The proposed merger of the London Stock Exchange and Deutsche Börse seemed headed for collapse. The final nail in the coffin was said to be the LSE’s rejection of an ultimatum from European antitrust regulators for it to sell its stake in a bond-trading platform in Italy. The LSE reportedly rejected the demand without consulting its intended German partner. The British and German exchanges announced their intention to merge a year ago, before Britain voted to leave the EU. See article

Prosecutors in South Korea charged Lee Jae-yong, the de facto head of Samsung, and four other executives with bribery and corruption following a lengthy investigation. Mr Lee is accused of directing $38m in bribes to an associate of the country’s president in order to smooth the merger of two Samsung affiliates. He denies wrongdoing. See article

OneWeb, a startup that plans to launch a constellation of small satellites that will provide internet connection to remote places, is to merge with Intelsat, one of the biggest operators of commercial satellites. The deal is backed by SoftBank, a technology group, which has invested in OneWeb. The transaction relies on some bondholders in Intelsat agreeing to a debt swap, which should bring its $15bn debt load into a lower orbit.

A bigger bite

Warren Buffett revealed that Berkshire Hathaway, his investment company, had more than doubled the number of shares it owns in Apple, giving it a stake worth around $18 billion. Apple is now one of Berkshire’s biggest equity holdings.

India’s economy grew by 7% in the last quarter of 2016 compared with the same period of 2015. That was a more robust figure than economists had expected, given the government’s surprise decision in November to withdraw 86% of the banknotes in circulation in an effort to curb corruption and counterfeiting. Demonetisation led to long queues at shops and banks and disrupted businesses.

A slump in oil prices and revenues caused Nigeria’s economy to shrink in 2016 for the first time in 25 years. GDP contracted by 1.5% as oil production tumbled. A shortage of dollars, used by many businesses to pay for imports, also contributed to the slowdown. The IMF forecasts that the economy will grow by 0.8% this year and 2.3% in 2018. See here and here

Stockmarkets reached new record highs, buoyed in part by a positive reaction to Donald Trump’s speech to Congress. The Dow Jones Industrial Average index closed above the 21,000 mark, a little over a month after it breached 20,000. The S&P 500 and NASDAQ indices also scaled new heights.

Noble Group reported a small profit of $8.7m for last year. Noble was once Asia’s biggest commodities-trading firm, until it was hit by a double whammy of plunging commodity prices and questions about its accounts (until a review found they conformed to industry standards).

A knight to the rescue

In Britain, Sir Philip Green reached a settlement with regulators to top up the insolvent pension fund for workers at BHS, a bankrupt retail chain that he once owned. The collapse of BHS revealed a huge shortfall in its pension scheme; an inquiry in Parliament described the episode as “the unacceptable face of capitalism”.

Travis Kalanick issued a mea culpa. The chief executive of Uber admitted that “I need leadership help” after video footage emerged of him launching a verbal tirade at an Uber driver who had criticised the ride-hailing app’s business model. It is another dent in Uber’s image; it also faces allegations of sexual harassment from a former employee.

Snapchat priced its IPO at $17 a share, above the price range it set out in its prospectus. Demand was strong for the most eagerly awaited stockmarket flotation from a tech company in years.

Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, said he intends to fly people around the Moon by the end of next year. Two wealthy space tourists have apparently volunteered for the return flight, which would take a week and be controlled by autopilot. But the brave adventurers may not want to pack just yet. The Falcon Heavy rocket needed to launch the Moon capsule has not yet come into operation. See article

Thanks for the memories

Penguin Random House won an auction for the rights to publish the memoirs of Barack and Michelle Obama. Although the rights were sold jointly the memoirs of the former president and first lady will be published as separate books. The $65m that Penguin is reportedly paying is well above the $15m that Bill Clinton got for his memoirs and the $10m that George W. Bush obtained for his.