2019年11月25日 星期一

DealBook: Will It Be Billionaire vs. Billionaire in the 2020 Election?

Michael Bloomberg announced yesterday that he would run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, but people are already arguing against one billionaire taking over office from another.
November 25, 2019
Good morning. Charles Schwab said it would acquire TD Ameritrade for $26 billion — a deal that brings together two of the largest online brokerage firms totaling roughly $5 trillion in assets. (Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up here.)
  Cj Gunther/EPA, via Shutterstock
Michael Bloomberg joins the presidential race
Michael Bloomberg announced yesterday that he would run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, bringing his huge personal fortune and moderate views to an already crowded race, the NYT’s Alexander Burns writes.
He is presenting himself as a multibillion-dollar threat to President Trump. The current president “represents an existential threat to our country and our values,” Mr. Bloomberg said in a statement.
• “Defeating Donald Trump — and rebuilding America — is the most urgent and important fight of our lives,” Mr. Bloomberg said.
Mr. Bloomberg, 77, faces immense obstacles to winning the Democratic nomination, Mr. Burns writes, including:
• Political baggage that includes a complex array of business entanglements
• A history of making demeaning comments about women
• A record of championing law enforcement policies that disproportionately targeted black and Latino men
His delayed start will leave him scrambling to catch up with other candidates. “As a result, he plans to mount an unconventional primary campaign, bypassing the earliest primary and caucus states, like Iowa and New Hampshire in February, and focusing instead on the delegate-rich March primaries in states such as California and Texas,” Mr. Burns writes.
And critics of the wealthy are already lining up. “We do not believe that billionaires have the right to buy elections,” Senator Bernie Sanders, himself a Democratic candidate, said at a rally yesterday, adding: “Multibillionaires like Mr. Bloomberg are not going to get very far in this election.”
More: News outlets for Bloomberg L.P., the financial data company owned in large part by Mr. Bloomberg, will not do in-depth investigations of him or any of his Democratic rivals.
Today’s DealBook Briefing was written by Andrew Ross Sorkin, Jamie Condliffe and Gregory Schmidt.
  Peter Summers/Getty Images
Uber’s future in London is under threat
Transportation authorities in London announced today that they would not extend Uber’s taxi operating license, Megan Specia of the NYT reports.
• Uber originally lost its London license in 2017 because of safety concerns, but was granted a 15-month extension and then a further two-month extension to improve.
• But Transport for London said that the company was not “fit and proper” as a license holder, despite the changes made by Uber.
The decision does not immediately remove Uber from the streets. The company has 21 days to appeal — which it says it will do, calling the decision “extraordinary and wrong” — and can continue to operate throughout the process.
But it does throw into question Uber’s future in London, which is the company’s biggest European market.

  Stephane De Sakutin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
The French luxury giant LVMH will buy Tiffany
LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world’s largest luxury goods company, announced today that it would buy Tiffany & Company for $16.2 billion. It is the largest deal ever in the luxury sector.
The agreement comes after weeks of tense discussions between the two companies, which saw LVMH increase its offer to $135 from $120 per share.
LVMH gets a prominent American brand from the deal. It already owns names like Dior, Givenchy, Fendi, Château d’Yquem and Dom Pérignon.
It signifies LVMH’s increasing interest beyond traditional luxury softgoods like clothing and leather products, Vanessa Friedman, Elizabeth Paton and Andrew write in the NYT, following its purchase of Bulgari in 2011. And it solidifies the reputation of Bernard Arnault, who controls LVMH, as the most aggressive and acquisitive deal-maker in luxury.
• It also ends Tiffany’s 182-year history as a stand-alone brand, and reflects the difficulty of remaining independent in an age of increasing consolidation.
The deal will also bolster the efforts of both companies in China, where they are competing to tap into the spending power of newly wealthy Chinese consumers.
Is a ‘Phase 2’ trade deal with China wishful thinking?
President Trump’s stated aim for his administration’s trade negotiations with China is to reach a “Phase 1” agreement that solves some of the biggest issues between the two nations, before diving into talks for a “Phase 2” deal that addresses other disagreements. But according to Reuters, the second part could be a long way off.
