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China has a “love-hate relationship” with cryptocurrency and the blockchain with many in the country seeing significant opportunities in the latter, Edith Yeung, head of 500 Startups’ China unit, told CNBC Tuesday.

The craze of cryptocurrencies has swept across the globe in the last few years as the price of digital coins, like bitcoin, soared and then fell dramatically. Many critics have poured scorn on the volatility of the currencies and their lack of government regulation.

But many have spoken favorably of the blockchain, which is the public ledger behind some of these currencies, including bitcoin. The blockchain has won plaudits because it cannot be tampered with or changed retrospectively. Advocates of the technology say this makes bitcoin transactions secure and safer than current system.

Speaking to CNBC’s Eunice Yoon at East Tech West in the Nansha district of Guangzhou, China, Yeung said the Chinese government is investing in the blockchain but said “what they are not endorsing is the crypto part of things, which is challenging the fundamental of financial systems.”

She made the comments when asked what the strategy was for cryptocurrency in China, after the government banned cryptocurrency exchanges and initial coin offerings (ICOs) there in September 2017, marking the start of a crackdown on digital currency in the country.

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Deutsche Bank executives brace for its most contentious shareholder meeting to date

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A signs stands above the entrance to a Deutsche Bank AG bank branch in Frankfurt, Germany, on Monday, July 4, 2016.

Krisztian Bocsi | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Deutsche Bank executives can expect an explosive meeting with shareholders Thursday, as the bank’s tumbling share price and growing backlog of scandals place the board firmly in the firing line.

The embattled German lender saw its share price hit a record low Thursday, down nearly 5% since the start of the year. On Monday, UBS downgraded its stock to a “sell” rating from “neutral” and cut its target price from 7.80 euros ($7.45) to 5.70 euros.

Shareholder grievances

Reports this week suggested substantial shareholders will push for the removal of Deutsche Chairman Paul Achleitner ahead of his term expiry in 2022. However, CNBC sources said Tuesday that the bank expects Achleitner to retain his premiership with around 60% shareholder approval.

Deutsche also faces pressure to trim its investment banking division following the collapse of merger talks with domestic rival Commerzbank. Investment banking (IB) is the specific division relating to the creation of capital for other companies, governments or entities.

The UBS downgrade note highlighted that Deutsche’s IB would have been a “key beneficiary” of the deal with Commerzbank, helping reduce funding costs and spreads, and balance the overall profile.

Influential shareholder proxy Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) has advised its members to vote against “discharging” Deutsche’s board, the vote of confidence under the German corporate code. It claimed that shareholders had borne the brunt of monetary and reputational damage inflicted by a series of scandals, principally resulting from the bank’s failure to uphold anti-money laundering (AML) controls.

Deutsche has been the source of much negative publicity in recent years — from settlements with the U.S. Department of Justice, to management reshuffles, weak earnings, constant restructuring, merger speculation and steep stock price falls.

The bank defended its risk and control system on the grounds that it had “significantly improved” over the last three years, but the reputational cloud hanging over the bank has only darkened in recent weeks after reports that it prevented the flagging of suspicious transactions involving entities linked to President Donald Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Trump dealings

The latest scandal to engulf Deutsche Bank came after a New York Times report alleged Deutsche Bank senior management ignored reports from employees about transactions in 2016 and 2017 which triggered its automated controls against illicit activity.

The transactions allegedly related to entities controlled by Trump and Kushner, but the bank staunchly denied the report, saying in a statement that the “suggestion that anyone was reassigned or fired in an effort to quash concerns relating to any client is categorically false.”

The president’s relationship with Deutsche Bank has long been a source of scrutiny. Trump sued the bank last month to block its compliance with congressional subpoenas seeking access to his financial records.

U.S. President Donald Trump walks toward journalists as he departs the White House for a campaign rally in Pennsylvania May 20, 2019 in Washington, DC.

Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

A federal judge in New York City on Wednesday said Deutsche Bank can turn over financial documents related to President Donald Trump and his businesses in response to subpoenas from two Democrat-led House committees.

Judge Edgardo Ramos’ ruling came after a hearing at which lawyers for Trump, his three older children, Donald Jr. Eric and Ivanka, and the Trump Organization argued that the subpoenas to the two banks should be quashed. An appeal of the decision is all but certain.

Deutsche Bank been a consistent principal lender for Trump’s real estate dealings, the president tweeting angry retorts Monday to suggestions that other banks refused to work with him due to a lack of creditworthiness, by claiming that he “didn’t need money.”

Money-laundering, rate-rigging scandals

Last month, a confidential internal memo published by The Guardian revealed Deutsche Bank could face legal action over the massive Global Laundromat scheme, used by Russian criminals with ties to the Kremlin and KGB to move money into the western financial system between 2010 and 2014. A spokesman told CNBC the bank “remains committed to providing appropriate information to all authorized investigations.”

