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EMEA Morning Briefing : Omicron Variant Jitters -2-

11/29/2021 | 12:31am EST

Big leveraged buyouts are back, and this year's crop might just be a taste of things to come.

Private-equity firms have announced a record $944.4 billion worth of buyouts in the U.S. so far this year, 2.5 times the volume in the same period last year and more than double that of the previous peak in 2007, according to Dealogic. So far this year, there have been five $10 billion-plus deals in the U.S., equaling the total in all of 2007, though still below the high-water mark of nine in 2006.

Omicron Variant Found on Flights Reveals Gaps in Covid-19 Travel Rules

The probe into two flights from South Africa to the Netherlands, on which more than a dozen people tested positive for the newly discovered Omicron variant, reveal gaps in the patchwork of current travel measures now in place to contain the coronavirus.

Of around 600 passengers on the two flights, 61 tested positive for Covid-19 after being taken off the planes, held for hours in an isolated part of Amsterdam's Schiphol airport and tested. Sunday morning, Dutch health authorities said that at least 13 were confirmed as the Omicron variant, a new strain first identified in southern Africa.

Iran's Nuclear Advances Weigh on Renewed Talks

As negotiators gather in Vienna for talks aimed at reviving an international nuclear agreement with Iran, one big question looms: Has Tehran advanced its nuclear work so much in the past two years that the 2015 deal can no longer be rescued?

Restoring the pact, which placed limits on Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for relief from economic sanctions, is a top foreign-policy goal of the Biden administration. Iran's new president, however, has delayed restarting talks while pressing ahead with nuclear work.

Eurozone Inflation Likely Hit Record High in November

Consumer-price inflation in the eurozone likely hit a record high in November, but many economists think that might mark a peak for now, and therefore don't expect the European Central Bank to raise its key interest rate next year.

As in the U.S., consumer prices in the eurozone have risen faster over recent months than most economists and policy makers had expected. The data have raised questions for investors, businesses and households about the credibility of central bank assertions that this period of high inflation is likely to prove transitory.

Taliban Covert Operatives Seized Kabul, Other Afghan Cities From Within

KABUL-Undercover Taliban agents-often clean-shaven, dressed in jeans and sporting sunglasses-spent years infiltrating Afghan government ministries, universities, businesses and aid organizations.

Then, as U.S. forces were completing their withdrawal in August, these operatives stepped out of the shadows in Kabul and other big cities across Afghanistan, surprising their neighbors and colleagues. Pulling their weapons from hiding, they helped the Taliban rapidly seize control from the inside.

U.K. Looks to Compete on Financial Regulation

London wants to regain the mantle of the world's busiest financial center from New York by overhauling how banks and other financial firms are regulated after Brexit.

The U.K. government said this month its top financial regulators will be required to help boost growth and international competitiveness in the financial sector, as secondary mandates to existing tasks such as maintaining financial stability and consumer protection.

WTO Postpones First Meeting in Four Years Amid Covid Variant Concerns

WASHINGTON-The World Trade Organization has decided to postpone a ministerial meeting scheduled to start Tuesday in Geneva, after dozens of nations restricted travel from southern Africa to prevent the transmission of a new coronavirus variant.

The WTO attributed the postponement to newly announced travel restrictions and quarantine requirements in Switzerland and many other European countries, leaving many delegates unable to travel. The group said that the member countries unanimously supported the decision.

In the Land of Dikes, Nature Now Reinforces Flood Defenses

BEVEREN, Belgium-The world's levees are losing the battle against rising seas and overflowing rivers, so experts here want to learn how to fight smarter.

Locals in the coastal regions of northwest Europe, long known as the Low Countries, for centuries have expanded their space for farming and living with earthen barriers that hold back the saltwater and stop freshwater floods. Those triumphs of engineering now face unprecedented assault from oceans and rivers.

Clearlake Capital to Buy Quest Software From Francisco Partners

Clearlake Capital Group LP has struck a deal to buy Quest Software Inc. from Francisco Partners in the latest sign of private-equity firms' voracious appetite for software.

The deal, expected to be announced as soon as Monday, values Quest at $5.4 billion including debt, according to people familiar with the matter.

Nissan to Spend $17.6 Billion on Battery-Powered Vehicles Over Five Years

TOKYO-Nissan Motor Co. said Monday it planned to spend $17.6 billion over the next five years as part of a plan to add 20 new battery-powered vehicles to its lineup.

The company hopes to recapture some of the prominence it formerly held in the electric-vehicle race after its pioneering introduction of the Leaf EV more than a decade ago. Investors have given a boost to the share prices of car companies that are betting big on EVs, including relative newcomers such as Tesla Inc., and industry stalwarts like Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG.

Covid-19 Vaccine Makers Assess Omicron Response

Vaccine makers will spend several weeks assessing the danger and potential impact of the coronavirus's new Omicron variant.

But they are already racing to develop ways to combat it.

Activist Investor Ancora Urges Berry Global to Explore a Sale

Activist investor Ancora Holdings Inc. is pushing Berry Global Group Inc., a packaging manufacturer with a roughly $9 billion market value, to explore a sale.

Ancora, which owns about 1% of Berry Global, is urging it to explore strategic alternatives including a possible sale and make other changes, according to a copy of a letter the activist sent to the company's board Sunday that was viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Airlines Avoid Thanksgiving Pitfalls as Daily Passengers Top Two Million

Travelers returning home Sunday after the Thanksgiving holiday are encountering busy airports and full flights, but relatively few of the problems that have plagued air travel in recent months.

The holiday week has been a test of whether U.S. airlines have done enough to prevent the kinds of snafus that have resulted in major meltdowns and thousands of canceled flights.

Write to sarka.halas@wsj.com

Expected Major Events for Monday

00:01/UK: Oct Zoopla House Price Index

05:30/NED: Nov Producer confidence survey

07:00/DEN: Nov Business tendency survey

07:00/TUR: Oct Foreign Trade

08:00/HUN: Oct Employment & unemployment

08:00/SVK: Nov Business tendency survey

08:00/SVK: Nov Economic sentiment indicator

08:00/SPN: Nov Flash Estimate CPI

08:30/SWE: Oct Foreign trade

08:30/SWE: 3Q GDP

09:00/ITA: Oct PPI

09:00/GER: Nov Bavaria CPI

09:00/GER: Nov Hesse CPI

09:00/GER: Nov Baden-Wuerttemberg CPI

09:30/GER: Nov North Rhine Westphalia CPI

09:30/UK: Oct Money and Credit - Lending to Individuals, Lending to Businesses, Broad Money and Credit

09:30/UK: Oct Monetary & Financial Statistics

09:30/UK: Oct Bank of England effective interest rates

10:00/CYP: Sep Industrial Production Index

10:00/EU: Nov Business & Consumer Surveys - Business Climate Indicator & Economic Sentiment Indicator

10:00/MLT: 3Q GDP

10:00/GER: Nov Saxony CPI

10:30/BEL: Nov CPI

11:00/IRL: Oct Retail Sales Index

13:00/GER: Nov Provisional CPI

16:59/SPN: Oct Budget deficit

All times in GMT. Powered by Kantar Media and Dow Jones.

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This article is a text version of a Wall Street Journal newsletter published earlier today.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

11-29-21 0031ET

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