Shipping groups and car parts suppliers punished with €546m
The European Commission imposes €546m ($673.49m) fines to car shipping groups and car parts suppliers for anti-competitive behaviour, the EU executive announced last Wednesday. “The three separate decisions taken today show that we will not tolerate anticompetitive behaviour affecting European consumers and industries,” Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy said.
Australia, US, Japan and India join forces against Belt and Road initiative
The US, Japan, India and Australia could soon join forces to set up an alternative to China's Belt and Road Initiative in an attempt to counter Beijing's growing influence.
 
Sardinia's Meridiana re-branded in order to replace bankrupt Alitalia
Meridiana, an airline based in Sardinia, launched its bid last Monday to become Italy's leading carrier with a new name: Air Italy, news wires reported. The new airline, which is part-owned by Qatar Airways, aims to replace Alitalia, the bankrupt flag carrier that is in the process of being auctioned off in parts to other European airlines.
 
Global dividends hit record
Global dividends rose 7.7% to an all-time high of $1.25tn (€1tn) in 2017, Janus Henderson said last Monday, predicting another record year ahead.
Israel, Egypt ink $15bn gas deal
Delek, the Israeli oil and natural gas explorations group announced last Monday it signed a deal, worth about $15bn, to sell 64bn cubic metres gas over 10 years to the private Egyptian company Dolphinus Holdings.
S. Arabia woos investors with bankruptcy law
Saudi Arabia's cabinet approved a bankruptcy law, news wires reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.
Deutsche Bank cuts investment banking jobs
Deutsche Bank is to cut at least 250 investment banking jobs in several locations, including London and the US, in attempt to lower expenses amid a sustained slide in its securities unit, news wires reported.
Alibaba, Tencent in $10 billion retail battle
China's tech giants Alibaba Group Holding and Tencent Holdings, worth a combined $1tn, are on a retail investment binge, forcing merchants to choose sides amid a battle for shoppers' digital wallets, Reuters reported.
In Brief
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Austria bitcoin related fraud sparks EU-wide probe
 
Authorities investigating a bitcoin-related scam in Austria have asked Interpol to help determine whether there might be perpetrators and victims of the scheme across Europe. Hundreds of Austrians have complained of being defrauded by the Optioment scheme dealing in the digital currency, according to the Vienna public prosecutor's office. Investors were promised returns of up to 4% per week for investing bitcoins into the opaque scheme, which initially did offer dividends before suddenly collapsing in November. 

Qualcomm further raises bid for NXP Semiconductors
 
Chip giant Qualcomm is set to raise its bid for NXP Semiconductors to about $44bn in an effort to win shareholder support for the acquisition, according to people familiar with the matter. The move could also help Qualcomm as it tries to fend off a $121bn takeover approach from Broadcom, which has threatened to withdraw its offer if Qualcomm makes a higher offer for NXP. The move is meant to appease Elliott Management Corp. and several other hedge funds that had argued the original bid was too low. NXP is headquartered in the Netherlands but listed in New York.

Venezuela launches its 'petro' cryptocurrency
 
The Venezuelan government officially launched last week the pre-sale of its controversial 'petro' cryptocurrency, news wires reported. The new coin is said to be backed by commodities, including oil, of which the country has notable reserves. The petro was first announced in early December 2017 by President Nicolas Maduro as a way to circumvent US sanctions, amid an economic crisis and a plunge in the value of the bolivar. According to Latin American news source Telesur, 82.4m tokens were made initially available. Maduro has previously said that 100m petros will be issued, valued at over $6bn.

Cuba prepares to scrap dual currency system
 
Cuba is going to scrap its unique dual currency system, introduced more than two decades ago to protect the fragile economy in the wake of the collapse of its biggest sponsor, the Soviet Union. President Raul Castro (pictured), who will leave office in April, indicated that the time for dual currency has expired. Observers believe that a meeting of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) next month will finally set the end of Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), introduced in 1994 alongside the Cuban Peso (CUP). 

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