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Marvell Nears Deal to Acquire Inphi for $10 Billion

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Marvell Technology Group Ltd. is nearing a deal to acquire Inphi Corp. for about $10 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter, adding to an already record year for chip industry deals.

Marvell will pay 60% of the acquisition in stock, with the rest in cash, the person said. An announcement could come as soon as Thursday, said the person, who asked not to be identified as the information is private.

Dow Jones reported the acquisition earlier Wednesday. A representative for Inphi declined to comment, while a representative for Marvell didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Inphi is a maker of chips that act as the interface in gear that helps speed the flow of big chunks of information between computers and networks. Data center silicon is becoming increasing important as cloud providers are finding themselves swamped in data and look at even the most basic components to try to make their giant warehouses full of expensive equipment more efficient.

The purchase of Inphi adds to an already bumper year of announced transactions including Advanced Micro Devices Inc.’s $35 billion takeover of Xilinx Inc., Nividia Corp.’s $40-billion purchase of Arm Ltd. and Analog Devices Inc. agreement to acquire Maxim Integrated Products Inc. for $20.9 billion.

Inphi counts Microsoft Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc. among its biggest customers, according to Bloomberg Supply Chain Analysis.

Inphi stock has rallied 50% this year, even as it’s tried to overcome the loss of another large user of its chips, China’s Huawei Technologies Co. which has been cut off from U.S. suppliers by regulatory action. The company is on course to register an increase in revenue of almost 90% this year according to analysts’ estimates.

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8 Down-Ballot Races To Watch If Democrats Win Really Big

Republicans are already anticipating some losses in next week’s elections, but there’s a lingering nightmare scenario they also have to brace for: What happens if Democrats win big — like, really big?

Democrats’ top priority is kicking President Donald Trump out of office, but to actually enact their agenda they have to win back the Senate, expand their majority in the House and put more Democratic governors in office. 

Democrats are reluctant to be too excited publicly about polls showing Joe Biden leading Trump, remembering the heartbreak of 2016 and knowing that the pandemic significantly complicates forecasting this election. But they have their eyes on seats their party hasn’t won in more than 50 years, and in states that Trump won by more than 20 percentage points. 

These races are urban, suburban and rural — they stretch from Alaska, to the California foothills, to suburban Texas. To win would mean bringing high turnout among African American and Latinx voters, getting record numbers of young people to actually go to the ballot box and persuading conservative-leaning voters to switch parties.

The results of the election would have to look more like 2008, when Democrats were able to bring record enthusiasm in liberal strongholds, as well as hold on to traditionally more conservative centers in Ohio and Indiana, than 2018, where Democrats ceded key Senate races to Republicans despite gaining significant ground in House races.

It’s a tall order. Generic ballot polls show Democrats currently have a roughly seven-point advantage over Republicans this election cycle. HuffPost has identified eight races to watch if 2020 turns out to not only be a successful year for Democrats, but a blowout. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

Kansas Senate: Barbara Bollier (D) vs. Roger Marshall (R)

Bollier, a state senator, wants to be the first Democrat to win a Kansas Senate seat since the 1930s.

When Sen. Pat Roberts announced his retirement, Republicans weren’t concerned about holding his seat. Democrats, who haven’t won a Kansas Senate seat since the 1930s, figured they might have a shot if Kris Kobach ― known for his hardline anti-immigration views ― ran again, since the party managed to defeat him for the governor’s seat in 2018. Kobach did end up running for the Senate seat, but he lost the primary to Rep. Roger Marshall, a party-line Republican with a relatively low profile.

But Democratic nominee state Sen. Barbara Bollier, a former doctor who was a Republican legislator in the state as recently as 2018, is proving to be a competitive challenger. Bollier changed parties two years ago, citing “moral” objections to the GOP, and because she wanted to help expand Medicaid and fund education. She denounced the anti-transgender language added to the Kansas GOP’s platform and was a vocal critic of the Republican Party leadership ― particularly former Gov. Sam Brownback’s aggressive tax-cutting agenda.

