Hello Term Sheet readers—Lucinda here until Polina’s return Monday. In the meantime, send deals, thoughts, random musings on life and a timeline for the end of driver’s licenses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A potential bank with $2 trillion assets is dead.
Germany’s Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank have ended merger talks, after announcing formal discussions just a month ago follow pressure from investors displeased with the two banks’ shoddy performance.
The deal would have given Deutsche Bank the security of a consumer deposit base from Commerzbank while creating back-office synergies. But the two were unable to figure out how to “overcome both the challenges of integrating the banks’ technology, back-offices and other operations,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
Now other European marriages may be on the table.
SUPERMARKETS: At the same time, a $9.4 billion deal that would have created the U.K.’s biggest supermarket chain, was formally blocked on antitrust concerns Thursday.
The U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority said plans for J Sainsbury to merge with Walmart’s U.K. unit, Asda, would have raised prices for consumers.
That decision came though the combined giant offered concessions: $1.3 billion in price cuts and the offloading of as many as 150 stores.
Now, Sainsbury CEO Mike Coupe, who sold investors on the need for such a merger, will have to convince those same investors that he has a viable alternative plan even as Sainsbury’s market share loses ground to no other than Asda.
IPO TAX: The headline grabbing windfall investors, founders, and early employees are about to come into in public markets is the epitome of the American dream. Work hard and you get millions and billions.
That narrative gets less rosy when the new and shiny gig economy intersects a decades-long trend of falling wages in the low skilled labor force. Now as executives at Uber become some kind of -naire selling their IPOs on an automated future, the low-skilled workers that make up the company’s legs are frustrated over their considerably lower pay—saying they do not make a living wage.
Uber drivers in major cities are now also preparing to strike for 12 hours on May 8 in the hopes of greater pay, basic benefits, and more transparency regarding wage practices.
The reality is that Uber is a part of a larger trend in the economy of shrinking wages for low skilled labor force. That group “is doing terribly,” Stanford Graduate School of Business Economics Professor Paul Oyer. “It’s not an Uber specific thing, and it isn’t Uber that is causing low pay—it’s the natural forces in the economy, through globalization and autonomization, that are doing it. But it does become their problem to make people with very reasonable complaints happy.”
Think, for example, to the fast food industry, which itself is facing automation. Uber, for its part, appears to be heading in the same direction—it is spending heavily on a future where self-driving vehicles may be the norm, and drivers are obsolete. The firm spent over $457 million in 2018 to research and develop a unit focused on futuristic…