FirstFT: Putin meets Italian CEOs over ‘expanding ties’

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The top executives of some of Italy’s biggest companies, including Pirelli, Generali and UniCredit, are set to hold a video meeting with Vladimir Putin today to discuss economic ties, even as Europe and the US threaten to impose punitive sanctions on Russia if it goes to Ukraine invaded.

The meeting, which the Kremlin said would cover “the potential for further expanding ties between the two countries’ businessmen,” comes as the US and Europe warned the Russian president about an invasion of Ukraine.

It also comes as transatlantic allies have been working to agree on a unified approach in Ukraine, after missteps that have exposed sharp differences in the response to Putin.

The date of the event, organized by the Italy-Russia Chamber of Commerce and the Committee of the Italo-Russian Economy, has been agreed with the knowledge of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in November.

Meanwhile, US officials said there was growing “convergence” with the EU on financial sanctions aimed at crippling Russian banks in the event of an invasion of Ukraine, as Western countries sought to settle on a package of economic countermeasures against a possible one agree to attack.

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© A graphic asking if Russia will invade Ukraine

Thank you for reading FirstFT Asia. Here’s the rest of today’s news – Emily

1. USA warn of fragile chip supply Chip inventories held by manufacturers have fallen to just five days on average as global semiconductor shortages continue to ravage the industry, the US Commerce Department warned.

  • More US news: On the second day of Wall Street turmoil, stocks regained ground in afternoon trade but remained lower.

2. China launches a “cleansing” campaign on the Internet China has launched a month-long campaign to clean up online content during next week’s Lunar New Year festival in a bid to reshape online behavior. The campaign brings the tradition of house cleaning before the New Year, the most important holiday in China, to the Internet.

3. The 7-Eleven owner faces investor calls to split up Pressure is building on the owner of Japan’s largest convenience store chain to break up the company as investors grow frustrated with ‘outdated’ corporate governance and poor share price performance.

4. Leon Black says former Apollo protégé conspired to “destroy” him. Leon Black has accused his former lieutenant Joshua Harris of orchestrating a conspiracy to “avenge and destroy” him after Harris was denied a chance to succeed Black as chief executive of Apollo Global Management, court filings show were filed in New York on Monday.

5. Unilever cuts 1,500 jobs as part of a management reshuffle The consumer goods giant has to ditch 20 percent of decision-making roles as it faces pressure from investors to improve performance after a £50bn trial.

digest coronavirus

Events such as the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and the Six Nations Rugby Tournament next month are expected to add further momentum once restrictions are lifted. © Alberto Pezzali/AP

The day ahead

Indian Republic Day The country will remember him 75th anniversary the introduction of the Indian Constitution. (Times of India)

US rate decision The Federal Open Market Committee announces its latest decision on US interest rates, though it will likely be a holding operation, with the first rate hike widely expected in March.

merits AT&T, Boeing, Intel, Tesla, Apple and Meta are among those reporting earnings on Wednesday.

What else do we read?

How Citadel Securities became the “Amazon of Financial Markets”. Founded in the 2000s, Citadel Securities has grown to become one of the largest trading houses in the world, involved in about a quarter of all US stock trades and nearly 40 percent of all retail investor transactions. However, a decision to go public would put it firmly in the crosshairs of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Citadel Monthly Market Share (%) G0139X_22X

The unrest in Kazakhstan shows Erdogan that Putin is still in charge Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s decision to seek Vladimir Putin’s help in quelling protests that have rocked his country has shattered President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s dreams of a bloc of Turkey and “fraternal” nations in the former Soviet Union to form, struck a blow .

Former FARC prisoner is running for Colombia’s presidential office During her last election campaign for the Colombian presidency, Ingrid Betancourt was kidnapped by Marxist guerrillas and held in the jungle for more than six years. Two decades later, she is running again for the leadership of the country.

What drives our economies There is no way to know how the world really works without understanding the fundamental importance of energy in human affairs, Vaclav Smil writes in his new book How the world really works. Read Pilita Clark’s review of Smil’s book here. You want more about energy policy? Register to our Energy Source Newsletter.

Europe’s navel gazing As most of the major countries of western Europe — including Britain, France, Germany and Italy — find themselves in the midst of a destabilizing political transition, they are even less prepared for a confrontation with Russia, writes Gideon Rachman.

Sports

Ski touring – exploring the mountains while climbing on skis with sticky skins – is booming, the latest obsession for those looking to infuse their vacation with an element of cardiovascular challenge. But there’s an easier way to explore the slopes. A new cable car connection makes it possible to cross a large part of the Dolomites on skis in a single day.

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