She’s running on a public option for health care, funding public schools, protecting women’s health privacy and the pro-LGBTQ Equality Act. Her platform is carefully worded to avoid explicit mentions of abortion or gun access. Marshall, a staunchly pro-life OB-GYN, meanwhile, has been trying to appeal to Trump’s base, advocating to repeal and replace Obamacare and building a Southern border wall.

Bollier has raised five times more money than Marshall in October, and the polls show the two candidates either tied or with Marshall only a few points ahead. Kansas went for Trump by 21 points in 2016, but now Biden is less than 10 percentage points behind him in the polls.

Texas’ 2nd Congressional District: Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R) vs. Sima Ladjevardian (D)

The race gives Democrats a chance to take down a GOP rising star.

Democrats have long thought Texas would one day be in reach. If 2020 is the year Texas goes blue, or at least blue-ish, the wave will likely run through suburban districts like GOP Rep. Dan Crenshaw’s.

Democrat Sima Ladjevardian, a lawyer and former Beto O’Rourke adviser, says Texas’ second district, surrounding Houston, has completely changed since Crenshaw, the former United States Navy SEAL, was first elected to Congress two years ago. In 2016, Trump won 52% of the vote in this district. Then O’Rourke lost the area by just a percentage point in his 2018 Senate race. 

Taking down Crenshaw will be a challenge; the freshman Republican’s profile has risen in his party, he’s a talented fundraiser and already has presidential buzz around him. But Ladjevardian, who immigrated to the United States as a kid from Iran, says the COVID-19 pandemic has changed people’s priorities. And the district’s increasingly young and diverse populations could make a difference.

North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District: Madison Cawthorn (R) vs. Moe Davis (D)

Mark Meadows’ old seat isn’t as conservative anymore.

Republican Madison Cawthorn wasn’t the GOP’s pick to replace White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in Congress. The 24-year-old beat out the Republican Party’s — and Trump’s — pick for the seat in a surprising upset and has since he’s been named a rising star in the party. He is facing Democrat Moe Davis, a former military prosecutor, who is running on a public option and expanding broadband internet — dire issues in western North Carolina.

Cawthorn, a parapalegic who became paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident in 2014, has been a controversial candidate. He was accused of sexual misconduct, which he responded to by saying the encounter was in good humor and calling the accusation politically motivated. In old now-deleted posts on Instagram, Cawthorn referred to Adolf Hitler with the honorific “Fuhrer” and called his visit to Hitler’s vacation home as a trip on his “bucket list.” More recently, his campaign created an attack website that went after a local reporter for working for “non-white males, like Cory Booker, who aims to ruin white males running for office.” Cawthorn said the line was a “syntax error,” meant to deride identity politics. 

Tucked in the Appalachian mountains in the westernmost part of North Carolina, the 11th district has been dependable conservative stronghold; after all, Meadows, who shot up through the Tea Party movement and came to chair the ultra-conservative Trump-aligned Freedom Caucus, represented it. 

But last year, North Carolina underwent a court-ordered redistricting that pushed Buncombe County, home to the liberal city of Asheville, within the 11th district’s boundaries — an attempt to course-correct for Republican gerrymandering.

Cawthorn is still favored, but Davis has released internal polling showing him beating the young Republican. If that’s true, it will likely signal a statewide swing in North Carolina, where Biden is proving to be competitive and there’s a high-profile Senate race.

California’s 4th Congressional District: Rep. Tom McClintock (R) vs. Brynne Kennedy (D)

Will the wildfires be a climate science denier’s undoing?

Rep. Tom McClintock, the most conservative member in California’s congressional delegation who is serving his 12th year in Congress, has long been on Democrats’ radar for unseating. His district spans most of northern California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, including Lake Tahoe and down to Yosemite National Park.

