DealBook Briefing: Disney’s Cunning New Move to Take Fox


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Today’s DealBook Briefing was written by Andrew Ross Sorkin on the road, and Michael J. de la Merced and Jamie Condliffe in London.

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The port in Savannah, Ga.

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Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press

Trump’s secret trade weapon: the U.S. economy

With growth rates hitting levels unseen in a decade, President Trump is betting that the U.S. can weather any short-term shocks from his battles with China, Europe and other trading partners.

Exhibit A: German automakers are reportedly open to eliminating car tariffs between the U.S. and Europe, because of how important American consumers are to their business. That would be a triumph for Mr. Trump.

One concern: Some economists think U.S. growth is peaking — so Mr. Trump’s economic cushion could deflate just as the trade shocks hit.

Elsewhere in trade news: Small gadget makers could be hurt by the fight with Beijing. And average Chinese workers don’t appear to blame America for the trade fight.

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A newly constructed center for migrant children in Tornillo, Tex.

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Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Corporate America is still tied up with U.S. immigration policies

President Trump has signed an executive order to end the practice of separating children from their parents at U.S. borders. It’s not yet clear how much will change.

For now, American business remains caught up in the controversy:

• Airlines have asked the government not to use their flights to carry children it has separated from their parents.

• Walmart declared itself “surprised” that one of its old stores was now a migrant shelter, though property records suggested that was a possibility.

• Dell, Motorola and HP could join Microsoft in facing criticism for working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

How the White House could catch up to Europe on data privacy

Perhaps realizing that the U.S. isn’t leading the international debate on the topic, the White House is said to be considering an equivalent to Europe’s General Data Privacy Regulation.

More on how the administration could move, from Shannon Vavra, Kim Hart, and David McCabe of Axios:

One option is an executive order directing one or more agencies to develop a privacy framework. That could direct the National Institute of Standards and Technology, an arm of the Commerce Department, to work with industry and other experts to come up with guidelines, according to two sources.

What to expect: Gail Slater, a White House adviser on cyber issues, told Axios that U.S. rules wouldn’t mirror Europe’s. So don’t count on a “right to be forgotten.” The White House also wants to ensure that any rules aren’t too onerous for smaller businesses.

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Kevin Systrom, co-founder and C.E.O. of Instagram.

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Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Instagram finally takes on YouTube

The photo-sharing platform announced a new video portal yesterday, IGTV, that will let its users post long videos. More from Daisuke Wakabayashi and Sheera Frenkel of the NYT:

IGTV will feature videos shot vertically to fill the screens of smartphones versus the landscape orientation of televisions and computer monitors. In addition, it was reaching out to the new stars of today’s digital video world — social media stars with millions of followers on YouTube and Instagram.

Jamie Condliffe’s take: The company says that IGTV won’t have ads at first, but given how much money there is in video advertising, don’t expect that to last. YouTube shares ad revenue with content creators; Instagram could do something similar.

Elsewhere in video news: Apple’s forthcoming service plans to stream children’s shows from Sesame Workshop.

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Gary Cohn

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Pool photo by Michael Reynolds

What will Gary Cohn do next?

President Trump’s former economic adviser has plenty of options. He seems to be ruling out Wall Street — he told a recent conference that he’d “done the markets world.” Instead, he’s reportedly looking at entertainment — or Bitcoin. (A cryptocohn, anyone?)

But there’s a problem, according to Bill Cohan of Vanity Fair:

He was able to score conversations with senior executives at Silicon Valley firms after leaving the White House, according to the person who knows him well. But once the idea of Cohn, a Trump acolyte, was “socialized” internally, it quickly became apparent that he would not be welcome.

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Jeff Bezos

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Jason Redmond/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

How Amazon learned to love D.C. lobbying

Jeff Bezos once distanced his company from Washington. But as Amazon has become a power in the land, things have changed. A lot. The WSJ sets out just how much:

Amazon now has an army of nearly 100 lobbyists at more than a dozen lobbying firms working on a list of issues including taxes, trade, government procurement, internet policy, drone regulation, grocery rules, music licensing and, more recently, food stamps. Last year, the company spent $13 million on lobbying, five times as much as it spent five years earlier, putting it just behind some of last year’s biggest corporate lobbyists, including Google and AT&T.

