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The latest news from Business Insider

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    Theresa May Jean-Claude Juncker

    • The EU has sent a letter to Theresa May ahead of the crunch Brexit deal vote in the UK parliament. 
    • British MPs are set to vote overwhelmingly against the deal when it comes before the House of Commons on Tuesday.
    • May is under pressure to abandon her deal, as MPs from across the House pressure her to back a second referendum, call a general election, or delay Brexit.
    • The letter falls well short of the "legally binding reassurances" May had sought from the EU on the question of the Northern Irish backstop.

    LONDON — The European Union has sent an attempted letter of reassurance to Prime Minister Theresa May in a last-ditch attempt to save its Brexit deal with the UK. 

    The House of Commons is due on Tuesday to vote overwhelmingly against the deal, which was agreed with the EU in November, in what some forecasts suggest could be the biggest defeat for any UK government on record.

    Opposition to the deal centres on the controversial backstop agreement which will take effect if no deal is struck on the UK's future relationship with the EU by the end of December 2020 that avoids a hard border on the island of Ireland.

    Under this proposal, which May has insisted would only be temporary, the UK would be tied to EU customs rules for an unspecified period of time while new border checks would emerge between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

    The letter from the European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, seeks to reassure the UK that any backstop would be "temporary" and apply only "as long as strictly necessary."

    They state that it would "only apply temporarily, unless and until it is superseded by a subsequent agreement that ensures that a hard border is avoided, and that the European Union, in such a case, would use its best endeavours to negotiate and conclude expeditiously a subsequent agreement that would replace the backstop, and would expect the same of the United Kingdom, so that the backstop would only be in place for as long as strictly necessary."

    The letter also suggests that the accompanying Brexit political declaration will have legal force, due to being published alongside the legally binding Withdrawal Agreement in the EU Official Journal.

    However, it stops well short of the kind of legally binding assurance that the prime minister had originally sought when she postponed the planned Commons vote on her deal in December.

    Labour's Shadow Brexit Secretary, Sir Keir Starmer, said that May had "failed to deliver" on her Brexit promises.

    He added: "This is a long way from the significant and legally effective commitment the Prime Minister promised last month. It is a reiteration of the EU’s existing position. Once again, nothing has changed."

    Donald Tusk

    It was also dismissed by the Democratic Unionist Party, which props up May's minority government.

    "Despite a letter of supposed reassurance from the European Union, there are no 'legally binding assurances' as the Prime Minister talked about in December," DUP Deputy Leader Nigel Dodd said.

    "In fact, there is nothing new. Nothing has changed."

    Labour MP and supporter of anti-Brexit group Best For Britain Ian Murray said the letter offered "nothing but a fig leaf that fails to cover up the massive shortcomings in the Prime Minister’s deal."

    One senior EU source told Business Insider that the EU had "refused to put an end date on trade talks as they can't do that — obviously."

    Speaking in Stoke-on-Trent, May insisted that "the letters published today have legal force," adding that "they make absolutely clear that the Backstop is not a threat or a trap."

    She also called on MPs to back her deal, or risk preventing Brexit altogether.

    She said that if the deal is rejected "we would be sending a message from Westminster, to people in places like Stoke, that your voice doesn't count."

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: MSNBC host Chris Hayes thinks President Trump's stance on China is 'not at all crazy'


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    Cathay Pacific's new livery 2

    • Cathay Pacific Airways isn't having the best start to 2019.
    • In its second blunder of the year, the airline sold first class tickets from Hong Kong to Portugal on Sunday for $1,512 instead of $16,000.
    • It is apparently honouring the cheap prices.
    • The news comes after the airline accidentally sold business and first class tickets for $675 on New Year's Day.

    On New Year's Day, Cathay Pacific Airways briefly sold business and first class tickets at a fraction of their retail price due to a ticketing error, and it honoured the cheap prices.

    Now, the airline has had its second blunder this month, with first class tickets from Hong Kong to Portugal being sold for $1,512 instead of $16,000 — and it looks like passengers who were lucky enough to grab the accidental deal will once again be allowed to travel with the ticket.

    Read more: Cathay Pacific accidentally sold $16,000 first and business class flights for $675, and it's honoring the discount fares

    The cheap tickets were on sale until at least 11.30 a.m. on Sunday, according to the South China Morning Post.

    "We are aware of an error on some fares from Europe on our website because of an input issue," a spokesperson said in a statement. "The sale of such fares was stopped immediately."

    The airline added that it is looking into the cause of the error, both internally and externally.

    "For the very small number of customers who have purchased these tickets, we look forward to welcoming you on board to enjoy our premium services," it added, despite the fact the error may have cost the airline millions of dollars.

    Airlines do not always honour an error fare.

    While Singapore Airlines honoured tickets sold for less than half their original price in 2014, United Airlines cancelled ones sold for $100 by a "third party software provider" in 2015, according to the BBC.

    "Human errors can happen, no matter how sophisticated a company is," Civic Party lawmaker and commercial pilot Jeremy Tam Man-ho told the SCMP. "But if the same kind of errors happen repeatedly in a short space of time, it may indicate a bigger problem."

    It looks like 2019 won't be much kinder to Cathay. In September last year, the airline was ridiculed for spelling its name wrong on the side of one of its planes— missing an "f" from "Pacific," spelling out: "Cathay Paciic."

    Last October, the airline also suffered a data breach which jeopardised the personal information of over nine million passengers.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: We tried the Costco food court and it totally blew us away


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    US Flag America Wreckage Destruction Recovery Car

    • Overcapacity is crippling the US automotive industry during what should be a boom time for carmakers. 
    • Despite low fuel prices and low unemployment, the auto industry is laying off workers and closing factories.
    • Carmakers failed to notice the move by customers away from sedans towards SUVs, meaning the industry is showcasing recessionary traits despite record sales in 2018. 

    The US economy, despite lingering recession fears on the horizon, is in good health. Gas prices are low, with oil staying down after record domestic production and the limited success of OPEC's cuts to-date. US unemployment is low, at 3.9%, and wages are also up.

    So why are automakers closing plants and cutting jobs?

    The US-China trade war and car makers' own missteps have made grim reading for the industry. Some of the world's largest manufacturers seemed to miss out on the transition towards big, gas-guzzling SUVs in North America, according to Bloomberg.

    Read more: GM warned Trump that his China tariffs would hurt jobs. He now complains that it's happening.

    Six years ago sedans made up almost half of the auto market in the US, but that's no longer the case as SUV sales rocket. Car makers appear to have missed the boat and are now suffering from overcapacity — churning out three million more vehicles a year than are being bought — the same issue that hit the industry during the last recession.

    The overcapacity plaguing US automakers is the equivalent of 10 excess plants, which would account for at least 20,000 jobs directly, Bloomberg said. A failure to identify a shift in consumer's preference for roomier, and increasingly fuel efficient, SUVs has hit automakers hard. Bloomberg says car companies are now behaving as if a recession has already arrived. 

    Companies now are scrambling to catch up, axing sedan models and ramping up production of SUVs. 

    For context, General Motors announced it was closing six factories last year with thousands of jobs set to disappear in an attempt to raise profits at the company. It also cited higher raw materials costs due to trade war tariffs on key components such as steel.

    Unlike Ford and GM, Fiat Chrysler dropped out of the sedan market in 2016 and its share price dropped. Almost two years later its value has almost tripled, surging 161%, while in the corresponding period Ford is down 27%.

    Overcapacity issues have proved to be dark echoes of 2008 and the government led auto bailout with concerns that some of the US's leading companies could be significantly behind the curve once again. 

    SEE ALSO: GM warned Trump that his China tariffs would hurt jobs. He now complains that it's happening.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The equity chief at $6.3 trillion BlackRock weighs in on the trade war, a possible recession, and offers her best investing advice for a tricky 2019 landscape


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    china shanghai stock exchange

    • A fresh set of troublingly poor data out of China had investors running for cover on Monday, with all major stock indexes around the world losing ground on the week's first trading day.
    • Trade data showed that the value of Chinese imports and exports fell heavily in the year to December.
    • Stocks around the world were lower, with futures pointing to losses of as much as 1.2% for the Nasdaq.
    • European and Asian shares have also dropped, with the market further hindered by thin liquidity in Asia amid a Japanese public holiday.
    • Follow the latest stock moves at Markets Insider.