McClintock is probably best known for being one of environmental groups’ biggest targets. As wildfires ravage the district year after year, McClintock still questions whether humans are an accelerating force in climate change. Instead, he uses the Trump line on the forest fires, pushing for more aggressive forest management.

Democrat Brynne Kennedy, who launched a software business and has become an author, is running on the national debt, health care and the climate crisis. The district has long been a conservative stronghold; Republicans still have a voter registration advantage over Democrats. But in some counties, that’s shifting, and there are a fair number of independent voters as well. It’s a race Democrats see as a possibility — especially in a big election year.

Kentucky’s Sixth Congressional District: Rep. Andy Barr (R) vs. Josh Hicks (D) 

Another Democrat takes up Amy McGrath’s mission.

Josh Hicks is taking over Amy McGrath’s mission to kick Republican Rep. Andy Barr out of Congress. In 2018, McGrath proved that the district, which encompasses Lexington and the surrounding suburbs, wasn’t as solidly conservative as Republicans thought, with the former Marine fighter pilot coming within three points of the four-term congressman. 

McGrath is now running a high-profile — albeit extremely long shot — bid against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R), and Hicks ― a Marine veteran, former police officer and lawyer ― may benefit from an extremely energized Democratic base in Kentucky. 

High voter turnout in Lexington played a big role in Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s victory in the 2019 race against the extremely unpopular Matt Bevin, and McGrath seems to be polling well in the district. Of course, a presidential election cycle is going to come with a different turnout altogether, but Hicks’ race is worth watching.

Alaska’s At-Large Congressional Seat: Rep. Don Young (R) vs. Alyse Galvin (D) 

The race will test Alaska’s independent streak.

Alaska has an entirely Republican delegation in Congress. But the state has a strong independent streak that Democrats are hoping will come out in their favor if there is a major wave election.

There’s been a lot of attention on the state’s Senate race, which is between Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) and Al Gross, an independent candidate aligned with Democrats. If energy around that race holds, it might trickle down to the state’s only House member, Rep. Don Young, the 87-year-old Republican who is seeking his 25th term representing Alaska’s at-large district. 

Alyse Galvin, who is also an independent, and an education activist, is running against Young a second time. In 2018, she fell just shy of 7 percentage points behind Young, and this time, she’s raising more money than him. Young, known in Washington for his bad behavior and abrasive style (he literally pulled a knife on John Boehner once), has spent his 48 years in Congress bringing federal funding back for Alaska. But Galvin says Young’s time has passed.

North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District: Rep. Dan Bishop (R) vs. Cynthia Wallace (D)

Republicans made it through a voter fraud scandal. Now they’re up against a blue wave.

North Carolina is a swing state — and much of that swing will be decided in suburban-rural areas like the 9th congressional district. 

Last year, Republican Rep. Dan Bishop spent $6 million to win a narrow 51 percent to 49 percent win over Democrat Dan McCready in a district that Trump won by 12 percentage points. Bishop, known most for being the author of the famed anti-transgender “bathroom bill” in North Carolina, lost the Charlotte suburbs that Trump had won. 

McCready isn’t running again. Democrat Cynthia Wallace, a black woman with a 25-year history in the financial services industry, is. Wallace, like most Democrats running in moderate suburban districts, has been focusing on health care, saying she will focus on lowering prescription costs and expanding COVID-19 testing if elected.

The 2019 race was an unusual one — the product of an absentee voting fraud scandal in 2018, when a GOP operative tampered with ballots, resulting in a special election. Since getting over that hurdle, Republicans in the state have been resting a little bit easier. But, while the race has gone a little under the radar, it’s still competitive. And in a year where there’s a competitive Senate and presidential race on the ballot, districts like the 9th could swing in a major wave.

Montana’s At-Large Congressional Seat: Matt Rosendale (R) vs. Kathleen Williams (D)

Democrats are in right races in Montana up and down the ballot.

