Big Oil players under fire for fossil fuel investment

Amazon buys MGM studios, nine new billionaires since the beginning of Covid-19 and more making headlines.

A tech giant buys its way into Hollywood studios, adding thousands of movies and television series to its catalogue. Big pharma sees the rise of Covid-19 billionaires and Japan’s economy is in trouble as the Olympics remain in the air. Meanwhile, climate change concerns keep big oil in the hot seat.

Exxon board in the hot seat
Small hedge fund Engine No.1 has dealt a major blow to Exxon Mobil Corp by unseating at least two board members in a bid to force the company's leadership to reckon with the risk of failing to adjust its business strategy to match global efforts to combat climate change.

The move has shocked an energy industry struggling to address growing investor concerns about global warming. It happened on the same day activists scored a big win against another oil major, Royal Dutch Shell – a Dutch court ordered the company to drastically deepen pledged cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, reports Reuters.

Exxon has lagged behind other oil majors in its response to climate change concerns, forecasting many more years of oil and gas demand growth and doubling down on spending to boost its output – in contrast to global rivals, which have scaled back fossil fuel investments.

Under CEO Darren Woods, Exxon incurred a $22 billion (R302.87 billion) loss last year as Covid-19 destroyed fuel demand worldwide.

Double-dip recession likely for Japan
Scrapping the Tokyo Olympics would inflict further damage on a Japanese economy already teetering on the brink of a double-dip recession, according to economists.

While prime minister Yoshihide Suga is determined for the games to go ahead, it is likely that the virus emergency will extend until mid-June.

Analysts factoring in a longer emergency now see a larger chance of Japan suffering a second straight quarterly contraction, reports Bloomberg.

Covid billionaires
The People’s Vaccine Alliance has revealed that at least nine people have become new billionaires since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, due to the excessive profits pharmaceutical corporations with monopolies on Covid-19 vaccines are making.

Key members of the G20 who recently met for the Global Health Summit, are blocking moves to boost supply by ending companies’ monopoly control of vaccine production.

Between them, the nine new billionaires have a combined net wealth of $19.3 billion (R 265,70 billion), enough to fully vaccinate all people in low-income countries 1.3 times, reports Oxfam International Secretariat.

Meanwhile, eight existing billionaires– who have extensive portfolios in vaccine pharma corporations – have seen their combined wealth increase by $32.2 billion (R 443.29 billion).

Amazon buys MGM
Amazon has agreed to buy the historic MGM studios for $8.45 billion (R116.33 billion).

MGM, which was founded in 1924, is one of Hollywood's most famous studios, having produced classic films such as Some Like It Hot and Singin' In The Rain, reports the BBC.

The sale will boost the tech giant’s Prime Video's offering with about 4,000 films and 17,000 television. MGM Holdings, the parent company of MGM Studios, had reportedly been exploring a sale since 2020.

Amazon said the deal would allow MGM "to continue to do what they do best: great storytelling”.

China’s credit bond trillions
Even by the standards of a record-breaking global credit binge, China’s corporate bond tab stands out: $1.3 trillion (R 17.90 trillion) of domestic debt payable in the next 12 months, reports Bloomberg.

It’s all coming due at a time when Chinese borrowers are defaulting on onshore debt at an unprecedented pace. Consequently, investors are bracing for another volatile period for the world’s second-largest credit market.