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Commenting on Nutmeg’s announcement, Victor Basta, managing director of Magister Advisors, who advised Nutmeg, said:

“Nutmeg’s announcement today represents the largest FinTech fundraise to be announced in Europe since Brexit and the largest investment yet in a European robo advisor.  It is also the largest EU fundraise in Fintech led by an Asian investor this year and is indicative of the broader trend towards Asian investors backing the best European tech assets.”

“This fundraise is a great vote of confidence in Nutmeg and in UK tech.  Nutmeg is without question the largest and most mature business in its sector in Europe. Clearly the investors see a significant opportunity for Nutmeg to become a world class global business.”

 “Digital wealth managers are bringing sophisticated wealth management to the masses.  Industry estimates indicate that the EU robo advisory market is likely to grow to $114B, much faster than the more mature US market.”

 “At a time when there are concerns about the impact of Brexit, here is a London-based business engaged in dynamic FinTech innovation and attracting global investors.”

“European tech is witnessing a surge in investment from Asia.  We expect the value of investment this year to be ten times the level it was three years ago and we expect to see further significant rises in the years ahead.  We’ve already seen two blockbuster acquisitions of European tech companies, Supercell and ARM, by Asian buyers this year.”

Several factors are contributing to a surge in Asian investment in European tech according to Magister Advisors analysis:

–    Chinese tech giants are generating far more cash than they can profitably deploy in China. Alibaba’s annual cash generation has jumped 6x to nearly $9B in just 4 years, while Baidu’s market value has soared from $1B to $64B since IPO just over a decade ago, all while at the same time China’s growth rate is slowing. This creates two reinforcing trends spurring international investment.  First, it naturally drives local tech giants to look further afield for growth.  Second, with slower growth comes less requirement for local investment, yielding even more annual cash (albeit not forever).  Imagine Alibaba having $15-20B of cash flow without much need to invest locally and you have a major international tech deal-maker in the offing.
–    Local growth rates are slowing – China’s 2015 growth was the lowest in 25 years.  The opportunity to scale to $1B+ in local revenue in 4-5 years is rapidly fading, and many ambitious local success stories need to look further afield for either a technology edge or additional markets to continue rapid expansion.
–    English is sweeping China – More people are learning English in China than in Europe.  Over the next 20 years, English-speaking, internationally oriented Chinese students will take positions of power in cash-rich tech players, creating a cadre of tech leaders confident in expanding beyond Asia.
–    There is a huge desire to “buy the best” abroad and bring it back home.  Demands for proven, transformational technology has never been greater in the region. For example, Chinese pupils are entering the education system far faster than the country can deploy qualified teachers, leading to intense interest in education technology.  In fin-tech, world-class European firms are seen as attractive tech weapons to shake up stodgy Asian banks and insurers.
–    European tech companies are more capital-efficient than US counterparts, making them a safer bet for profit-oriented Asian investors.  With less early-stage capital historically available in Europe, companies have spent less and gotten profitable faster.  This balanced approach inherently appeals to profit-minded Asian investors, who are cautious about pumping money from a distance into high burn-rate Silicon Valley start-ups.  Perverse as it may sound, the lack of historic capital in Europe is a driver for attracting unprecedented Asian capital into Europe.
–    Accessing huge Asian markets best done via local partners – For European tech companies, the market entry benefits of a large Asian investor/acquirer are clear.  There is no such thing as an Asian market; even mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong are entirely distinct markets.  The adage about Europe applies even more to Asia; going alone into several Asian markets is a bet-the-company decision hardly any European tech CEO would make. Gaining a significant Asian investor who is motivated to help “bring the technology home” can transform a European tech company’s reach into the region.
–    Valuations in European tech remain more attractive than top-tier US start-ups.  Many US start-ups still demand $1B+ “unicorn” valuations despite being years away from making money; at last count, there were 100+ US tech unicorns across all tech sectors.  This makes it hard for Chinese or Asian strategic investors to justify a major strategic stake, or full acquisition.  In contrast, Europe has created only 15 unicorns, and many European tech companies are available for still-high, but at least justifiable, valuations.

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Tänak wins easily in the Arctic as Rovanperä grabs early title lead



Tänak wins easily in the Arctic as Rovanperä grabs early title lead 1

Finn becomes youngest ever WRC leader with Belgian Neuville back in third.

Ott Tänak sealed a dominant start-to-finish victory at Arctic Rally Finland Powered by CapitalBox on Sunday afternoon.

The Estonian was never seriously challenged during the three-day encounter in Lapland’s frozen forests. He built a comfortable lead during the first two legs and eased through the finale to win the FIA World Rally Championship’s second round by 17.5sec.

Home hero Kalle Rovanperä fended off a charging Thierry Neuville to claim the best result of his career in second. At just 20 years old, he became the youngest driver to lead the WRC in the championship’s 49-year history. Neuville finished 2.3sec adrift in third.

Tänak won five of the 10 snow and ice speed tests in his Hyundai i20. Apart from a brush with a snowbank on Saturday, he avoided trouble on superfast roads near Rovaniemi to kick-start his title bid after retiring from the season-opener in Monte-Carlo.

“The pressure was there and we knew it was going to be very complicated to take the fight,” he said. “In the end we did a very good weekend, with only one mistake. It’s an amazing place, definitely one of the best places to have a winter rally.”