Democrats had an early victory in Montana when the party convinced the state’s popular term-limited governor Steve Bullock to run for Senate. If Democrats prevail in Montana, the state’s open at-large House seat is also worth watching closely.

Rep. Greg Gianforte (R) ― famous for losing his temper and “body-slamming a journalist ― is running for governor. Democrat Kathleen Williams, a former state legislator, is running for his vacant congressional seat a second time against Republican State Auditor Matt Rosendale. Polls are showing a close race, as Rosendale ties himself to Trump and Williams tries to cast herself as an independent. A New York Times Siena College poll showed Williams trailing Rosendale 50% to 46%.

Democrats are already hoping Montanans will split ballots in November for Bullock. Williams could get the benefit as well if there’s truly a big Democratic groundswell.

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Samsung predicts fourth-quarter decline in profits due to weak demand and growing competition

  • Samsung Electronics on Thursday said it expects a decline in profit in the three months that will end on Dec. 31 due to weak memory chip demand and intense competition in the smartphone and consumer electronics spaces.
  • Samsung announced a 59% year-on-year jump in operating profit to 12.35 trillion Korean won (about $10.89 billion) for the July-September quarter, which was in line with earlier guidance.

SINGAPORE — Samsung Electronics on Thursday said it expects a decline in profit in the three months that will end on Dec. 31 due to weak memory chip demand and intense competition in the smartphone and consumer electronics.

The world's top smartphone maker announced a 59% year-on-year jump in operating profit to 12.35 trillion Korean won (about $10.89 billion) for the July-September quarter, which was in line with earlier guidance. Samsung said it was partly due to a boost in demand for smartphones and consumer electronics — sale of smartphones, including new flagship models like the Galaxy Note20, saw a near 50% jump in sales.

Samsung shares fell 1.19% in early trade, tracking the overall decline in the South Korean market where the Kospi index was down 1.27%.

"Looking ahead, Samsung Electronics expects profit to decline in the fourth quarter amid weakening memory chip demand from server customers and intensifying competition in mobile phones and consumer electronics," the company said in a statement.

Low prices for memory chips used by servers in data centers are likely to weigh on the main profit-making semiconductor business in the last three months of 2020. Demand for chips used in smartphones, personal computers and graphics processing units, used for gaming consoles and PCs, is predicted to rise, Samsung said.

The mobile business will potentially see smartphone sales decline, according to the South Korean tech giant. But the displays unit, which counts Apple as a customer, is set to see a significant rise in mobile panel sales from the third quarter due to new smartphone launches.

For next year, Samsung predicted a recovery in overall global demand but said uncertainties will remain over the coronavirus pandemic.

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Kushner Bragged That Trump Wrested Control Of COVID-19 Response From Doctors: Report

Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, can be heard in newly released audio clips bragging about President Donald Trump’s anti-science approach to the coronavirus pandemic as the illness ravaged parts of the country in mid-April. 

Claiming that the United States was entering “the comeback phase” of the crisis, Kushner said approvingly that Trump had taken over from the doctors who know how to slow the spread of viruses.

His comments were part of a recorded interview with journalist Bob Woodward on April 18, three days after the country recorded its highest number of COVID-19 deaths to date. A copy of the recording was obtained by CNN.

“There were three phases. There’s the panic phase, the pain phase and then the comeback phase. I do believe that last night symbolized kind of the beginning of the comeback phase,” Kushner said in one clip. He appeared to be referencing Trump’s remarks on reopening guidelines that the White House coronavirus task force created for the nation’s governors while the country was averaging 30,000 new cases per day. 

Kushner continued to minimize the deepening crisis: “That doesn’t mean there’s not still a lot of pain and there won’t be pain for a while, but that basically was, we’ve now put out rules to get back to work. Trump’s now back in charge. It’s not the doctors. They’ve kind of ― we have, like, a negotiated settlement.”

