The big four


Thomson Reuters to acquire Confirmation

Thomson Reuters signed a deal on 21 June to acquire Confirmation, a leading provider of secure audit confirmation services. The acquisition will strengthen the company’s offerings to its core tax, accounting and audit customers, according to Thomson Reuters’ Chief Executive Officer Jim Smith. He added: “We will continue to invest in solutions that help our customers automate tasks in their daily workflow. The Confirmation acquisition fits that objective.” Financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed, and the deal is still subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions. Brian Fox, President and Founder of Confirmation, will join Thomson Reuters in an executive role once the deal is complete.

London-Shanghai stock connect launches

The long-awaited London-Shanghai Stock Connect went live on 26 June, allowing companies listed in the United Kingdom and Mainland China to raise capital on each other’s stock market. Under the new link, U.K.-listed companies are the first foreign companies able to list in the Mainland. The move is seen as a major step for Beijing in opening up its capital markets. One of China’s largest brokerages, Huatai Securities, debuted on the London Stock Exchange, becoming the first company to sell through the new link. The scheme differs from the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect, as the London scheme is limited to trading in depository receipts rather than direct trade in company shares.

Fiverr goes public

Online freelance platform Fiverr got off to a strong start with its initial public offering on 13 June. It opened at US$26 per share, higher than their initial pricing at US$18 to US$20, giving the company a valuation of US$650 million. Fiverr is the latest “gig-economy” company to go public, which connects freelancers with clients with jobs starting from US$5. Its listing success follows the shortcomings of IPOs for similar gig-economy companies such as Uber and Lyft. Shares of Uber fell more than 6 percent below its IPO pricing, while shares of Lyft dropped nearly 19 percent that same week. “We are on the path to profitability. That’s the balance we’re trying to keep – focusing on growth while building a business that would be profitable in the long term,” said Fiverr’s Founder and Chief Executive Officer Micha Kaufman.

Shakira in court over tax fraud allegations

Colombian pop singer Shakira appeared in a Spanish court in Barcelona on 6 June to answer to tax fraud charges. Prosecutors allege that the 42-year-old avoided paying €14.5 million in taxes by claiming to live in the Bahamas when she was a resident in Catalonia between 2012 to 2014. They also say she should have paid tax in Spain on her worldwide income for those years, adding that she was resident in Spain for most of the year, and only travelled abroad for short periods. Her defence team argued that until 2014 she earned most of her money in international tours and did not live more than six months a year in Spain – and was therefore not a resident under tax law. Her press team released a statement saying the artist was innocent, that “there is currently no debt,” and that she had paid everything claimed by tax authorities. She denies all charges.

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