TOP NEWS SUMMARY: Swiss Re Rethinks ReAssure IPO; France OKs GAFA Tax

(Alliance News) - The following is a summary of top news stories ...

Alliance News 11 July, 2019 | 11:19AM
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(Alliance News) - The following is a summary of top news stories Thursday.
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COMPANIES
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Swiss Re said it has suspended plans to float its UK business ReAssure Group in London after potential investors' interest fell off because of the poorer global economic outlook and concerns about a possible no-deal Brexit. At the end of June, ReAssure had set the price range for a July initial public offering at between 280 pence and 330p per share, implying a market capitalisation between GBP2.8 billion and GBP3.3 billion. At the time, the UK life insurance consolidator has confirmed its IPO would go ahead during July, with a float of 26% of ReAssure's issued share capital. The IPO was intended to consist of insurance giant Swiss Re selling shares in its UK business, ReAssure, and the move would have seen Swiss Re's stake fall below 50% from 75% currently.
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Reckitt Benckiser said it agreed with the US Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to resolve an investigation into the sales and marketing of Suboxone Film by former prescription pharmaceuticals arm Indivior. In September 2016, 35 US states and the District of Columbia filed a civil complaint against Indivior in relation to its ongoing legal privilege dispute with the US Federal Trade Commission. Since then, the commission has been investigating whether Indivior, then owned by former parent Reckitt, tried to prevent generic competition for its Suboxone Film opioid addiction treatment. The FTSE 100-listed consumer goods firm said it will pay up to USD1.4 billion to fully resolve all federal investigations into Reckitt in connection with the Indivior indictment and claims relating to state Medicaid programs for those states choosing to participate in the settlement. The settlement amount will be funded through existing borrowing facilities and cash generation, Reckitt said.
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Indivior said it revised its expectations for 2019 net revenue and net income higher following a stronger-than-expected first half. Indivior highlighted that the primary driver of growth has been the market share outperformance of Suboxone Film. Indivior said it now expects net revenue for 2019 to be in a range of USD670 million to USD720 million and net income in a range of USD80 million to USD130 million. The company had previously expected net revenue to come in between USD525 million and USD575 million, and net income was not seen higher than USD10 million. In 2018, Indivior delivered net revenue of USD1.00 billion and net income of USD275 million.
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Land Securities Group said Chief Executive Robert Noel intends to retire during 2020 after spending ten years with the commercial property investment company. The FTSE 100 commercial property developer said it will start a formal search process to find a successor. Noel will continue in his role until his successor is appointed and for an appropriate handover period, Land Securities said.
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France on Thursday became the first major economy to impose a tax on digital giants, with parliament passing the legislation in defiance of a probe ordered by President Donald Trump that could trigger reprisal tariffs. The new law aims at plugging a taxation gap that has seen some internet heavyweights paying next to nothing in countries where they make huge profits. The legislation – dubbed the GAFA tax – an acronym for Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon – was passed by a simple show of hands in the Senate upper house after previously being passed by the National Assembly lower chamber. But the French move drew an angry response from Trump even before the legislation was passed, with the president ordering an investigation that the French economy minister said was unprecedented in the history of French-US relations. The law will levy a 3.0% tax on total annual revenues of the largest tech firms providing services to French consumers.
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MARKETS
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London shares were higher on hopes of an imminent US interest rate cut following Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's testimony to Congress on Wednesday. Wall Street was pointed to a higher open, looking to challenge fresh record highs reached on Wednesday. Powell's testimony before Congress will continue at 1500 BST on Thursday. Brent oil hit a six-week high as oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico were evacuated ahead of a hurricane.
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FTSE 100: up 0.3% at 7,550.83
FTSE 250: up 0.4% at 19,492.47
AIM ALL-SHARE: up 0.1% at 915.52

GBP: up at USD1.2535 (USD1.2493)
EUR: up at USD1.1268 (USD1.1248)

GOLD: up at USD1,422.93 per ounce (USD1,407.00)
OIL (Brent): up at USD67.46 a barrel (USD66.10)

(changes since previous London equities close)
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ECONOMICS AND GENERAL
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US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Wednesday left the door open to an interest rate cut this month, pointing to uncertainty about trade frictions and global growth. Powell also was defiant in the face of a constant stream of criticism from President Donald Trump, saying the Fed pays no attention to such commentary and that he would not step down should Trump try to fire him. In remarks welcomed by Wall Street, Powell said many central bankers believed the case for lower rates "had strengthened" last month given the rising "crosscurrents" in the economy. In his highly-anticipated testimony to Congress, he repeatedly stressed the importance of keeping the US economy growing to ensure its benefits reach Americans left at the margins and said the central bank will deploy all its tools to support continued expansion.
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Iran's Revolutionary Guards denied they had impeded a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, the force's Sepah news agency said. "There has been no confrontation in the last 24 hours with any foreign vessels, including British ones," the Revolutionary Guards said in a statement. Britain said three Iranian boats had attempted to "impede the passage" of a British oil tanker in Gulf waters, forcing UK warship HMS Montrose to intervene. The Guards' statement said that if they were ordered to seize foreign vessels they would do so "immediately, decisively and speedily." The incident follows the detention of an Iranian oil tanker by Britain on July 4 off the coast of Gibraltar.
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The US has accused Iran of trying to "extort" money from the international community by violating the 2015 nuclear accord. The comments were made by Washington's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, a global watchdog that has been monitoring Iran's nuclear activity under the increasingly fragile deal. "There is no credible reason for Iran to expand its nuclear programme, and there is no way to read this as anything other than a crude and transparent attempt to extort payments from the international community," Jackie Wolcott told the agency's 35-nation board of governors in Vienna. Wolcott repeated that Washington is "open to negotiation without preconditions" and called on Tehran to reverse the recent violations.
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UK Chancellor Philip Hammond has said he does not expect to serve in a Boris Johnson-led Cabinet as he signalled he will be a "nightmare" to the front runner in the Tory leadership race over a no-deal Brexit. Hammond insisted he would use the Commons backbenches to "vigorously" battle any attempt at withdrawing from the EU without a deal. Asked if he would jump before he was pushed if Johnson takes the Tory crown in two weeks' time, Hammond told ITV's Peston: "My expectation is that I will not be serving in the next administration."
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The European Parliament will vote Tuesday on the controversial nomination of Germany's Ursula von der Leyen as European Commission president, amid uncertainty whether she will clear the final hurdle. Members of parliament will hear a statement from von der Leyen and then debate her nomination before putting it to a vote, a parliamentary spokesman announced on Thursday. The German defence minister has been on a charm offensive to win over European lawmakers after her name was put forward by EU leaders in a surprise announcement last Tuesday.
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German inflation accelerated in June, as initially estimated, on higher package holiday prices, figures from Destatis showed. The consumer price index rose 1.6% year-on-year in June, reaffirming the provisional reading and faster than the 1.4% rise recorded for May. Month-on-month, consumer prices were up 0.3%, again in line with the flash reading.
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