Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Charter-TWC deal, Nigeria’s energy crunch, electric-car profits, sleeping at work

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What to watch for today

An American journalist’s trial begins in Iran. Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post’s Tehran correspondent, faces espionage charges in a trial that will be closed to the public, including his family. Some US Republicans have attempted to use his arrest to scuttle an impending US-Iran nuclear deal—a goal they possibly share with the hardliners who control Iran’s judiciary.

Phones start cutting out in Nigeria. Amid a nationwide fuel crisis, the biggest mobile provider, MTN, said its phone network would be “significantly degraded” if it didn’t get fresh supplies before today. The shortage in Africa’s biggest economy is affecting everything from radio stations to airlines.

Sony makes a bid in Asian markets. The Japanese firm brings its flagship Xperia Z4 to China and the less powerful Xperia M4 Aqua to India. Sony is trying to win back market share from other Android handset makers like Xiaomi, Lenovo, and Huawei, which have been pushing it aside.

A TWC-Charter merger emerges. A deal could be announced today in which Charter, the US’s fourth-largest cable company, pays a reported $55 billion, or $195 a share, for Time Warner Cable, 14% above Friday’s closing price. Here’s why it’s happening.

Some reads on the US economy. Markit’s services PMI, the FHFA and Case-Shiller home price indices, new home sales, the Richmond and Dallas Fed manufacturing indices, durable goods orders, and consumer confidence will give economic soothsayers a raft of numbers to dig through. The result will probably be a mixed picture (pdf).

While you were sleeping

Brazil warned of a coming crunch. The government said GDP would drop 1.2% this year, or 23% in dollar terms (paywall) because of a weakening real, its worst contraction in 25 years. The corruption scandal at state energy firm Petrobras isn’t helping Dilma Rousseff’s presidency either.

Greece’s leader subdued his radicals. Prime minister Alexis Tsipras got Syriza’s approval (paywall) to reach a bailout deal with the country’s creditors, over the objections of his leftist party’s most extreme fringe. He’s hoping for a deal by June 5, when Greece’s next IMF payment is due, but there’s still a big gulf to bridge.

Twitter is in talks to acquire Flipboard. An all-stock deal would value Flipboard, which makes a news reader app, at over $1 billion, Re/code reports. Mike McCue, the well-known entrepreneur behind Flipboard, would be an obvious heir apparent to Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, who has been under siege from investors over the last six months.

Samsung did a deal to empower the chairman’s son. Two key Samsung companies will merge in a move that gives heir Lee Jae-yong greater control over the conglomerate, including Samsung Electronics. Cheil Industries, a fashion business and theme park operator, will acquire Samsung C&T, a construction and trading firm.

Quartz obsession interlude

Steve LeVine on the electric car’s problem turning a profit. “Electric cars are currently in a variation of the innovation world’s infamous ‘valley of death,’ the pre-profit period when most new products die… The 200-mile electric costing roughly $35,000 is supposed to help lead the automakers out of the treacherous valley… But Lux Research, a respected technology research firm, suggests that GM’s planned $37,500 Bolt won’t be profitable before 2020. And the $35,000 Tesla Model 3 won’t make money until 2025.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Greece needs another election. That would let prime minister Tsipras kick the hardliners out of Syriza and get a mandate to cut a bailout deal.

Should women wear high heels? There’s a dilemma: They are a symbol of the objectification of women, yet some women feel more powerful wearing them.

Men should wear high heels. They used to be quite the status symbol, yet now it’s only cowboys and rockstars who wear them.

Mid-sized cities are where the economy’s at. It’ll be the Surats, Foshans, and Porto Alegres that drive global growth in the next decade, not the world’s capitals.

The art market runs on the law of the jungle. Even the finance industry has more rules, says a financier-turned-art-collector.

The US is headed for a shortage of botanists. Pressure to move into tech-related fields could deprive the country of much-needed experts in conservation and medicinal uses of plants.

Surprising discoveries

Singapore’s Changi airport has 500,000 plants. It’s one of the reasons it’s ranked as the world’s best airport.

Some Dutch schoolkids are looking for white classmates. Their mostly African/Arab/Turkish schools are in danger of being shut down for being insufficiently ethnically diverse.

California’s almonds require a whole lot of bees. At least 80% of the US’s commercial beehives are drafted in to pollinate them.

Apple’s chief designer, Jony Ive, has 5,000 patents to his name. That’s more than twice as many as Thomas Edison.

Why not just live at work? These movable sleeping pods allow you to have a bedroom at the office.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, airport flower arrangements, and office bedroom layouts to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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