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Robinhood, others win dismissal of meme stock ‘short squeeze’ lawsuit

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November 18, 2021

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) – A U.S. judge dismissed a lawsuit accusing Robinhood Markets Inc and other brokerages of wrongly preventing retail investors from buying fast-rising “meme stocks,” triggering a sell-off.

In a decision on Wednesday, Chief Judge Cecilia Altonaga of the federal court in Miami found no proof of an illegal conspiracy to cut off social media-fueled trading of GameStop Corp, AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc, Bed Bath & Beyond Inc and six other stocks.

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Investors in the proposed class action said the brokerages and Citadel Securities LLC colluded to halt a “short squeeze” that was causing billions of dollars of losses for Citadel and hedge funds that were betting on falling stock prices.

The investors said the late January trading curbs left them “no option” but to sell at plummeting prices.

But Altonaga said in her 51-page decision that the investors fell “far short” of providing direct evidence of an antitrust conspiracy, despite emails among senior Robinhood and Citadel executives that lent “some credence” to their claims.

“(A)re a few vague and ambiguous emails between two firms in an otherwise lawful, ongoing business relationship enough to nudge plaintiffs’ claims across the line from conceivable to plausible?” Altonaga wrote. “The court thinks not.”

Altonaga also dismissed related claims against E*Trade Financial Corp and four other defendants.

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Frank Schirripa, a lawyer for the investors, said on Thursday they were disappointed but expected to amend their complaint in the next few weeks.

Robinhood said in a statement: “This further confirms that the conspiracy theory of collusion has no basis in fact.”

Citadel said it was pleased with the decision. E*Trade declined to comment. A separate proposed class action accuses Robinhood of negligence.

The meme stock frenzy has been fueled by investors using online forums such as Reddit and Twitter.

Many traded from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, through brokerages that had eliminated trading commissions.

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Last month, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said in a report that markets essentially worked well during the volatility. The regulator did not suggest policy changes.

The case is In re January 2021 Short Squeeze Trading Litigation, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, No. 21-md-02989.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; additional reporting by John McCrank; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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Canada’s Shopify records Black Friday sales up 21%

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November 27, 2021

(Reuters) – Canadian e-commerce company Shopify Inc recorded worldwide sales of nearly $2.9 billion on Black Friday, an increase of about 21% in comparison to last year, the company said Saturday.

New York, London and Los Angeles were among the top-selling cities, the company said, while apparel and accessories was the top-selling product category.

Shopify also said it funded 23,000+ tonnes of carbon removal to counteract emissions from the delivery of every order placed on its platform on Black Friday.

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(Reporting by Aakriti Bhalla in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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Xiaomi to open car plant in Beijing with annual output of 300,000 vehicles – Beijing govt

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November 27, 2021

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi Corp will build a plant that can produce 300,000 vehicles annually in Beijing for its electric vehicle unit, authorities in the capital said on Saturday.

The plant will be constructed in two phases and Xiaomi will also built its auto unit’s headquarters, sales and research offices in the Beijing Economic and Technological Development Zone, the government-backed economic development agency Beijing E-Town said on its official WeChat account.

Beijing E-Town said it anticipated the plant reaching mass production in 2024, a goal announced by Xiaomi’s Chief Executive Lei Jun in October.

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In March, Xiaomi said it would commit to investing $10 billion in a new electric car division over 10 years. The company completed the business registration of its EV unit in late August.

The company has been opening thousands of stores to spur domestic sales growth for its smartphone business but eventually intends to use these shops as a channel for its plans to sell electric vehicles.

(Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by William Mallard)

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Eni sells Snam 49.9% stake in Algeria gas pipelines for 385 million euros

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November 27, 2021

MILAN (Reuters) -Italian energy group Eni has agreed to sell gas group Snam 49.9% of its stake in strategic pipelines carrying Algerian gas into Italy for 385 million euros ($436 million), the two companies said on Saturday.

The pipelines will be jointly controlled by the two companies, they said in a joint statement.

Italy imports more than 90% of its overall gas needs and Algerian gas currently accounts for around 30% of flows.

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“This transaction allows us to free up new resources to be used on our energy transition path,” Eni Chief Executive Claudio Descalzi said.

Eni is working on spinning off a series of oil and gas operations into new joint ventures to help reduce debt and fund its shift to low-carbon energy.

Snam, which owns a 20% stake in the TAP pipeline that carries Azeri gas into Italy, makes most of its money from managing Italy’s gas transport grid.

It has pledged to spend more on new green business lines such as hydrogen and, like other gas grid operators in Europe, is upgrading its gas network to be hydrogen ready.

“In the future, North Africa could also become a hub for producing solar energy and green hydrogen,” Snam CEO Marco Alvera said.

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The pipeline companies involved in the deal posted net income of around 90 million euros in 2020.

($1 = 0.8836 euros)

(Reporting by Stephen Jewkes, editing by Giselda Vagnoni)

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