The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 8 February 2019

Geopolitics

Image: Shutterstock

On the line

Canada faces a tricky decision as it considers banning Huawei from a telecoms network – and a frosty reception from China could follow.

Canada looks likely to ban Huawei from its 5G network due to concerns over espionage – but it won’t be an easy decision for prime minister Justin Trudeau. While the US, Australia and New Zealand have already barred the Chinese telecoms and smartphone manufacturer, relations between China and Canada nosedived in December, when – at the request of the US – Canada arrested Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou. In response, China has arbitrarily detained three Canadians. Trudeau is stuck trying to appease Washington, protect Canadian citizens and soothe relations with China, which has promised further reprisals if the ban is enforced. Trudeau will be reluctant to anger Beijing further – but nor will he want to be seen capitulating to a bully on the world stage.

Business

Image: Alamy

Slippery slope

Despite opening a Tokyo flagship, things have gone downhill for Japanese clothing firm Descente after a major shareholder launched a takeover bid.

Things seemed to be looking up for Descente after it opened its Tokyo flagship this week. But that didn’t last long: the Japanese mountain-wear and sportswear brand is now fending off a takeover bid from its largest shareholder Itochu, a major Japanese trading firm. Yesterday Itochu announced that it would spend ¥20bn (€160m) to raise its stake in Descente from 30 per cent to 40 per cent – enough to gain control and oust Descente’s president Masatoshi Ishimoto, a member of the brand’s founding family. The spat comes after a disagreement on strategy: Itochu wants an aggressive global expansion but Ishimoto’s leadership relies heavily on the South Korean market. While it’s unusual for hostile takeovers to succeed in Japan, Itochu’s deep pockets and status as a loyal Descente investor could see it take the company off-piste.

Aviation

Image: Getty Images

Not a big fan

Airlines are turning their backs on Airbus’s superjumbo jets in favour of smaller, less risky models.

Yesterday marked the latest setback in what has been a difficult few weeks for Airbus: Australian airline Qantas announced it has scrapped plans to buy eight Airbus A380 superjumbo jets. The news comes just a week after Emirates (by far the biggest buyer of A380s) announced that it might change its orders and opt instead for the smaller A350. Airlines, it seems, are beginning to recognise the benefits of smaller jets: they can fly further and are more efficient. Crucially, fewer seats to fill means they represent less of a risk, enabling routes to open that might not be profitable with a larger plane. What’s been described as another nail in the A380’s coffin may instead be a sensible step towards an improved form of air travel.

Technology

Image: Getty Images

’Appy shopper

A new app promises to direct time-strapped consumers to the best of London’s lesser-visited shops.

Digital doesn’t always spell disaster for bricks-and-mortar retail. L’Effet, a new app that launched this week, is designed to show travellers who are unfamiliar with London’s retail scene the best luxury brands and niche shops. The iPhone app is simple: it shows users where to find shops such as Hostem (avant-garde clothing in Shoreditch), The House of Garrard (a bespoke jeweller in Mayfair) or Turnbull & Asser (a shirt-maker on Jermyn Street). “What people are looking for nowadays is not just luxury, they’re also looking for something that they feel like they’ve found themselves”, says co-founder Dominic Purvis on this morning's The Globalist. “Maybe its limited edition, maybe there’s only one of them or its custom-made. What we’re trying to do is connect the people looking for those projects with the brands themselves.”

From Monocle 24

Seu Jorge

The Monocle Culture Show: The Sessions at Midori House

Brazilian samba legend Seu Jorge revisits the David Bowie tracks that he famously covered in the 2004 Wes Anderson film ‘The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou’.

From Monocle Films

Finns of Thunder Bay

Waves of immigrants from Finland have arrived on Canadian shores over the past century, making Thunder Bay the most Finnish city beyond the Baltic.

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