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Atul Gawande

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Lisa Lake/Getty Images for Geisinger Health System

Revolving door

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase have picked Atul Gawande, a prominent surgeon who writes for The New Yorker, as C.E.O. of their health care venture. His claim to fame: influential analyses of overspending in American medicine. One piece caught the eye of Berkshire’s Charlie Munger.

Walmart plans to hire 2,000 people in tech this year. (VentureBeat)

The speed read

Deals

• SoftBank’s Masa Son wants big deals fast and often. A fellow director is worried. (WSJ)

• Britain is investigating the sale of an Airbus and Boeing supplier to a Chinese-owned rival. (NYT)

• Match Group, which owns Tinder, has bought Hinge, a dating app that calls itself an anti-Tinder. (Bloomberg)

• Tilray, a big producer of federally licensed medical cannabis and accessories, filed to go public on the Nasdaq. (Tilray)

Politics and policy

• The publisher of the National Enquirer has been subpoenaed in the investigation into Michael Cohen. (NYT)

• California’s legislature beat back an effort by a Democratic lawmaker to weaken its net neutrality bill. (Verge)

• Congress refused to cancel $15 billion in spending, defying President Trump. (Bloomberg)

Tech

• Tesla has sued a former employee whom Elon Musk accuses of stealing data and making false claims to the media. (CNBC)

• A new favorite of tech companies: convertible debt. (Recode)

• A.I. relies on mathematical tricks known as deep learning. There may be a better way. (NYT)

• The Federal Trade Commission will look at tech giants like Google and Facebook as part of a broad review. (Axios)

Best of the rest

• A big one-day loss at Deutsche Bank has raised questions about its financial controls. (Bloomberg)

• U.S. home prices are likely to rise. Blame low supply. (WSJ)

• Start-ups are good for the economy. Too bad they’re disappearing in the U.S. (Quartz)

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DealBook Briefing: Welcome to Media Merger Fight Club


The challenge now: to balance America’s growing economy and falling unemployment. More from Greg Ip of the WSJ:

By 2020 the economy will be well into overheating territory, the sort of situation that usually leads to dramatically higher interest rates and a recession. Fed officials must either raise their inflation target, assume some serendipitous boost to the economy’s potential growth rate or decline in the natural unemployment rate, abandon their economic models, or run much tighter monetary policy, especially after 2020.

The political flyaround

• The White House may try to prevent Congress from reimposing penalties on ZTE, after all. (NYT)

• Senator Jim Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma, and a longtime friend of Scott Pruitt, said that the E.P.A. chief may need to resign. (Bloomberg)

• Tim Draper, the venture capitalist, got his proposal to split California in three on to the state’s ballot in November. (NYT)

• Senate Democrats want the S.E.C. to investigate Michael Piwowar, a Republican commissioner who criticized Citigroup’s stance on gun investments. (Bloomberg)

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A robot stocks shelves at a warehouse in Shanghai.

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China Stringer Network/Reuters

For a glimpse at the future of work, look at e-commerce

Reports from inside two of the world’s biggest e-commerce companies offer evidence that the robots are coming:

• Replacing warehouse staff. Axios reports that the Chinese e-commerce company JD.com has “built a big new Shanghai fulfillment center that can organize, pack and ship 200,000 orders a day. It employs four people — all of whom service the robots.”

• Automating office work. Bloomberg says that Amazon executives who negotiated multimillion-dollar deals with major brands “are being replaced by software that predicts what shoppers want and how much to charge for it.”

Jamie Condliffe’s take: Companies like to say that automation will free staff to do work that robots can’t, as happened in previous technological revolutions. But a warehouse that needs just four employees is a reminder that the disruption caused by A.I. and robotics could be unlike anything we’ve seen before.

Elsewhere in automation: Microsoft is reportedly experimenting with checkout-free retail, and talking to Walmart about it.

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Win Mcnamee/Getty Images

The deals flyaround

• Sinclair’s $3.9 billion takeover of Tribune could be slowed by government scrutiny of its deal to sell three TV stations to an ally, the conservative pundit Armstrong Williams. (Politico)

• Shares in the Dutch payments processor Adyen nearly doubled in their first day of trading yesterday, but investors should take a breath. (Bloomberg Opinion)

• Opendoor, a house-flipping start-up backed by Travis Kalanick, is said to have raised $325 million at a valuation of over $2 billion — and is still in talks to raise more from SoftBank’s Vision Fund. (Recode)

• Samsung has set up the Q Fund to invest in A.I. start-ups. (VentureBeat)

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A rendering of a Boring Company “skate” for the proposed Chicago transportation system.

