DealBook Briefing: Why the U.S. Is Spinning Its Wheels on Trade

DealBook Briefing: Why the U.S. Is Spinning Its Wheels on Trade

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Photo Shari Redstone Credit Mike Cohen for The New York Times
CBS heads to court against Shari Redstone today

The broadcaster’s case in Delaware’s Court of Chancery against its corporate parent, the Redstones’ National Amusements, is one of a number recently that challenge the kind of dual-class stock system used by the Redstones (and indeed by The New York Times Company).

Another part of CBS’s argument — that Ms. Redstone warned Verizon off bidding for CBS — took a hit yesterday. Verizon’s C.E.O., Lowell McAdam, told CNBC he didn’t want to invest in “linear TV,” i.e. a traditional broadcaster like CBS or 21st Century Fox.

Speaking of Fox: An all-cash bid by Comcast for its assets could pit Rupert Murdoch, who would pay less tax on Disney’s share-based offer, against fellow shareholders. And in the middle of all this, Fox’s TV chiefs are in contract talks.

Elsewhere in deals: PaddyPower is reportedly close to buying FanDuel after the Supreme Court legalized sports betting. The hedge-fund mogul David Tepper signed a deal to buy the N.F.L.’s Carolina Panthers for $2.2 billion. FIFA is reportedly preparing a vote on the $25 billion offer by SoftBank and others for two new soccer tournaments. The two big proxy advisory firms urged Hyundai shareholders to side with Elliott Management against the management’s restructuring plan.

Photo Credit Ng Han Guan/Associated Press
Who doesn’t like Trump’s lifeline to ZTE

Lawmakers from both parties aren’t likely to support easing sanctions on the Chinese telecom company, even if the White House reckons it might persuade Beijing to lift import limits on American agriculture. Representative Mac Thornberry, the head of the House Armed Services Committee, told Bloomberg, “It is not a question to me of economics, it is a question of security.”

What others have said: John Harwood of CNBC said it was the president shrinking from another fight. And Lex said Mr. Trump was fighting from a position of weakness.

And the U.S. and China remain “very far apart” in trade talks, according to the U.S.’s ambassador to Beijing. Businesses are still lobbying for exemptions from Chinese tariffs, too.

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The bigger picture: Is Huawei next for a reprieve?

The political flyaround

• The White House has eliminated the role of cybersecurity coordinator. (NYT)

• Novartis’s general counsel retired after its contract with Michael Cohen became public. Will President Trump’s latest financial disclosures reflect payments to Mr. Cohen?

• Robert Mueller was “squarely” within his rights as special counsel to indict Paul Manafort, a federal judge ruled. (Politico)

• The House is expected to vote on moves to roll back Dodd-Frank next week. Stephen Gandel of Bloomberg Opinion expects little to change, at least for the Volcker Rule.

• Preet Bharara is reportedly considering running for New York’s attorney general — as an independent. (Bloomberg)

• Mr. Trump may invoke a Cold War-era statute to keep coal and nuclear power plants online. (Bloomberg)

Photo Mike Bloomberg Credit Krista Schlueter for The New York Times
Meet Mike Bloomberg’s answer to Davos

The New Economy Forum is designed for a world where China’s ascent looks unstoppable. So it’s in Beijing, rather than the Swiss Alps. Participants include the former Treasury secretary Hank Paulson, Henry Kissinger, Janet Yellen and Gary Cohn.

Mr. Bloomberg’s pitch in the FT:

“Davos has been around for a long time: It is a very big conference and it is focused on lots of world problems. This conference is focused on the world and China as an emerging power and how we all work together.”

Elsewhere in boldface-name endeavors: Richard Branson and Pierre Omidyar are backers of a financial instrument for nonprofit investments devised by NPX.

Photo The onetime headquarters of Cambridge Analytica. Credit Andy Rain/EPA, via Shutterstock
Cambridge Analytica’s troubles aren’t over

The Justice Department and the F.B.I. are seeking to question the defunct firm’s former employees and banks, the NYT reports. That’s likely to keep concerns about Facebook’s privacy policies and role in the 2016 elections in the news.

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Elsewhere on Facebook: The company says it deleted 583 million fake accounts, and has reportedly pushed up its content-review budget. Mark Zuckerberg is snubbing Britain’s Parliament. Some nurses at San Francisco’s general hospital want his name off the building.

Elsewhere in tech: Inside Tencent’s frenetic deal-making. Masa Son has high hopes for SoftBank’s next Vision Fund, and Japan probably should, too. Lyft joined Uber in eliminating mandatory arbitration for sexual misconduct cases. The Pentagon wants a nuclear-grade cloud. A professor’s case against Europe’s new privacy law.

Photo Credit Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press
The quarterly investor holdings flyaround

• Investors’ holdings of Apple dropped by the most since the first quarter of 2008.

• Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway raised its stakes in Teva Pharmaceutical and Monsanto.

• Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management bought nearly 2 million shares in United Technologies. (A new book criticizes several of Mr. Ackman’s big moves.)

• David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital invested in Office Depot and Abercrombie & Fitch.

• Stanley Druckenmiller bet on Alibaba and sold out of Facebook.

Photo Tom Wolfe Credit Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press
Remembering Tom Wolfe’s chronicles of capital

The famed author died yesterday at 88. Business was one of his big subjects, as his obituaries noted:

• On “Bonfire of the Vanities”: “a sweeping, bitingly satirical picture of money, power, greed and vanity in New York during the shameless excesses of the 1980s.” (NYT)

• “The Bonfire of the Vanities wickedly dissected the Wall Street money-grubbing crowd who thought they were rulers of the universe. A Man In Full did the same for the American myth of the self-made mogul, as well as, perhaps, being a disguised story of himself.” (FT)

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• On “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test”: “one of the great chronicles of Silicon Valley culture — although it wasn’t clear that it was about Silicon Valley at the time.” (CNBC)

Revolving door

• The proxy advisory firm Glass, Lewis urged Tesla shareholders to vote against Antonio Gracias, Kimbal Musk and James Murdoch as directors. Two Tesla energy executives, Arch Padmanabhan and Bob Rudd, have left.

• Two senior UBS bankers — Severin Brizay, its head of M. & A. for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and Laurent Dhome, a private equity specialist — are reportedly joining Bank of America. (Bloomberg)

• The human resources start-up Namely ousted its C.E.O., Matt Straz, over unspecified misconduct claims. (Bloomberg)

The speed read

• Jay-Z finally sat down for questioning by the S.E.C. It may be getting harder to prove fraud against sophisticated investors.

• The world is borrowing more. Investors are wary of companies spending more.

• Fox settled discrimination lawsuits involving 18 current or former employees for $10 million. (NYT)

• The messaging business WeChat is reportedly considering a service for bankers in China. (FT)

• Thomson Reuters plans to move its foreign-exchange operations to Dublin from London because of Brexit. (FT)

• Six more states sued the maker of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma. That makes 22. (Reuters)

• How Qatar is rebuilding in the face of a blockade led by Saudi Arabia. (FT)

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