    A fresh set of troublingly poor data out of China had investors running for cover on Monday, with all major stock indexes around the world losing ground on the week's first trading day.

    The value of Chinese imports and exports fell heavily in the year to December, adding to a lengthening list of evidence that all is not well in the world's second-largest economy.

    According to China's General Administration of Customs, the value of exports tumbled 7.6% from a year earlier in US dollar terms, coming in well below the median economist forecast offered to Reuters for an increase of 5%.

    Imports also fell, and the year-on-year drops were the largest since the second half of 2016.

    Read more:China and the US just agreed to a fresh set of trade-war negotiations — but the government shutdown threatens to derail any progress

    "Weaker than expected trade figures are immediately weighing on commodity and equity markets and associated currency baskets," Stephen Innes, the head of trading in the Asia Pacific region for Oanda, said in an email. "Sorry, no frontloading in this data to hang one's hat on!"

    Stocks were not helped by thin liquidity in Asia amid a Japanese public holiday.

    Here is the roundup:

    • All major indexes in China witnessed losses close to 1%, with a 0.98% fall from the China A50 index the biggest drop on the mainland. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost about 1.6% of its value.
    • European stocks also started on the back foot Monday, with all major indexes deep in negative territory. Losses were generally hovering between 0.8% and 1.2%, with the Euro Stoxx 50 broad index dropping 0.9% as of 11:45 a.m. GMT (6:45 a.m. ET).
    • The FTSE MIB, the benchmark Italian index, was down 1.3%, while Britain's FTSE 100 was 1.1% off.
    • Sliding sentiment in Europe and Asia seemed likely to affect US trading later when the market opened across the Atlantic later in the day. Futures pointed to significant falls in all three major US indexes.
    • The Nasdaq looked to be the worst off, set to open 1.2% lower. The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average were set to trade about 0.9% down at the open.

    SEE ALSO: China is set to poach the US's crown as the world's most powerful economy as soon as next year

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The equity chief at $6.3 trillion BlackRock weighs in on the trade war, a possible recession, and offers her best investing advice for a tricky 2019 landscape


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    eSports Advertising and Sponsorships

    This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here.

    What is eSports? History & Rise of Video Game Tournaments

    Years ago, eSports was a community of video gamers who would gather at conventions to play Counter Strike, Call of Duty, or League of Legends.

    These multiplayer video game competitions would determine League of Legends champions, the greatest shooters in Call of Duty, the cream of the crop of Street Fighter players, the elite Dota 2 competitors, and more.

    But today, as the history of eSports continue to unfold, media giants such as ESPN and Turner are broadcasting eSports tournaments and competitions. And in 2014, Amazon acquired Twitch, the live streaming video platform that has been and continues to be the leader in online gaming broadcasts. And YouTube also wanted to jump on the live streaming gaming community with the creation of YouTube Gaming.

    eSports Market Growth Booming

    To put in perspective how big eSports is becoming, a Google search for "lol" does not produce "laughing out loud" as the top result. Instead, it points to League of Legends, one of the most popular competitive games in existence. The game has spawned a worldwide community called the League of Legends Championship Series, more commonly known as LCS or LOL eSports.

    What started as friends gathering in each other's homes to host LAN parties and play into the night has become an official network of pro gaming tournaments and leagues with legitimate teams, some of which are even sponsored and have international reach. Organizations such as Denial, AHQ, and MLG have multiple eSports leagues.

    And to really understand the scope of all this, consider that the prize pool for the latest Dota 2 tournament was more than $20 million.

    Websites even exist for eSports live scores to let people track the competitions in real time if they are unable to watch. There are even fantasy eSports leagues similar to fantasy football, along with the large and growing scene of eSports betting and gambling.

    So it's understandable why traditional media companies would want to capitalize on this growing trend just before it floods into the mainstream. Approximately 300 million people worldwide tune in to eSports today, and that number is growing rapidly. By 2020, that number will be closer to 500 million.

    eSports Industry Analysis - The Future of the Competitive Gaming Market

    Financial institutions are starting to take notice. Goldman Sachs valued eSports at $500 million in 2016 and expects the market will grow at 22% annually compounded over the next three years into a more than $1 billion opportunity.

    And industry statistics are already backing this valuation and demonstrating the potential for massive earnings. To illustrate the market value, market growth, and potential earnings for eSports, consider Swedish media company Modern Times Group's $87 million acquisition of Turtle Entertainment, the holding company for ESL. YouTube has made its biggest eSports investment to date by signing a multiyear broadcasting deal with Faceit to stream the latter's Esports Championship Series. And the NBA will launch its own eSports league in 2018.

    Of course, as with any growing phenomenon, the question becomes: How do advertisers capitalize? This is especially tricky for eSports because of its audience demographics, which is young, passionate, male-dominated, and digital-first. They live online and on social media, are avid ad-blockers, and don't watch traditional TV or respond to conventional advertising.

    So what will the future of eSports look like? How high can it climb? Could it reach the mainstream popularity of baseball or football? How will advertisers be able to reach an audience that does its best to shield itself from advertising?

    Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has compiled an unparalleled report on the eSports ecosystem that dissects the growing market for competitive gaming. This comprehensive, industry-defining report contains more than 30 charts and figures that forecast audience growth, average revenue per user, and revenue growth.

    Companies and organizations mentioned in the report include: NFL, NBA, English Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, NHL, Paris Saint-Germain, Ligue 1, Ligue de Football, Twitch, Amazon, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, ESPN, Electronic Arts, EA Sports, Valve, Riot Games, Activision Blizzard, ESL, Turtle Entertainment, Dreamhack, Modern Times Group, Turner Broadcasting, TBS Network, Vivendi, Canal Plus, Dailymotion, Disney, BAMTech, Intel, Coca Cola, Red Bull, HTC, Mikonet

    Here are some eSports industry facts and statistics from the report:

    • eSports is a still nascent industry filled with commercial opportunity.
    • There are a variety of revenue streams that companies can tap into.
    • The market is presently undervalued and has significant room to grow.
    • The dynamism of this market distinguishes it from traditional sports.
    • The audience is high-value and global, and its numbers are rising.
    • Brands can prosper in eSports by following the appropriate game plan.
    • Game publishers approach their Esport ecosystems in different ways.  
    • Successful esport games are comprised of the same basic ingredients.
    • Digital streaming platforms are spearheading the popularity of eSports.
    • Legacy media are investing into eSports, and seeing encouraging results.
    • Traditional sports franchises have a clear opportunity to seize in eSports.
    • Virtual and augmented reality firms also stand to benefit from eSports.  

    In full, the report illuminates the business of eSports from four angles:

    • The gaming nucleus of eSports, including an overview of popular esport genres and games; the influence of game publishers, and the spectrum of strategies they adopt toward their respective esport scenes; the role of eSports event producers and the tournaments they operate.
    • The eSports audience profile, its size, global reach, and demographic, psychographic, and behavioral attributes; the underlying factors driving its growth; why they are an attractive target for brands and broadcasters; and the significant audience and commercial crossover with traditional sports.
    • eSports media broadcasters, including digital avant-garde like Twitch and YouTube, newer digital entrants like Facebook and traditional media outlets like Turner’s TBS Network, ESPN, and Canal Plus; their strategies and successes in this space; and the virtual reality opportunity.
    • eSports market economics, with a market sizing, growth forecasts, and regional analyses; an evaluation of the eSports spectacle and its revenue generators, some of which are idiosyncratic to this industry; strategic planning for brand marketers, with case studies; and an exploration of the infinite dynamism and immense potential of the eSports economy.

    Subscribe to an All-Access pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to:

    This report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports
    Access to all future reports and daily newsletters
    Forecasts of new and emerging technologies in your industry
    And more!
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    Zimbabwe protest

    Here is what you need to know.

