10 things you need to know before European markets open

Good morning! Here’s what you need to know.

1. Theresa May said there would be dire consequences for Britain if it failed to get a good Brexit deal, and said the coming five years would be among the most challenging in our lifetime. May made the remarks during a speech presenting her Conservative Party’s policy pledges to voters ahead of a June 8 parliamentary election the party is widely expected to win.

2. Foreign investment in Germany stayed at the same level year-on-year in 2016, despite the economy growing at its fastest rate for five years. The value of projects was stable at €6.2 billion after having nearly doubled in the previous year to reach the highest level on record, according to the survey by government agency Germany Trade & Invest.

3. French tycoon Bernard Tapie must repay the €404 million he received to settle his long-running dispute with the state over the sale of sports equipment maker Adidas. The massive 2008 award, which had shocked the French public, was later found to be fraudulent because Tapie had links to one of the arbitrators appointed to settle the case with Credit Lyonnais bank.

4. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba said its net profit almost doubled in the latest quarter on the back of soaring growth in online shopping. Net profit attributable to ordinary shareholders soared 98% from a year ago to 10.65 billion yuan ($US1.55 billion) in the quarter ended March 31.

5. Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia will reinforce the partnership between the two countries in combating militancy and in bolstering trade and commercial agreements, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said. Adel al-Jubeir said he was very supportive of the policies the Trump administration was pursuing on Iran, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and global counter-terrorism.

6. The Conservative Party pledged to abolish the independent Serious Fraud Office and roll it into a broader, national crime-fighting body. According to a manifesto document listing the party’s policy proposals, Prime Minister Theresa May’s party wants to bring the SFO under the remit of the relatively newly-established National Crime Agency, dubbed Britain’s FBI.

7. Sharp said it would invest up to $US1 billion in SoftBank Group’s planned $US100 billion Vision fund and that it aims to tap advanced technologies through the investment. Taiwan’s Foxconn, the parent of Sharp, has also said it intends to invest in the fund, as well as Apple and chipmaker Qualcomm.

8. France’s new president and prime minister have the lowest public confidence levels for French leaders starting their terms in at least the last 20 years. Some 45% of voters said they trusted in centrist President Emmanuel Macron’s ability to tackle France’s problems, while 36% trusted his newly appointed prime minister, Edouard Philippe, a conservative, the Elabe poll showed.

9. Novartis plans to cut or transfer around 500 traditional production jobs and add 350 others, mostly in its biotech business. Swiss domestic head Matthias Leuenberger said no other moves of that magnitude were planned for Switzerland through the end of 2018, although smaller adjustments could not be excluded.

10. Bank of America Merrill Lynch reorganised its energy, power and mining investment banking teams, combining them under the leadership of Julian Mylchreest. Mylchreest, head of global energy and power investment banking since 2010, will oversee the newly formed global natural resources group.

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