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Lloyd’s of London SPAC venture scrapped due to volatile markets

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Lloyd's of London SPAC venture scrapped due to volatile markets
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A view shows the Lutine Bell during an event to mark accession of Britain’s King Charles at the Lloyd’s Building in the City of London, Britain, September 15, 2022. REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier/File Photo

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – Financials Acquisition Corp said on Monday it would enter liquidation as it scraps a planned merger with its newly formed insurance venture, citing “insufficient” cash commitments due to volatile capital markets.

The special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) had unveiled plans to combine with London Innovation Underwriters (LIU) and raise additional funds to deploy in the Lloyd’s of London insurance market.

A shareholder meeting planned for Nov. 14 to approve the tie-up plans and seek up to 300 million pounds has been cancelled, the company said.

The SPAC has an end of year deadline to use funds raised for a takeover, and said it would not seek an extension.

“Consequently, the Company proposes to cease operations, other than for the purpose of returning funds to Shareholders and conducting an orderly winding up of the Company,” Financials Acquisition Corp said in a statement.

“In order to ensure due payment of creditors, the Company proposes to appoint a liquidator as soon as practicable to administer the winding up of operations, and expects to release a further announcement regarding this process in due course.”

LIU said despite interest from a wide range of investors, the level of demand was insufficient to reach the minimum cash threshold required.

LIU said it would consider exploring alternative options to pursue its strategy of accessing the Lloyd’s of London insurance market.

The failed effort comes amid a dearth of new listings in London and concerns over its appeal as a capital markets hub, despite profits at Lloyds (LON:) of London which are booming thanks to rising prices for insuring commercial risks.

Following a frenzy of deals in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, SPACs have lost popularity as they struggleto find businesses to merge with. Others have seen lacklustre stock performance after acquiring a target.

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New Jersey fines Walmart over in-store pricing practices

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By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) – Walmart (NYSE:), the world’s largest retailer, agreed to pay $1.64 million to settle regulatory charges that its 64 New Jersey stores employed illegal pricing practices that made it hard for consumers to comparison-shop.

Matthew Platkin, New Jersey’s attorney general, said on Tuesday that the settlement includes a $1.62 million civil fine, and is the largest obtained by the Office of Weights and Measures of the state Division of Consumer Affairs.

New Jersey is one of nine U.S. states that requires grocery retailers to display prices using standard, easy-to-understand measurements such as pounds and quarts.

Platkin said Walmart store inspections in the first quarter of 2023 found more than 2,000 incorrect measurements, sometimes in the same category: coffee, for example, could be priced by the pound, the can or the number of pods.

“As the price of grocery items continues to rise,” Platkin said, “this settlement sends a clear message that New Jersey will not allow retailers to engage in unlawful pricing practices that deny shoppers the ability to easily compare prices to figure out which product is a better buy.”

Walmart did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer did not admit wrongdoing, but in a consent order said it “takes seriously its obligations to provide accurate unit prices to enable customers to comparison shop.”

Walmart also agreed to improve employee training and randomly screen items to ensure it displays proper measurements.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: View of Walmart's newly remodeled Supercenter, in Teterboro, New Jersey, U.S., June 7, 2023. REUTERS/Siddharth Cavale/File Photo

In November, discount retailer Dollar General (NYSE:) agreed to pay $1.2 million, including a $1.18 million fine, to settle New Jersey charges that it scanned higher prices at checkout than it posted on merchandise displays thousands of times.

That settlement had been the largest obtained by the state’s weights and measures office.

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Meta must face Australian billionaire Forrest’s US lawsuit over scam Facebook crypto ads

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By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) – A U.S. judge rejected Meta Platforms (NASDAQ:)’ bid to dismiss a lawsuit by billionaire Australian mining magnate Andrew Forrest over scam Facebook advertisements that show him promoting fake cryptocurrency and other fraudulent investments.

In a decision on Monday, U.S. District Judge Casey Pitts in San Jose, California said Australia’s second-richest person can try to prove that Meta’s negligence in allowing the ads breached its duty to operate in a commercially reasonable manner.

Forrest can also try to prove that his name and likeness was misappropriated by Meta, and not just by fraudsters behind the bogus ads.

“Dr. Forrest claims that Meta profited more from ads that included his likeness than it would have if the ads had not,” Pitts wrote. “This is enough to adequately plead that the alleged misappropriation was to Meta’s advantage.”

Lawyers for Meta declined to comment on Tuesday.

The Palo Alto, California-based company had argued that Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act immunized it from liability as a publisher of third-party content.

But the judge said Forrest’s claims “present a factual dispute regarding whether Meta’s ad systems were neutral tools that anyone could use (or misuse) or whether the tools themselves contributed to the content of the ads.”

Forrest said more than 1,000 of the ads appeared on Facebook in Australia between April and November 2023, leading to millions of dollars in losses for victims.

The 62-year-old is executive chairman of iron ore producer Fortescue Metals Group (OTC:), and with his family is worth US$16.5 billion (AUD$24.8 billion), according to Forbes magazine.

In a statement, Forrest said Pitts’ decision was the first where a social media company was unable to invoke Section 230 immunity in a U.S. civil case over its advertising business.

“This is a crucial strategic victory in the battle to hold Facebook accountable,” he said.

Forrest is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

In April, Australian prosecutors declined to pursue criminal charges that he brought against Meta in that country over scam cryptocurrency ads.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Fortescue's founder and executive chairman Andrew Forrest speaks during an interview with Reuters, in Beijing, China March 23, 2024. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/File Photo

Forrest had sued under Australian laws that let individuals criminally prosecute foreign companies upon receiving prosecutors’ consent.

The case is Forrest v Facebook Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 22-03699.

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Justin Timberlake arrested for drunk driving in the Hamptons

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(Reuters) -Pop singer Justin Timberlake was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated in a neighborhood in the Hamptons on New York’s Long Island, authorities said on Tuesday.

Timberlake was arrested in the town of Sag Harbor on Tuesday morning, according to a statement from the local district attorney’s office.

The 43-year-old was arraigned in Sag Harbor Village Justice Court and released, the statement said. His next court date will be a virtual appearance on July 26, the statement said.

Representatives for Timberlake did not immediately reply to an email seeking comment.

Timberlake was taken into custody after he left a dinner at the American Hotel, People magazine reported.

© Reuters. Justin Timberlake performs during the iHeartRadio Music Awards at Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California, U.S., April 1, 2024. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo

Timberlake rose to fame as a member of 1990s boy band ‘N Sync before starting a solo career. His hits include “Can’t Stop the Feeling!,” “Suit & Tie” and “SexyBack.”

He has two concerts scheduled in Chicago this weekend and two shows in New York City next week.

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