    1. China releases a fresh set of terrible data. China's 2018 trade surplus with the world fell to $351.76 billion, its lowest since 2013, according to data released Monday by China's General Administration of Customs. Its 2018 trade surplus with the US, however, swelled to a record $323.32 billion, the data showed.
    2. Global markets are under pressure. Hong Kong's Hang Seng (-1.38%) led the losses in Asia, and Britain's FTSE (-1.03%) trails in Europe. The S&P 500 was set to open down 1% near 2,570.
    3. The government shutdown is now the longest on record. The shutdown reached a 24th day Monday, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch says, "Every two weeks of a shutdown trims 0.1pp from growth; additional drag is likely due to delays in spending and investment."
    4. The EU sends a letter of reassurance to Theresa May in a last-ditch attempt to prevent a Brexit-deal defeat. The letter falls short of making the "legally binding assurances" May had hoped to receive on the Northern Ireland backstop, which would keep Britain tied to European Union custom and trade rules indefinitely if no deal is reached by the end of the Brexit transition period.
    5. Gold is nearing $1,300. The precious metal is trading up 0.3% at $1,295 an ounce and is flirting with its first print above $1,300 since June.
    6. The bond market is flashing a scary parallel to the financial crisis. Weakening demand at US Treasury auctions is the latest worry that investors need to pay attention to.
    7. PG&E's CEO quits as company is reportedly prepping for bankruptcy. CEO Geisha Williams has left PG&E, California's largest utility, amid reports the company is preparing to file for bankruptcy later this month amid the fallout from the state's wildfires.
    8. Digital First Media makes an offer for Gannett. The $1.4 billion equates to $12 a share — a 23% premium to Friday's closing price.
    9. Newmont is buying Goldcorp in a $10 billion deal. The gold miner Newmont mining has agreed to pay 0.3280 of a Newmont share for each share of smaller rival Goldcorp.
    10. Citi reports. The bank is expected to earn $1.55 a share on revenue of $17.55 billion.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The equity chief at $6.3 trillion BlackRock weighs in on the trade war, a possible recession, and offers her best investing advice for a tricky 2019 landscape


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    battisti beard

    • Cesare Battisti, an Italian communist wanted for four murders, was caught in Bolivia on Saturday, disguised with a fake beard. 
    • Battisti, who was part of the banned Armed Proletarians for Communism, was captured by Interpol in Santa Cruz de la Sierra on Saturday.
    • Italian state police have posted surveillance video of the 64-year-old in disguise on Twitter, moments before he was seized. 
    • He fled Italy in 1981. A court later convicted him in absentia of killing two policemen and two civilians.
    • Battisti had been given asylum in Brazil, but a new government there changed its mind about protecting him.

    A prominent militant Italian communist wanted for four murders committed in the 1970s was arrested in Bolivia on Saturday, after being recorded using a fake beard as a disguise.

    Cesare Battisti was a member of the Italian terror group the Armed Proletarians for Communism (PAC,) who fought during Italy's violent and chaotic "Years of Lead," a period from the 1960s to 1980s.

    He was arrested by Interpol in the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra wearing a fake beard and sunglasses, according to Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper. He had been on the run since 1981. He also denies all four murders.

    On Sunday, Italian state police tweeted a short video of Battisti in disguise just before his arrest:

    Eduardo Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil, tweeted an image of Battisti on his way back to Italy, in which he can be seen clean-shaven.

    He wrote, in Italian, that Battistie is a "little gift" for Italy, and that his arrest shows Brazil is "no longer a land of bandits."

    He is wanted for involvement in four murders. He was convicted in absentia of killing two police officers, Corriere della Sera wrote. He is also wanted in connection with the killings of a jeweler and a butcher

    According to the paper, the 64-year-old fled Italy for France in 1981 after he was a convicted for being a member of the illegal PAC in 1979. He then moved to Mexico, then found asylum in Brazil in 2010, it said.

    He spent eight years under Brazilian protection, but fled to neighboring Bolivia after the authorities in Brazil changed their mind and issued a warrant for his arrest.

    Read more:These are the 20 safest and most crime-free countries

    Brazilian president in 2010, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, granted him asylum, but Brazil's newly elected president Jair Bolsonaro said that Battisti would be sent back to Italy.

    On Sunday, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte wrote a Facebook post saying: "Cesare Battisti will return to Italy in the next few hours, with a flight departing from Santa Cruz and headed to Rome."

    Cesare Battisti

    "Just now I heard the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, on the phone, who I wanted to thank on behalf of the whole Italian government for the effective cooperation that led to the capture of Battisti. And in the same way I thank the authorities."

    Cesare Battisti

    Italian minister for the interior Matteo Salvini tweeted that Battisti was "a delinquent who does not deserve a comfortable life at the beach, but to finish his days in jail."

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: MSNBC host Chris Hayes thinks President Trump's stance on China is 'not at all crazy'


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    California wildfire

    • PG&E, California's largest gas and power company, dropped more than 40% in premarket trading Monday. 
    • The utility is facing billions of dollars in potential liabilities after it was accused of negligence in one of the state's most destructive wildfires last year.
    • CEO Geisha Williams replaced as PG&E com templates bankruptcy following a 27% drop in its share price last week. 
    • Company confirms it will seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy on or around January 29 in a statement.

    Devastating wildfires engulfed much of northern California last year, now they're engulfing the state's largest utility. 

    PG&E, short for Pacific Gas and Electric, plunged more than 40% in New York premarket trading after the company confirmed its plan to navigate chapter 11 bankruptcy on Monday.

    The utility's CEO, Geisha Williams stepped down Sunday after potential bankruptcy proceedings began due to its liabilities for its potential role in the "Camp Fire" wildfires which devastated California last year. 

    The California utility owner is in touch with large banks about so-called debtor-in-possession financing that could total between $3 billion and $5 billion, though the exact figure remains in flux and could end up being higher, said sources familiar with the matter.

    The company's shares dropped 30% in after hours trading in New York on Friday on the bankruptcy news.

    PG&E said in a November SEC filing it could face "significant liability" in excess of its insurance coverage if its equipment was found to have caused last year's fire in Northern California. The utility renewed its liability insurance coverage for wildfire events for an amount of approximately $1.4 billion that covers the period from August 1, 2018 through July 31, 2019, according to the filing. 

    The company admitted that it had "experienced an outage" on a transmission line in Butte County at 6:15 a.m. on November 8 just 15 minutes before the Camp Fire broke out. PG&E's liabilities could stretch to billions of dollars and filing for bankruptcy would shield the utility from potential costs, until it has worked out how best to handle the claims which also relate to another fatal wildfire in 2017.

    Last year's destructive events claimed the lives of at least 86 people and was the deadliest in the state's history.

    SEE ALSO: California's biggest gas and power company is in multibillion-dollar bankruptcy talks after last year's devastating California wildfires

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The equity chief at $6.3 trillion BlackRock weighs in on the trade war, a possible recession, and offers her best investing advice for a tricky 2019 landscape


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    Britain's Andy Murray celebrates a point win over Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut during their first round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019.

    • Andy Murray just fought one of the biggest battles of his career.
    • It may have only been a Round of 128 in the Australian Open but the Brit fought his way back from two sets down to take his opponent Roberto Bautista Agut to a fifth.
    • Murray announced last Friday that the Australian Open could be his last tournament after being plagued by a hip injury for nearly two years.
    • This could have been the last match of Murray's career.

    "How he's done it, only he knows," says the commentator as Andy Murray pumps his fist after winning a second tie break against Roberto Bautista Agut in the Australian Open.

    It wasn't to be, but Murray managed to take the Spaniard to set five after coming back from two sets down.

    The Brit was limping around the court after announcing just days ago that the Australian Open could be his last tournament due to a chronic hip injury. 

    Somehow, though, Murray seemed to turn the tables and force his opponent into making unnecessary errors.

    He even won an epic 16-point rally after racing around the court to return a drop shot and a lob from Bautista Agut.

    Commentators speculated that the situation must have been incredibly frustrating for Bautista Agut because Murray appeared to be playing with the freedom of a Grand Slam winner, despite his decision to announce his retirement last week, which would inevitably rally the crowd in his favour.

