Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Comcast’s case, Spain’s IPO, Takeda’s fine, cow farts

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What to watch for today

Comcast says: Big isn’t always bad. Comcast’s executive VP, David Cohen, will testify before before the US Senate, which is starting to review the company’s proposed $45 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable. Yesterday, Comcast filed papers arguing that the deal would increase competition, rather than hurt it.

America gets back its Ally money. Ally Financial is set to price its stock at $25 to $28 per share, before debuting on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. The IPO could raise as much as $2.7 billion and will allow the US Treasury to divest part of its stake in the auto lender, which it bailed out during the 2008 financial crisis.

What the Fed is thinking. Minutes from last month’s US Federal Reserve meeting might shed light on comments by Fed chair Janet Yellen, who startled markets slightly by saying rates could rise as soon as mid-2015. There should also be details about the Fed’s change in approach to inflation and unemployment data.

What the Bank of Japan is thinking. The central bank’s monthly report should reveal a little more about what it expects of the economy in light of last week’s sales tax hike, and its projections for an export-led recovery. This follows the BoJ’s decision yesterday not to implement further monetary stimulus, causing the yen to rally.

While you were sleeping

A world recession looked less likely. The International Monetary Fund downgraded the growth prospects for emerging markets but painted a rosier picture for the euro zone, which should grow 1.2% this year after shrinking 0.5% in 2013. (Britain’s government proudly trumpeted austerity as the cause.) The IMF now puts the chances of global recession at 0.1%, compared to 6% last October (paywall).

Spain floated its first company in three years. Shares in online travel agency eDreams Odigeo debuted in Madrid, marking the bourse’s first IPO since Spain emerged from recession. The IPO raised €433 million ($597 million) and gave the company a €1.5 billion valuation, although the stock lost 4.3% on its first day of trading.

Pharma giants discovered the side effects of hiding risks. A US federal court slapped a $6 billion fine on Takeda, Japan’s largest drug maker, and ordered its partner Eli Lilly to pay a further $3 billion after a jury found the companies guilty of hiding the cancer risks of their diabetes medicine, Actos. Although the $9 billion jury award will probably be revised down, it’s currently the seventh largest in US history.

Alibaba invested in internet TV. An investment fund owned by Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, agreed to pay 6.54 billion yuan ($1.05 billion) for a 20% stake in Wasu Media, a Chinese internet TV company. The deal bolsters Alibaba’s online video services (paywall), which it wants to beef up before its IPO later this year.

France’s new prime minister soothed the people. In his first speech before parliament, Manuel Valls, whom president François Hollande named prime minister last month after a municipal election rout, outlined a €50 billion plan to slash public spending over three years, and pledged to cut payroll taxes and employment costs.

Quartz obsession interlude

John McDuling explains ”corders”—the people who aren’t ready to go fully wireless just yet. “The problem is that wireless and high speed internet services in the US are not regulated anywhere near to the extent that old fashioned landlines are. For example, as the Journal points out, so-called ’last mile’ competitors get access to AT&T and Verizon’s fixed line networks at regulated rates, but they do not enjoy the same protection for internet based services. So, if corders are forced to make their calls over the internet or wireless, their bills may go up as a result.” Read more here

Matters of debate

Buying a corporate jet pays for itself. You’ll make your money back in just a few years, thanks to depreciation.

US stocks are teetering on bubble territory. Over-hyped valuations aren’t the only sign.

Foreign companies need to consider the ethics of their African investments. Buying debt from corrupt governments is like giving an alcoholic a bottle of booze (paywall)—it makes the giver complicit.

The IMF is turning 70, and you should be celebrating. For all the criticisms, the Fund has done a remarkable job and the world needs it as much as ever.

Surprising discoveries

The ideal Facebook post is just 40 characters. And here are the ideal lengths of tweets, headlines, and just about everything else on the internet.

American dogs might be eating better than their owners. Premium dog food now accounts for 57% of the overall market.

Dying in China is a pricey business. Cemetery plots are getting increasingly expensive.

You’ll soon be able to charge your phone battery in 30 seconds. So claims this Israeli startup that plans to put a “bio-organic“ charger on the market by 2016.

Ignorance and hawkish foreign policy are closely linked. Americans who couldn’t locate Ukraine on a map were more likely to want to bomb it.

Bovine flatulence is the new climate threat. The search is on for devices and drugs that will curb cows’ methane emissions (paywall).

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, future cow designs, and perfectly composed tweets to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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