– The SEC announced charges against two key allies of disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried: Caroline Ellison, former CEO of FTX’s affiliate trading firm Alameda Research, and FTX co-founder Gary Wang, reported Decrypt.
– According to Reuters (paywall), BlackRock plans no major changes to the way it engages with companies and votes on environmental and social issues in the year ahead, despite a backlash against its stance on climate change from some US Republican politicians. The world’s biggest asset manager, which oversees around $8 tn for investors, has been challenged by some Republican lawmakers as it pushes companies to make changes as part of a global transition to a low-carbon economy. Against that backdrop, BlackRock said in an annual update on its stewardship policies, which guide talks with boards ahead of shareholder meetings, that it had made only a ‘few changes’.
– In tech news, shares in electric vehicle maker Tesla dropped by almost 9 percent on Thursday as analysts grow increasingly uncertain of the company’s outlook. The stock is down nearly 70 percent year-to-date, said CNBC in a report. Tesla began to offer $7,500 discounts on some of its high-priced electric vehicles in the US earlier this week, doubling its previous incentives, in an effort to encourage customers to take deliveries. It’s also offering credits in Canada and Mexico. The company had already cut the price of cars in China in October.
Reporting on the same news, The Street noted that this will not be a year to remember for Tesla’s investors but, if they do, they will probably remember that in a few months, the value of a portfolio can completely melt away.
– Facebook owner Meta Platforms agreed to pay $725 mn to resolve a class action lawsuit accusing the social media giant of allowing third parties, including Cambridge Analytica, to access users’ personal information. This is according to a report from investing.com via Reuters. The proposed settlement, disclosed in a court filing this week, would resolve a long-running lawsuit prompted by revelations in 2018 that Facebook allowed the British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica to access the data of as many as 87 mn users. Lawyers for the plaintiffs called the proposed settlement the largest ever achieved in a US data privacy class action and the most that Meta has ever paid to resolve a class action lawsuit.
– Elsewhere, with the dust barely settled on the stock upgrades fueled by China’s reopening, the rally may already be over, reported Bloomberg (paywall) in an article.
China’s benchmark share gauges failed to climb on Friday even as officials were said to be planning to further roll back Covid restrictions next month. The Shanghai Composite Index has fallen back to near the level it was at just before authorities started relaxing curbs on November 11, 2022.
– According to Reuters, European Union member states this week rejected plans to ban brokers earning fees in return for directing share trades to specific trading platforms, part of a sweeping stock market overhaul to compete better with post-Brexit London. Payment for order flow drew scrutiny last year when an army of retail investors flocked to ‘meme’ stocks on Wall Street, using brokers that touted for business by charging zero fees, making money by sending orders to an agreed venue for execution, rather than looking for the best prices. The European Commission proposed a ban on such payments as part of its draft law updating the bloc’s securities rules, known as Mifid II, to make it easier for companies to raise funds on markets.