October 30th Briefing: British election, Aramco IPO, WhatsApp files suit and more…

By November 1, 2019 No Comments

Protests force Lebanon PM out

Saad Hariri, Lebanon’s Prime Minister, has announced his resignation after two weeks of protests. The protests were sparked by a plan to tax WhatsApp calls, though this proposal has since been withdrawn. Issues such as fuel and food prices also came to the fore during protests.

Hezbollah, a militia and political party, supports Mr Hariri’s coalition government and have met protestors with violence. Lebanon’s President, Michel Aoun, will have to appoint a new Prime Minister with Mr Hariri carrying on in a caretaker role.

UK Parliament votes for general election

The British House of Commons has agreed to hold a general election on December 12. It will bring to an end a Parliament that has frequently clashed with the minority government of Boris Johnson. 438 MPs voted for the one-line bill to 20 who voted against it. It will be the first December election in the UK since 1923, which produced a hung parliament

The Conservatives are ahead in many polls, by as much as 15%. Labour argues that that is similar to prior to the 2017 election when Labour gained 30 seats.

Boeing boss grilled by Congress

Members of the Senate Commerce Committee accused Boeing of putting profits before safety as they questioned Dennis Muilenburg, the company’s CEO, over the 737 Max approval process. Two 737s crashed leading to the deaths of 346 people. Lawmakers said Boeing knew of issues with the MCAS system, which has been implicated in the crashes.

The 737 model involved has been grounded since March. The 737 makes up 70% of Boeing’s commercial jet sales. Its grounding has cost Boeing around $9.2bn.

Saudi Aramco to launch IPO on December 11

The Saudi Arabian national oil company will begin the IPO process on November 3, according to sources close to the firm. It will price shares in early December before floating on the Tadawul, Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange. The Saudi government hopes the company will be valued at $2trn, double what Apple and Microsoft, the two next most valuable companies, are worth.

Saudi Aramco made $111bn in net income throughout 2018. It plans to allow a small portion, around 3%, of its shares to trade publicly.

WhatsApp sues Israeli hacking firm

WhatsApp, the messaging service owned by Facebook, has filed a lawsuit against NSO Group, an Israeli cybersecurity firm. They accuse it of infecting around 1,400 phones with software, through WhatsApp, that allowed spying on the owners. Journalists, politicians and diplomats were all targeted by NSO.

NSO says that it only provides tech to fight serious crime and terrorism. Only agencies from certain, licensed countries can use their tech. WhatsApp wants an injunction stopping NSO from using the tech.