Today a court in Luxembourg will decide on “Luxleaks,” the case involving two former PwC employees who leaked documents on sweetheart tax deals between Luxembourg and corporate multinationals in 2014. The consultants and a journalist are charged with among other things theft and betrayal of business secrets, and face 18 months’ probation. What an upside down world we live in. The three deserve an award for civil courage, not a criminal conviction.
With Britain going rogue, English was on the menu yesterday during a bizarre exchange on the floor of the European Parliament between a gloating British UKIP leader Nigel Farage and a peeved Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who asked Farage bluntly: “Why are you here?’’ Later, E.U. leaders asked Britain’s outgoing prime minister, David Cameron, to get on with it and leave the E.U. Cameron passed the buck to his successor, whoever that will be. What’s German for “lame duck”? Luckily for the English speakers, it’s lame duck.
How good a deal will Britain ultimately get? Probably not a great one. Angela Merkel yesterday said the U.K. won’t get to “cherry pick” what it wants from the European Union, such as favorable access to the single market, without allowing freedom of movement – migration – one of the four core principles of the European project. If Britain was hoping for a free lunch, they got their answer.
As is sometimes her habit, Merkel left the tough love to Wolfgang Schäuble. Handelsblatt has learned Europe’s voice of austerity has a post-Brexit plan for the E.U. and euro zone which involves less Brussels and more Berlin. Schäuble’s plan foresees tougher debt rules and a “right to reject” national budgets of euro zone countries that violate deficit rules. Also, there would be fewer European commissioners and less power in Brussels. It doesn’t sound like “more Europe” – just better Europe.
Has Deutsche Bank’s stock hit bottom? Or will Brexit keep it vulnerable for the foreseeable future? The value of Germany’s largest financial institution has fallen 15 percent since Friday, and billionaire George Soros is selling short, betting the bank’s slump will continue. The 85-year-old hedge fund whiz sold 7 million borrowed shares, hoping to buy them back for less. Speculators are circling, and Germany’s top financial regulator is on alert. Not a good sign.
In a rebuff to German politicians who tried to thwart the sale, robotics firm Kuka is openly backing a $5 billion takeover offer from Midea, a Chinese appliance maker. The takeover, which would be the biggest ever by a Chinese company of a German firm, looks increasingly likely even though the government favors a European bid, which hasn’t materialized. Sometimes you have to let markets – and companies – sort it out themselves.