Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Pfizer’s $100 billion bid, Russian sanctions, Colombian bonds, coffee woes

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What to watch for today

Twitter tries to prove it has game. After gaining just nine million users in its first post-IPO quarter, Twitter has to assure investors that it can really grow. As ever, investors will also be looking for details about mobile advertising, especially in light of last year’s MoPub acquisition.

A bevy of other companies release earnings. It’s a busy day for corporate results. Stocks to watch include eBay, Volkswagen, Spirit Airlines, Samsung Electronics, LG, Deutsche Bank, Santander, Bristol-Myers Squibb, BP, and America Movil.

Bleak prospects for Spanish workers. Spain isn’t holding its breath for bright jobs news today, after the Spanish bank BBVA predicted earlier this month that it could take another decade for the country to recover from recession. Despite March unemployment seeing its biggest improvement since 2006, Spanish joblessness remains above 25%.

The European Union reveals its latest Russian sanction targets. The 15 names that were added to the bloc’s blacklist against Russian politicians and companies yesterday will be made public. Those sanctioned will be subjected to asset freezes and travel bans.

Economic expansion for the UK. Analysts predict that the UK’s economy grew by 0.9% in the first quarter of 2014, inching up from the previous quarter’s 0.7% increase. Expectations of strong economic expansion yesterday boosted the British pound, which traded against the US dollar at its highest level since 2009.

While you were sleeping

Pfizer launched a takeover bid for AstraZeneca. The $98.7 billion deal would be the biggest-ever foreign takeover of a British business, but Anglo-Swiss AstraZeneca says the offer undervalues it. Pfizer, which makes Viagra, said AstraZeneca had already rebuffed an offer it made in January.

Siemens and General Electric tried to sweet talk Paris. President François Hollande met separately with the chief executives of both companies (paywall) after the French government said it would block any deals to buy the energy activities of French engineering company Alstom that aren’t in the national interest.

Colombian bond prices fell. Prices for long-term Colombian government bonds declined by the most in five months after the nation’s central bank surprised markets Friday by raising interest rates. The unexpected rate hike was apparently an effort to keep rising inflation in check.

US sanctions closed in on Putin. Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin was among those linked to Russian president Vladimir Putin’s inner circle that were added to the US’s blacklist, after the US accused Russia of ignoring a diplomatic agreement regarding its actions in Ukraine.

Ukraine stood firm over gas prices. Ukraine prime minister Arseny Yatseniuk continued to reject Gazprom’s price hike, saying his country would pay $268 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas—the price set at the beginning of the year, before Russia almost doubled it. Ukraine’s Naftogaz will take Gazprom to court if the company doesn’t reply within 30 days.

Quartz obsession interlude

Leo Mirani on how and why the internet’s biggest companies are breaking themselves into small pieces. “Last year, Facebook tried—and failed—to get Android users to use Facebook as the primary interface for their phones with the Facebook Home app. Now, instead of going big Facebook is thinking small. At the end of January, the company released Paper, an app that improves the appearance of your newsfeed. More recently, the company said it will create a separate app for its popular messaging function, which is used by some 200 million people every month. And while not many people use them, Facebook also offers a camera app and a Poke app. The company just bought a company called Moves (paywall), which makes a fitness tracker app.” Read more here

Matters of debate

Pfizer’s AstraZeneca deal shows what’s wrong with the patent system. Pharma giants spend their time and money fighting over existing patents instead of investing in new research.

There’s a good reason international governments aren’t directly sanctioning Putin. His main pressure point isn’t personal wealth, it’s his personal legacy.

Rivaling Silicon Valley is easier said than done. New York’s tech scene has lots of money, but no breakout multi-billion-dollar hit.

The job market is killing US mobility. Americans are moving far less than they used to, because the new job opportunities aren’t economically worthwhile.

Money creation should not be left to the government. So-called private money (mostly banks’ debts to their account holders) is a vital part of the economy (paywall). 

Surprising discoveries

Single CEOs are better for company growth. Unmarried bosses invest more in research and development and are prepared to make riskier decisions.

The internet is killing American bank branches. They’re closing faster than new ones are opening.

Your smartphone could be giving away your location. Even if you have your location settings set to ”Off.”

Ontario lost 851 million gallons of water last year. That’s 1,300 Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of unaccounted-for H2O. 

Even Starbucks can’t afford coffee anymore. The price of Arabica beans is up 90% this year, and Starbucks won’t buy more until the market stabilizes.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, personal location data, and coffee beans to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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