A political resolution in Spain and banking consolidation across Europe

With his country on the verge of economic contraction, German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz is calling for more financial integration across the European Union. The Finance Ministry released a paper citing the need for more cooperation across European nations to facilitate better financial services. One proposed idea is a deposit-insurance program which would protect bank depositors in the case of financial collapse.

Speaking to The Global Conversation, Scholz made it clear he is looking across the world at his US counterparts for inspiration:

Banking consolidation

“We have to understand that building a banking union is a really big task, and the first view we should have is the view from the United States. This is a big country with a banking union and we should learn from them what we need to do. If we want to have something like this in the European Union – and we should be looking at a complete banking union – then we should define the steps needed to get there and not just discuss about one step or another step. Or not doing anything which has been the case for the last few years.”

Following months of uncertainty, it appears that a government in Spain is finally forming. The country’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and his PSOE party came together with Pablo Iglesias, the leader of Spains’ Unidas Podemos left-wing party, to sign a preliminary agreement on a coalition government. This came after Spain’s November election in which no party was able to capture enough votes to form a government, causing many to wonder if a coalition would ever be formed.

Iglesias recalled his previous attempts at a coalition government in April that paved the way for this necessary alliance:

progressive coalition government

“As I said on election night after hearing the results, what was a historical opportunity in April has become a historical necessity,” said the Unidas Podemos leader, who will be deputy prime minister should the deal come to fruition. “I’m pleased to announce today, together with Pedro Sánchez, that we have reached a preliminary agreement to create a progressive coalition government that combines the experience of the PSOE with the courage of Unidas Podemos.”

Sánchez, who had rejected the deal in April, was humbled at the outcome this time around, stating in reference to his about-face, “A politician’s best diet is to eat his own words.”

Another day, another dollar for an e-scooter operator. In a Series B round of financing, VOI raised $85 million to expand its services across Europe. The company has already operated in 10-countries over its first year of operation.

VOI CEO and co-founder Fredrik Hjelm is pleased with his company’s success to date:

VOIs e scooters

“There’s been a huge demand for VOI’s e-scooters from residents across Europe in the last 12 months but making a landmark change to transport in Europe takes more than simply flooding cities with thousands of scooters. We are developing a long-term business that gives people a new way of moving around cities that’s clean, fast, convenient and also fun. We have seen the strongest unit economics of all of our peers and will continue to optimize and invest in that.”

Electric scooters are still a topic of contention across the region. France recently imposed regulations on e-scooters, with a €1,500 fine for anyone traveling more than 25-kilometres per hour, and placing a minimum age requirement of 12-years old to operate an e-scooter.

More and more companies are now offering alternative financing for large purchases. Carnival Cruise Line has become the latest company to allow its customers to use purchase financing to book a cruise. Purchase financing will allow Carnival customers to book a cruise with zero down payment and make monthly payments for up to two-years.

Carnival, which now expects to reach even more customers with an affordable financing option, has partnered with finance startup Uplift for this offering:

Carnival vacation cruising

“Carnival is already the most affordable vacation in cruising, and with Uplift, guests can enjoy the vacation of a lifetime by spreading the cost of their trip into affordable monthly payments,” said Ken Tate, chief commercial officer for Carnival Cruise Line. “Uplift’s unique zero money down option with up to 24 set monthly payments and its pure focus on travel made Uplift a natural choice for Carnival to partner with.”

Carnival isn’t the only company to recently partner with Uplift. United Airlines also will allow its customers to use a similar financing option through Uplift by paying for flights over 11-months.

The largest private equity deal in the United States looks to be underway. According to reports, KKR, a private equity giant, is seeking to takeover Walgreens in a deal that could be valued over $70 billion.

Baird analyst Eric Coldwell noted that now would be the perfect time for Walgreens to agree to such a deal given the uncertainty surrounding the healthcare industry:


“Given poor industry fundamentals, seemingly never-ending margin pressures faced in the healthcare supply chain, and, let’s face it, ongoing uncertainty about unpredictable items such as opioids exposure, we would struggle to see a monster premium beyond this current run-up (in the stock),” Baird analyst Eric Coldwell wrote in a note.

Walgreens has not had a great 2019, as its stock price has fallen almost 10%, making it one of the worst performing stocks in the Dow for the current year.

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