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The Boring Company

Chicago buys into Elon Musk’s tubular public transit dream

The city’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, says that Mr. Musk’s Boring Company has been selected to build a futuristic underground transport system, whizzing passengers from downtown Chicago to O’Hare International Airport.

More from Julie Bosman and Mitch Smith of the NYT:

If completed as planned, each electric vehicle — called a “skate” — would transport up to 16 riders and their luggage. The vehicles could leave downtown and O’Hare as frequently as every 30 seconds, the city says. They would exceed 100 miles per hour and make the entire trip from downtown to O’Hare in 12 minutes.

But there are roadblocks ahead. Chicago’s City Council would need to agree to the plan. The city must negotiate a deal with the Boring Company. It will be expensive — up to $1 billion, on current estimates. Oh, and such a system has never been built before.

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Yves Herman/Reuters

The tech flyaround

• ZTE is looking for a $11 billion credit line. (FT)

• Cryptocurrencies are supposed to make bank payments cheaper. Western Union’s experiments suggest that isn’t yet the case. (Fortune)

• Apple will close an iPhone security hole favored by the police. (NYT)

• From next year, reportedly, China will begin electronically tracking every new car on its roads. (WSJ)

• A new study found that Bitcoin prices were artificially inflated last year. (NYT)

A new investment trick: Study the $100 billion club

The CNBC host Jim Cramer has pitched a simple way for investors to choose where to put their money: Look at what companies with market capitalizations of $100 billion are doing. More from Mr. Cramer:

“Why should we care about these megacap stocks? Because unlike an index, the $100 billion club isn’t selected by anyone. There’s no nominating committee. The only way a company gets its name on this list is by producing years and years of gains. In the last 12 months, this club has seen 15 new members. That’s a lot, and it turns out this list is a veritable who’s who of what’s working.”

Revolving door

• G.M. named Dhivya Suryadevara as C.F.O. It now has women in its two top management positions, a first in the auto industry. (Bloomberg)

• Carlos Ghosn said he was likely to step down as Renault’s C.E.O. before his contract is up in 2022. (FT)

• Rolls-Royce plans to cut 4,600 jobs. (BBC)

The speed read

• German prosecutors fined Volkswagen $1.2 billion over its diesel emissions scandal. (NYT)

• The billions Russia is spending on the World Cup may not boost its economy in the long term. (Bloomberg)

• A court case involving a British plumber might provide some lessons for gig economy companies. (NYT)

• China’s economy shows some early signs of losing momentum. (Bloomberg)

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Breakingviews: Investors Bet That Fox and Disney Will Toss Financial Sense Aside


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Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Deals rarely look as good on paper as they do in a chief executive’s head. Comcast’s $31 billion offer for the British satellite broadcaster Sky just about passes financial muster. Investors expecting a higher bid from Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, with backing from the Walt Disney Company’s boss, Robert A. Iger, are betting on the triumph of sentiment over spreadsheet.

Comcast, the cable giant run by Brian L. Roberts, firmed up its offer of 12.50 pounds per Sky share on Wednesday, beating Mr. Murdoch’s December 2016 bid by 16 percent. The move endangers the mogul’s plan to sell Fox — including Sky — to Disney for $52.4 billion in stock. It also dashes any hopes that Mr. Iger and Mr. Murdoch could persuade Mr. Roberts to back away by offering him an alternative asset, like the streaming service Hulu. Assuming British regulators clear both bids, it’s a straightforward battle on price.

Comcast has the stronger hand. On Wednesday, the $155 billion company said it had identified $300 million of annual pretax cost savings and a further $200 million of gains from combining Sky’s TV shows and movies with Comcast’s NBCUniversal library. Generously add those to consensus estimates for Sky’s operating profit in 2020, tax the lot at 18 percent, and the return on invested capital is almost 7 percent. That’s just about in line with cable groups’ cost of capital, according to New York University estimates.

It’s hard to see how Mr. Murdoch and Mr. Iger could justify going higher. The House of Mouse has less overlap with Sky’s core business as a distributor of video entertainment. Second, Comcast has greater firepower: Its debt is low for a cable group, and its Ebitda — earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization — this year will be greater than Disney’s and Fox’s combined, according to Eikon estimates. Besides, Comcast’s dual-class stock means Mr. Roberts does not have to fret about shareholders blocking his plans.

