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SoftBank’s Vision Fund has made another massive bet on autonomous driving technology, this time leading a $940m investment into Nuro.ai, a maker of robot delivery vans.
The group was founded in 2016 by two veterans of Google’s self-driving car team, now known as Waymo, after they decided delivering groceries was a more achievable goal for autonomous vehicles than passenger-carrying robo-taxis.
The deal will add to SoftBank’s expanding portfolio in the transportation-technology market, following its Vision Fund’s $2.3bn investment in General Motors’ self-driving car unit. It also holds stakes in ride-hailing services such as Uber and is part of a joint venture with Toyota to provide mobility services, including food deliveries. In the news
Brexit gloom UK prime minister Theresa May has indicated her willingness to work with Labour to break the Brexit impasse, offering fresh concessions on workers’ rights. The news comes as reports show the economy slowed sharply in the fourth quarter of last year. Meanwhile, the FT’s Wolfgang Münchau is certain that Brexit will happen and says “history tells us we should not draw conclusions from the lack of agreement at this moment”. (FT)
A bet on millennials Morgan Stanley has acquired Canadian stock plans administrator Solium Capital for $900m in a play to position itself as a leading wealth manager for future millennial millionaires. (FT)
Malaysian ex-PM trial postponed The most sensational trial in Malaysia’s history was previously expected to begin on Tuesday with the former prime minister Najib Razak facing more than 40 criminal charges linked to government entities and the scandal-tarred 1MDB. The postponement is a likely setback in what is a key test of Malaysia’s ability to tackle corruption. (Reuters, FT) Najib Razak faces 42 charges related to 1MDB and his wife, Rosmah, about 20 © Getty
IMF backs Fed rate pause What is good for Trump is good for the world. So says Gita Gopinath , the new chief economist of the IMF. The first woman to hold the job has endorsed the Fed’s pause on raising rates in an FT interview, saying emerging markets will benefit. Meanwhile, the FT’s Gavyn Davies says that the US central bank has been helped by a growing number of workers in the prime working age group of 25-54 years old, especially women. (FT)
China denies Uighur musician died in camp The foreign ministry has rejected Turkey’s allegation that a famous Uighur Muslim musician had died in detention, calling the statement “absurd lies” after state media released a video purporting to be of the musician. (FT) Protestors at a rally held earlier this month in the US demand freedom for Uighurs held in detention camps in China © AFP The day ahead
Catalonia separatists trail Proceedings for Spain’s most sensitive trial in four decades of democracy will begin on Tuesday with 12 Catalan separatists facing charges of rebellion and sedition. Regardless of the outcome, the government is bracing itself for a fight in the court of public opinion. (FT)
Mike Pompeo in Europe The US secretary of state started his five-nation European tour in Hungary on Monday, spreading a message of concern about China and Russia’s growing influence in central Europe. His next stop will be Slovakia , on Tuesday, before heading to Poland. (FT, AP)
Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s Week Ahead . What we’re reading
‘Belt and Road’ debt The four-lane China-Maldives Friendship Bridge links the Maldivian capital with its international airport and the fast-growing artificial island of Hulhumale. Chinese funding was central to the project and it was portrayed as an example of how the Belt and Road Initiative could help drive development in smaller countries. But the Indian Ocean island’s newly elected government takes a different view. It says the Chinese investment is a “ debt trap ”. (FT)
Davos dispute Davos is the Swiss ski resort where every year the world’s elite from the worlds of business, finance and public policy meet. But this year a regular attendee was absent. Andrea Orcel , the former UBS banker, was blocked from going by Banco Santander, the Spanish bank that was expected to hire the star banker but withdrew its offer following last-minute disagreements over his pay package — and whether he could attend the conference. (FT)
Priyanka Gandhi begins campaign The younger sister of India’s opposition leader Rahul Gandhi, stepped up the pressure on prime minister Narendra Modi on Monday as she formally launched the Congress party’s parliamentary election campaign in Uttar Pradesh , a crucial state in India’s north. (FT, Nikkei Asian Review)
Insect-ageddon The world’s insects are hurtling down the path to extinction , threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, according to the first global scientific review. Insects are by far the most varied and abundant animals, outweighing humanity by 17 times. But their rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. (Guardian)
Gene-i-ous ideas Can gene editing save the banana from a deadly fungus before it spreads to Latin America, devastating the farms that provide three-quarters of the world’s banana exports? Can it create peanuts that do not cause allergies or low-gluten wheat? A fascinating Big Read on how agritech is fighting to shape the food we eat. (FT)
China spending Foreign investors poured a record $9bn into Chinese equities in January, the largest single-month inflow on record, betting the mainland market has bottomed out after a disastrous 2018. But Chinese consumers have yet to feel a boost. China’s lunar new year spending was the slowest since they began tracking the data in 2005. (FT)
The Grammys: they’re trying The Recording Academy is usually a punching bag for popular-music fans and artists, who have been frustrated by the show’s stodgy, rock-leaning sensibilities and the lack of diversity among its performers, nominees and winners. But this weekend’s show was among its most forward-looking ceremonies in recent memory. (New Yorker)
Native ambitions Michael Gianaris has spent virtually his entire life in the Queens neighbourhood of Astoria. Now a Democratic state senator, he is leading the opposition to Amazon’s plan to build a satellite headquarters nearby in Long Island City. He has become a thorn in the side of Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic governor who led the project to recruit the tech giant to the area. (FT) Video of the day
Iran’s revolution — 40 years on The FT’s Middle East editor Andrew England reflects on the celebrations in Tehran of the 1979 Islamic revolution. Read more here . (FT) Get alerts on World when a new story is published Get alerts Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Promoted Content