Will anyone else follow? Moguls like Oprah Winfrey, Mark Cuban and the Disney C.E.O. Bob Iger have been floated as potential 2020 candidates. But the presidential historian Douglas Brinkley says that “the history of business leaders in the White House has not been good.”
Bob Dylan’s take: “One more cup of coffee for the road / One more cup of coffee ’fore I go / To the valley below.”
China can’t build its own chips fast enough
The nation is rushing to build semiconductor factories. But reports claiming that the Chinese government is probing chip makers over price-fixing demonstrate that it’s not there yet.
Reuters, citing an anonymous source, reported that Beijing is investigating Samsung Electronics, SK Hynix and Micron Technology over allegations that they may have been trying to keep the prices of DRAM memory chips high. The three companies control that market.
It’s not the first time that the trio has been the subject of such accusations. Why? The price of DRAM memory is over twice what it was two years ago.
But the news that China is investigating such claims underlines the fact that the country — which has poured billions of dollars into its own chip manufacturing industries, with an early focus on memory chips — still lacks the means to make enough of its own semiconductors.
Reuters notes that, according to Trendforce, China accounts for 20 percent of all global DRAM memory sales. For now, those purchases must be made almost entirely from Samsung, SK Hynix and Micron, at what the Chinese government appears to believe may be inflated prices.
China’s own production plants — and carefully controlled pricing — clearly can’t come soon enough.
— Jamie Condliffe
Can a political veteran help Sard Verbinnen flourish in Washington?
The financial communications firm has turned to Ed Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman and lobbyist who ran for Virginia’s governorship last year, as chairman of its public affairs division, which focuses on how businesses interact with lawmakers and regulators.
The hire shows Washington is becoming more intertwined with corporate America, as the state intervenes in M.&A. and other business dealings. George Sard, the firm’s C.E.O., told Michael de la Merced that the government “is pretty central to everything we’re doing.”
The big question: Sard Verbinnen is entering a crowded field in Washington. Will Mr. Gillespie help the Manhattan-based firm stand out?
The Kochs open their wallets to defend free trade
Charles and David Koch are opposing President Trump’s plan to impose tariffs on imported goods, exposing a rift between Republican donors and the party’s base. Among the aims of the Koch political network’s initiative: modernizing Nafta and having the U.S. rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
More from Jim Tankersley of the NYT:
James Davis, the executive vice president of Freedom Partners, said the campaign was “a demonstration of our long-term commitment to advance common-sense trade policies that will ensure America’s brightest days are ahead, and to directly confront the protectionist ideas that would hold us back.”
Elsewhere in trade: China is working around U.S. steel tariffs by buying factories abroad. Meanwhile, American broadband companies are pushing back on a rule against spending federal money on telecom equipment from Huawei and ZTE. And Mexico will reportedly impose a 20 percent tariff on U.S. pork.
The political flyaround
• In spite of a blockade, Qatar is thriving — and other Gulf nations should end their feud with the emirate, Qatar’s minister of foreign affairs writes in an NYT Op-Ed. (NYT)
• California’s primaries are today. They could determine whether Democrats regain control of the House. (The Hill)
• Prosecutors accused Paul Manafort of trying to tamper with witnesses. (NYT)
• Scott Pruitt told an aide at the E.P.A. to buy a used mattress from the Trump International hotel, among other assignments. (NYT)
What to know about all the Apple news
Some highlights from Apple’s annual developer conference yesterday:
• More privacy features, partly to further distance the company from Facebook and Google
• Smartphone addiction cures, to ease criticism about Apple’s role in keeping us glued to our screens
• A big focus on augmented reality, to push adoption of the technology
• A less-is-more vibe, suggesting that Apple is sweating details to avoid more high-profile bugs
Microsoft has a balancing act ahead with GitHub
The $7.5 billion acquisition of the online code repository makes sense for Microsoft. Less so for the other tech companies that use the platform.
For Microsoft, the deal continues its break with the past. It made its name by selling proprietary software, while GitHub is one of the most popular platforms on which to develop free-to-use open-source software. But under the leadership of Satya Nadella, Microsoft is transforming itself into a cloud provider for businesses — and even adopting open-source technology. GitHub fits that vision neatly.
But the prospect of Microsoft in control of GitHub has already provoked a backlash among developers. More from Martin Giles of MIT Technology Review:
Unless Microsoft treads carefully, some could flee to rival repositories like BitBucket or GitLab, which has seen a big spike in traffic since news of the deal broke.
The tech flyaround
• Facebook and Google are facing a volley of legal challenges. Washington state is suing both over election ads. Federal lawmakers are pressing Facebook for details about how it shared user data with hardware makers. And some Democrats want a new antitrust inquiry into Google.
• China is reportedly investigating Samsung and others over allegations of memory chip price-fixing. (Reuters)
• Netflix and Twitter joined key S.&P. indexes, as tech stocks enjoy another run amid questions over the global economy.
• Snap burned through $1.1 billion over the past five quarters. Selling a stake to a bigger tech company might help. (The Information)
The deals flyaround
• The U.K. government sold a $3.3 billion stake in the Royal Bank of Scotland. (Bloomberg)
• Alibaba and Tencent have told investment bankers to choose sides in their rivalry. (FT)
• The owner of Saks has sold Gilt Groupe, the online retailer, to Rue La La after less than two years. (New York Post)
• Ocean Outdoor, an advertising company whose backers include the merchant bank LionTree, is buying a rival, Forrest Media. (Ocean Outdoor)
The C.E.O. of Qatar Airways needs a primer on equality
At a news conference in Sydney today, Akbar Al Baker, the C.E.O. of Qatar Airways, claimed that his job was beyond the wit of any woman:
“Of course it has to be led by a man, because it is a very challenging position.”
He clearly hasn’t read that gender equality can be a competitive advantage.
• Steve Fraidin, a veteran deal maker, has joined the law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft as a partner. (Cadwalader)
• Blair Fleming, the head of RBC Capital Markets in the U.S., has reportedly left the firm. (Business Insider)
• Shahira Knight, who was a top lieutenant to President Trump’s former chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, is leaving the White House to join the Clearing House, a banking lobbying group. (Politico)
• Valerie Szczepanik has been named as the S.E.C.’s senior adviser for digital assets and innovation — that is, its point person on cryptocurrency. (Coindesk)
The speed read
• Rupert Murdoch is reportedly clashing with his son Lachlan over key decisions at 21st Century Fox. (Vanity Fair)
• Mars plans to spend $1 billion on improving its sustainability. (Bloomberg)
• Legg Mason will pay $64 million to settle bribery charges involving Libyan officials. (FT)
• Hedge funds are falling out of love with oil. (FT)
• Fighting climate change may be up to consumers. (Wired)
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