❌ Apple blocks Epic Games' app store

PLUS: Another regional U.S. bank might be failing 😱

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This week’s market performance 👀 

S&P 500: -0.14% 📉
Nasdaq: -1.10% 📉
Dow 30: -0.63% 📉
Russell 2000: -0.09% 📉

TOP STORY
📱 Apple tries to stop Epic Games from launching its own App Store

via REUTERS

This week, Epic Games (the company behind the popular “Fortnite” game) had its Apple developer account terminated, then reinstated just days later.

This isn’t the first time these companies have gone head-to-head.

This dispute surrounded around Epic Games’ efforts to launch its own iOS app store in the European Union (EU).

Earlier in the year, Apple was set to introduce third-party app stores and sideloading on iPhones in the EU, a major shift driven by the “Digital Markets Act.

1️⃣ With the iOS 17.4 update, EU users would be able to download apps from approved external marketplaces, allowing developers more freedom in payment processing options and potentially reducing Apple's commission fees.

Here’s a timeline between Apple and Epic Games:

  • August 13, 2020: Epic Games introduces a direct payment option in Fortnite, circumventing Apple's in-app purchase system and violating the App Store's guidelines. Apple responds by removing Fortnite from the App Store.
     

  • August 13, 2020: Epic Games files a legal complaint against Apple, challenging Apple's App Store policies and alleging anticompetitive behavior.
     

  • August 17, 2020: Apple threatens to terminate all of Epic Games' developer accounts and cut off access to iOS and Mac development tools.
     

  • September 10, 2021: The U.S. District Court issues its ruling, largely in favor of Apple. The court states that Apple's App Store does not constitute a monopoly but orders Apple to allow developers to direct users to payment options outside of the App Store.
     

  • January 25, 2024: Apple announced that third-party app stores would be allowed on iOS for the first time.
     

  • February 16, 2024: Epic Games announces that Apple has re-instated its Apple Developer Account.
     

  • March 6, 2024: Apple revokes Epic Games’ developer account, blocking the game maker from launching its own app store.
     

  • March 8, 2024: Epic Games announces that Apple has reinstated its developer account following an inquiry from the European Commission.

2️⃣ Apple ($AAPL) was down -3.15% this week.

CRYPTOCURRENCY
🇪🇸 Sam Altman’s company banned in Spain

via TechSpot.com

No, before you ask, it is NOT OpenAI.

Here’s the full story:

Spain has decided to put restrictions on Sam Altman’s company, Worldcoin. For those who don’t know of Worldcoin, it was created by Tools for Humanity, a company co-founded by Sam Altman. 

The project aims to create a global digital identity system by scanning people's eyeballs to create a unique biometric identifier. In exchange for participating in this data collection, individuals are offered cryptocurrency tokens.

It sounds scary as hell to us, but they reportedly have over 4M app downloads and 1M active users, so obviously, not everyone sees an issue with this. Spain, though, is definitely not a big fan of this eyeball-scanning gizmo.

The Spanish Data Protection Agency (AEPD) has stopped Worldcoin from collecting and using personal data for 3 months due to complaints about breaking data protection rules, including issues with collecting data from minors. Surprise, surprise!

1️⃣ In response to the ban, Worldcoin filed a lawsuit against the AEPD on Friday.

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ENTERTAINMENT
🫠 Disney is losing control of their company’s board…

via Variety.com

Disney ($DIS) CEO Bob Iger might be losing over the company’s board.

Why? A proxy battle with activist investor Nelson Peltz.

A proxy battle is when a group of activist investors, like Peltz, try to gain control or influence over a company's management. In this case, Peltz and his hedge fund, Trian Fund Management, want immediate changes to Disney's board.

On Monday, Nelson Peltz's Trian Partners published a detailed white paper advocating for strategic changes at Disney to improve its financial performance and shareholder returns.

The paper proposes enhancing Disney's streaming content strategy, reducing reliance on sequels, revamping studio operations, and rethinking ESPN's business model.

Trian also suggests merging Disney+ and Hulu for cost efficiencies and critiques Disney's past acquisition strategies. The firm is pushing for board seats for Peltz and former Disney CFO Jay Rasulo, arguing for better corporate governance and succession planning to secure long-term growth and value for shareholders.

1️⃣ You can read the 133-page white paper here.

But this is nowhere near finished. Disney and Iger countered Peltz's criticisms by sharing the company's success in surpassing financial goals and cutting costs. Take that, Peltzer.

But they’re still arguing, so what comes next? 

A crucial shareholder meeting on April 3 could very well determine the entire board's fate.

2️⃣ Disney ($DIS) was down -2% on the week.

This week’s sector performance 🏆️

Semiconductors ($SOXX): -0.41% 📉 
Bonds ($TLT): +2.19% 📈
Technology ($QQQ): -1.50% 📉
Dividends ($SCHD): +0.37% 📈 
Emerging Markets ($EEM): +0.68% 📈 
Energy ($XLE): +1.24% 📈 
Financials ($XLF): +0.87% 📈
Gold ($GLD): +3.83% 📈 
Industrials ($VPU): +3.77% 📈 

BANKING
🏦 Another regional bank might be failing… This is a crazy timeline of events

via Reuters.com

Here is a timeline for the potential downfall of NYCB, a regional bank with over $116B in assets.

  • December 1, 2022: NYCB acquires Flagstar, making NYCB one of the top 25 regional banks with $88.4B of assets.
     

  • January 31, 2024: NYCB reported a fourth-quarter loss of 36 cents a share, missing Wall Street expectations. It also slashed its dividend by 71% to 5 cents a share.
     

  • February 2, 2024: Fitch downgraded NYCB's debt to BBB-.
     

  • February 6, 2024: Moody's Investors Service cut its rating on NYCB debt to junk.
     

  • February 29, 2024: NYCB changed its fourth-quarter loss to $2.7B due to a $2.4B goodwill charge.

    Thomas Cangemi stepped down as president and CEO after 27 years with the company.
     

  • March 1, 2024: Fitch cut NYCB's credit grade to junk.
     

  • March 6, 2024: $NYCB stock dropped 42% and was trading halted.
     

  • March 7, 2024: An investor group led by Liberty Strategic Capital announced a plan to invest more than $1B in NYCB.

    The deal involves Liberty Strategic providing $450M, Hudson Bay Capital Management $250M, and Reverence Capital Partners $200M, with Ken Griffin's Citadel also part of the deal.

Looking ahead…

March 11, 2024: The $1B investment deal is expected to close.

April 1, 2024: Joseph Otting is set to become NYCB's third CEO in barely a month, succeeding Sandro DiNello.

1️⃣ New York Community Bankcorp ($NYCB) was down -6.4% this week, and is down 67.15% this year.

Here’s what else you may have missed…

🥊 Netflix ($NFLX) is live-streaming a Jake Paul vs. Mike Tyson fight on July 20.

🇨🇳 China is raising over $27B for a chip fund to fight US restrictions.

🔙 Sam Altman has retaken his spot on OpenAI's board of directors.

🤳 Lawmakers propose a bill to make ByteDance sell TikTok or risk being banned in the US.

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