    The atmosphere on court turned increasingly boisterous as Murray continued to play through his hip injury — it was not an easy game for Bautista Agut who received just a fraction of the Brit's support.

    Murray struggled to contain his emotions as the crowd gave him a standing ovation before the game had even finished — there was a palpable sense that the end was nigh.

    Finally, Murray was beaten 6-2 in the final set.

    "Today was incredible," Bautista Agut said after the match.

    "Andy deserves this atmosphere. Andy deserves all the people who came to watch him. It was an unbelievable match. He is a tough fighter. He gave everything he had until the last point and I want to congratulate him for everything he did for tennis."

    The post-match interviewer then turned to Murray, who said: "If this was my last match then [it was] an amazing way to end."

    "I gave literally everything I had. It wasn't enough tonight, so congratulations to Roberto and his team. I don't really have anything else to say. Thanks to everyone. My team, my family, everyone who helped me down the years.

    "Maybe I'll see you again. I'll do everything possible to try.

    "If I want to go again I need to have a big operation which there's no guarantee I'll come back from but I'll give it my best shot."

    Murray was then shown a series of tributes on a big screen from fellow tennis players including, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and his friend Nick Kyrgios.

    "You've done Scotland proud, you've done Britain proud, you're a sir — who can say that?" Roger Federer said.

    "Judy raised such a fine young gentleman," Sloane Stephens added.

    Murray said last week he hoped to finish his career in the place where he ended a 76-year Grand Slam drought for British men's singles players — at Wimbledon — but as he hobbled off the court in Australia, there was a sense that that battle against Bautista Agut may have just been his last.

    SEE ALSO: Touching tributes are pouring in for Andy Murray, who just announced his retirement from tennis in a tearful press conference

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: China made an artificial star that's 6 times as hot as the sun, and it could be the future of energy


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    Facebook ads Germany

    • Germany's antitrust regulator is reportedly about to order Facebook to stop collecting certain user data.
    • The Bundeskartellamt has been investigating Facebook since 2016 and has already expressed concern about the way Facebook collects information on its users via WhatsApp and Instagram.
    • It's another warning shot for Facebook, since it marks Germany becoming even more aggressive towards the social network on user privacy.
    • Germany is the most powerful country in the EU, and its attitudes towards privacy may spread more widely through the bloc.

    Facebook's entire business model is being challenged in Germany, which is reportedly on the verge of imposing strict new rules on what information the social network can and can't collect.

    According to the German tabloid Bild, which is owned by Business Insider's parent company Axel Springer, Germany's antitrust regulator is ready to demand that Facebook stop collecting certain data, which may fundamentally alter its business.

    The regulator, the Bundeskartellamt, hasn't publicly confirmed the upcoming ruling. A spokesman told Business Insider that it still plans to release its report in early 2019, but said there was nothing further to add.

    In a preliminary ruling issued in December 2017, the Bundeskartellamt did indicate its thinking. The regulator said Facebook was the dominant social network in Germany, and that it was concerned about the way Facebook scoops up data on third-party services, including its Facebook-owned WhatsApp and Instagram.

    Read more:Apple has reportedly hired a fierce Facebook critic after repeatedly attacking the firm's 'industrial' data hoarding

    At the time, its president Andreas Mundt said: "We are mostly concerned about the collection of data outside Facebook's social network and the merging of this data into a user's Facebook account. Via APIs, data are transmitted to Facebook and are collected and processed by Facebook even when a Facebook user visits other websites."

    Mundt said it wasn't clear users gave consent to this level of tracking.

    Facebook suggested it wasn't the antitrust regulator's job to look into these issues.

    A spokeswoman told Business Insider: "Since 2016, we have been in regular contact with the Bundeskartellamt and have responded to their requests. As we outlined publicly in 2017, we disagree with their views and the conflation of data protection laws and antitrust laws, and will continue to defend our position."

    Bild said it wasn't clear how strictly the Bundeskartellamt would enforce any ruling, with the regulator more likely issuing a deadline for Facebook to comply.

    Germany has been aggressive with Facebook, partly due to the nation's love of privacy

    That one country is stepping up against Facebook may appear trivial, given the company has 2 billion users around the globe. But Facebook should worry both about Germany's aggressive regulatory stance, and whether its arguments convince other countries to follow suit.

    One reason German lawmakers are so uneasy about Facebook is the country's own troubled history. Its Nazi past means hate speech laws are rigorously enforced, and a history of state surveillance has made people ultra-sensitive about their privacy.

    Germany also happens to be the most powerful country in the EU, and its pro-privacy attitude is already being baked into legislation that applies across the bloc. It probably isn't a coincidence that a German MEP, Jan Philipp Albrecht, is described as the "father of GDPR," the strict new privacy legislation that has already cost Facebook users in Europe.

    And Germany has taken a consistently aggressive stance on Facebook over the last few years.

    In 2018, Germany's data watchdog banned Facebook from collecting any user data via its chat app WhatsApp. It introduced a hate speech law that gave Facebook and other social platforms just 24 hours to remove hate speech, or face fines of up to €50 million ($58 million.)

    And Germany's justice minister, Katarina Barley, said in December that Facebook needed to clarify its API data-sharing deals with services such as Spotify and Netflix, which gave the companies read access to people's messages. 

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Donald Trump

    • US President Donald Trump joked about his ties to Russia after a bombshell report said that the FBI had investigated him as a potential Russian agent.
    • Trump said that his policies resulted in low gas prices and more domestically produced oil, which did not help Russia.
    • "But this is bad news for Russia, why would President Trump do such a thing? Thought he worked for Kremlin?," he tweeted.
    • His tweet came after a bombshell New York Times report that said the FBI began investigating whether Trump was a witting or unwitting Russian agent after he fired FBI director James Comey in 2017.

    US President Donald Trump made a joke about his alleged ties with Russia, after a weekend dominated by new claims that the FBI once investigated whether he was an agent of the Russian government.

    Trump cited "Fox and Friends" on Twitter on Monday morning, touting a claim that gas prices in the US are falling because he had curtailed regulations on the industry.

    He presented this as bad news for Russia, and therefore proof that he is not working in their interests.

    "But this is bad news for Russia, why would President Trump do such a thing? Thought he worked for Kremlin?," he tweeted.

    The FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump was intentionally or unintentionally working for the Russians after he fired FBI Director James Comey in May 2017, according to a bombshell New York Times report.

    The bureau is already investigating whether Trump's 2016 presidential camapign colluded with Moscow, but this report is the first indication that the FBI thought that the president himself could have been acting, wittingly or unwittingly, as a Russian agent.

    Read More:The FBI reportedly started investigating whether Trump was a Russian asset after he fired Comey

    It is not clear if the counterintelligence investigation is still underway.

    Trump first responded to the report on Saturday, when he tweeted that former FBI leaders were "corrupt" and opened up an investigation with "no reason & with no proof."

    He also repeated his now-familiar attacks on Comey, calling him "Lyin' James Comey" and a "total sleaze."

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    russia lgbt

    • About 40 gay men and women were detained in a widespread purge against LGBT people in Chechnya, a mostly-Muslim region in southern Russia, activists said.
    • Two gay men were tortured to death in detention, the Russian LGBT Network said on Monday.
    • The latest alleged purge, which reportedly started last month, comes after reports that Chechnya detained and tortured around 100 others in 2017.
    • The region is ruled by Ramzan Kadyrov, a Kremlin-installed warlord who regularly posted photos of cats on Instagram until Facebook took down his account more than a year ago.
    • Russia as a whole discriminates against the LGBT community, but not to the extent of Chechnya.

    Two gay men have been tortured to death in a horrific purge on LGBT people in Chechnya, a mostly-Muslim region in southern Russia, activists said.

    About 40 men and women were detained in the latest crackdown on gay people, which began late last month, the Russian LGBT Network said in a Monday statement.

    The two known victims, who were not named, died of torture in detention. There may be more people who have died.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) meets with Chechnya's leader Ramzan Kadyrov at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, in this December 10, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/Kremlin

    The 'Instagram-addicted ruler'

    The purge was carried out by Chechen law enforcement officers, who are preventing victims from leaving the region or taking their cases to court, the network's program director Igor Kochetkov said.