Trump has faced searing criticism for sidelining medical professionals throughout the pandemic, and experts fear COVID-19 cases will worsen further during the winter.

According to Kushner, a turning point for the president came when he announced the reopening guidelines. 

“The last thing was kind of doing the guidelines, which was interesting. And that in my mind was almost like ― you know, it was almost like Trump getting the country back from the doctors. Right? In the sense that what he now did was, you know, he’s going to own the open-up,” Kushner said.

To Kushner, Trump’s handling of the virus was smart political angling because “the opening is going to be very popular.” The federal government, however, was failing to coordinate testing strategies with the states that would allow for a safe reopening. 

″[T]hat’s the way the federalist system works,” Kushner said.

At the time, the virus was spreading rapidly in New York and New Jersey, and had yet to wreak havoc across the Sun Belt and Upper Midwest ― where it is currently spreading at alarming rates. Hospitals in New York City were beginning to see a downturn in new COVID-19 patients, but the day Kushner spoke to Woodward, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned of the danger of reopening too quickly, saying, “You’re going to be back to where we were.” 

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows seemingly admitting defeat in the face of the crisis on Sunday, telling CNN’s Jake Tapper that the federal government was “not going to control the pandemic.”

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CNN contributors say Tony Bobulinski interview is newsworthy as network continues to ignore

Tony Bobulinski reveals details of conversation with Joe Biden

Ex-Hunter Biden business partner calls out family for accusing him of spreading disinformation on ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’

CNN has shocked critics by ignoring Tucker Carlson’s interview with Tony Bobulinski, a former business associate of Hunter Biden who said the Biden family shrugged off concerns that Joe Biden’s alleged ties to his son's business deals could put a future presidential campaign at risk.

“This seems pretty newsworthy. Maybe they could, at the very least, answer some questions about it and that recording he has,” Mary Katharine Ham, who mentions CNN in her Twitter bio, tweeted to accompany a clip of Bobulinski articulating Joe Biden’s alleged role in the deal. 

‘LAPDOG PRESS’ BLACKS OUT EXPLOSIVE TONY BOBULINSKI CLAIMS AS CNN, MSNBC, NYT, WAPO SKIP STORY

Ham then compared coverage of Bobulinski to FBI Director James Comey’s memos documenting private discussions with President Trump that were eventually leaked to the press, noting that claims Bobulinski’s comments could not be verified shouldn’t be an excuse to dismiss them altogether.

“Every now and then, I recall the Comey Memos dictated national news coverage for months on end even though not one journalist saw them,” Ham added. “Comey had his buddy call the NYT & read them like beat poetry & everyone snapped along. Whither our verification standards then?” 

'PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY': TONY BOBULINSKI CLAIMS BIDEN FAMILY SHRUGGED OFF CONCERNS ABOUT RISK TO 2020 BID

Ham hasn’t been visible on CNN lately but notes that she works for CNN in her Twitter bio and was described by The Atlantic as a CNN contributor back in April. She also refers to herself as a CNN commentator on LinkedIn. 

CNN did not immediately respond when asked about Ham’s status with the network. 

Bobulinski, a retired lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, sat down with Carlson for a one-hour interview that aired on Tuesday night. Bobulinski said he raised concerns in 2017 to the former vice president's brother Jim Biden, about Joe Biden’s alleged ties to a possible joint venture with a Chinese energy firm. 

While the mainstream media has scrutinized President Trump and his family members at every turn, there has been a near blackout of coverage of Bobulinski’s shocking claims. 

Bobulinski’s comments to Carlson were completely ignored by CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times and Washington Post as of 8 a.m. EST on Wednesday, exactly 12 hours after the start of the damning interview. 

HUNTER BIDEN BUSINESS ASSOCIATE'S TEXT MESSAGES INDICATE MEETING WITH JOE BIDEN

But while his own network suppresses the information, CNN’s Scott Jennings condemned the talking point that the entire narrative is “Russian disinformation,” which has been a popular stance among the Biden camp. 

