DINNER PARTY INTEL: Google’s manipulation | Wingardium Leviosa | Nestlé’s activist investor
Topics to impress this week.
1. Google fined for manipulating search results
The European Commission has fined Google €2.42bn for breaking antitrust law. The fine is the largest antitrust judgment handed out by the executive body of the EU, topping the €1bn penalty given to Intel in 2009. The decision follows a seven-year investigation into the US search engine’s shopping comparison service. The body says Google abused its dominant position by systematically favouring its own services.
2. Wingardium Leviosa
Fans of Harry Potter this week celebrated the 20-year anniversary of the publication of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the first novel in the series. It has been one of the most successful book and film franchises of the past two decades.
Rowling tweeted: "20 years ago today a world that I had lived in alone was suddenly open to others. It’s been wonderful. Thank you."
Publisher Bloomsbury reportedly paid £2,500 for the book. The series is now published in 79 languages, with more than 450m copies sold across the world. According to the Financial Times, the franchise is a US$25bn empire.
3. Activist investor takes aim at Nestlé
One of the US’s most prolific investors, Dan Loeb, has taken a $3.5bn stake in KitKat maker Nestlé. Loeb’s hedge fund, Third Point, says it owns 40m shares, or about 1.3% of Nestlé. Loeb has said he plans to use his stake to push for a raft of changes at the "staid" consumer goods group. One of these is for the company to offload its 23% stake in L’Oréal. In a letter to investors, Loeb specifically pointed to Nestlé’s inability to adjust to a "lower-growth world". The Nestlé model of 5%-6% annual organic sales growth and margin improvement "is no more", said Loeb. This could threaten future dividend growth for shareholders.