    Local police have taken away their documents, and threatened them and their family with criminal proceedings, Kochetkov added.

    Chechnya is run by Ramzan Kadyrov, a Kremlin-installed ruler widely described in Western media as a warlord, and who regularly posted photos of himself cuddling cats on social media.

    The New York Times described Kadyrov as "Instagram-addicted" in 2015.

    Facebook took down his Instagram and Facebook accounts in December 2017, shortly after the US Treasury Department sanctioned him for human rights abuses.

    Another Instagram account linked to Kadyrov resurfaced in November 2018, but Chechen officials claimed it was created by the warlord's fans, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported. Instagram has since deleted that account as well.

    Read more:Ramzan Kadyrov is unhappy with UFC fighter Zubaira Tukhugov because he slapped Conor McGregor instead of punching him

    Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov

    Reports of the latest purge come after allegations that Chechen authorities arrested more than 100 gay men and tortured them, leaving some of them dead. Chechen authorities have denied those accusations.

    A gay man who fled Chechnya anonymously told the BBC in 2017 that he was beaten and subjected to electro-torture. He said his home country had been "exterminating gay men" until "there are none left in the republic."

    He said: "Chechens have no right to be gay. They have to be warriors, straight, sportsmen. Being gay is just not acceptable for them."

    Chechen military Kadyrov Chechnya

    The LGBT community faces pressure in Russia as well. The European Court of Human Rights ruled last November that Russia discriminated against gay people by banning gay pride marches and protests.

    Furthermore, Russia regarded homosexuality as a criminal offense until 1993, and classed it as a mental illness until 1999.

    President Vladimir Putin in 2013 passed a law banning the "promotion of nontraditional sexual relations"— which is generally understood to mean information about LGBT people — to children on places like newspapers, TV, radio, and the internet. 

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    the best pizza cutters

    • High-quality pizza cutters come with a sharp blade that stays sharp, have comfortable non-slip grips, and are simple to clean.
    • The OXO Good Grips Easy to Clean Pizza Wheel and Cutter is our top pick because it comes apart for effortless cleaning by hand or in the dishwasher, has a safety cover to protect your fingers, and is backed by OXO’s satisfaction guarantee.

    Whether you like your pizza frozen, homemade, or delivered, a good pizza cutter is a must to keep toppings in place and to eat pizza like a normal human being: by the slice. Sure, there are ultra-efficient hungry people out there who — like my giant (6 foot 5 inch) teenage son — just fold the pizza in half and eat it taco style. For the rest of us, we want a tool that can slice our pie into manageable portions. Fortunately, there are several excellent options available.

    The two main types of pizza cutters are wheels and rockers. Pizza wheels are what you commonly find in most American homes. They usually consist of a sharp blade wheel that is attached to a long handle. However, direct-grip pizza wheels are becoming more popular. They don’t have the long handle. Instead, the wheel has a cover that you grip it by. This can give some users more leverage than the long-handled wheel, but it’s also harder to see where you are cutting since the cover and your hand may obstruct your vision. A direct-grip wheel tops our list.

    Also called a mezzaluna, which is Italian for "half moon," rocker cutters are what you typically find in a commercial kitchen. These have a long, curved blade that you "rock" across the pizza to cut it in half. Rockers are efficient, easy to clean, and toppings are less likely to stick to the blade and end up where you don’t want them. Yet, since the blades are generally 14 inches or longer, rockers tend to take up a lot of drawer space.

    Scissor-style and pie server-shaped cutters are less common but growing in popularity. We didn’t include any of these in our guide because they require you to make a series of shorter cuts in order to slice your pizza, and we found this to be inefficient compared to wheels and rockers.

    Many pizza cutters advertise that they are dishwasher safe. However, like other cutlery, we strongly recommend washing your pizza cutter by hand. This is because the banging around during the wash cycle can dull the knife and dishwasher detergent is incredibly abrasive.

    While researching the best pizza cutters, we read through hundreds of expert and buyer reviews and ratings of dozens of models. Our guide features cutters that seamlessly cut through several types of pizza, are durable, and clean up easily.

    Here are the best pizza cutters you can buy:

    Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.

    The best pizza cutter overall

    Why you'll love it: If you are looking for a tool that not only makes quick work of your pizza but also cleans up effortlessly and has a safety cover, the OXO Good Grips Easy to Clean Pizza Wheel and Cutter is your best choice.

    OXO has a number of excellent pizza cutters, but the Good Grips Easy to Clean Pizza Wheel and Cutterappears to be the best. Since you are pressing down against the blade instead of at an angle, this wheel gives you extra leverage to get through a variety of crusts.

    The handle opens up so you can remove the blade and clean it easier — by hand or in the dishwasher. And, the blade cover and circular design allow for compact and safe storage.

    MomDot recommends the OXO Good Grips Easy to Clean Pizza Wheel and Cutter because the reviewer found it to be easy to clean and use. She liked how comfy the non-slip handle was to grip. And, it came apart effortlessly for cleaning. Her only complaint was that it felt weird to use at first since she was used to the long-handled wheel cutters.

    The Spruce Eats and Cooking Detective both recommend this model as the best overall pizza cutter. And, it’s the cutter that many of the staffers at The Kitchn use in their kitchens.

    About 92% of the buyers who reviewed the OXO Good Grips Easy to Clean Pizza Wheel and Cutter on Amazon gave it a positive rating. There are several comments about how this model lives up to its name.

    Buyers appreciate that they can just pop the blade out and put the unit in the dishwasher to clean. The safety cover is also a hit since it protects fingers as they rummage through drawers. The only consistent complaints seem to be from commenters who couldn’t seem to get the hang of using this style of pizza cutter.

    Pros: Comes apart for easy cleaning, features safety blade cover, comfortable handle

    Cons: Has a little bit of a learning curve for people used to long-handled cutters

    Buy the OXO Good Grips Easy to Clean Pizza Wheel and Cutter on Amazon for $12.99



    The best novelty pizza cutter

    Why you'll love it: The ThinkGeek Star Trek Enterprise Pizza Cutter is not only a great gift for the sci-fi fan in your life, it also works well.

    Whether you are a fan of the more popular The Next Generation Series or prefer the old-school The Original Series (TOS), you are likely to appreciate the ThinkGeek Star Trek Enterprise Pizza Cutter.

    This blade is made of stainless steel and has "U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701" from TOS laser-etched on it. The body is chromium-plated zinc alloy. The cutting wheel is a standard 4 inches in diameter, and at 8.5 inches in total length, the cutter offers plenty of leverage for an easy cut.

    The ThinkGeek Star Trek Enterprise Pizza Cutter is perhaps the only model reviewed by most of the top tech websites. But, it is also recommended by sites that specialize in kitchen tools, including Best Advisor and Food Shark Marfa.

    The reviewer at ZDNet tested out this wheel cutter and found it was one of the sharpest he’d ever used. He had his six-year-old use it and was impressed with how even a child could make quick work of a pizza with it.

    Approximately 91% of the people who reviewed the ThinkGeek Star Trek Enterprise Pizza Cutter on Amazon gave it four or five stars. Bob Joiner, the most helpful reviewer, purchased this utensil as a gift and found his friend absolutely loves it and uses it all the time.

    Another reviewer liked that the cutter isn’t just a gimmick: The blade and primary hull are sharp and solid, the handle is made of durable metal and is comfortable in the hand, and it comes in a collectible box. Others mention that they now ask pizza parlors to leave their delivered pizza uncut so they can use this gadget.

    Pros: Made of durable metals, has unique stylish shape, comfortable grip

    Cons: Not dishwasher safe

    Buy the ThinkGeek Star Trek Enterprise Pizza Cutter on Amazon for $19.63 (originally $29.99)



    The best rocker-style pizza cutter

    Why you'll love it: The long sharp blade of the Checkered Chef Pizza Cutter lends itself to fast and efficient pizza cutting as well as easy cleanup.

