Refinitiv, Nokia's Snake, and a food tragedy

Happy mid-autumn festival, everyone! Here’s what I have for you this week -


The London Stock Exchange (LSE) has been in operation since 1571 – so they’ve done roughly 500 years of standing between market participants to make money. Which is why they decided to buy Refinitiv (the guys that brought you the Eikon terminal) from Thomson Reuters and Blackstone for $27bn, and get into the financial data business, diversifying their revenue stream. Post shareholder approval, LSE will now go to antitrust authorities to get the deal examined, and it is possible that the regulators might throw a spanner in the works. In any case, the deal has a “long-stop date” of end of May 2021, which means that Refinitiv will be paid a break fee of US$198.3m if the deal isn’t completed by then. If the deal does go through, WSJ reports that the clearest winner of it is Blackstone, which put in US$3 billion in Refinitiv in 2018 and will walk away with around $7.5 billion (in LSE stock, though, not cash) if the deal is completed within the next two years. Not a bad payout for three years of work.


I don’t know about you guys, but I was hella addicted to the “Snake” game on the old-school monochrome Nokia phones. If you played the game too, then I think you’ll like this oral history of it. Turns out that it was the game that started “the era of gaming on mobile phones”, and that at its peak “it was available on over 350 million mobile phones worldwide”. In 2005, Taneli Armanto, the guy who made it, received a special award for his role in making the game. Today, he’s a systems architect at a data management company, living a contented life with the knowledge that he made something that changed many a child’s (and adult’s) attitude towards mobile phones.


China scrapped the QFII (Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor) quotas that controlled foreign investment in domestic financial markets on Monday. While the quota was at US$150 billion in 2018 (they later increased it to US$300 billion), the actual QFII investment that came into China was only around two-thirds of that (or even less, at times). Then why did China scrap the quotas? It’s not like foreigners were falling over each other to invest in the markets. There are very real issues with the Chinese financial markets, and removing foreign investment quotas does absolutely zilch towards fixing them. At best, some more QFIIs invest their money. At worst, you increase the size of a meltdown (if it happens, and when it happens) in your markets, and like history shows, it’ll be the retail investors who’ll get burned.


In other news, a hungry man opened the last can of Heinz baked beans on his cupboard and found exactly one bean in it. It’s a funny story, but not when it happens to you, when you’re hungry.


Japan, the closed-off island nation of Sony, anime, samurais and heated toilet seats, is running out of young people. What’s funny is that I know at least 5 nations who would give an arm and a leg to be where Japan is right now. Anyway, they’ve got a new immigration policy that just might work for their situation – unskilled, low-skilled, and semi-skilled labour is put through an Asian parent-style intensive course in the Japanese language and culture, and an examination at the end of it that determines if they can stay on or not. Typical. Their policy for skilled immigrants is different – if you have a good job, by all means, come on in and have fun - learning the language can happen later.


Have a good weekend, and enjoy the mooncakes!