“What’s amazing: at the *same time* Biden & his operatives are screaming publicly this is Russian disinformation, their own family’s reps are calling this guy behind the scenes to try to kill it. Biden & his people look like pretty big liars rn on the Russia bit,” Jennings tweeted.

Cornell Law School professor and media critic William A. Jacobson told Fox News that it’s clear the liberal media “thinks this could hurt their preferred candidate” so the story is simply being avoided. 

"The easiest way to determine whether ignoring or minimizing the Bobulinski interview and documents reflects media bias is to imagine if something similar happened to Donald Trump. If Bobulinski were blowing the whistle on Trump influence peddling, all the networks and newspapers would be carrying the story nonstop through Election Day,” Jacobson said. 

TONY BOBULINSKI TELLS TUCKER: JOE BIDEN DENIALS OF INVOLVEMENT IN SON'S BUSINESS 'A BLATANT LIE'

As for CNN, the network seems to have other priorities on the morning after Bobulinski spoke out. 

CNN editor-at-large Chris Cillizza complained that the media hasn’t spent enough time covering Trump’s taxes. 

CNN anchor Jake Tapper tweeted that Trump rallygoers were forced to wait in freezing temperatures for a bus to take them to their cars, promoting mockery from Real Clear Politics president Tom Bevan.

“The state of our media: Buses > Bobulinski,” Bevan wrote. 

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Fox News’ Adam Shaw, Joseph A. Wulfsohn and Brooke Singman contributed to this report. 

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Tupperware’s profits soar in the pandemic, even without the parties

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Tupperware relied on social gatherings for explosive growth in the mid 20th century. In the 21st century, it is social distancing that is fuelling sales.

Restaurant pain has turned into Tupperware's gain with millions of people in a pandemic opening cookbooks again and looking for solutions to leftovers. They've found it again in Tupperware, suddenly an “it brand" five decades after what seemed to be its glory days.

Decades after its glory days Tupperware is on its way to be an “it brand” again.

The company had appeared to be on life support, posting negative sales growth in five of the last six years, a trend that seemed to be accelerating this year.

Long gone was the heyday of the Tupperware Party, first held in 1948, which provided women with a chance to run their own business. That system worked so well, Tupperware took its products out of stores three years later. But it has struggled as more families gave up making dinner from scratch and also dining out more.

Then the pandemic struck.

Profit during the most recent quarter quadrupled to $US34.4 million ($48.8 million), Tupperware reported on Wednesday.

The explosion of sales caught almost everyone off guard and shares of Tupperware Brands Corp., which had been rising since April, jumped 35 per cent to a new high for the year. Shares that could be had for around $US1 in March, closed at $US28.80 on Wednesday.

Tupperware stands apart from most other companies that have thrived in the pandemic. Unlike Netflix and Amazon.com, it doesn't rely on a hi-tech platform.

However, it's certainly not alone as the pandemic bends how we spend our time more rapidly perhaps than any point in our lifetimes.

On Monday the toymaker Hasbro said that its games division, which includes board games like Monopoly, saw a 21 per cent jump in revenue.

On Wednesday, Tupperware reported quarterly adjusted earnings of $US1.20 per share, triple what Wall Street had expected. Revenue of $US477.2 million was about 30 per cent higher than forecasts and 14 per cent better than last year.

CEO Miguel Fernandez said the company, based in Orlando, Florida, had shifted more heavily to digital sales to accommodate those sheltering in the global pandemic. He also noted "increased consumer demand."

The company earlier this year had begun a turnaround campaign. Fernandez, who once led Avon, was named CEO in March just as COVID-19 infections began to spread in the US, its largest market.

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Pinterest pops as stay-at-home projects fuel user, revenue growth

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Pinterest shares are surging nearly 30% in after-hours trading Wednesday as the company reported strong revenue and user growth fueled by stay-at-home projects.

