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Spotify (SPOT) makes its unconventional trading debut

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Spotify’s unusual path to going public on the New York Stock Exchange sparked curiosity among tech watchers and traders keen to see how the popular streaming service would fare on its first official day of trading.

The answer came swiftly, with shares in the newly created SPOT soaring 26 percent on Tuesday morning.

But don’t call it an initial public offering. Spotify left the ranks of other unicorns — the nickname for privately held companies valued at more than $1 billion — and followed an unconventional route to become a publicly traded company, opting for a direct listing.

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What a direct listing means for Spotify

A typical path for tech companies going public includes raising capital through millions of new shares and working with a large Wall Street bank to serve as a stabilizer by underwriting the IPO.

With Spotify’s public debut, there are no new shares, meaning there are only the existing shares held by private investors and employees. The direct listing is good news for them, since their share values aren’t being diluted.

For potential investors, it will be a case of whether the limited number of shares available will meet the demand of a hot new tech listing.

“A direct listing is a pretty unconventional way for a company to go public, in that they are not necessarily issuing new shares and having a traditional IPO that is underwritten,” Caleb Silver, senior vice president and editor-in-chief of Investopedia told NBC News. “Basically, it’s a chance for existing shareholders to sell their shares to the public through the exchange.”

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said he opted for the untraditional route because “Spotify has never been a normal kind of company.”

“Spotify is not raising capital, and our shareholders and employees have been free to buy and sell our stock for years,”he said in a letter posted on Monday. “So while tomorrow puts us on a bigger stage, it doesn’t change who we are, what we are about, or how we operate. This is why we are doing things a little differently.”

Spotify is valued at an estimated $19 billion.

The company’s decision to bypass the big investment banks is saving millions of dollars in fees. Silver said the banks will be watching to see how Spotify performs without their help. If it’s a success, he said the unorthodox listing could inspire other unicorns to follow suit.

Tech stocks slump amid controversies

If timing is everything, Spotify could be in for a tough ride. The company made its public debut as tech stocks continue to take a nosedive.

Amid fallout over its privacy practices, Facebook has lost nearly 20 percent of its value in the past month, shaving billions of dollars off embattled CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth. Amazon stock has also slid amid worries of regulation as President Donald Trump continues to target the company on Twitter.

Perhaps the closest comparison for how Spotify might fare is Netflix. The two companies have drawn comparisons for their streaming subscription models.

Netflix shares closed below the short term average on Monday for the first time this year, a barometer used to measure the momentum of a company and the attitudes of investors.

“This is a test by Spotify to see how much the public thinks this company is worth,” Silver said. “If its IPO is successful today, it is a good sign for Spotify and technology — but a rough sign for traditional banks.”

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Italian prosecutor in Mafia ‘maxi-trial’ says he won’t be intimidated | World News

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An Italian prosecutor, who has been called “dead man walking” by members of the Mafia, has told Sky News he will not be intimidated at the start of the biggest trial against the criminal syndicate in decades.

More than 350 people will face charges including murder, drug trafficking, extortion and money laundering – and Nicola Gratteri is the man who has overseen the case.

“You need to have broad shoulders and nerves of steel,” he said.

“You need to stay calm and not get caught up in emotion or tension. You need to rationalise every emotion because the goal is important and fundamental.”

This trial will target the Ndrangheta crime syndicate in Calabria
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This trial will target the Ndrangheta crime syndicate in Calabria

Mr Gratteri is Italy’s most famous anti-Mafia prosecutor and, as a consequence, he and his family have had to live under police protection for decades.

It has meant sacrifices, but ones he says he is prepared to make.

“This means giving up everyday life, giving up the most trivial things, common things, any kind of freedom.

“But we feel very free inside us because what drives us to do this job are the motivations, to think and believe in something, to have a more free, more liveable and therefore more democratic territory.

“Any sacrifice, any risk, is overcome in the conviction of being right and useful to the freedom of the people.”

There will be 700 lawyers and more than 1,000 people giving evidence
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There will be 700 lawyers and more than 1,000 people giving evidence

And yet he knows the very real risks he is taking.

Following Italy’s first so-called maxi-trial, which targeted Sicily’s Cosa Nostra Mafia, two prosecutors were assassinated.

This trial will target the Ndrangheta crime syndicate in Calabria and its alleged accomplices which include politicians, civil servants, police officers and business people.

Mr Gratteri saw the Mafia at work from when he was a child, he says.

“I spent my childhood in Calabria, at a time when dozens and dozens of people were killed.

“When I used to go to school from my village, several times I used to see dead people on the ground and I thought that as an adult I wanted to do something to prevent this from happening.