In November 2018, the bank’s Frankfurt offices were raided by German police, prosecutors and tax inspectors in a money-laundering probe stemming from the Panama Papers scandal. Deutsche bosses attributed its fourth-quarter loss in part to the ensuing negative publicity.

In 2017, the bank was hit with a $630 million fine by U.S. and U.K. regulators over allegations of Russian money-laundering between 2011 and 2015. Regulators said Deutsche’s anti-money laundering control mechanisms failed to spot sham trades with a value of up to $10 billion, as they were unable to identify the customers involved in trades and the origin of the money.

This came just two weeks after Deutsche reached a $7.2 billion settlement with the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) over its selling and pooling of toxic mortgage-backed securities in the run-up to the global financial crisis.

Two years prior, Germany’s flagship lender had already received a record $2.5 billion fine for interest rate-rigging as part of the Libor scandal investigation, spanning regulators on both sides of the Atlantic.

Also in 2015, following the Libor fines, the bank agreed a batch settlement of $258 million with U.S. regulators for violating sanctions against a number of countries, including Libya, Syria, Iran and Sudan.

CNBC’s Annette Weisbach contributed to this report.

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EU parliamentary elections and the future of Europe

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Millions of citizens across Europe will be choosing new parliamentary representatives in Brussels this week.

However, political experts believe the vote could give more insight into national politics in each member state, rather than on the future of the EU itself.

“The European elections are a little more than a bunch of national elections,” Alberto Alemanno, professor of European law at H.E.C. University in Paris, told CNBC last week.

“The European elections are a big referendum on the governing party. This is the case in France, where the French will have (for) the first time the opportunity to say what they think about (President Emmanuel) Macron,” he added.

France

Macron was elected back in 2017 on a pro-EU platform and has framed himself as one of the core Europhile leaders in the region. However, his reform agenda, including on the labor market, has frustrated some French citizens — which has escalated into months of protests and historically-low levels of popularity for the president.

Ahead of this year’s EU elections, Macron finds himself fighting the nationalist and Euroskeptic party of Marine Le Pen once again. The recently renamed National Rally (RN) party is slightly ahead in the polls, suggesting it will be a close call between the two.

“Most opinion polls suggest only around 40% of (French) voters will show up at the polling stations on 26 May. This means that Macron would have to suffer a severe defeat (by around 4-5 percentage points) for the vote to be interpreted as a rebuttal of his presidency,” Teneo Intelligence, a political analysis firm, said in a note last week.

“A tie with Le Pen would probably be portrayed as a victory by Macron given his party has never competed in a European Parliament election before. It would also give the government more breathing space to push for changes to the pension system — Macron’s last big reform — during the second half of the year,” the same research note added.

Italy

In Italy, the elections will be a test on the anti-establishment coalition government, which has been in power for roughly a year.

Both the nationalist and anti-immigration party Lega, and the leftist Five Star Movement (M5S) are still expected to be the two biggest parties. However, there has been a shift between them. In last year’s general election, M5S gathered the most votes but over time it has lost support, while its coalition partner has gathered momentum.

“The ruling (Italian) coalition … continues to effectively dominate the political debate, but competition between the two parties — widely seen as the two main rivals in any future electoral contest — has been steadily increasing,” Eurasia Group, a political analysis firm, said in a note Tuesday.

“A very strong showing by the Lega (substantially above 30%), especially if combined with a weak result for M5S (approaching or below 20%), would increase the incentive for Lega leader Matteo Salvini to engineer a government collapse and early elections,” the research note also said.

Other political analysts, however, are a bit more skeptical about whether Salvini will trigger snap elections this year. According to Teneo Intelligence, there has never been an election in the second half of the year since 1948. The economy is not doing very well and Salvini could give himself more time to gain further support in the south of Italy, where his party has traditionally lacked backing.

Germany

The largest economy in the EU is always a major focus in European elections. Germany is being governed by the center-right CDU party alongside the socialist SPD (Social Democratic Party of Germany) party. However, this sort of coalition has been traditionally been a challenge for the Socialists, often blamed by its voters for not standing up against Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s party.

The outcome of the vote could put pressure on the SPD to drop the coalition agreement and trigger a new national vote.

“The more important question will be whether the Greens can deliver on their continued lead in the polls over the center-left SPD. If this materializes, the pressure on the SPD to consider withdrawing from the coalition with Merkel will increase,” Teneo Intelligence said in its research.

“The biggest implication of the European election in Germany will hence not be the distribution of seats, but its effect on government stability,” it added.

Poland, Hungary

There’s also an important narrative to be monitored in countries like Poland, Hungary and Romania. Their governments are all at odds with the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, after it opened investigations into whether they respect the democratic values of European law.

In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a long-time leader with a populist and anti-immigration stance, is set to increase his share of seats at the European Parliament.

