Today’s DealBook Briefing was written by Andrew Ross Sorkin in New York, and Michael J. de la Merced and Jamie Condliffe in London.
____________________________There’s probably more trade war to come
President Trump is said to have ordered up a bill that would have the United States ignore two important World Trade Organization rules. Axios reports that the bill would let Mr. Trump negotiate different tariffs for different countries, and to set them above pre-agreed limits.
Congress would almost certainly stop any such bill. But this news — as well as recent comments promoting auto tariffs as a weapon — shows that Mr. Trump expects more battles. With Europe said to be preparing its own levies on $300 billion worth of U.S. products as retaliation to the administration’s moves, nobody appears to be backing down.
Meanwhile, concerns are mounting about the fallout from a trade war. G.M. says that auto tariffs could force it to cut jobs at home. Hyundai says that the levies could harm national security efforts with North Korea. And investors are increasingly finding ways to hedge in case trade worries hit the markets.
Elsewhere in trade: China is said to be stealing data and staff from high-tech Taiwan companies. How H-1B visas lost their charm. And how bureaucracy could be China’s secret trade weapon.Dan Loeb is turning up the heat on Nestlé
Since the global food giant appointed a new C.E.O. last year, it has embarked on a turnaround plan, putting for-sale signs on underperforming divisions like its U.S. candy business and buying fast-growing brands like Blue Bottle Coffee.
But now the activist investor Mr. Loeb is losing his patience, and pressing the company to take more drastic action — including selling its stake in the cosmetics maker L’Oreal and buying more fast-growing brands to lift its stock from the doldrums.Continue reading the main story
The big question: If Nestlé doesn’t do what Mr. Loeb wants, will he start a proxy fight at the Swiss company?
In other shareholder activist news: David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital is down 18 percent so far this year. Nelson Peltz’s Trian is down almost 2 percent.Tesla almost met its production goal
Around 5 a.m. Pacific on Sunday, a Tesla Model 3 underwent final quality checks at the company’s Fremont, Calif., factory. The car, Reuters notes, was the 5,000th to be made in just over seven days — meaning the company only just missed its weekly production goal.
Getting to this stage has not been easy, Neal Boudette of the NYT explains. Tesla is building cars on a production line housed in a tent; it has replaced robots that aren’t fast enough with humans; and Elon Musk has been sleeping in the factory, working all hours to streamline production.
In an email to employees, Mr. Musk said that producing 5,000 cars per week meant that Tesla “just became a real car company.” But now comes another challenge: It must reliably maintain production — if not increase it — for years.
More Tesla news: Panasonic says it will consider investing more in Tesla’s Gigafactory.Facebook admits to special data-sharing arrangements
The tech giant’s first set of written answers to questions from Congress was dull. But its second sheds new light on a series of data-sharing arrangements the company made with other organizations — that went on for longer than previously claimed.
More from Georgia Wells of the WSJ:
The company disclosed it was still sharing information of users’ friends, such as name, gender, birth date, current city or hometown, photos and page likes, with 61 app developers nearly six months after it said it stopped access to this data in 2015. Facebook said it gave these 61 firms — which ranged from the dating app Hinge to shipping giant United Parcel Service Inc. a six-month extension for them to “come into compliance” with the 2015 policy. In addition, five other companies “theoretically could have accessed limited friends’ data” because of access they received as part of a Facebook experiment, the company said in the document.The end of an era for Rupert Murdoch
Whether Walt Disney or Comcast emerges as the winner in the fight for most of 21st Century Fox’s businesses, one thing is clear: Mr. Murdoch will bid goodbye to the majority of a media empire that he has assembled over decades.
But he is doing so at a high point: Two media rivals are bidding top dollar for his assets, and he is exiting at a time when tech giants are muscling in on the media business that he made his life’s work. Here’s what a longtime Murdoch associate, Chase Carey, told Sarah Ellison of the WaPo:
He added that Murdoch’s strength is “to look both at where the world is today and what is the right path for the future. ... That would have been a different set of answers 10 years ago. ... You can’t wish away Google and Amazon, but you can respond to the market realities of the moment.”
In other media news: Mr. Murdoch is keeping Fox News, which is now intimately intertwined with the Trump administration. And the NYT editorial board asks why Disney’s bid for Fox cleared a government review much more easily than AT&T’s takeover of Time Warner.Continue reading the main story Revolving door
Philippe Capron, the C.F.O. of the French waste giant Veolia, has taken himself out of the running to become the next C.E.O. of Air France-KLM. (FT)
Ron Black was fired as the C.E.O. of the semiconductor licensing company Rambus after an incident that the board said fell short of corporate standards. (Bloomberg)
Ken Costa, the veteran investment banker, is joining the investment firm Alvarium Investments as co-chairman. (FT)The speed read
• China Merchants Group, a state-owned conglomerate, has teamed up with the London-based merchant bank Centricus to create a $15 billion tech investment fund. (FT)
• ThyssenKrupp and Tata Steel agreed to combine, creating one of Europe’s biggest steel companies. (Bloomberg)
• Alphabet has invested in the scooter-sharing company Lime. (FT)
• Randa Accessories is said to have challenged the founder of Perry Ellis International over control of the men’s wear brand. (WSJ)
Politics and policy
• Andrés Manuel Lopéz Obrador has won Mexico’s presidency, putting an anti-globalization leftist in charge of Latin America’s second-biggest economy. (NYT)
• Three Democratic lawmakers are calling on the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate whether Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross violated insider-trading laws. (@kylegriffin1)Continue reading the main story
• The Supreme Court’s decision against public unions threatens to undercut a source of funding for liberal causes. (NYT)
• Technology companies are getting ready to fight California’s new data privacy law. (The Hill)
• Big tech firms are reportedly annoyed by U.S. intelligence agencies’ lack of help in fighting Russian election influence. (Axios)
• How hard is it to persuade people to use cryptocurrency, rather than treat it as an investment? (NYT)
• Why does Amazon seem to be doing everything? Because its growth forecasts require it to. (WSJ)
• Venture capitalists have a secret Silicon Valley salary database to help them make deals. (Wired)
Best of the rest
• Banks are paying out billions to shareholders. Here’s what those numbers look like in context. (DealBook)
• Poor Americans are being offered loans by wealthy private equity firms. (WaPo)
• The day Toys “R” Us closed for good. Spoiler: It was quiet. (NYT)
• Is New York City in decline because it got too rich? (Harper’s)
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