    The Checkered Chef Pizza Cutter is great because it simply has one long blade made of commercial-quality 18/0 stainless steel. The blade is long enough to cut a 14-inch pizza in half with just one rocking motion. This helps you avoid dragging the toppings across the pizza, which can sometimes be a problem with wheel cutters.

    A plastic sheath comes with the blade to ensure you don't cut yourself while rummaging through a drawer. The unit is dishwasher safe, or you can easily wipe off the single blade by hand.

    Epicurious recommends the Checkered Chef Pizza Cutter because it works well and looks great. The reviewer was accustomed to pizza wheels and was surprised how quickly she got the hang of this device. In her tests, it was one of only a few blades that got through the crust on the first go. And, she was impressed with how easy it is to clean the blade. However, the reviewer noted that this is a larger cutter that takes up significant space in the kitchen. 

    Approximately 83% of the Amazon buyers who reviewed the Checkered Chef Pizza Cutter gave it five stars. The most common comment about this model is that the blade is incredibly sharp, which allows for the quick and efficient cutting of pizza and other items. In fact, buyers report using this for quickly cutting up paninis, sandwiches, waffles, and more.

    The blade guard is another popular feature since many users keep the cutter in a utensil drawer. Reviewers with arthritis also noted that they were able to use this item without a problem.

    Pros: Affordable, snug-fitting safety blade guard, sharp blade for clean cuts, easy to use

    Cons: Is larger than other models and may demand more drawer space

    Buy the Checkered Chef Pizza Cutter (Large) on Amazon for $12.95

    Buy the Checkered Chef Pizza Cutter (X-Large) on Amazon for $19.95



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    beyond burger

    • This year was supposed to be the year of the unicorn IPO, with massively funded private startups like Uber, Lyft and Slack all preparing to go public.
    • Now just two weeks into the year, bankers say it's turning into a "shitshow."
    • The federal government shutdown has left the SEC closed, which means most companies cannot move forward with going public.
    • Market volatility is also roiling markets and creating an unstable environment for soon-to-be public companies.

    Ask any banker which of the multi-billion dollar startups will go public first in 2019 and the answer is a sigh of resignation. 

    Back in December, 2019 was set to be the year of unicorns and with windfalls for patient investors, equity-vested employees and gleeful investment bankers alike. Now, just two weeks into the year, bankers have a new way of characterizing the tech IPO market: "a shitshow."

    For the most part, bankers said, tech IPOs are at a standstill. And that means bankers aren't getting paid tens of millions in underwriting fees (not to mention bragging rights) they expected to land this year

    Meanwhile, those banks are bracing for painful fourth-quarter results after facing a very difficult December amid market volatility. 

    IPOs on pause from Cloudflare and Zoom to Beyond Meat

    Lawyers, who handle most of the initial public offering filings with regulators, can't get paperwork approved since employees at the Securities and Exchange Commission have been out of commission due to the federal government shutdown.

    "The biggest impact is for people that are trying to get out right now. There's no good way to do that," said Tom Holden, a partner at Ropes & Gray. "Longer horizon IPOs are moving forward. It's not like people are just shutting down all together. We just don't know when the SEC is going to open its doors again."

    At the end of 2018, bankers told Business Insider they expect to see around 50 IPOs this year, and many said they expect the deal value to be around 2018's total of $19.8 billion.

    Companies like Uber and Lyft, which both confidentially filed at the beginning of December, reportedly have not seen comments on their first draft. 

    Others like Cloudflare and Zoom held bake-offs to pick underwriters in early fall and were on track to file in early January, but have put it off due to the government situation, according to one source.

    Sure, back in December the biggest question on everyone's minds was market volatility. Tencent Music went public in mid-December and suffered for it. But others, like Beyond Meat, Revolve, and Virgin Trains, filed publicly at the end of the year. They are ready to go but still haven't listed.

    Read more:Uber, Lyft, China, and more — top tech investment bankers share their biggest hopes and fears for IPOs in 2019

    And while volatility remains a factor, some believe that the shutdown is taking time out of a precious window of opportunity when investors are eager to see new assets on the public markets.

    "There's a perception right now that the market is open and that there would be demand for IPOs," said Kenton King, a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. "That's not always the case and the IPO market is notoriously volatile, even in the best of times. When there's demand for new issuances, you want to get out and you want to get it done." 

    Don't expect a tech IPO before spring

    If and when the federal government opens back up, the paperwork pipeline will likely be backed up. But people close to the process told Business Insider not to expect a race to the public markets, especially not after February 14.

    Once mid-February hits, companies will be obligated to provide the SEC with updated financial information, which means anything filed before then will be considered outdated, multiple lawyers told Business Insider.

    After February 14, it will take companies a few weeks to get their audited financials together. This will most strongly impact companies which follow a calendar year schedule and whose full year financials will need to be audited, in addition to quarterly financials.

    A company has to publicly file, price and list on the public markets before February 14 for it to be legally sound.

    That process takes 3.5 weeks to a month for companies which have not already filed publicly, according to Holden. Once a company files publicly, it has to wait two weeks before going to the roadshow, where executives and bankers tout the company to institutional investors.

    "The issue is, people time their filings in order to hit specific windows," King said. "You work back from when you think you will price, and when your financial statements will go stale. This throws the entire timing off."

    And if the federal government stays closed for "months or even years," as President Donald Trump threatened last week?

    "There's not really a plan B. The plan B will be M&A activity for some companies," said Holden, noting that biotech companies are particularly vulnerable. "For the big companies that aren't in dire need of money, they can ride it out. But there will be companies who really need the money, and if they can't access the capital markets, and there's not private money available either, then M&A is the next option." 

    SEE ALSO: 2 tech M&A trends that bankers and insiders expect to see in 2019

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    This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here. Current subscribers can read the report here.

    Smart speakers in shoppingConsumers are finally starting to adopt smart home devices, with nearly 60% owning at least one device. This presents an opportunity for e-commerce companies to enter the smart home and encourage purchasing through the devices.

    The smart speaker has become the face of the smart home in many ways, attracting the lion’s share of attention as companies look for ways to take advantage of the growing platform. But there’s a problem: Consumers aren’t using the smart speaker to actually buy products very often.

    Instead, one of the clearest opportunities outside of the smart speaker is home goods and grocery replenishment through large appliances. Smart devices in the home — especially appliances — can take advantage of built-in sensors to either tell consumers when they need to buy more of a product, or make that purchase autonomously. This will create an opportunity for appliance manufacturers, e-commerce vendors, and product suppliers to ink supply agreements to meet consumers' needs.

    In this report, Business Insider Intelligence examines several areas of opportunity for e-commerce companies to leverage smart home technologies to provide new and better services to their customers. First, we explore how smart appliances, including connected dishwashers and laundry machines, are building on one-click purchasing systems to enable automated replenishment. We then discuss the smart fridge and detail how apps, cameras, and voice assistants are enabling takeout and grocery delivery through these appliances. Finally, we examine the role of the voice interface beyond smart speakers as it relates to purchasing products in the home, and how omnipresent voice will be used to organize and interact with automated services.

    The companies mentioned in this report are: Amazon, Blue Apron, Costo, GE, Google, Instacart, Keurig, KitchenAid, LG, Ocado, P&G, Plated, Reynolds, Samsung, Target, Walmart, Whirlpool.

     Here are some key takeaways from the report:

    • Companies have a clear opportunity to leverage sensors, cameras, and connectivity in a variety of home appliances to revolutionize the way consumers buy home goods.
    • Smart appliance manufacturers, e-tailers, and CPG companies will be able to collaborate and partner to develop new methods of resupplying consumers' homes.
    • The smart fridge will transform into the hub of the kitchen and become the autonomous organizing device that oversees grocery purchasing and food delivery.

    In full, the report:

    • Provides an overview of the key players and types of products in the smart appliance space.
    • Highlights the models that companies can adopt to take advantage of the developing sector.
    • Identifies the key services that will boost automated e-commerce engagement in the home.

     

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    Kyle Samani, cofounder and managing partner at Multicoin Capital

    Kyle Samani is cofounder and managing partner of Multicoin Capital, a $75 million fund based in Austin, Texas, that exclusively invests in the crypto space. It's backed by mainstream investors like Marc Andreessen, the Andreessen Horowitz partner, and David Sacks, the former PayPal exec and Yammer CEO.