Rovanperä, starting just his ninth top-level rally, began the final day with a 1.8sec buffer to Neuville. He extended it by a tenth in the first of two passes through the 22.47km Aittajärvi test, before winning the final Wolf Power Stage to retain his grip on second.

The Toyota Yaris driver moved four points clear of Neuville at the top of the standings, relegating world champion Sébastien Ogier who had a disappointing weekend. The Frenchman finished 20th after burying his Yaris into a snow drift.

Neuville’s third place provided a double podium for Hyundai Motorsport, which reduced Toyota Gazoo Racing’s manufacturers’ championship lead to 11 points.

Craig Breen finished fourth in another i20 after a four-rally absence. Tyre management was crucial and the Irishman fell back on Saturday as he struggled for grip on deteriorating roads after ending the opening day in second. He was 52.6sec adrift of Tänak.

Breen kept Elfyn Evans at bay in the final test after the Welshman closed to within 3.6sec in the penultimate stage. The final gap between them was 8.9sec. Japan’s Takamoto Katsuta rounded off the top six in another Yaris.

Tributes were made on the podium to Finnish rally great Hannu Mikkola. The 1983 world champion and three-time runner-up died on Friday and the Finnish Air Force led the accolades with an F18 Hornet flypast.

The WRC moves to the asphalt Croatia Rally for round three, which is based in Zagreb on April 22-25.

Final positions

1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Hyundai i20 2hr 03min 49.6sec

2. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota Yaris +17.5sec

3. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 +19.8sec

4. C Breen / P Nagle IRL Hyundai i20 +52.6sec

5. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris +1min 01.5sec

6. T Katsuta / D Barritt JAP Toyota Yaris +1min 37.8sec

FIA World Rally Championship (after round 2 of 12)

1. K Rovanperä 39pts

2. T Neuville 35

3. S Ogier 31

4. E Evans 31

5. O Tänak 27


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Euro zone factories buzzing in February as demand soars



Euro zone factories buzzing in February as demand soars 2

By Jonathan Cable

LONDON (Reuters) – Euro zone factory activity raced along in February thanks to soaring demand, a survey showed on Monday, although the burst of business led to a shortage of raw materials and a spike in input costs.

Restrictions imposed across the continent to try to quell the spread of the coronavirus have shuttered vast swathes of the bloc’s dominant services industry, meaning it has fallen to manufacturers to support the economy.

IHS Markit’s final Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) jumped to a three-year high of 57.9 in February from January’s 54.8, ahead of the initial 57.7 “flash” estimate and one of the highest readings in the survey’s 20-year history.

An index measuring output, which feeds into a composite PMI due on Wednesday that is seen as a good guide to economic health, climbed to 57.6 from 54.6, well above the 50 mark separating growth from contraction.

“Manufacturing is appearing as an increasingly bright spot in the euro zone’s economy so far this year,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit.

“The solid manufacturing expansion is clearly helping to offset ongoing virus-related weakness in many consumer-facing sectors, alleviating the impact of recent lockdown measures in many countries and helping to limit the overall pace of economic contraction.”

A Reuters poll last month showed the bloc was in a double dip recession and that the economy would contract 0.8% this quarter after shrinking 6.9% in 2020 on an annual basis. [ECILT/EU]

Rocketing demand for manufactured goods pushed factories to increase staffing levels for the first time in nearly two years.

But lockdown measures disrupted supply chains and factories struggled to obtain raw materials, leading to a big increase in delivery times.

“The growth spurt has brought its own problems, however, with demand for inputs not yet being met by supply. Shipping delays and shortages of materials are being widely reported, and led to near-record supply chain delays,” Williamson said.

Those shortages allowed suppliers to hike their prices at the fastest rate in almost a decade. The input prices PMI bounced to 73.9 from 68.3.

(Reporting by Jonathan Cable; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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Strong exports lift German factory activity to three-year high in February – PMI



Strong exports lift German factory activity to three-year high in February - PMI 3

BERLIN (Reuters) – Higher demand from China, the United States and Europe drove growth in German factory activity to its highest level in more than three years in February, brightening the outlook for Europe’s largest economy, a survey showed on Monday.

IHS Markit’s Final Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for manufacturing, which accounts for about a fifth of the economy, jumped to 60.7 from 57.1 in January.

It was the highest reading since January 2018 and came in slightly better than the initial “flash” figure of 60.6.

Factories have been humming along during the pandemic on higher foreign demand, helping the German economy avoid a contraction in the last quarter of 2020 and offsetting a drop in consumer spending amid a partial lockdown to contain COVID-19.

Many manufacturers reported higher demand from Asia, especially China, as well as the United States and European countries, with export sales posting their biggest increase since December 2017, the survey showed.

Phil Smith, Principal Economist at IHS Markit, said supply chain pressures intensified as more firms reported delays than ever before in nearly 25 years of data collection.

“There looks to be further upward pressure on inflation in the German economy from supply bottlenecks and a subsequent surge in manufacturing input costs,” Smith noted.

The survey suggested that supply disruption is making it more difficult to replenish stocks, which could complicate production in the coming months, he cautioned.

“Nevertheless, the overriding sentiment for the longer-term outlook is optimism, with a record number of manufacturers expecting to see output rise over the next 12 months.”

Still, economists expect the economy to shrink in the first quarter of this year due to a stricter lockdown, which has shut most shops and services since mid-December, and freezing temperatures that slowed construction activity in February.

(Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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