Mr. Iger might conclude that Sky is crucial to his European expansion. Mr. Murdoch will be reluctant to part with the company he spent decades building and might want to hang on to Fox’s 39 percent stake in case the wider Disney tie-up collapses. Nevertheless, investors who pushed Sky shares up 4 percent to £13.57 on Wednesday are wagering that Disney and Fox will disregard financial sense.

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Smoking Is Off Limits at Disney. What Will That Mean With Fox in the Fold?


“We ask you now to follow your convictions, common sense and experience in keeping kids safe,” the antismoking activists wrote in their letter, a copy of which was given to The New York Times by Jono Polansky, a policy consultant for Smoke Free Movies, an initiative at the University of California at San Francisco. “Amid the myriad details involved in a corporate acquisition of this size and complexity, Disney cannot afford to leave young people’s health and lives unprotected.”

Tom McCaney, associate director of corporate social responsibility for Sisters of St. Francis, an activist order helping to lead the antismoking effort, said that Disney’s response to the letter was unsatisfactory. “Disney told us it wasn’t appropriate to discuss until the Fox deal goes through,” Mr. McCaney said. “We disagree.”

Disney declined to comment.

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Sigourney Weaver’s character smoking in Avatar, another 20th Century Fox movie.

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20th Century Fox

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Hugh Jackman as Wolverine with a cigar in the 2003 film “X2.”

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20th Century Fox

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A scene from “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”

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20th Century Fox

The last Disney-produced movies to include smoking were “Ant-Man” and “Iron Man 3,” both of which were released in 2015, according to the Smoke Free Movies database. (In truth, Disney does not have an outright ban on tobacco imagery; its official policy allows for depictions of historical figures who may have smoked or to “portray cigarette smoking in an unfavorable light or emphasize the negative consequences.”)

Fox’s approach to smoking has been much more permissive over the same time span. Since 2015, Fox has released more than a dozen PG-13 movies with tobacco imagery, including “X-Men: Apocalypse,” “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” “Murder on the Orient Express” and “Love, Simon.”

Antitrust regulators are studying Disney’s agreement with Mr. Murdoch to buy most of his 21st Century Fox empire, including the FX cable network, Hulu and pieces of two overseas TV providers, Sky of Britain and Star of India. Barring any dramatic developments — like an effort by Comcast to scuttle the deal in a renewed attempt to buy the 21st Century Fox assets itself — the Disney acquisition is expected to be completed by the middle of next year. Comcast, which bid against Disney for the assets in the fall but was spurned by the 21st Century Fox board, on Wednesday made an offer to buy Sky alone.

Disney has not laid out its plans for integrating 20th Century Fox. Mr. Iger has indicated that Disney intends to manage the Fox movie labels as their own entities — much as it did in the past with divisions that specialized in more mature content, like Miramax Films, Hollywood Pictures and Touchstone. Miramax, founded by Harvey and Bob Weinstein, was a headache for Disney and Mr. Iger sold it in 2010. Hollywood Pictures, known for “The Sixth Sense,” was folded in 2007. Touchstone was most recently used to distribute DreamWorks Studios films, including “Bridge of Spies.” That arrangement has ended.

In December, when Disney unveiled its agreement with 21st Century Fox, Mr. Iger told reporters that he foresaw no challenges with Fox content because of Disney’s history of “managing brands in a compartmentalized way.”

He added: “We’re in the business of managing brands that are very different in nature. Marvel is certainly far afield from Disney.”

The Marvel movies that Disney has released since “Ant-Man” has skipped the tobacco.

Government studies have long shown that depictions of smoking in movies and television shows can lead to youth tobacco use. Under pressure, the Motion Picture Association of America said in 2007 that it would for the first time consider portrayals of smoking alongside sex and violence when assessing the suitability of movies for young viewers. Critics have since labeled the move ineffective, in part because the M.P.A.A. does not consider an image related to smoking — in and of itself — enough to warrant an R rating.

At that time, the American Legacy Foundation, an antismoking organization now known as the Truth Initiative, found that 90 percent of all films depicted smoking. Three-quarters of movies rated G, PG or PG-13 including tobacco use.

Most movie studios responded by putting pressure on filmmakers to kick the habit, which reduced tobacco imagery. But Hollywood, citing the need for artistic license, has resisted calls to give an automatic R rating to any movie that depicts smoking. The Motion Picture Association fought off a smoking-related lawsuit last year with a First Amendment defense. It also argued that automatic R ratings for smoking could result in similar demands for anything deemed socially unacceptable, including high-speed driving.