    Samani recently spoke to Business Insider about the biggest trends he's following in 2019 in the crypto space. 

    The growth of decentralized exchanges 

    Samani is closely watching Binance, the world's largest crypto exchange by adjusted trade volume, which is poised to unveil its decentralized exchange early this year. 

    It'll be a massive shift in the crypto space, Samani says.

    In contrast to centralized exchanges, decentralized exchanges (DEXs) allow investors to hold their own digital assets, instead of leaving them to middlemen to custody. In addition, DEXs are praised for generating lower, or even zero, trading fees, greater security and more private transactions. Although a growing number of decentralized exchanges have launched over the past couple of years, they haven't yet generated mass adoption. But that may change as Binance enters into the space, said Samani. 

    Binance, which processes more daily trading volume than top US exchanges like Coinbase and Gemini, already has an established brand. So it may be able to lure customers to use its decentralized exchange, Samani said. 

    "Binance realizes that the greatest disruptive threat to their business is decentralized exchanges," he said. "On a long enough time scale, they believe it is likely to become a dominant form of exchange. As such, they're aiming to disrupt themselves by pioneering here. I expect that they will create incentives to encourage customers to trade on the decentralized exchange instead of the centralized one, and will actively bridge liquidity pools."

    Once Binance unveils its decentralized exchange, others may follow, he said.

    Still, decentralized exchanges in the US must comply with existing securities laws. The SEC in November brought an enforcement action against EtherDelta, a decentralized crypto exchange, for operating as an unregistered national securities exchange.

    "Whether it’s decentralized or not, whether it’s on a smart contract or not, what matters is it’s an exchange,” Robert Cohen, SEC's Cyber Unit Chief, told Forbes in November. 

    Adoption of blockchain products 

    Samani also expects to see a number of high profile blockchain products launch this year and attract large group of customers. One such project is Tari, an open source project that aims to disrupt the ticketing industry. Built on top of the Monero network, the company will provide a platform to issue and manage non-fungible assets like tickets, loyalty points, and in-game items. A benefit of using this technology in ticketing is embedding transfer restrictions on concert tickets, which could eradicate the ticket scalping market.

    Challenges to Ethereum 

    Samani believes that a group of well-funded projects, like Dfinity and Cosmos, could pose a threat to Ethereum's leadership as the largest smart contract platform. Ether, which is underpinned by the Ethereum network, is currently the third largest cryptocurrency by market cap. 

    "All of the new blockchains are aiming to challenge Ethereum," Samani said. "I expect by the end of the year the percentage of total developers building on Ethereum will be lower than it's right now, simply because of the competition," he said. "At the end of 2019, I still expect Ethereum to be the market leader among smart contract platforms. But there is a real probability that by the end of 2020, this is no longer the case."

    Sign up here for our weekly newsletter Wall Street Insider, a behind-the-scenes look at the stories dominating banking, business, and big deals.

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    Masayoshi Son SoftBank

    • SoftBank spent $900 million in investment banking fees in 2018, more than any company in at least a decade.
    • The People's Republic of China is the only entity to outspend the Japanese tech conglomerate.
    • SoftBank has primarily paid fees to investment bankers to raise capital, but it also executed many high profile investments in companies like WeWork and Cruise Automation.

    If you didn't have SoftBank as an investment banking client in 2018, you missed out on one of the most massive and lucrative fee opportunities in modern history.

    The Japanese tech conglomerate run by billionaire Masayoshi Son spent a staggering $894 million on investment banking fees in 2018, according to financial data company Refinitiv, securing financial advice on deals and procuring an array of bonds, loans, and equity investments. 

    That's not just the highest total for any company last year, but the highest in at least the past decade. 

    The next-highest fee payer in 2018, German pharmaceutical giant Bayer, is leagues behind at $384 million — 57% less than SoftBank.

    No corporation has come close to SoftBank's 2018 tally in recent years. The last time a company spent over $800 million in a year on investment banking fees was in 2009, according to Refinitiv, when Citigroup spent $813 million as it was restructuring its business following the financial crisis

    To find a real competitor for Son's appetite for investment banking in recent years, you need to include government nations. The People's Republic of China has been the top spender in the world on such fees each of the past four years, according to Refinitiv's data. China spent nearly $1.3 billion on fees in 2018, down from $1.5 billion in 2017.

    What's Son getting for that $900 million? Most of those fees stem from raising money — paying banks to underwrite debt and equity financing.

    Sign up here for our weekly newsletter Wall Street Insider, a behind-the-scenes look at the stories dominating banking, business, and big deals.

    Mergers and acquisitions comprises a much smaller piece of the pie, according to Refinitiv, but SoftBank was nonetheless exceptionally busy deploying the nearly $100 billion in its Vision Fund to make investments and acquisitions.

    SoftBank's 2018 investments include a $2 billion infusion in WeWork, $3 billion for Alibaba's food delivery service, $2.3 billion for GM's self-driving unit Cruise Automation, and $2 billion for Coupang, a South Korean ecommerce company. 

    The top beneficiaries of SoftBank's investment binge last year are Japanese banks Mizuho, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, and Nomura, which together earned $319 million from Softbank — 38% of its investment banking spend, according to Refinitiv.

    Morgan Stanley earned $83 million, a roughly 9% share of the total. 

    Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank are also known to be top bankers to the firm. Each were lead underwriters on a $9 billion loan to the Vision Fund in October, and they're advising on the public offering for SoftBank's wireless unit as well, according to Bloomberg

    Bank of America Merrill Lynch is also a top lender to SoftBank, though it reportedly balked at participating in the $9 billion financing last fall. 

    Goldman formed a special group in 2017 specifically to earn more investment banking mindshare with giant, complicated clients like SoftBank — a well-timed and justified move in light of SoftBank's unprecedented spending this past year. 

    But Goldman has lost some of its key bankers to the Japanese client of late. Michael Ronen left Goldman to work for SoftBank in 2017, and last week Simon Holden, an 18-year Goldman vet with deep ties to Softbank, retired. 

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Theresa May

    • City of London advisors have raised the chances of the UK holding a general election in 2019. 
    • Analysis from Newgate Communications has raised the likelihood of a general election to between 50% and 65% as Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal looks set to be rejected by parliament.
    • This could trigger a vote of no-confidence in the government, in turn forcing a general election. 
    • The House of Commons will vote on May's deal on Tuesday night. 

    The United Kingdom is likely to have a general election this year amid uncertainty over Theresa May's Brexit deal, according to advice being given to firms in the City of London.

    If May's Withdrawal Agreement is voted down in the House of Commons on Tuesday then its expected that the opposition Labour Party will trigger a vote of no-confidence in the the prime minister's government.

    This raises the chances of a 2019 general election, according to Newgate Communications, an advisory firm for the City of London. 

    They put the odds of a general election this year at somewhere between 50% and 65%, and have been advising financial firms to prepare for an election and possible change of government.

    Sources say there has been growing interest in the City of London about what a UK government headed by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would mean for the financial sector.

    MPs are almost certain to vote down May's deal on Tuesday despite late attempts by the prime minister to convince them to do otherwise. The prime minister could lose by a margin of over 100 votes, according to some estimates.

    There have been suggestions that May could request an extension to the Article 50 exit process, meaning Brexit would be delayed beyond the scheduled exit date of March 29.

    The pound is up 0.2% against the euro as of 12.35 p.m in London (7.35 a.m EST). 

    "Despite the possibility of a ratified deal prior to the March deadline, FX markets are poised for another bout of volatility due to Brexit uncertainty as the cost of short-term protection against weakness in the pound etches back up to December’s high," Simon Harvey, FX analyst at Monex Europe said. 

    "Should May suffer defeat in tomorrow’s vote, it is our belief that further delays in the Brexit process will occur."

    SEE ALSO: The EU sends letter of reassurance to Theresa May in last ditch attempt to prevent Brexit deal defeat

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    Michael Corbat

    Citigroup reported fourth-quarter earnings Monday, beating expectations with adjusted earnings of $1.61 per share. 

