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Mergers and acquisitions make a comeback as TikTok deal seizes headlines

A slew of high-profile headlines led by Microsoft's expected acquisition of social media video app TikTok helped bring the Nasdaq to another record high on Monday.

Why it matters: The mergers-and-acquisitions market looks like it's bouncing back, joining the revived credit and equity markets as well as the market for new public companies through IPOs and special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs).


  • Goldman Sachs did warn in a recent note to clients that the 51 SPAC offerings this year — raising a record $21.5 billion that's up 145% from the same period a year ago — have lagged on performance so far.

What's happening: In addition to Microsoft's big pickup, security company ADT saw its shares jump 56.6% on news that Google plans to buy a nearly 7% stake for $450 million to use ADT services in its Nest home security devices.

  • Varian Medical Systems jumped 22% on news of a $16 billion buyout by Germany’s Siemens Healthineers, and Kansas City Southern gained after a report of a takeover bid expected to be worth $20 billion, Reuters reported.

Flashback: Data firm CB Insights reported last month that M&A deals started picking back up in the back half of the second quarter, but with significantly more deals in Asia where VC deal activity rose 20% quarter over quarter.

  • North America and the rest of the world now look to be picking up the pace.

The big picture: “The market is revolving around M&A activity possibly picking up,” Jake Dollarhide, CEO of Longbow Asset Management, told Reuters. “It means CEOs are more confident about the future. Otherwise, why would they lay out billions of dollars?”

Yes, but: As Axios' Dan Primack noted in mid-July, the approval time for big deals has been increasing as the coronavirus pandemic has slowed and scattered government agencies needed to sign off on them.

  • In general, U.S. regulators have beefed up scrutiny of new deals, especially when there are multibillion-dollar companies involved.
  • This could mean that even as more firms agree to tie-ups in 2020, they could be delayed through the end of the year.

By the numbers: The announced deal value for U.S.-based companies through July 9 was 64% lower than the same period in 2019, according to Refinitiv, with aggregate deal value between Q1 and Q2 2020 down more than 40%.

Pac-12 will play this fall despite ongoing pandemic

The Pac-12, which includes universities in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, Utah and Washington state, will play football starting Nov. 6, reversing its earlier decision to postpone the season because of the coronavirus pandemic, ESPN's Kyle Bonagura and Heather Dinich report.

Why it matters: The conference's about-face follows a similar move by the Big Ten last week and comes as President Trump has publicly pressured sports to resume despite the ongoing pandemic. The Pac-12 will play a seven-game conference football season, according to ESPN.

COVAX vaccine initiative involves most of the world, but U.S. or China

Data: Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance; Map: Naema Ahmed/Axios

A global initiative to ensure equitable distribution of coronavirus vaccines now includes most of the world — but not the U.S., China or Russia.

Why it matters: Assuming one or more vaccines ultimately gain approval, there will be a period of months or even years in which supply lags far behind global demand. The COVAX initiative is an attempt to ensure doses go where they're most needed, rather than simply to countries that can produce or buy them at scale.

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Podcast: The child care tax on America's economy

Child care in the U.S. is in crisis, which makes it much harder for the American economy to recover — as providers struggle to stay in business and parents wrestle with work.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the problems and what can be done to solve them, with Vox senior reporter Anna North.

Scientists are trying to figure out how much the amount of coronavirus in your body matters

How sick a person gets from a virus can depend onhow much of the pathogen that person was exposed to and how much virus is replicating in their body — questionsthat are still open for the novel coronavirus.

Why it matters: As people try to balance resuming parts of their daily lives with controlling their risk of COVID-19, understanding the role of viral load could help tailor public health measures and patient care.

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China's vow to achieve "carbon neutrality" before 2060 sends shockwaves through the climate world

A new insta-analysis of China's vow to achieve "carbon neutrality" before 2060 helps to underscore why Tuesday's announcement sent shockwaves through the climate and energy world.

Why it matters: Per the Climate Action Tracker, a research group, following through would lower projected global warming 0.2 to 0.3°C. That's a lot!

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Kayleigh McEnany: Trump will accept "free and fair" election, no answer on if he loses

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Thursday that President Trump will "accept the results of a free and fair election," but did not specify whether he will commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses to Joe Biden.

Why it matters: Trump refused to say on Wednesday whether he would commit to a peaceful transition of power, instead remarking: "we're going to have to see what happens."

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Sanders: "This is an election between Donald Trump and democracy"

In an urgent appeal on Thursday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said President Trump presented "unique threats to our democracy" and detailed a plan to ensure the election results will be honored and that voters can cast their ballots safely.

Driving the news: When asked yesterday whether he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses, Trump would not, and said: "We're going to have to see what happens."

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Why money laundering persists

2 million suspicious activity reports,or SARs, are filed by banks every year. Those reports are sent to the U.S. Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), which has the job of determining whether the reports are evidence of criminal activity, and whether that activity should be investigated and punished.

The catch: FinCEN only has 270 employees, which means that FinCEN is dealing with a ratio of roughly 150 reports per employee per week. So it comes as little surprise to learn that most of the reports go unread, and the activity in them unpunished.

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