Top US stocks to watch before the bell: Big Tech, Autodesk and Biogen

Big tech set to pay more taxes after world leaders strike a landmark deal at the G7 Summit, Autodesk’s bid for Altium is rejected, Biogen awaits critical decision on its potential Alzheimer’s drug, Apple to kick-off its developers conference, and banking app Dave outlines plans to go public.

USA (1)

Big Tech

Big Tech companies including Facebook, Amazon and Alphabet will be in focus today after world leaders meeting at the G7 Summit in the UK struck a deal to get multinational companies to cough-up more money and discourage them from funnelling profits to low-tax offshore havens.

The leaders agreed that there should be a minimum global corporate tax rate of 15%. UK chancellor Rishi Sunak described it as a ‘historic agreement to reform the global tax system to make it fit for the digital age’ while Germany’s finance minister Olaf Scholz said the deal was ‘bad news for tax havens around the world’.

Facebook said it expected to pay more taxes in more countries as a result of the deal, according to Reuters.

Alphabet

Speaking of Alphabet, Google is being fined up to EUR220 million by France’s antitrust regulator for abusing its dominant position in the online advertising market.

The decision was made that Google abused its position in online advertising, where some of its tools have become essential for publishing companies, and favoured its own services. Press companies including News Corp, Le Figaro and the Rossel La Voix group complained to authorities. Google negotiated with the regulator to come to a settlement but ‘did not dispute the facts,’ the regulator said. The company has agreed to change its practices to address the concerns, which the regulator has accepted.

‘The decision sanctioning Google has a very special meaning because it is the first decision in the world to look into complex algorithmic auctions processes through which online display advertising works,’ said Isabelle de Silva, the president of the French Competition Authority.

Autodesk

Autodesk revealed it made an AUD5.05 billion takeover bid Altium on Sunday, which was rejected by the Australian firm for being too low.

Autodesk made a bid for AUD38.50 per Altium share, representing a 41% premium to its last closing price. However, Altium said the offer was too low but left the door open for Autodesk to come back with a higher offer and a spokesperson from the US company has signalled it could be willing to table another deal.

Altium said it is willing to review ‘all potential strategic alternatives’ in the hopes of achieving the optimal valuation.

Biogen

Biogen shares will be in focus today as it is expecting to receive a decision from the Food & Drug Administration on whether its Alzheimer’s drug aducanumab will be approved or rejected.

The decision is seen as critical for not only Biogen but the wider industry, as approval could reignite research into an area where there are few-to-none medicines on the market while a rejection could encourage other firms experimenting with new treatments to abandon their research. RBC analyst Brian Abrahams said the decision could influence overall sentiment in the biopharma sector and reveal how flexible the regulatory space is.

The effectiveness of the drug is highly debated. One Phase III trial showed a benefit in slowing the decline in cognition and functionality compared to a placebo, but another failed to come up with the same result.

Apple

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference will kick-off today and run for the rest of the week.

The event will be launched with a keynote speech from chief executive Tim Cook and will be held online for a second consecutive year because of the pandemic. Analysts have suggested that the ‘elephant in the room’ this year is Apple’s relations with developers, including the fees and commissions it charges.

Meanwhile, Apple is expected to reveal its new operating systems, including iOS15, and eyes will be on any changes to its privacy features following criticisms from firms like Facebook. The App Store will also be on the agenda and how it can drive the growth in services.

Macquarie Infrastructure

Macquarie Infrastructure has agreed to sell its Atlantic Aviation business to private equity group KKR for $4.48 billion.

The deal will mean Macquarie will pocket around $3.3 billion in proceeds, most of which is set to be returned to shareholders in the form of a $37.35 per share payout. Atlantic Aviation runs fixed-base operations in the US that help provide critical services to the private aviation sector and the price tag is 16.2 times greater than its annual Ebitda delivered in 2019.

The deal should be completed in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Tesla

Tesla has cancelled plans to build the Model S Plaid+ because the original Plaid is good enough already, according to Elon Musk’s twitter account.

Musk tweeted that ‘Plaid+ is cancelled. No need, as Plaid is just so good’. Plaid+ would have been Tesla’s longest-range car. Production was pushed back to 2022 from an original goal of 2021.

Musk added that the Model S Plaid is the ‘quickest production car ever made of any kind’, meaning it is unnecessary to upgrade it further. Its website claims it can do 0-60 miles per hour in just 1.99 seconds and has a top speed of 200 miles per hour. The Model S Plaid was expected to be unveiled earlier this month, but the event has been pushed back to this Thursday.

Goldman Sachs and Visa

Corporate customers of Goldman Sachs will be able to use Visa’s network to make international cross-border payments and move money around the globe after the two companies struck a new partnership.

Goldman Sachs clients will be able to use Visa B2B Connect, which allows businesses to make high-value cross-border payments network operating across 97 countries. They will also be able to use Visa Direct Payouts, designed for lower-value but higher-volume transactions for smaller businesses.

Dave

Dave, which runs an app that helps Americans avoid overdraft fees charged by traditional mainstream banks, has outlined plans to go public by merging with blank-cheque company Victory Park Capital at a $4 billion valuation.

The app, backed by billionaire Mark Cuban, has 10 million customers and is hoping the listing can help fuel its growth plans by allowing it to scale its banking platform. It has so far helped its customers avoid $1 billion in overdraft fees alone since being founded in 2017 and earn $200 million through its service advertising gig-economy jobs.

It launched a new spending account and debit card with zero fees back late last year and has already secured 1.3 million customers.

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