital and Signature Bank has nudged crypto firms to turn to Switzerland. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew will tell the US Congress that ByteDance is not an agent of China. Lastly, Google has opened early access to chatbot Bard to users in the UK and US.

Virgin Orbit close to raising $200m

Rocket builder Virgin Orbit [VORB] is recalling a small team of employees to its offices today, with its financial future in doubt. “Any viable path for our operations will require us to successfully launch,” CEO Dan Hart told staff in an email seen by CNBC. The company could be thrown a lifeline in the form of $200m from venture investor Matthew Brown, Reuters reported Wednesday morning.

Germany close to cannabis legalisation

Europe’s biggest economy is edging closer to making it legal to sell and consume cannabis. The passing of the bill expected in the next few weeks should lift pot stocks, including Cantourage Group [HIGH.DE], which went public last November and is down 32.3% year-to-date. The Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics has forecast that a legalised cannabis market in Germany could generate €4.7bn per year in annual tax revenue and cost savings. 

Crypto firms turn to Switzerland

The collapse of crypto-friendly lenders Silvergate Capital and Signature Bank has seen multiple companies scrambling to find alternative partners. A number are turning to Switzerland, despite the Credit Suisse crisis having potentially damaged the country’s reputation as a finance hub. Investors, asset managers and blockchain projects are “looking to diversify their crypto investments with a trusted Swiss partner”, Dominic Castley, chief marketing officer at Sygnum, a leading Swiss bank focused on servicing digital asset companies, told CNBC.

TikTok CEO to testify before congress

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew will tell Congress later today that the company will firewall US user data from unauthorised foreign access. The app has been threatened with a ban if its Chinese owner doesn’t sell its stake. “ByteDance is not an agent of China or any other country,” Chew said in his prepared testimony. “Rather, our approach has been to work transparently and cooperatively with the US government.”

Google Bard opens to users

Google [GOOGL] has opened early access to chatbot Bard to users in the UK and US. The move has likely been accelerated by the fact Microsoft’s [MSFT] Bing search engine is running on OpenAI’s GPT-4, the latest iteration of its ChatGPT large language model. Google is also teaming up with Nvidia [NVDA] to launch AI-focused hardware, a partnership the chipmaker’s CEO Jensen Huang described as a “very big event”.

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