Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—e-cigarette wars, banana dominance, Korean renting, petty grudges

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What to watch for today

And now, a word from your ex-president. Viktor Yanukovych, the deposed president of Ukraine, will deliver his first public statement in more than a week, from Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia. Yanukovych has not been seen in public since he gave an address on Feb. 28, after fleeing Ukraine a week earlier.

American Eagle beats the holiday blues. Analysts expect American Eagle Outfitters to post a 53% jump in fourth-quarter earnings per share from the same period last year, on a 7% increase in revenue. After a tough holiday season, investors will be holding their breath for a pleasant surprise, like that of Abercrombie & Fitch recently.

Data protection laws get a modern re-write. European parliamentarians debate an overhaul of the EU’s 19-year-old data protection laws. The new rules would give people tighter control over their own data, and impose stricter fines on lawbreaking companies. MEPs will also vote on tighter anti-money laundering rules in EU countries.

Chile gets an old-new president. Michelle Bachelet, a leftist who served as president from 2006-2010, starts a new term. She has said her biggest challenge will be to tackle inequality by reducing poverty and increasing access to quality education, which she will fund through tax reforms. She also wants to overhaul the electoral system.

Latin American leaders deliberate on Venezuela. Leaders of the Union of South American Nations, meeting in Chile for Bachelet’s inauguration, will also discuss the situation in Venezuela, where violent opposition protests have left at least 20 dead and divided the continent politically.

While you were sleeping

The fate of MH-370 remained a mystery. The oil slick spotted on the sea after the Malaysia Airlines jet vanished on Saturday morning turned out to be from a ship, and no further debris has been discovered. All theories, from a sudden systems failure to a hijacking, are still on the table.

Big Tobacco got serious about e-cigarette patents. Fontem Ventures, a subsidiary of Imperial Tobacco, launched legal proceedings against nine US-based e-cigarette makers (paywall), claiming that it owns the Chinese pharmacist behind the modern e-cigarette. Imperial Tobacco bought Dragonite and its patents late last year.

Bananas of the world, united. Top banana distibutors Fyffes and Chiquita announced plans to merge in the wake of pricing wars and a destructive crop disease, creating a mega-fruit distributor to be called ChiquitaFyffes. But it won’t put all its bananas in one basket; the merger will also boost business from melons and pineapples.

Russia tightened its grip over Crimea. Russia refused to accept Ukraine’s new government and said it was preparing diplomatic counterproposals (paywall), while Russian troops seized a Ukrainian military hospital in Crimea. Meanwhile, NATO said it would deploy planes to monitor the situation, and the UK said it could ban British arms exports to Russia.

No need for Panicos. The governor of Cyprus’s central bank, Panicos Demetriades, stepped down without making an official statement. Demetriades reportedly didn’t always see eye-to-eye with Cyprus’ government, and critics accused him of botching the country’s €10 billion bailout.

Permira jumped on the IPO bandwagon. The European private-equity group is reportedly in talks with banks over floating Arysta LifeScience (paywall), the Japanese farming chemicals company it owns. A New York IPO could value Arysta at $4 billion—a nice jump from the €1.95 billion ($2.7 billion) Permira paid in 2008.

Quartz obsession interlude

Matt Phillips on how South Korea’s unconventional rent system is coming apart. “Under the country’s Jeonse—or Chonsei—system, tenants lend significant chunks of money to landlords in lieu of rent. (Jeonse is usually translated as “key money.”) It works like this. In exchange for access to the property for specified term—usually two years—tenants make a lump sum deposit to the landlord, based on a percentage of what it would cost to buy the property. The transaction is essentially a loan, with the tenant as the lender, the landlord as the borrower, and the house as the collateral… But recently something has changed.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

San Francisco is turning into New York. The hoodie-and-jeans culture is becoming increasingly infatuated with power and wealth.

Social media doesn’t necessarily bring us closer to conflict. It feels rawer than traditional media, but it can be easily manipulated.

Newsweek’s claim to have found bitcoin’s founder isn’t convincing. But that’s partly because Newsweek’s attitude to publishing is stuck in the past.

The West’s priorities on Ukraine are wrong. It should forget about putting sanctions on Russia and instead make its aid to Kiev more generous.

Big dams are terrible investments. Their budget overruns typically end up bigger than their projected benefits.

Internet “clicks” aren’t that important anymore. Media are becoming more interested in your time and your attention.

Surprising discoveries

People are inherently petty. We’re more likely to harbor minor grudges than forgive major offenses.

You work better when listening to music that doesn’t change much. And other tips in our complete guide to music at work. (There’s a Quartz playlist too.)

Bosses lie in job interviews, too. But that’s no way to start a trusting office relationship.

In 2012, only 85 full professors in the UK were black. That’s not even one per higher education institution.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, office soundtracks, and ancient grudges to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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