Coronavirus latest: Global coronavirus cases exceed 700,000

Australia strengthens control of foreign takeovers

Jamie Smyth reports from Sydney

The Australian government has tightened its control of foreign takeovers over fears that foreign companies may buy strategic assets at low prices during the coronavirus crisis.

It follows warnings from two government members that struggling aviation and freight companies could become vulnerable to takeovers by state-owned authoritarian regimes, including China.

Josh Frydenberg, the treasurer of Australia, said on Monday that all foreign investment and takeover proposals would now be examined by the government’s foreign investment review committee to protect the national interest. However, he denied that the measures specifically targeted China, noting that Beijing was only the fifth foreign investor in Australia last year, while the United States was the largest.

“These are extraordinary times and we have seen the value of Australian companies, in fact around the world, being severely diminished because of the coronavirus and we do not want predatory behavior that is not in the national interest to take place. happen, “Frydenberg told Australian. radio.

Temporary regulatory changes will apply to existing and new investment proposals. Previously, most takeovers and foreign investments offered by private companies were not accounted for by the Australian government, unless they were worth more than A $ 1.1 billion.

Richard McGregor, analyst at the Lowy Institute, said the new measures were undoubtedly taken with Beijing’s public enterprises in mind, especially since conspiracy theories are swirling about how China is using the crisis as an opportunity to assert its influence.

“But vultures come in many forms, and I think it will eventually apply to many more companies than those in China,” he said.

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West Texas Intermediate, the US benchmark, fell more than 7% to a low of $ 19.92 per barrel, the lowest level in 18 years, driven by the demand for coronavirus teeth for savings worldwide. International benchmark Brent crude lost 5.7% to $ 23.50 a barrel.

The Japanese Topix fell 2.7% and the Kospi in South Korea lost 3.2% at the start of the session. The S & P / ASX 200 in Australia was an outlier, up 0.8%. The S&P 500 futures contract fell 1.2%.

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Signs of slowing death rates in countries and growing cases

Steve Bernard in London

The Covid-19 virus infects an increasing number of people every day. However, the growth rate in countries is starting to slow down.

Among the countries with more than 5,000 cases, it is especially in Spain which, two weeks ago, had a growth rate of more than 40% per day on average and saw this number drop to around 15%.

The United States continues to see increases in excess of 25% per day, but has fallen from recent highs by almost 40%. Iran, one of the first countries to experience a major epidemic outside of China, has started to increase again in recent days, falling to almost 10%.

It’s the same for deaths.

Among the countries with more than 100 deaths, this slowdown is most visible in Spain, which, two weeks ago, had a growth rate of more than 50% per day on average, and saw this number drop to around 20%.

Global coronavirus cases exceed 700,000

Steve Bernard in London

The total number of cases worldwide exceeded 700,000 on Sunday, while an additional 44,279 people were confirmed to have contracted a coronavirus.

To date, the United States has added 9,516 cases to approximately 133,000, with 21 states still not reporting their figures.

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