Moderna, Apple, Google and Jio Platforms

Moderna announces big news, Apple wins a sizable international tax battle and Google dives into India with Jio Platforms.
Dr. Anthony Fauci
"111811_2011_Caribbean_HIV_Conference_Ope" (CC BY-ND 2.0) by 2011 Caribbean HIV Conference
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July 15, 2020 – Moderna announces big news, Apple wins a sizable international tax battle and Google dives into India with Jio Platforms.

Today’s word count: 1,319 words (9 minutes)

Moderna’s Covid-19 Vaccine Moves to Bigger Study

Moderna’s Covid-19 candidate took a significant step forward Tuesday; new results of the company’s latest study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed the vaccine achieved the desired immune response in all participants. The shot was “generally safe and well-tolerated,” with no severe safety risks.

Why It Matters

Any vaccine news is good news. It means we’re one step closer to getting the pandemic under control and returning to some form of normalcy. Although this study was relatively small, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci expressed how positive an outcome was (the NIAID co-developed the vaccine). The candidate can now progress to a more extensive experiment – a 30,000-person study across 90 U.S. locations starting in July.

The latest study is scheduled to run through October 2022, but researchers should have preliminary results long before. If all goes well, Moderna’s vaccine could be approved for emergency use before the year’s out, but widespread distribution to the population is more complicated and would take time. Moderna says it’s on track to deliver around 500 million doses a year and could raise that number to a billion next year. At that pace, it would be a multi-year effort to get the necessary percentage of the population inoculated to reach herd immunity.

Numbers to Consider

  • 45 – The size of the group evaluated in Moderna’s latest vaccine study.
  • 62,000 – The number of people that have lined up for Moderna’s follow up, starting in July.
  • 13.3 Million – The current number of confirmed Covid-19 cases around the world.


Apple Wins Major Tax Battle Against EU

Apple scored a big victory Wednesday when the European Union’s second-highest court sided in favor of the tech giant over $14.8 billion in taxes allegedly owed to Ireland. The original ruling dated back to a case from 2016 and had stipulated that Apple had exploited an illegal subsidy from 2003 to 2014 under the “bloc’s strict state-aid rules.” The General Court annulled the initial decision saying the Commission had “failed to meet the legal standards in showing that Apple was illegally given special treatment.”

Why It Matters

The bad news is it’s a tough blow for the European Commission and its leader, Margrethe Vestager, as the antitrust watchdog continues to track down multinational corporations looking for shortcuts to lower their effective tax rates in Europe. Vestager is also in the middle of a critical battle with Google over three separate antitrust decisions, with $9.4 billion in fines.

The (kind of) good news is this could generate momentum toward updating current tax and competition laws. Negotiations between the U.S. and European countries remain stalled over “how and whether to update the global tax system to make tech companies pay more levies where their customers are based.” Apple’s latest victory could supercharge tech-industry critics, including Vestager, in a rejuvenated effort to push for the curbing of alleged abuses by large tech companies. France already has imposed a unilateral tech tax, and Vestager says the EU could do the same if there’s no international progress this year.

The Commission can still appeal to the EU’s top court, the European Court of Justice. The money is currently parked in escrow. However, legal limitations could make it a losing effort, and it seems that Apple has definitively won this battle.

Numbers to Consider

  • $277 Million – An allegedly unpaid tax bill Amazon was ordered to pay Luxembourg, which the company is currently appealing.
  • $130 Billion – Apple’s reported profit in Ireland during 11-year the period in question.
  • $388.23 – Apple’s share price Wednesday morning.


Google to Invest $4.5 Billion in India’s Jio Platforms

It’s official. Google will invest around $4.5 billion in Indian telecom giant Jio Platforms, “giving the American tech giant a powerful partner for its plans to get hundreds of millions more people online.” The deal will be Google’s first move within its recently announced $10 billion fund for Indian investments. The two firms announced they would work together to develop affordable smartphones.

Why It Matters

India represents one of the world’s “last great untapped digital markets,” By way of inexpensive handsets and data plans, Jio has brought the internet to a large swath of people who previously couldn’t afford it. The company has amassed an impressive subscriber base of over 388 million, but that still only represents a fraction of India’s population. Over the next five years, India expects to add 171 million new wireless internet subscribers, according to GSMA Intelligence, twice the number expected in the U.S. and China combined.

Now, Google is getting involved in the action. Since the start of 2020, Jio has raised billions of dollars across the tech and private equity spaces in a push to infuse cash into its efforts. Google is even a bit late to the party considering Facebook, Silver Lake, Vista Equity Partners, KKR & Co., General Atlantic and Qualcomm Ventures, to name a few, already own stakes in Jio.

Adding Google to the fold provides Jio with “another sophisticated international partner.” And in return, Google has boots on the ground in India as the market becomes highly profitable. 

Numbers to Consider

  • 7.7 Percent – The stake Google purchased in Jio Platforms.
  • $30 Billion – The total amount Jio has raised this year.
  • $1.3 Billion – India’s estimated total population.


A Quick Look

Boeing Reports More MAX Cancellations

  1. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravage the aircraft manufacturing industry as Boeing removed 183 jets from its order book and only delivered ten aircraft in June. The aerospace giant announced 60 cancellations on the grounded 737 MAX and axed 123 other orders from its backlog because of doubt those deals would go through.
  2. “Boeing’s backlog fell to 4,552 at the end of June as a number of leasing companies canceled MAX orders and Boeing downgraded the likelihood of the 119 being delivered. Norwegian Air Shuttle A/S has said it plans to cancel its remaining deal for 92 of the planes,” The Wall Street Journal writes.
  3. To date, in 2020, Boeing has supplied 70 planes. In 2018, the firm delivered 806 and then 380 a year later, according to Statista.


Worth Your Time

Roles Reverse: The Trump administration has backtracked its latest rule that would have required international students to transfer or leave the country if colleges had classes entirely online because of the pandemic. The backtrack comes in the wake up eight federal lawsuits and opposition from hundreds of universities. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Nothing Special: Trump also took action against Hong Kong Tuesday, signing an order to end preferential treatment for the territory in direct response to China’s new national security law. China was highly critical of the move, “vowing to retaliate with punitive measures of its own.” (NEW YORK TIMES)

The Secret Life of Plants: With a star-studded group of investors that now includes Oprah Winfrey, Natalie Portman and Howard Schultz, plant-based milk maker Oatly announced it raised a $200 million equity investment. The plant-based food market is a high growth sector that continues to draw investors’ eyes as health- and environment-conscious meals rise in demand. (REUTERS)


The U.K. is mandating Huawei to remove all technology from its 5G networks by 2027 as tensions between the U.S. and China escalate.

Virgin Atlantic Airways has secured a lifeline – a $1.5 billion care package will allow the firm to stave off bankruptcy and buy some time for Richard Branson to stabilize the company after the fallout from the pandemic.

A Couple Cents Content

Justin Oh breaks down BurgerFi’s case as an investment. (POST)

If you haven’t already, check out part three of Justin Oh’s series on real estate investing. (YOUTUBE)

I wrote about Byte as an unlikely but potential successor in the short-form video space if TikTok is banned. (POST)


Thanks for reading!

— Justin Birnbaum

Image:111811_2011_Caribbean_HIV_Conference_Ope” (CC BY-ND 2.0) by 2011 Caribbean HIV Conference

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