“Fidesz (Orban’s party) looks stronger than ever domestically, thanks to its anti-migration campaign combined with its family support scheme. Unless there is an unexpected downside surprise for Fidesz, European Parliament elections will allow the party to expand its power. It appears poised to win 14 of Hungary’s 21 seats in parliament, up from 12 currently,” Eurasia said in a note.

The Hungarian prime minister has often criticized the EU and its top chiefs, including European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. He was one of two leaders who voted against Juncker’s appointment back in 2014.

Poland is due to have a general election in November, so the EU vote will also test the ruling anti-immigration and conservative PiS party. “PiS is already feeling vulnerable,” Eurasia Group said.

UK

Until a few weeks ago, Prime Minister Theresa May was seeking to avoid holding European Parliamentary elections. The country voted to leave the EU in 2016, but that process has stalled, with the scheduled departure now expected by October 31.

By voting in the European elections, citizens in the U.K. will be able to give their assessment of how Westminster has dealt with Brexit. Eurasia Group described the vote as a “headache” for the two mainstream parties, the Conservatives and Labour. The Conservatives are polling in fifth place ahead of the vote, with a newly-formed Brexit Party in first. But low turnout and the current mood in the U.K. mean this won’t necessarily translate to any national election in the future.

However, the vote is expected to impact the EU.

“The U.K.’s participation in the poll will have many adverse effects in the EU; at a minimum, it will likely aggravate tensions over who should lead the European Commission, Council and ECB and make a durable, centrist majority harder to achieve,” Eurasia Group said. “If things get very messy, it could also impact the politics of a further extension of Article 50.”

There are growing calls for May to leave Downing Street — a new leader could have to trigger a new election, and potentially delay the country’s exit from the EU again.

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WWE has a new rival and it’s about to make its pay-per-view debut

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Chris Jericho puts Jimmy ‘Superfly’ Snuka into the ‘walls of Jericho’ during their match at ‘WrestleMania 25’ at the Reliant Stadium on April 5, 2009 in Houston, Texas.

Bob Levey | WireImage | Getty Images

WWE has had the sports-entertainment market in a chokehold for much of the 21st century, particularly in the U.S. and Europe, since the acquisition of several rival organizations in the early 2000s.

However, a new adversary is about to enter the ring this weekend, when All Elite Wrestling (AEW) makes its own pay-per-view bow.

Owned by Tony Khan, son of Shahid Khan, the billionaire owner of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars and also London-based English soccer team Fulham, AEW has been attempting to build momentum over several months. On Saturday night, it will hold its first official “Double or Nothing” show in Las Vegas.

AEW has already built a roster of wrestlers including former WWE Champion Chris Jericho and enlisted another former WWE superstar Cody Rhodes as executive vice-president to be one of the faces of the brand.

There’s speculation on whether other WWE superstars could switch to AEW, with John Moxley Jonathan David Good? , known by his in-ring persona Dean Ambrose thought to be among them. Due to AEW being a privately-owned company, it is not obligated to disclose the wages of its wrestlers, as opposed to WWE, which is traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

However, WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon, has moved to initiate conditions in several WWE contracts to prevent this from happening and the company losing its male and female stars to a rival.

Last week, Warner Media announced it was partnering with AEW in order to broadcast events on its TNT network in the U.S. and give fans “a new wrestling experience for the first time in 20 years.”

As well as on TNT in prime time, AEW plans to stream through WarnerMedia’s B/R Live platforms and on pay-per-view. While in the U.K., which is currently WWE’s second-biggest pay-per-view market, wrestling fans will watch events through commercial channel ITV’s Box Office service, with other content also available free-to-air.

This would also mean a shift away from mainstay wrestling broadcaster Sky Sports for British fans who are looking for an alternative to WWE.

“Wrestling fans have wanted — and needed — something different, authentic and better for far too long,” said Tony Khan, president and CEO of AEW in a statement last week.

“AEW is answering the call. AEW is about more than wrestling. It’s about a movement fueled by wrestling fans who have been underserved and perhaps even disappointed by what the industry has produced in recent years.”

AEW’s differences extend to having more of an emphasis on a wrestler’s win and loss record, as well as competing for championship belts. There have also been suggestions it plans to introduce a league-based scoring system for matches.

From October 2019, WWE’s weekly “Smackdown” show will be switching TV networks in the U.S. from its current home of USA Network to Fox, as part of a new five-year-deal worth a reported $1 billion. It will also be moving broadcast days, from Tuesday’s to Friday’s, and will be shown every week of the year.

Reports in the U.S. suggest AEW’s deal with TNT could mean it’s ready to fill the Tuesday night wrestling void with its more regular offerings later in the year.

WWE shares have fallen by around 20% since it reported first-quarter earnings in late April.

Disclosure: Comcast, which owns CNBC parent NBCUniversal, is the owner of Sky.

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