Concerns about smoking were rekindled last year by a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which found that depictions or suggestions of tobacco use in top-grossing movies were on the rise again. Truth Initiative took aim at Netflix in March with a study showing there was “pervasive” smoking in popular shows like “Stranger Things” and “Fuller House.”

Studios also face pressure overseas from the World Health Organization, which has called for governments to implement more aggressive regulation of movies that contain tobacco imagery. India, France and Britain are among the countries where action has been taken or is being discussed.

Mr. Polansky, the Smoke Free Movies consultant, vowed to continue pressuring studios beyond Disney and Fox. “To quote the Hollywood cliché, ‘We can do this the easy way or the hard way,’” he said. “But it will happen.”

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Comcast Starts Bidding War With 21st Century Fox for Sky


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Sky’s headquarters in London. Comcast’s $30.7 billion offer for Sky puts the American cable giant in a takeover battle with Rupert Murdoch for control of the British broadcaster.

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Andrew Testa for The New York Times

LONDON — Comcast formally unveiled a $30.7 billion takeover bid for Sky on Wednesday, putting the American cable giant squarely in a takeover battle with Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox for control over the British satellite broadcaster.

The terms of the long-awaited proposal were good enough to prompt Sky to withdraw its recommendation for Fox’s $16 billion bid for the 61 percent of Sky that it does not already own.

Comcast’s move seizes upon Fox’s troubles in getting government approval for its bid, which was announced in late 2016. British regulators have questioned whether buying Sky, which operates the 24-hour news channel Sky News, would give Mr. Murdoch too much control over the country’s news media, given his ownership of newspapers like The Times of London and The Sun.

It also changes the calculus for Fox and its ally Walt Disney, which has already announced a $52.4 billion bid for most of Fox’s businesses. Both have already offered concessions to allay regulators’ concerns, including an offer to sell Sky News to Disney. But now they may be forced to pay up to win Sky, which has customers in Austria, Britain, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Switzerland, and holds broadcast rights to the English Premier League and other professional sports competitions.

Under the terms of its offer, Comcast would pay 12.50 pounds, or $17.45, a share in cash for each Sky share. Fox has offered £10.50 a share.

Hoping to press on Fox’s weak spot, Comcast said that it was committed to Sky News’s editorial independence, offering to set up a board for the news unit and maintain its funding. Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, also repeated pledges to increase investment in Britain’s film and television industries.

“We will invest to grow and enhance Sky’s business and be a strong steward of its valuable brand,” Brian L. Roberts, Comcast’s chairman and chief executive, said in a statement. “Sky is a great British business — with us, that’s the way it will always be.”

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DealBook Briefing: Comcast Seizes the Lead From Murdoch in the Race for Sky


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Today’s DealBook Briefing was written by Andrew Ross Sorkin in New York, and Michael J. de la Merced and Amie Tsang in London.

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Why so serious, investors?

Stocks have fallen for the fourth day in a row — the S.&P. 1.3 percent, the Dow 1.7 percent — as investors appeared dismayed by earnings news that was supposed to have lifted their spirits. As of this morning, global stocks were down. Some of the issues:

• Alphabet investors appear worried about its spending on new businesses. Could that drag down other tech giants?

• 3M met expectations, but lowered the high end of its earnings guidance. Its stock tumbled 8.5 percent.

• Caterpillar beat expectations — but its stock sank after it too issued a gloomy earnings forecast.

• The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note broke through 3 percent yesterday, raising concern about how reliant the U.S. economy is on low interest rates.

• Trade war jitters haven’t gone away.

One lonely island of green amid a sea of red? Bitcoin.

Peter Eavis’s take: Looking back, stocks appear expensive, at 21 times the S.&P. 500’s earnings for 2017. This large gap between future and historical valuations creates a chasm that stocks can fall into if profits, or earnings outlooks, disappoint.

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Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

Behind the fight over a key banking rule

Wall Street executives are eagerly awaiting a relaxation of the supplemental leverage rule, which governs how much their firms can borrow. The Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of Currency are for it; the F.D.I.C. and Lael Brainard, an Obama administration appointee at the Fed, are opposed.

