Daily Agenda: Murder of U.K. MP Puts Brexit Debate on Hold

Revlon to acquire Elizabeth Arden; Oracle stock boosted by the cloud; CDB Leasing to raise $1 billion in initial public offering.


The assassination of U.K. Labour Party parliamentarian Jo Cox yesterday has halted the campaign on both sides of the Brexit debate for a second day and delayed the release of voter survey polls, casting additional layers of doubt over next week’s referendum on U.K. membership in the European Union. Cox, an outspoken advocate of remaining within the EU, was murdered by a man who appears to support an exit based on nationalistic politics. The aftershocks of Cox’s death have also affected decisions outside the U.K., with the International Monetary Fund delaying the scheduled release of a report analyzing the potential economic impact of an exit today. In a speech in Vienna earlier Friday, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, an outspoken critic of an EU exit, reiterated her stance while indicating that she had concerns over discussing the topic because of the tragedy. The Brexit debate is now central to global market narratives and investors must wrestle with whether the emotional impact of the death of Cox — a young, charismatic and well-liked lawmaker — will sway undecided voters in the run-up to the vote.

Revlon to acquire Elizabeth Arden. Yesterday cosmetics giant Revlon announced an agreement to purchase cosmetics firm Elizabeth Arden for roughly $870 million in combined cash and assumed debt. Revlon management expressed confidence that it can revive Arden’s perfume franchise, which has languished in recent years.

CDB Leasing to raise $1 billion in IPO. Bloomberg News, citing unnamed sources, reported today that the upcoming Hong Kong initial public offering for China Development Bank Financial Leasing will be heavily skewed towards a handful of key investors, with up to 70 percent of shares allocated to state-affiliated entities including China Three Gorges Corp. The IPO is expected to bring the aircraft and ship-leasing firm $1 billion in new capital.

Cloud boosts Oracle’s earnings. First-quarter results from Oracle Corp. was roughly in line with consensus analysts’ estimates at earnings of $0.81 per share with stronger underlying revenues than expected. Critically, cloud-based storage revenues increased by almost 50 percent versus the same period last year.

Redstone moves to clean house. Sumner Redstone-controlled media company Viacom announced yesterday that five board members, including CEO Philippe Dauman, would step down. Independent board member Fred Salerno filed a lawsuit in Delaware, where Viacom is incorporated, attempting to block the move on the claim that Redstone is being manipulated by family members. Redstone, aged 92, successfully defeated a lawsuit questioning his mental competency earlier this year.

Fed reveals dot plot source. A report released yesterday by the St. Louis Federal Reserve revealed that the bank’s President James Bullard was the FOMC member who projected no rate increases in 2017 during the last meeting. The report indicates that Bullard and his colleagues anticipate that growth and inflation will remain muted in the U.S. in the coming years.