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PINTEREST IS PROHIBITING CULTURALLY INAPPROPRIATE HALLOWEEN COSTUMES

Despite posting a third-quarter loss of $94.2 million, or 16 cents a share, the image-sharing company reported a 58% year-over-year revenue increase to $442.6 million compared to $280 million in 2019.

Pinterest reported a 46% year-over-year increase in its international monthly active users to 343 million compared to 235 million in 2019. Meanwhile, domestic monthly active users increased by 13% year-over-year to 98 million from 87 million a year ago.

The company cited broad-based strength driven by a recovery in advertiser demand from larger brands who paused or reduced spending in the second quarter to boycott social media as part of the #StopHateforProfit campaign. In addition, the company said the release of iOS 14 boosted user growth with approximately 4 million people using Pinterest “for inspiration for customized background filters.”

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While Pinterest is forecasting fourth-quarter revenue growth of about 60% year-over-year, the company warned that it continues to "navigate uncertainty" due to the coronavirus pandemic. It also expects fourth-quarter engagement to dip as people celebrate the holidays and during both the U.S. presidential election and its aftermath.

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The company noted that it will continue to operate in a remote work environment while maintaining its long-term strategic investments and will continue to evaluate its spending as the pandemic evolves.

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Myer chairman quits after losing support of two key shareholders

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The embattled chairman of department store Myer has stepped down from his role ahead of the company's annual general meeting, having lost the support of the retailer's two largest shareholders.

Garry Hounsell, Myer's chair for the last three years, announced he would be retiring ahead of the meeting after it became evident that billionaire investor Solomon Lew and fund manager Geoff Wilson would not be voting for his re-election, the company said in a statement to the ASX on Thursday just before the shareholder meeting kicked off.

Myer’s chairman Garry Hounsell has announced his retirement from the company. Credit:Eddie Jim

"Ahead of today’s Myer AGM, it has become apparent that Myer’s two largest shareholders are not supporting my re-election and I will not allow my ongoing tenure as chairman to be a distraction to the hard work of the executive team," Mr Hounsell said in a statement.

The shock move marks a significant victory for Mr Lew, who has been campaigning against Mr Hounsell since his appointment in 2017. The Premier Investments chair, who owns around 11 per cent of Myer, has made repeated calls for Mr Hounsell to step down and has regularly blamed the chairman for Myer's recent underperformance.

Mr Lew had indicated in recent weeks that he would be voting against Mr Hounsell at the annual general meeting, where he was up for re-election. Mr Wilson, who owns 7 per cent of Myer, had long kept his cards close to his chest, but eventually said he believed the company would benefit from some "clear air".

"We believe Myer will benefit from clear air following a challenging period for the company," he told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald on Thursday morning.

"We expect that management can now stay focused and work towards delivering for shareholders during the Christmas season."

Director JoAnne Stephenson has been named acting chairman in light of Mr Hounsell's departure and the company will undertake a global search for a new chair.

"It is essential that [chief executive] John King and Myer’s management team are able to execute the strategy during the all-important peak trading period, between Black Friday and January’s Stocktake Sale, without further disruption and it is hoped that my appointment as acting chairman will enable this to occur," Ms Stephenson said.

Mr Hounsell defended his tenure as chairman, saying he believed his three-year run had strengthened the Myer business and held it through the "severe disruption" of COVID-19.

"Throughout my tenure, we have been resolutely focused on delivering for customers and improving the performance of the business – and we have been determined not to allow anything to distract us from that mission," he said.

More to come.

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Furlough and payment holiday deadline: How to handle your financial fears as support ends

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Furlough payments and payment holidays have kept millions of people afloat during this tough period but unfortunately, the Government has made it clear the support can’t continue forever. Come October 31, coronavirus-focused financial help will halt or dramatically reduce for many and families across the UK will be forced to face their financial fears.

These problems can take many different forms but fortunately, Credit Klarna has offered advice for some of the most common issues.