Peter Eavis outlines the arguments:

Why relax the rule? It’s making it too hard for banks to do business. “The best analogy is that it’s like having the same speed limit for every road in the country,” Greg Baer of the Clearing House Association told Peter.

Why keep it? The rule provides adequate protection in case there’s another downturn, and banks have been doing fine otherwise. “U.S. bank lending has been healthy over recent years and profits are strong,” Ms. Brainerd said in a speech last week.

The political flyaround

• A federal judge ruled that the DACA program must continue and accept new applications, because the Trump administration didn’t adequately justify ending it. (The decision was stayed 90 days.)

• Mick Mulvaney encouraged banking lobbyists to pressure lawmakers into shrinking the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which he leads. (NYT)

• The Supreme Court has continued to narrow the grounds for obstruction of justice, Peter Henning writes. It also barred human rights lawsuits against foreign companies and upheld a way of challenging patents.

• Steven Mnuchin, Larry Kudlow and the U.S. trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, will go to Beijing for trade talks next week. (NYT)

• Two Democratic senators have asked banks to turn over evidence tied to any accounts held by oligarchs connected to Vladimir Putin. (WSJ)

• The E.P.A. announced plans to restrict which kinds of studies it could use to justify rules. Senator James Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma and Scott Pruitt’s longtime political patron, now supports investigations into the E.P.A. chief.

• The Kushner Companies reportedly turned to BofI Federal Bank for $57 million to help finance a troubled Jersey City development. (Bloomberg)

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Robert Bakish in 2014.

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Albert Gea/Reuters

The deals flyaround

• Still the big question in the CBS-Viacom talks: What about Bob (Bakish, Viacom’s chief)? (WSJ)

• Sinclair revised its plans to win regulatory approval for its takeover of Tribune, but many TV stations it proposes selling would still go to sister businesses. Chris Ruddy of Newsmax said the deal would be “the biggest game change in American politics.”

• The Justice Department’s star witness against AT&T’s bid for Time Warner conceded on the stand that he had miscalculated a data point. (Bloomberg)

• Turns out mutual funds are pretty good at valuing privately held start-ups. (The Information)

• WeWork is reportedly hired a dozen banks to help it sell $500 million worth of junk bonds. (FT)

• SoftBank is reportedly considering moving its stakes in ride-hailing companies like Uber into its Vision Fund. (FT)

• Sequoia Capital will finally take public pension fund money — up to $350 million from Washington state for its latest fund — and open up its finances in the process. (Axios)

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Keeping up with the Johns

The NYT’s updated Glass Ceiling Index, which counts the female and male leaders in leadership positions throughout America, shows some striking findings:

• There are more Republican senators and Democratic governors named John than there are women in either group.

• There are almost as many C.E.O.s named John in the Fortune 500 as female C.E.O.s in that group.

Elsewhere in gender and the workplace: Uber said that women held 18 percent of its tech jobs, trailing others in Silicon Valley. Chinese tech companies are hiring “motivators”: attractive women to chat-up male programmers.

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Jason Henry for The New York Times

How much do you know about what Facebook knows?

Even as the tech giant rolls out more granular privacy controls, European regulators and other critics are asking if the company is taking too much user data.

One bigger issue: Adding controls doesn’t necessarily lead to users sharing less data, critics contend. “Privacy control settings give people more rope to hang themselves,” the behavioral economist George Loewenstein told Eduardo Porter.

In other Facebook news: The academic at the center of the Cambridge Analytica scandal talked down the effectiveness of his profiling. The company replaced its head of U.S. policy, Erin Egan, though she’ll remain chief privacy officer. Her interim replacement will be Kevin Martin, a former Republican chairman of the F.C.C.

Elsewhere in tech: Amazon will start delivering to car trunks. Jeff Bezos said that big tech companies deserved scrutiny. Apple put $16 billion into a Dublin escrow account to start complying with a European Commission tax order. Yahoo’s successor must pay a $35 million fine over the handling of a 2014 data breach. Regulators are wary of start-ups using presales of cryptocurrency tokens. Bill Harris, formerly of Intuit and PayPal, says flatly that Bitcoin is “a colossal pump-and-dump scheme.”

