December 20, 2016 / 3:56 PM / a year ago

Reuters Select: China, through a lens darkly

‘Unicorn’ boom

An Afghan officer shields his face in front of a burning pile of seized narcotics and alcoholic drinks, in the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan December 20, 2016. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

A wash of eager private capital has created a huge swell of demand among both buyers and sellers, making for a robust secondary market for IPO shares. These transactions more than doubled to $544 million in the first half of 2016 over the same period last year, according to new reports. And it’s all thanks to Facebook. After the seesawing of the company’s stock when it debuted in 2012, regulators have gradually tightened rules and there has also been a glut of highly valued startup companies - called ‘unicorns’ in Silicon Valley parlance - that have been delaying their public offerings.

Through a lens darkly: China version

As smog envelops northern China, planes are being diverted and red alerts are being issued for citizens on the ground. Reuters photographers captured what the haze looks like at street level.

Commentary: Syria as proxy war

While President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and its allies are regaining full control over Syria’s largest city, new battles show that Islamic State is far from beaten. Reuters columnist Mohammed Bazzi argues that the Syrian civil war has expanded into a regional proxy war involving Russia, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United States. Islamic State’s recapture of Palmyra after it was taken back by Syrian forces nine months ago signals a new era in an arena that will have to be sorted out after Donald Trump takes office, says Bazzi.

Better keep those AirPods forever

When Apple first introduced its wireless AirPod earphones, the biggest concern was about how easily people would lose them. The 4-gram wireless headphones were also revolutionary, of course, for pairing with the new iPhone 7, which dispensed with a headphone jack. But a new concern has come up in a report from Kyle Wiens, chief executive of iFixit: the AirPods have glued-in tiny lithium batteries that make recycling difficult. The rest of the unit can be shredded and melted down for copper, but the batteries could catch fire while being destroyed.

ECB in the hot seat

France’s top lenders are suing the European Central Bank, in a rare confrontation between France’s financial elite and the ECB’s supervisory board. The ECB has been sued frequently over its bond-buying programs, but this is the first time top lenders have stepped into the fray. At issue, according to interviews by Reuters: the banks want an exemption from holding capital against deposits parked with a state-owned fund.

Weetabix on the menu

Weetabix is still a tough sell in China, where cold cereal is not the breakfast of champions. Less than five years after the Chinese company Bright Food Group took control of the 84-year-old British maker of the iconic boxed cereal, it is on the block again. Bright Food has hired Goldman Sachs to sell the brand, which is worth roughly 1 billion pounds ($1.23 billion), according to three sources who spoke to Reuters.

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