Akansha Nath, the head of partnerships at the company, started off by examining the prospect of unwelcome surprise bills: “An unexpected bill is enough to give anyone a fright.

“During COVID, households have been terrorised with rising household bills, with families the biggest victims.

“According to Credit Karma, parents have seen their utility bills creep up by nearly £70 a month, leaving nearly half living in fear of how they’ll afford a second lockdown.

“But changing utility providers and finding competitive offers can ward off startling bills, using a switching service, such as Credit Karma, can provide you with competitive rates within minutes.”

The pandemic has also had impact on income levels as employers from all industries have struggled to keep up with the new normal.

As a result, some people may have been forced to rely on credit to cover their costs, which can of course bring with it additional problems.

Akansha went on to address some of these difficulties: “If you’re having to rely on credit cards more than usual, keep your eyes peeled for interest rates creeping up, and take stock of your options to ensure you’re not startled by additional interest and fees.

“If the interest accrued on your credit cards is starting to give you chills, try looking for a more affordable alternative, oftentimes personal loans will have lower interest rates than credit cards, or you can look for introductory offers of low interest or even zero percent interest credit cards.”

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As credit card usage rises, credit histories can be affected, both positively and negatively.

Where a person’s credit score may not be ideal, Akansha provided tips on how to boost it upwards: “Your credit score has a habit of following you around.

“If there are skeletons in your closet when it comes to your financial history, such as missed repayments, these can have an impact on your credit profile, and your ability to borrow in the future.

“A poor credit score can scare lenders away, and limit your options when it comes to taking out credit, or make borrowing more expensive.

“If you need to rely on credit and need to exorcise your credit score, there are a number of steps to make yourself more appealing to lenders, such as regularly checking your credit report, joining the electoral roll and keeping on top of your debts.”

Simply getting decent credit themed products could be difficult in itself given the current interest rate environment.

This could lead to consumers turning to more dangerous forms of short term credit products but Akansha concluded her advice by providing a stark warning on this: “The market for low interest rates and affordable credit has become a ghost town in recent months.

“According to Credit Karma, for a third of Brits, affordable credit has become inaccessible since the coronavirus outbreak, as competitive personal loans and zero percent interest credit cards are slashed by lenders.

“If affordable credit has become out of reach to you, it may be tempting to turn to store cards, buy now, pay later schemes and payday loans, but it’s important to remember that these are still credit agreements.

“Keep on top of what you owe and when repayments are due to avoid those frightening missed payment fees, or credit score dents, which can impact your ability to access affordable credit in the future.

“Lastly, if you feel like debt keeps piling up and gets out of hand, don’t be scared to seek help. Charities such as StepChange can give you impartial advice and deal with your enquiry in confidence.”

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Markets

Elite Model World in Talks to Go Public Through SPAC Merger

Elite Model World, which describes itself as the largest model management network in the world, is in talks to go public through a merger with blank-check firm Galileo Acquisition Corp., according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Galileo has held talks with potential investors about raising new equity to support a transaction, said some of the people, who requested anonymity because the discussions are private. A deal hasn’t been finalized and it’s possible talks could collapse.

Representatives for Elite and Galileo didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Elite Model World’s agencies include Elite Model Management, Women Model Management, the Society Management, Supreme Model Management, Stage and 360 Model Management, which together represent more than 3,700 models across 52 countries, according to its website.

It has increasingly diversified its revenue by representing social media influencers, some of whom can earn more from Instagram posts that traditional modeling.

The company is led by Chief Executive Officer Julia Haart, who is married to Chairman Silvio Scaglia.

New York-based Galileo raised $138 million in an initial public offering last year. At the time, it said its target companies included Italian family-owned businesses with a clearly defined strategic to grow in North America. Chief Executive Officer Luca Giacometti has previously led Italian blank-check companies.

— With assistance by Kim Bhasin, and Daniele Lepido

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