• “The difficulties in getting the first stage done, combined with the White House’s reluctance to work with other countries to pressure Beijing, are dimming hopes for anything more ambitious in the near future,” Reuters writes, citing unnamed sources.
• “Officials in Beijing say they don’t anticipate sitting down to discuss a Phase 2 deal before the U.S. election, in part because they want to wait to see if Trump wins a second term.”
The first part of the deal is “easy stuff,” according to Representative Jim Costa, Democrat of California. It’s focused on Chinese commitments to buy agricultural products and roll back tariffs. But the second part includes more complicated issues like industrial espionage, forced transfer of technology and checks to ensure those commitments are upheld.
It’s “technically possible, but hard to imagine” a “Phase 2” deal being negotiated in the next year, Josh Kallmer, a former official with the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, told Reuters.
More: Mr. Trump said that the Hong Kong protests were a “complicating factor” in trade negotiations. And China said that it would raise penalties on violations of intellectual property rights.
U.S. businesses pull back on investment
In an uncertain business environment, many companies are pulling back on capital investment spending, which could put a damper on economic growth, write Theo Francis and Thomas Gryta in the WSJ.
The withdrawal began last fall, when trade tensions created unease among businesses, and continued this year as the global economy showed signs of slowing growth.
• “Some companies have warned it could continue into next year, when the presidential and congressional election is expected to add even more uncertainty to business decision-making,” the reporters write.
Twelve percent of businesses cut or delayed capital spending in the first half of 2019 because of trade tensions, double the rate in the first half of 2018, the Atlanta Fed found. And spending by S&P 500 companies rose less than 1 percent in the third quarter from the second quarter, according to data from S&P Dow Jones Indices.
Some projects have been merely delayed, but others are permanently lost, said Nicholas Bloom, an economist at Stanford University. “I think there is a real long-run cost to U.S. growth,” he said.
More: Investors are looking past weak data and trade snags, convinced that actions by central banks and a trade deal will keep stocks moving higher.
Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift  Lucas Jackson/Reuters
Private equity’s lesson from Taylor Swift’s music rights fight
When Taylor Swift invoked Carlyle, one of the world’s biggest private equity firms, in a disagreement about her music rights, she sucked the company’s portfolio managers into a world of deal-making where they feel more than a little uncomfortable, Kate Kelly, Joe Coscarelli and Ben Sisario of the NYT report.
• In an open letter, Ms. Swift said that the new owners of her former record company were trying to prevent her from playing her old hits.
• Ms. Swift said she was “especially asking for help” in solving the problem from the Carlyle Group, which helped back the music manager Scooter Braun in taking over Ms. Swift’s music catalog, via the acquisition of the record label Big Machine.
Carlyle reportedly “moved quickly to encourage a deal between the two sides and urged Mr. Braun to reach out to Ms. Swift,” Ms. Kelly, Mr. Coscarelli and Mr. Sisario write.
• People on both sides of the disagreement say that Carlyle’s intervention “has brought the bitter fight closer to a resolution.”
• “According to the four people close to the discussions, a deal could take various forms, including a partnership or joint-venture arrangement.”
But Ms. Swift is thought to want possession of her master recordings from Big Machine, which could cost her hundreds of millions of dollars.
There may be a lesson for Carlyle here. “People in private equity look at music copyrights and think, ‘It’s like real estate,’ but it’s not,” said Matt Pincus, the founder of Songs Music Publishing, which was sold in 2017. “You’re dealing with living, breathing artists.”
Tim Berners-Lee
Tim Berners-Lee  Kayana Szymczak for The New York Times
Can the web’s inventor also fix it?
Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web 30 years ago. And now he’s started a plan to save it.
• He had hoped his invention would be used for “the purpose of serving humanity,” he writes in an NYT Op-Ed.
• But “communities are being ripped apart as prejudice, hate and disinformation are peddled online,” while “scammers use the web to steal identities, stalkers use it to harass and intimidate their victims, and bad actors subvert democracy using clever digital tactics,” he adds.
