Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—UBS and Barclays results, Alibaba IPO, euro zone surge, Sterling’s tax windfall

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What to watch for today

Alibaba files for an IPO…perhaps. The Chinese internet giant’s long-awaited US offering could come any day now. The anticipation is boosting the price of shares in Yahoo, which owns 24% of Alibaba, but there are still a few awkward questions worrying investors.

Extra Twitter shares hit the market. The lockup period following Twitter’s IPO expired yesterday, meaning that employees and early investors are now allowed to sell their stock, which amount to 87% of the company’s shares outstanding. But Twitter’s leaders and one of its biggest investors say they aren’t planning to sell.

Italy sets sail with a massive privatization plan. Fincantieri, Italy’s state-owned shipbuilder, will apply to list in Milan as early as Tuesday, aiming to raise €12 billion ($16.65 billion) in the country’s largest privatization program since the 1990s (paywall). Prime minister Matteo Renzi is trying to reduce public debt.

Credit Suisse fesses up. The Swiss bank, one of a dozen that US prosecutors are investigating for allegedly helping rich Americans evade taxes, is reportedly close to agreeing to plead guilty and pay a $1.6 billion settlement.

Groupon tries to sell its turnaround story. The online discounts company will assure investors that it’s headed toward growth despite a string of recent hiccups and a plunging stock price. Analysts expect the company to post a loss, despite 23% revenue growth.

While you were sleeping

France deemed GE’s Alstom acquisition “not acceptable.” President Francois Hollande said General Electric must improve its offer, but also suggested the government wouldn’t increase its own 1% stake in Alstom. Some workers have already voiced a preference for the French state to take control.

Euro zone business activity surged in April. The latest reading of the region’s purchasing managers’ index was the strongest in almost three years. New orders rose to a 35-month high.

UBS beat estimates… Net income at Switzerland’s largest bank rose by 6.7% in the first quarter from a year earlier, to a higher-than expected 1.05 billion Swiss francs ($1.2 billion). CEO Sergio Ermotti said the bank will “most likely” reach its main profitability target, a 15% return on equity, in 2016.

…And Barclays missed them. The UK bank’s adjusted pre-tax profit declined 5%, to £1.69 billion ($2.85 billion), in the first quarter. This fell short of its previous guidance due to a big shortfall in its investment banking unit. Barclays, which is suffering an exodus of top staff, also announced that technology banking chief Stuart Francis is on his way out.

China inched closer to a $7 trillion asset sale. President Xi Jinping plans to expose state-owned enterprises to more competition, and the local governments that own them are considering selling off some of their assets to reduce their own huge debt burdens, Bloomberg reports.

Ford halted production in Venezuela. The automaker said there is not enough foreign currency available to import parts that are required to continue manufacturing vehicles. Last week, inflation in Venezuela hit 59%.

Quartz obsession interlude

Christopher Mims on the technology that will put basic search out of business. “In the old days, if you wanted to do something—navigate to the restaurant where you’ve got a dinner reservation—you might open a web browser and search for its address. But in the post-search world of context—in which our devices know so much about us that they can guess our intentions—your phone is already displaying a route to that restaurant, as well as traffic conditions, and how long it will take you to get there, the moment you pull your phone out of your pocket.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The US needs an ambassador to the North Pole. It would send a message about how seriously the US is taking development of the Arctic.

The Pulitzer Prize can do more for journalism. A small, private annual lunch isn’t what Joseph Pulitzer envisaged to spur on journalists.

The world will have its first dollar trillionaire within 25 years. Wealth creation in emerging markets is one of the factors making the rich richer (paywall).

Don’t call your new cryptocurrency “___coin.” The successor to bitcoin will be a new thing altogether.

If Europe wants to punish Russia, it should look to its own tax havens. The problem is that European countries love having that Russian cash.

Surprising discoveries

The NBA may have given Donald Sterling a huge tax windfall. The forced sale of the Clippers may end up saving its controversial owner hundreds of millions of dollars.

Saying “so…” damages your credibility. It alerts your audience that you’re about to change course.

Tourists are leading poachers to endangered animals. Don’t share geotagged photos on social media when you go on safari.

There’s a goldfish equivalent of a hamster ball. A motorized tank on wheels allows your fish to drive anywhere it chooses on dry land.

Cops are using social media to help solve crimes. Not just Twitter and Facebook but Pinterest and YouTube, too.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, non-geotagged holiday snaps, and 140-character crime clues to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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