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Headquarters Of Photo And Video Sharing Application Snapchat
People take pictures in front of the Snapchat headquarters in Los Angeles, Calif. Photograph by Patrick Fallon — Bloomberg/Getty Images

Alibaba’s Snapchat deal and a Sikorsky spinoff — 5 things to know today

Mar 12, 2015

Hello friends and Fortune readers.

Wall Street stock futures are gaining this morning, while across the pond European shares are mostly mixed in mid-day trading. Asian indexes closed higher, for the most part. The euro is higher against the U.S. dollar for the first time in weeks, having sunk to a 12-year low earlier in the day.

Here's what else you need to know about.

1. Alibaba invests in Snapchat.

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group (baba) invested $200 million in Snapchat, increasing the startup's valuation to $15 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal. That's $5 billion valuation boost in less than a year. Snapchat was valued at $10 billion in August following a funding round that included Yahoo (yhoo) and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. The ephemeral messaging app has more than 100 million users, people familiar told the Journal. CEO Evan Spiegel has plans to turn the free app into a profitable enterprise, recently launching advertisements to companies such as Samsung Electronics and Universal Pictures.

2. Rakuten puts its money in Lyft.

Japanese online retailer Rakuten led the latest investment round for Lyft totaling $530 million. That sum brings Lyft's valuation to $2.5 billion, which trails behind Uber's $40 billion valuation by a wide margin. Rakuten is investing $300 million and will hold a 11.9% stake in the ride-sharing app. Lyft plans to use the Series E funding to expand in the U.S. and overseas.

3. United Technologies looking to spin off its helicopter unit.

United Technologies (utx) is looking into spinning off Sikorsky Aircraft, the maker of the well-known Black Hawk military helicopter, and aircrafts that carry U.S. presidents. United Technologies has been looking for a buyer for the 90-year-old company, but without a taker it will likely spin off the unit. Sikorsky had $7.5 billion in sales last year and generates about two-thirds of its sales from U.S. defense contracts. United Technologies CEO Gregory Hayes said that after an internal review the helicopter unit "probably didn't fit in the UTC portfolio."

4. Dollar General reports.

Dollar General Stores (dg) forecast full-year earnings below analysts' expectations, as the company plans to open more stores ahead of a merger of its rivals Family Dollar Stores and Dollar Tree (dltr). The company said it expects to spend $500 million to $550 million in 2015, partly to open about 730 stores. The company stands to lose its position as the top discount retailer in the United States after failing to upend a merger agreement between Family Dollar Stores and Dollar Tree.

5. Saudi Arabia and South Korea team up on nuclear deal.

As the U.S. continues to work toward a deal with Iran on its nuclear development program, Saudi Arabia and South Korea discretely signed their own nuclear-cooperation pact. The Saudi Arabia-South Korea deal includes a study of the feasibility of building two nuclear reactors worth $2 billion in the Arab nation. U.S. officials worry that the agreement could hinder a deal with Iran and lead to a Middle East nuclear arms race. Prince Turki al-Faisal, a member of the royal family and the country's former intelligence chief, has warned that Riyadh will develop nuclear capabilities equal to Iran.

—Reuters contributed to this report.

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