    Analysts had expected the bank to report earnings per share of $1.55.

    But the bank missed on revenues, which fell 2% compared with last year, as fixed-income trading got whacked amid the market turmoil, falling 21%.

    The bank also missed on its full-year target of a 100-basis-point improvement in operating efficiency, improving 86 basis points to 57.4%.

    Here's what else you need to know:

    • Revenue: $17.1 billion, missing expectations of $17.6 billion.
    • Adjusted net income: $4.2 billion, beating expectations of $3.7 billion.
    • Trading: Overall markets revenues fell 11% to $3.1 billion. Equities gained 18% to $668 million, while fixed-income, currencies, and commodities, fell 21% to $1.9 billion.
    • Investment banking: Revenues fell slightly to $1.3 billion. Advisory jumped 47% but underwriting fees lagged.
    • Global consumer banking: $8.4 billion in revenues, up slightly from last year.

    “A volatile fourth quarter impacted some of our market sensitive businesses, particularly Fixed Income. However, our ICG accrual businesses – Treasury and Trade Solutions, Securities Services, Private Bank and Corporate Lending – continued their strong performance. And in Global Consumer Banking, we had good underlying growth in U.S. Branded Cards and solid performance from our franchise in Mexico where we have been investing. For 2019, we remain committed to delivering a 12% RoTCE and continuing to improve our operating efficiency during the year,” CEO Michael Corbat concluded.

    Citi isn't expected to be alone in posting lackluster trading and investment banking numbers.

    The worst December stock-market performance since the Great Depression has big banks — whose shares fell 18% during the last quarter — bracing for more pain. Analysts at Keefe, Bruyette, and Wood have predicted an 18% overall drop in investment banking fees, primarily in underwriting, and a 2.6% drop in trading, mostly in fixed income, currencies, and commodities, in the fourth quarter.  

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    novartis

    • A one-time treatment for a devastating rare disease could be paid for with an installment plan as soon as this summer in Massachusetts. 
    • Novartis's AveXis unit is involved in the discussions. Its gene therapy could cost up to $5 million per treatment. 
    • Organizers hope the plan will ensure patients can access a potentially life-changing treatment.
    • Business Insider is the first to report on the discussions and the interest from AveXis. 

    In recent years, no treatments were even available for the rare, devastating disease known as spinal muscular atrophy.

    Now, in a matter of months, an experimental one-time therapy designed to address the disease's underlying genetic cause could treat the disorder. First though, someone has to pay for its potential multimillion-dollar pricetag. 

    A new effort is underway in Massachusetts to figure out how to do that. The idea is to let health insurers pay for the treatment over several years. If it succeeds, organizers hope that it could prove to be a viable model for the entire US. 

    Novartis's AveXis unit, which makes the gene therapy, Zolgensma, and has suggested a price tag of up to $5 million could be appropriate, is in talks to participate. Business Insider is the first to report both the plan and interest from Novartis's AveXis. 

    Americans have long paid for big-ticket items like houses and cars in a similar manner. But the plan — if it is finalized — would mark one of the first such approaches for a medicine. And Novartis would only receive each of its payment if the treatment is effective.

    Paying for drugs on an installment plan

    "Think of it as installment plan that’s then tied to how well the therapy works. This would be a car loan but you’ve still got to see if the car is going to work,"Mark Trusheim, strategic director of the MIT Center for Biomedical Innovation's NEWDIGS program, told Business Insider.

    NEWDIGS brings organizations together to discuss how the US health system will be able to pay for costly cures, and the Massachusetts initiative came out of that, Trusheim said.

    That work has become increasingly important as more gene therapies are likely to become available in coming years for different diseases, according to experts interviewed for this story. Gene therapies are typically administered in a single treatment and can have very high price tags compared to other types of pharmaceuticals. That could impose massive costs and challenges for an unprepared health system

    Read more:From the gene therapy that spurred a $9 billion acquisition to a CBD medication for rare types of childhood epilepsy, here are the 12 promising drugs to watch in 2019

    Doing the unthinkable, at an exceptional price

    Gene therapy is a cutting-edge technology with the potential to cure diseases by tinkering with the body's genetic material. Drugmakers have cited the value these new products could bring to patients and the medical system to justify their high prices.

    Spinal muscular atrophy is a rare genetic condition that affects muscle movement in children and is the leading genetic cause of mortality in infants.

    About 10,000 to 25,000 individuals in the U.S. are thought to have SMA, according to the SMA Foundation. But far fewer individuals would likely be treated with Zolgensma, since it's thought that only newborns would be eligible.

    In Massachusetts, only one or two dozen patients are expected each year at most, according to Trusheim. A US approval decision Zolgensma, is expected in May, and Novartis isn't likely to release a precise price tag until then.

    An independent group that evaluates drug prices has said the treatment could merit a price of $1.6 million to $5 million, Novartis Pharmaceuticals CEO Paul Hudson told Business Insider this week, noting that the cost of ventilators and another expensive therapy for the rare disease over a five-year period were, in total, comparable.

    AveXis plans to explore `creative' ways to get paid for its new treatment

    Hudson heads up the business that oversees AveXis's SMA gene therapy. AveXis would not comment specifically about its participation in the Massachusetts program, but said in a statement that gene therapies require new approaches in the US health system.

    "Our objective is to ensure patients get access to this therapy, so we can make a meaningful difference in their lives," the AveXis statement said. "We are working closely with payers to ensure we establish appropriate prices reflecting the value of gene therapy and explore creative options for payers, including installment payment options, as well as outcomes-based arrangements."

    As the Massachusetts pilot currently stands, the price of Zolgensma would be paid by health insurers in five annual installments, spread out over four years. It is similar to a plan unveiled by biotech Bluebird Bio earlier this week, MIT's Trusheim said. 

    Read more:A biotech is proposing a plan to pay for its pricey rare-disease treatment the same way you'd buy a TV or dishwasher

    The program is starting with the Novartis product, but intends to add other gene therapies over time. Many but not all health insurers in Massachusetts are involved in the discussions, Trusheim said, and others could eventually join. Its organizers hope to launch it by this summer, and they believe they have addressed many of the challenges of this type of approach. 

    'We shouldn't let cost get in the way'

    One crucial challenge for these types of installment plans is what happens when patients switch health insurers. In this case, the insurers that intend to participate in the Massachusetts pilot have agreed to pick up the remaining payments left on the installment plan.

    "If you believe these are likely to be life-changing to the people who need them, then we shouldn't let cost get in the way," Dr. Michael Sherman, chief medical officer of the nonprofit health insurer Harvard Pilgrim, told Business Insider. If the program gets off the ground, Harvard Pilgrim intends to be a part of it, he said. 

    The planners are still working out other details. For instance, even though the payment structure and performance metrics for the gene therapy would be the same across insurers, each individual health plan would negotiate its own price for Zolgensma.

    Insurers will also have to work out with Novartis what happens if a patient moves to another state. That might include continuing to make the payments or potentially making a one-time exit payment.

    Another challenge is a legal requirement that the government Medicaid program get the "best price" on a drug. That could complicate this type of installment plan, since a failed treatment in which only one installment is paid could be interpreted as violating that "best price" guarantee. 

    Read more: Bill Gates warns that nobody is paying attention to gene editing, a new technology that could make inequality even worse

    Because spinal muscular atrophy is so rare, health insurers haven't expressed concerns about Zolgensma's price tag specifically, Hudson told Business Insider this week. Instead, they'd like the flexibility to pay in installments if needed, according to Hudson. 

    "What they're not saying is, 'We're worried about the price.' What they are saying is, 'We may have concerns about staging payments,'" Hudson said. 

    Additional reporting by Lydia Ramsey

    Read more about pharmaceutical innovation: 

    The CEO of $230 billion pharma giant Novartis explains why he's not scared of buying biotechs at an earlier — and riskier — stage

    Big drugmakers are sitting on billions of cash — and top pharma executives are hinting about big M&A to come in 2019

    One of the biggest drugmakers in the world thinks it has 26 billion-dollar drugs in the pipeline — here's what they aim to treat

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