The courtroom will have to accommodate social distancing
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The courtroom will have to accommodate social distancing

“Then outside school I also saw the children of the Mafia bosses who behaved like ‘little Mafiosetti’ and I didn’t accept this either.

“But I was lucky because I was born into a family of humble but honest people and this helped me a lot to make my personal choices right away.

“Having gone to school with people that subsequently I had to arrest and convict as an adult is something that marks, it is unpleasant, but it is our job.”

Such is the scale and security risk of this trial that a specially converted bunker court room has been created along with facilities to accommodate over 350 defendants, more than 700 lawyers and close to 1,000 witnesses giving evidence.

Nicola Gratteri
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He will oversee the trial of over 350 defendants

All at a time when coronavirus restrictions means social distancing has to be obeyed.

And the pandemic is a situation Mr Gratteri is concerned that the Mafia will exploit.

“I am worried that the Ndrangheta and the other mafias will be able to take advantage of the needs of merchants, hoteliers, restaurateurs in crisis, and that with the money from cocaine they can buy everything that is on sale and then through the purchase of these hotels, restaurants and pizzerias can launder money,” he said.

“This worries me. In addition, I am also worried about poor, needy people.

Tight security will be in place
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Tight security will be in place

“If the state arrives late to give them subsidies, then the Mafia will take care of them and when there will be the elections these people will remember the help and vote for the candidate chosen by the Mafia boss.”

The trial is expected to last two years, but Nicola Gratteri has hope for the end of it.

He said: “It is always worth doing what you believe in. Sacrifices are made if you believe that you are on the right side and that you are doing something useful to the community.

“Therefore it is never wasted time and we are always convinced that it was worth it.”

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US Capitol riots: Investigators warn that hundreds of people are expected to be charged | US News

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More than 170 individuals are being investigated over their involvement in last week’s riot at the US Capitol – and 70 have been charged.

Washington DC’s top federal prosecutor says investigators are working towards charging people with assault and seditious conspiracy.

The number of people who are charged over the deadly unrest is expected to rise into the hundreds.

Acting US attorney Michael Sherwin said: “The Capitol grounds outside and inside are… a crime scene.”

A counter-terrorism investigation has also been launched in connection with the two pipe bombs found outside the headquarters of the Democratic and Republic parties.

While many of the criminal cases filed so far involve people whose photos went viral on social media, Mr Sherwin warned more serious charges are coming – and a grand jury has been reviewing the cases.

The news conference took place as Donald Trump gave a speech in Texas.

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Steven D’Antuono, a senior FBI official, also revealed that the bureau has received 100,000 video and picture tips since last Wednesday.

He also confirmed reporting from The Washington Post that there was intelligence about potential violence ahead of the riots.

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COVID-19: China attacks PM after he suggests coronavirus could have spread from people grinding pangolin scales | Politics News

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China has accused Boris Johnson of engaging in “groundless conjecture” after he suggested that coronavirus could have spread from people grinding up the scales of pangolins.

The prime minister speculated about the origin of COVID-19 during a speech to an environmental summit on Tuesday.

He said it was “the product of an imbalance in man’s relationship with the natural world”.

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December: One year on since coronavirus was spotted

The PM continued: “Like the original plague which struck the Greeks I seem to remember in book one of the Iliad, it is a zoonotic disease.

“It originates from bats or pangolins, from the demented belief that if you grind up the scales of a pangolin you will somehow become more potent or whatever it is people believe, it originates from this collision between mankind and the natural world and we’ve got to stop it.”

But Beijing’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said “careful and meticulous” studies were needed to discover the origin of the coronavirus outbreak.

“Groundless conjecture or hype-up of the issue will only disrupt normal international co-operation on origin-tracing,” he said.

Sky News has contacted Downing Street for a response to Beijing’s criticism of the PM.

Despite coronavirus first being detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, a World Health Organisation team will only be allowed to visit the city for the first time on Thursday.

The organisation has voiced frustration about late delays preventing its team from travelling to China last week.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, said the scientists will focus on how the virus first jumped to people.

“Studies will begin in Wuhan to identify the potential source of infection of the early cases,” Dr Tedros said.

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UK targets ‘human rights abuses’ in China

COVID-19 has killed almost two million people around the world, according to Johns Hopkins University, with more than 90 million cases recorded.

The row between London and Beijing comes as the UK government publicly criticised China’s treatment of Uighur Muslims as “barbarism” and announced new measures to stop UK companies trading with Chinese firms connected to forced labour.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the Commons that there was clear evidence of “internment camps, forced labour, arbitrary detention, political re-education and forced sterilisation, all on an industrial scale. It is truly horrific”.

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