Revolving door

• Atlas Mara, the African financial firm founded by Bob Diamond, has hired John Staley as C.E.O. (FT)

• The health care venture formed by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase reportedly plans to hire a C.E.O. within two months. (Axios)

Gregory Craig, the Skadden partner who oversaw a report for Ukraine that is under investigation by Robert Mueller, has left. (Bloomberg)

• Citigroup’s C.E.O., Mike Corbat, may be in line to become chairman too. (Bloomberg)

• The president of Sears’s real estate business, Jeff Stollenwerck, plans to leave. (Reuters)

The speed read

• Jim Hackett has shuffled Ford’s executive ranks and promised new S.U.V.s and electric cars. But analysts want a clearer, and faster, turnaround plan. (NYT)

• French police detained the logistics tycoon Vincent Bolloré for questioning over port deals in two African countries. (WSJ)

• Millions of dollars went from The Weinstein Company to the Weinstein brothers and the executive David Glasser even after the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke. (WSJ)

• At Pimco, one man used to make many key investment decisions. Now software will. (WSJ)

• Global investment banks may still struggle to control securities joint ventures in China, the Asia Securities Industry & Financial Markets Association said. (FT)

• Zhao Changpeng, founder of Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, is being sued by Sequoia Capital over a funding deal. (Bloomberg)

• A protest march greeted the Wells Fargo shareholders’ meeting, where investors backed executive pay plans. (Bloomberg)

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European Authorities Raid Offices of 21st Century Fox Unit


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Sports programming has played a key role in Rupert Murdoch’s ability to gain a foothold in the European pay-TV market.

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Jewel Samad/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

European authorities raided the London offices of a unit of 21st Century Fox on Tuesday as part of an antitrust investigation into the distribution of sports programming.

The search at Fox Networks Group was one of several the European Commission said it had conducted across Europe as part of an investigation into potential violations of rules prohibiting price-fixing cartels. The investigation adds to the regulatory challenges that 21st Century Fox, Rupert Murdoch’s media giant, is facing in Europe, where officials have held up its bid to take full control of the British satellite broadcaster Sky.

In a statement, Fox Networks Group said it was “cooperating fully with the E.C. inspection.” The raid was first reported by The Daily Telegraph in London, which said the authorities had seized documents and computer files. The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, declined to comment on what companies were involved in the searches.

Sports programming has played a key role in Mr. Murdoch’s ability to gain a foothold in the European pay-TV market. Through 21st Century Fox, he owns a 39 percent stake in Sky, which has 23 million customers and owns rights to show the English Premier League and other professional soccer leagues.

Mr. Murdoch has sought to buy the remaining 61 percent of Sky, but the British authorities have not given their final approval. Sky is an important part of the Walt Disney Company’s proposed $52 billion deal to buy much of 21st Century Fox.

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A Fourth Woman Files a Defamation Suit Against Bill O’Reilly


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Bill O’Reilly, the former Fox News host, was sued on Thursday by Laurie Dhue, a former Fox News anchor who said his response to her allegations of harassment against him defamed her.

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Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

A fourth woman who reached a settlement after making harassment allegations against Bill O’Reilly has filed a defamation lawsuit against him, asserting that statements he made have depicted her as a liar, tarnished her reputation and damaged her career prospects.

The suit was filed Thursday by Laurie Dhue, a Fox News anchor from 2000 to 2008 who went on to work as an advocate for recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. A New York Times investigation in April revealed that Ms. Dhue had reached a settlement with 21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News, for more than $1 million after she made sexual harassment allegations against Mr. O’Reilly, the former prime-time host on Fox News, and Roger E. Ailes, the network’s founding chairman.

Her deal is one of six publicly known harassment settlements involving Mr. O’Reilly, which total about $45 million.

After those agreements and the allegations against him were disclosed, Mr. O’Reilly disputed the merits of the claims, saying that he “never mistreated anyone,” that he was the victim of a “political and financial hit job” and that his fame had made him a target. He said he had settled the claims to spare his children the pain of a public trial.

In the lawsuit, lawyers for Ms. Dhue said: “As part of his desperate campaign to clear his name, O’Reilly published false statements about Dhue — as well as the other women — calling her a liar, swearing that her allegations were fabricated in an effort to obtain a settlement, falsely asserting that her purported claims against O’Reilly were politically motivated and lying by saying that he only paid settlements to avoid having his family go through litigation, not because he had engaged in the claimed sexual misconduct.”

The lawsuit states that Mr. O’Reilly’s comments were directed to harm Ms. Dhue’s reputation for truthfulness and trustworthiness, which she relies on in her career in news and addiction recovery advocacy. The lawsuit was filed in United States District Court in the Southern District of New York. It

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