Gunmen shouting Islamic slogans attacked a luxury hotel in the former French colony of Mali this morning, holding 170 people. Malian special forces have moved in, freeing some of the hostages. A French-led military operation drove Islamist fighters out of northern Mali last year, but sporadic violence has continued since. Al Jazeera reports the attack was instigated by a group called Ansar al-Din seeking to impose Islamic Sharia in Mali. You can get the latest updates on the attack here.
Meanwhile, the terror attacks are dominating discussion in Washington. New House speaker Paul Ryan yesterday won 289 voters – including 47 Democrats – for a bill that would hit the pause button on U.S. acceptance of Syrian refugees while rejecting calls from other Republicans to limit the accepted Syrian refugees to Christians or to restrict Muslim immigration more broadly. The vote is large enough to override a veto from the President.
And the White House and congressional staffers have reached out to Silicon Valley executives for new talks in Washington to resolve the standoff over encryption technology in the wake of terror attacks. Washington wants a way for the government to access encrypted communications among terrorists. Silicon Valley executives including Apple’s Tim Cook previously have said you “can’t have a backdoor that’s only for the good guys,” but are laying low in the current heated environment.
More new below.
• Square’s wild initial public offering
The payment technology company founded and led by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey rose 45% in their first first day of trading, a share increase that came after Square priced the stock at $9 – well below the company’s expected range. That disappointment led some to worry about investor appetite for the unprofitable company, while also raising broader concerns about a tech bubble. Fortune
• Match Group IPO attracts attention
The IPO for another tech property – Match Group – experienced a smoother process on Thursday but still got as much press attention as Square (though for different reasons). For the IPO, things were pretty smooth. Shares of the company, which owns dating site Match.com and mobile app Tinder, jumped 23% in their market debut, valuing the firm at $3.54 billion. But the IPO wasn’t without some drama: Sean Rad, the founder and CEO of Tinder, conducted an odd interview that raised eyebrows and was published just ahead of the IPO debut. Fortune
• Congress isn’t going to stop inversions
We pointed yesterday to a mega deal in the pharmaceuticals space: Pfizer is reportedly close to a deal that would enable it to relocate to low-tax Ireland. That possible $150 billion tie-up with Allergan comes as the U.S. Treasury on Thursday unveiled new rules aimed to thwart those kind of deals. The problem? Congressional Republicans – who control both sides of the Capitol – don’t favor a narrow fix aimed at preventing companies from relocating. They favor a move to bring down corporate tax rates. Fortune
• U.S. wants VW to buy back some cars
U.S. authorities are reportedly pressuring Volkswagen to buy back some of the diesel vehicles that didn’t meet U.S. emissions standards. While the German auto maker has already sought to mitigate some of the damage by offering $1,000 in compensation to 120,000 drivers across the U.S., that is likely only the first step. And because the resale values for the affected cars have dropped so sharply, drivers and dealers are both sitting on big potential losses. Fortune
• Tobacco merger rumors swirl
Here in the U.S., the tobacco industry has consolidated to two main players after Reynolds American bought rival Lorillard to better compete with the larger Altria. The global tobacco market may see further consolidation following speculation that British American Tobacco is financing to make a bid for Imperial Tobacco. Imperial’s stock rose around 5% in London, boosting the company’s market value to $53.5 billion. If a deal were to occur, Imperial’s strong link to the North Africa and the Middle East could be appealing growth opportunities for BAT. Bloomberg
Around the Water Cooler
• Airlines’ amenities for the wealthy
While paid first- and business-class travelers often account for a tiny sliver of an airline’s passenger mix, they are responsible for a big chunk of revenue and thus get a lot of attention when airlines are courting these travelers. Some of the most popular perks? Fully flat beds, which have been around for a while now, as well as specialty mattresses, spa-like bathrooms, and LCD screens. All of this can also be a challenge to the aircraft’s design team, which must attempt to maximize the spaciousness feel while minimizing the weight and space taken for each seat. Fortune
• The other IPO that occurred Thursday
While we mentioned the high-profile IPOs of Match Group and Square earlier in the newsletter, another company debuted on the market on Thursday. Mimecast, a cloud-based email management and security company that is headquartered in London, also aimed to lure new investors on Thursday. And the company’s CEO doesn’t even seem to mind that Mimecast is basking in less attention than its peers. “We’re thrilled to be on the same stage as them,” said co-founder and CEO Peter Bauer. “I get quite a kick out of taking the company public on the same day that Jack Dorsey’s taking his company public.” Fortune
• FDA approves GMO salmon
The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first GMO animal for consumption in the U.S. market, giving the go-ahead for genetically engineered Atlantic salmon that can grow twice as fast as its conventionally farmed counterpart. The FDA says the salmon is safe and that there are no differences in the nutritional profile of the fish. While the FDA is on board, retailers may not be. One environmental group estimates that 60 major retailers, including Whole Foods, Kroger and Target, have non-GMO seafood policies. That is likely a response to consumer wariness: when the FDA asked the public to comment on the issue, most of the 1,207 comments that the FDA made public were negative. Fortune