Quartz Daily Brief—Europe Edition—new PlayStation, Japan deficit, more hacking, Belgian diamond heist

February 20, 2013
February 20, 2013

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

The PlayStation 4? Rumors abound that Sony will announce the successor to its 77-million selling PlayStation 3 video game console. The 3 is seven years old; a new model would face much more competition, from Microsoft’s Xbox and Nintendo Wii as well as games for smartphones and tablets.

Monetary policy moments. We’ll see minutes from the Bank of England and the US Federal Reserve, along with price level stats from the US and Germany.

Other announcements today include earnings from Crédit Agricole, France Télécom, Accor and the Dish Network.

While you were sleeping

Deloitte & Touche was sued over Chinese accounts. A group of funds have are claiming the auditor failed to properly check out ChinaCast Education, which caused huge losses to investors before being delisted from Nasdaq. All the big accounting firms’ China operations have come under suspicion recently.

Bad numbers from BHP Billiton as its boss stepped down. The Australian firm reported an expected 43% fall in half-year profits due to declining metals prices, and wrote down about $3 billion in its aluminium business. Andrew Mackenzie will take over as Marius Kloppers resigns, one of more than 20 mining CEOs to quit or retire in the last two years.

The FBI looked into the Heinz deal. Following an SEC probe into insider trading in Heinz shares, the FBI has launched a criminal investigation. An unknown Swiss account bought $90,000 worth of options a day before Warren Buffett and 3G Capital acquired Heinz for $23 billion. The suspicious deal was worth $1.7 million after the buyout was announced.

Japan posted its largest ever trade deficit. Even as exports are up on the back of a weakening yen, imports are up faster, mainly due to energy. Japan’s trade deficit in January widened to ¥1.6 trillion ($17 billion), 6.4% up from a year earlier. The weakening yen has other downsides too: LVMH, a French luxury conglomerate, raised prices in Japan by about 12%.

Are we approaching “peak hack”? In the past two days, the Twitter feeds of two major corporations have been hacked, computers were hacked at Facebook and then Apple, and a cyber-security company traced hackers to a Chinese military installation.

Dell really is worth as little as its founder thinks. Facing a plan to take the company private and reorganize it, Dell reported a 31% drop in earnings and 11% drop in revenue. This news undermines some shareholders’ arguments that the buyout offer, led by founder Michael Dell, is too small.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on how not to launch a Google for China. “On [Kai-fu Lee, the former head of Google China and current venture capitalist]‘s Sina Weibo microblog, which has 30 million followers, he wondered, among other things, why taxpayer money was being invested in developing a search engine and why the Communist Party had appointed its head. “If back in the day America’s Democratic Party had appointed [Olympic swimmer] Michael Phelps to be the CEO of Google, could Google have beaten Yahoo and become the leading search engine?” wrote Lee, according to Fei Chang Dao, a blog that monitors free-speech issues in China.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Will Twitter file for a secret IPO? It might help the company avoid the disappointment of Facebook or Groupon, but it could backfire too.

Can the US economy survive the sequester? It would be better not to know.

China’s new leader needs to get a grip on North Korea. We’ve had crazy neighbors before, too. It’s tough.

Surprising discoveries

US corporate profits in Bermuda are more than 1000% of the country’s GDP. That’s surprising, right?

You can tattoo fruit. Yes, they’ve already put an Apple logo on an apple.

Big Brother really is watching. A woman caught her fiancé cheating via Russia’s local equivalent of Google Maps.  

It took jewel thieves just 5 minutes to steal $50 million. Now that’s productivity!

Alligators in your backyard. Climate change has the big lizards heading north from their traditional habitats.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, tattooed fruit or Playstation 4 consoles to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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