POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - ECONOMY

Satellite spat & Mastercard investigates Pornhub



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Two Luxembourg-based satellite operators in court over 5G spectrum agreement, Mastercard investigates Pornhub and the Luxembourg resident's Harry Potter windfall. Delano’s breakfast briefing for Monday.

 

Covid updates

Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is leading Donald Trump’s challenge against the last presidential election results, has contracted covid-19. The 76-year-old is the latest in the White House to contract the disease that has killed more than 270,000 Americans (FT and Politico). On Friday, the US hit a new daily infection record at 224,831. President-elect Joe Biden was, meanwhile, expected to nominate Rochelle Walensky, chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, to run the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Reuters).

Luxembourg reported 1,198 new infections and 8 deaths over the weekend. The country’s housing minister, Henri Kox, is the latest to quarantine after a team member tested positive for the virus.

Vaccines

Luxembourg’s prime minister on Friday said that the country will first vaccinate healthcare staff and people working with the elderly or other high-risk groups, followed by nursing homes. Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Xavier Bettel (DP) said six mobile vaccination centres would be rolled out to distribute the first EU-authorised vaccine, which is expected to be the end of December or beginning of January. Fixed vaccination centres will be set up at Victor Hugo Hall, in Findel, Belval, Ettelbrück and in the east of the country. Luxembourg has secured supplies to vaccinate 824,000 people through the EU's contracts. Bettel could not say whether partial lockdown measures would continue beyond 15 December. (Delano rolling coverage)

This Delano report examines the cost of the different vaccines.

Britain will be the first country to use the Pfizer/Biontech covid-19 vaccine this week, issuing the vaccine in hospitals starting on Tuesday. Care workers and over 80s will be given priority. The country gave emergency use approval for the vaccine and has ordered 40m doses, enough to vaccine 20m out of the 67m residents. Reuters and Politico

SES takes Intelsat to court

Luxembourg satellite firms SES and Intelsat are fighting in US bankruptcy court over incentive payments to clear spectrum for 5G. SES claims that Intelsat breached a 2018 agreement to split incentive payments. Intelsat, which filed for bankruptcy in May in Virginia, says it believed the agreement had been disbanded when the FCC proceeded with a public auction. A two-week trial on the claims has been scheduled for 28 June, 2021. Reuters

Mastercard investigates Pornhub

Credit card firm Mastercard is investigating Pornhub after a newspaper column in the New York Times said that it featured recordings of assaults on unconscious women and girls. It said that if the claims are substantiated, it would take action. Pornhub is owned by MindGeek, which is headquartered in Luxembourg. The firm denies the allegations. Reuters

Harry Potter sells for €70k

A Luxembourg resident has sold a first edition of the “Harry Potter And the Philosopher’s Stone” for €70,000. The retired pilot who sold the book to a private collector realised it was one of just 500 first editions. Paperjam

SIF taxation

Time is running out for construction firm Giorgetti, which is working to dismantle its estimated $1b worth of specialized investment funds (FIS), before a new regime entering into force in 2021 ups the subscription tax on net assets in SIFs from 0.01% to 20%. Land, Wort

Circularity standard made in Lux

Luxembourg is pioneering a system that could help stop products ending up in landfill once they outlive their usefulness. A team including representatives from the economy ministry will on Tuesday unveil the product circularity datasheet, a circularity map which could become a world standard. Delano

Calls to review pension strategy

Lawmakers have passed a motion demanding a review of the Luxembourg government’s legal framework and investment strategies of its sovereign funds to make them more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Activists want the pension fund to be divested from fossil fuel companies, and stop funding nuclear power, through shares in EDF. A motion passed on Thursday also calls for a review of the future fund, which invests in defence contractors. Delano

Trade talks deadlock

British-EU negotiations remained deadlocked at the weekend as both sides dug in their heels over how to maintain a level playing field for competition after the UK leaves the EU single market on 31 December. Irish prime minister Michael Martin told RTE “I don’t think one can be overly optimistic about a resolution emerging.” Disagreements also remain over EU fishing rights in UK waters. FT, Reuters

France protests

Protests against France’s new security law were marred by violent incidents at the weekend with police arresting 95 demonstrators. French interior minister Gérald Darmanin said that 67 officers were injured in clashes, of which 48 were in Paris where the biggest protest took place. The unrest is in part the result of a security bill that will make it illegal to film and identify police officers with the intent to “harm their physical or psychological integrity”. Despite government promises to revisit a specific clause, opponents say the bill could imping on press freedom and freedom of expression. Euronews

Romania elections

Romania prime minister Ludovic Orban was expected to remain in power following Sunday’s election that was marked by low turnout amid the pandemic. Exit polls showed Orban’s PNL on course to win 29% of the vote, behind the PSD on 30.5%. It is thought Orban will form a majority government with liberal USR-PLUS party, expected to win 16%. Politico

In praise of working mothers

Working mothers were selected by Financial Times readers as among the 12 game-changing women of 2020. Alongside Biontech chief medical officer Ozlem Tureci and US vice president-elect Kamala Harris, working mothers were praised for showing “grit and resilience while making it so clear that gender role models are no longer sustainable.” FT

 

 

Today’s breakfast briefing was written by Jess Bauldry