Stock Take 16/08/2021

Bayer moves to US Supreme Court

Bayer is counting on a supreme court decision in the USA’s multi-billion-dollar glyphosate legal dispute to turn the tide. According to its statements on Monday, the agrochemicals and pharma corporation has petitioned the United States Supreme Court to examine the Hardeman case. 

If the court decides to hear the lawsuit and rules in Bayer’s favour, this would have a signal effect. Bayer hopes that this will put an end to the disputes. Otherwise, the company wants to set up its programme to deal with further lawsuits concerning glyphosate. This could cost Bayer dearly. Bayer CEO Werner Baumann had already announced the move to the Supreme Court. He foresee the judges making a decision on the application within the next six months. 

Sonos scores interim victory in patent dispute with Google

Speaker specialist Sonos has won a stage victory in its patent dispute with Google. A judge at the US ITC concluded that the internet company infringed five patents held by the hi-fi company. The ITC are able to ban the import of goods into the US in cases of patent infringement. The judge’s preliminary decision, published on Friday, still goes before the full commission for review. The deadline for a decision is 13 December.

Sonos targets various Google devices such as Pixel-brand smartphones and Nest-brand connected speakers in the lawsuit filed in early 2020. The patents cover technologies for synchronising audio playback, volume control and Wi-Fi connectivity. Because the majority of the devices are made in Asia, an import ban by the ITC would stop the sale of the technology in the US.

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While Sonos welcomed the judge’s conclusions, Google countered: “We do not use Sonos technology,” a Google spokesperson told the Bloomberg financial service.

Sonos has broadened the scope of the patent battle to other countries, obtaining a preliminary injunction against the sale of some Google devices in Germany. The injunction was overturned on appeal by the internet firm. In the ITS proceedings, Google emphasised that it had technologies that did not infringe the patents cited by Sonos and asked the judges to assess this. Simultaneously, Google filed a counterclaim in the USA, also alleging patent infringement. 

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Sonos is a frontrunner in the field of networked speakers and specialises in sound systems for different rooms in a home. Sonos shares rose up 4.69 per cent to 39.93 US dollars in NASDAQ trading.

The government sells a portion of its Lufthansa stock

The German government plans to offload part of its block of shares in Lufthansa in the next few weeks. “Against the background of the (…) positive company development”, the Economic Stabilisation Fund (WSF) will reduce its stake of 20 per cent by a maximum of one quarter, the German Finance Agency announced on Monday. The sale is to begin on Monday. The federal government had acquired the stake for 300 million euros as part of a multi-billion euro support package for the airline, which got into trouble during the Corona crisis. The package is now worth more than one billion euros on the stock exchange.

The WSF had been set up to help important companies get over the Corona crisis. “Following the initial success of the forward-looking measures initiated by Deutsche Lufthansa, the WSF is thus adjusting its shareholding level in a targeted manner, taking into account the interests of both sides,” the statement said. “Within the framework of the existing stabilisation measures, WSF will continue to accompany Deutsche Lufthansa following its position as a major shareholder.”

The timing was unexpected, according to some traders, because there had been conversations about how much the state would participate in the upcoming capital increase rather than selling shares in Lufthansa for that purpose. He suspects that the reason behind this is the upcoming Bundestag elections.

“It looks as if the government wants to realise part of its enormous book profits before the election in September, to show that taxpayers’ money has brought a good return.” In doing so, he recalled that when the government stepped in to save Lufthansa in the face of the corona crisis, it had paid a nominal value of about €2.56 per share.

Lufthansa shares suffered significantly on Monday and had fallen by 3.57 per cent to 8.93 euros, making them one of the biggest losers in the MDAX.

HSBC plans acquisition of Axa Singapore

The British bank HSBC wants to buy the insurer Axa Singapore for 575 million US dollars. The move will strengthen the Asia-focused bank’s efforts to expand its wealth management business in the region. Insurance arm HSBC Insurance (Asia-Pacific) Holdings Ltd will acquire the entire stake, HSBC said.

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Once the acquisition is completed, Axa Singapore’s business will be merged with HSBC’s life insurance business in Singapore, a major centre for wealth operations in Southeast Asia. The proposed transaction, subject to regulatory approval, is an important step towards HSBC’s stated goal of becoming one of the leading wealth managers in Asia by 2025.

HSBC shares fell 1.64 per cent to GBP 4.05 in London on Monday.

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