So Mr. Berners-Lee has unveiled a Contract for the Web, which he describes as a “global plan of action created over the past year by activists, academics, companies, governments and citizens from across the world to make sure our online world is safe, empowering and genuinely for everyone.”
• It asks businesses to ensure that the internet is affordable and accessible, that they respect and protect people’s privacy and personal data, and develop technologies that support the best in humanity.
• Of governments, it asks that citizens be allowed to gain access to the internet freely at all times, without fear about how their data is collected and used.
“Governments must stop blaming platforms for inaction, and companies must become more constructive in shaping future regulation — not just opposing it,” Mr. Berners-Lee writes.
Revolving door
Maurice Lévy, chairman of the advertising company Publicis, was named as WeWork’s interim chief marketing officer. He said that he initially “rejected the idea.”
The accounting firm EY may lay off up to 100 members of its financial consulting unit, after a decline in work and a drop-off in fees from regulatory advice.
The speed read
• The pharmaceutical company Novartis reached a deal to buy the Medicines Company, a maker of cholesterol drugs, for $9.7 billion. (Bloomberg)
• HP refused to open its books to Xerox and again rejected the company’s $33 billion buyout offer. (FT)
• The parent company of the Indian mobile-payments start-up Paytm secured $1 billion in funding from SoftBank and Ant Financial. (Reuters)
• SoftBank’s offer to buy stock from founders, investors and employees at WeWork will reportedly go ahead this week. (Reuters)
Trump impeachment inquiry
• Democratic lawmakers have begun writing a report on their findings from the impeachment hearings but still could hear more testimony. (Reuters)
• Representative Devin Nunes, an outspoken defender of President Trump in the hearings, said that reports that he played a role in the effort to dig up dirt on Joe Biden in Ukraine were part of a criminal campaign against him by a “totally corrupt” news media. (NYT)
• Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, reportedly asked officials in the budget office whether there was a legal justification for withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine. (NYT)
U.S. politics and policy
• Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, bought the domain name democracy.com “to make sure someone didn’t do something crazy with it.” (NYT)
• How a Facebook employee helped President Trump win in 2016, and why he switched sides for 2020. (WSJ)
• Defense Secretary Mark Esper demanded the resignation of the Navy’s top civilian leader, an abrupt move aimed at ending an extraordinary dispute between Mr. Trump and his own senior military leadership over the fate of a SEAL commando in a war crimes case. (NYT)
• Venture capitalists, start-up founders and tech workers have warmed to Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind. (FT)
Global politics
• In the wake of protests, more than half of the 452 seats in yesterday’s Hong Kong local district council elections flipped from pro-Beijing to pro-democracy candidates. (NYT)
• The British Conservative Party unveiled its manifesto ahead of the Dec. 12 general election. It’s focused on Brexit, and includes only modest promises to increase spending. (FT)
• Researchers are creating tools to find A.I.-generated fake videos before they become impossible to detect — but is it a losing battle? (NYT)
• The F.C.C. voted to ban cellular carriers from using federal subsidies to buy equipment from Huawei and ZTE, claiming that the Chinese companies endanger national security. (NYT )
• Elon Musk claimed that Tesla has already received 200,000 orders for its new electric pickup truck. (Reuters)
• Is Qualcomm’s dominance in wireless chips a threat to U.S. national security? (WSJ)
Best of the rest
• How Juul hooked a generation on nicotine. Also, President Trump has argued that banning flavored vaping products such as those made by the company could just lead to a flood of counterfeit alternatives. (NYT)
• Canadian officials have called for the removal of the MCAS software, which has been implicated in fatal crashes, from Boeing’s 737 Max jets. (NYT)
• As plant-based burgers take off, the beef industry is trying to clean up its image as a polluter. (Bloomberg)
• When federal agents raided a secluded resort owned by the U.A.W. in August, it signaled that they were not done with their yearslong investigation into corruption at the union. (NYT)
• “Europe’s four biggest investment banks cut $280 billion of assets from their main U.S. holding companies in the past three years.” (FT)
• Roger Federer’s retirement gig: sneakers? (NYT)
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